The University of South Carolina is one of the oldest and most comprehensive public institutions of higher education in the US, with its main campus in the state capital, Columbia.
The flagship campus offers more than 320 degrees at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level, and educates more than 30,000 students on a 360-acre site.
The Columbia campus is divided into 15 different schools and colleges, each reflecting different areas of research and educational expertise. In addition, there is the South Carolina Honors College, which offers a liberal arts-style education in a state university setting.
USC has seven satellite campuses, which offer a range of degrees and qualifications. It also runs an innovation district called Innovista, looking to commercialise research in key areas of strength such as biomedicine, nanotechnology, environmental science and alternative fuels.
The history of the university stretches back to 1801 when South Carolina College was established as part of the Southern public college movement which was encouraged by Thomas Jefferson.
The institution flourished in the decades prior to the American Civil War, with the historic horseshoe-shaped campus district which still stands today taking shape during this era.
But the war had a devastating impact on the institution, forcing its closure in 1863 as students volunteered for Confederate service.
The institution was re-established in 1865 as the University of South Carolina, and led the way on racial integration for a time, enrolling its first black students in 1873 – the only southern state university to do so.
However, funding shortages forced the closure of the university again in 1877, and it reopened three years later as an all-white agricultural college. Black students were not admitted again until 1863.
Nowadays, the Irvin department of rare books and special collections is home to the world’s largest collection of works by Ernest Hemingway and the largest collection of Robert Burns works and associated Scottish literature outside Scotland.
Alumni and sports teams at the institution are known as Gamecocks.
Prominent USC alumni include former White House chief of staff Andrew Card and US Senator Lindsey Graham. In addition, all four members of the band Hootie & the Blowfish attended USC.