The key to economic development starts in every classroom, every day. Town of Bluffton and Beaufort County leaders are fully aware, education is a crucial to growing a sustainable, progressive community. The Beaufort County School District, regional private schools and local higher-education institutions are partners in advancing our region and providing targeted workforce skill sets.

As a result of the area’s commitment to academic excellence, local public schools experienced an award-winning year in 2014.

Okatie Elementary, where many Bluffton residents attend, is the only school in South Carolina history to ever receive three prestigious awards in one year. In 2014, The U.S. Department of Education honored it as a National Blue Ribbon School. South Carolina School Improvement Council Association awarded Okatie Elementary the 2014 Dick and Tunky Riley Award and four days after that honor, the state named Okatie Elementary a Palmetto Finest school for 2014. A trifecta never before achieved by a South Carolina school.

In addition, Bluffton High School was a 2014 finalist for the Palmetto Finest School Award; this statewide award is earned by demonstrating excellence with student achievement, instructional programs, professional learning communities and school culture. Bluffton High School is also nationally recognized by The Washington Post as one of "America's Most Challenging High Schools," ranking in the top 3 percent of all high schools in the country for the third consecutive year.

If you are searching for elementary, middle, high schools, colleges or adult education classes, then look no further than the Bluffton area. Our schools are recognized for outstanding performance and have received an overall excellent growth/improvement rating from the State of South Carolina.

Beaufort County is a competitive district and it strives to stand at the top in the classroom as well as extracurricular activities.

Bluffton Area Public Schools

Elementary Schools

  • Bluffton Elementary School & Early Childhood Center (Grades PK-5)
  • Michael C. Riley Elementary School & Early Childhood Center (Grades PK-5)
  • Okatie Elementary School (Grades PK-5) 
  • Pritchardville Elementary School (Grades PK-5)
  • Red Cedar Elementary School (Grades PK-5) 
  • River Ridge Academy (Grades PK – 8)

Middle Schools

  • Bluffton Middle School  (Grades 6-7)
  • H.E. McCracken Middle School  (Grades 8-9)

High Schools

  • Bluffton High School (Grades 10-12)
  • Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence (Grades 9-12)
  • May River High School (Grades 9-12)

Bluffton Area Private Schools

  • Cross Schools (Grades PK-8)
  • May River Montessori (Grades PK-5)
  • MindStream Academy (Grades 7-12)
  • St. Gregory the Great Catholic School (Grades PK–6)
  • John Paul II Catholic School (Grades 7-12)

Area Colleges and Universities

University of South Carolina - Beaufort

The University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the nation. Its lineage dates back to the original 1795 charter of Beaufort College. By official act two centuries ago, the South Carolina Legislature authorized the college to confer degrees in the liberal arts or sciences, degrees that were equivalent to those conferred by other colleges in Europe and elsewhere in America.

In 1994, USCB embarked on a major expansion program to build an additional full-service campus which resulted in the University of South Carolina and the state of South Carolina designating USCB as a four-year institution of higher learning.

In June 2002, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education granted USCB baccalaureate status. In 2004, it was accredited as a Level II baccalaureate degree-granting university. In August of 2004, the first classes began at what came to be known as the South Campus. The original campus in Beaufort was called the North Campus. In the fall of 2005, the newly constructed on-campus student apartments opened on the South Campus.

Today, South Carolina’s newest four-year university offers baccalaureate degrees and a wide variety of continuing-education programs at its two full-service campuses. The two campus names also have changed. The North Campus is now the Historic Beaufort Campus and the South Campus is the Hilton Head Gateway Campus.

While honoring its 200-year commitment to providing a liberal arts education, the University of South Carolina Beaufort continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of higher education as well as the diverse needs of coastal Carolina and the Lowcountry.

The University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) responds to regional needs, draws upon regional strengths, and prepares graduates to contribute locally, nationally, and internationally with its mission of teaching, research, and service. USCB is a senior baccalaureate campus (1,400 to 3,000 students) of the state's largest public university. It offers degree programs in the arts, humanities, professions, and social and natural sciences delivered through on-site instruction and distance education, along with an active program of co-curricular activities and athletics. It serves a racially and culturally diverse student body, including military personnel, veterans and their dependents, and draws students from the South Carolina Lowcountry, from around the country, and from around the world. USCB enriches the quality of life for area residents of all ages through its academic programs, continuing education, artistic and cultural offerings, community outreach, collaborations with regional initiatives, and life-long learning opportunities.

To learn more, please visit the University of South Carolina Beaufort website at

Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL)

One of sixteen colleges comprising the South Carolina Technical College System, the Technical College of the Lowcountry traces its origin to the Mather School founded in 1868. The institution is a comprehensive, public, two-year college dedicated to serving the diverse educational needs of the rural counties of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper. The College annually serves approximately 10,000 credit and continuing education students, a mix of traditional, non-traditional, full-time, and part-time.

The Technical College of the Lowcountry provides quality, affordable academic and technical programs leading to Associate Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates in an environment fostering excellence in teaching and learning. The College prepares graduates with knowledge and skills for transfer to senior colleges and universities and for careers in computer technology, industrial technology, engineering technology, occupational technology, business, health sciences, and public service.

To learn more, please visit the Technical College of the Lowcountry website at

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