Coker College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Coker College
Coker College offers the academic programs, undergraduate focus, research, and internship opportunities that will...

Coker College

Hartsville, South Carolina

Coker College is a student-focused, private liberal arts college located in Hartsville, South Carolina. Coker combines round table, discussion-based learning with hands-on experiences to encourage active participation in and out of the classroom. A supportive, close-knit community prepares Coker students with the confidence and practical life skills they need to reach their personal best in college and beyond.



Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
1,203 undergraduate students
80% of undergrad students are full time
43% male — 57% female
89% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
165 full-time faculty
65 part-time faculty
18 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
47% of first year students live on campus
53% of all students live on campus

School Location

Located right in downtown Hartsville, Coker’s main campus covers 15 acres of beautiful grounds and Georgian-style buildings, several of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Iconic Davidson Hall, built in 1910, is both the literal and physical heart of campus. The City of Hartsville offers a welcoming small-town feel, with plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options within walking distance from campus. Hartsville averages 69°F from September to May and is within two hours of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities X
Writing-Intensive Courses X
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning X
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X

Retention Fall 2015

83% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate 2015

52% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 1%
Hispanic/Latino 3%
Black or African American 32%
White 50%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 0%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 4%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 8%


The Coker Cobras (colors: navy and gold) compete in 21 NCAA Division II intercollegiate sports as a member of the South Atlantic Conference: Baseball (M); Basketball (M, W); Cross Country (M, W); Golf (M, W); Lacrosse (M, W); Softball (W); Soccer (M, W); Tennis (M, W); Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field (M, W); Volleyball (M, W), and Wrestling (M). Students can also join Spirit Squad and intramural teams.

Other Information

Founded in 1908, Coker College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Coker is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Academic Programs

Art [Art Education, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Photography], Biology [Ecology, Molecular, Pre-Med], Biology Education, Business Administration [Marketing, Management, Sport Management], Chemistry, Chemistry Education, Communication, Computer Science, Criminology, Dance [Dance Movement/Therapies, Performance/Choreography], Dance Education, Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, English [English Education, Professional Writing], General Education, History, Individualized Major, Mathematics, Mathematics Education, Medical Technology, Music [Musical Theater, Piano, Voice], Music Education, Physical Education & Sport Studies [Coaching, Exercise Science, Physical Fitness Programming, Sport Communication, Teacher Education], Political Science, Psychology [Counseling], Social Studies Education, Social Work, Sociology, Spanish, Theater [Performance, Technical]

More Distinctions

  • In 2010, Dr. Joseph Flaherty, biology, received a $500,000+ National Science Foundation grant to support new undergraduate biology research. The Foundation also recognizes Dr. Flaherty as one of the nation’s leading teacher-scholars. Dr. Gordon Brown, chemistry, was awarded a $50,000 grant from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund to enhance Coker’s chemistry program.

Outside the classroom, externships, internships, community service, research, and study abroad opportunities help students develop the skills necessary for graduate school or a professional workplace in a more hands-on approach.

Round-Table Learning

At Coker, sitting in the back of a classroom and blending into a wall is simply not an option. Coker utilizes an interactive, discussion-based teaching approach: Round-Table Learning. Students learn to think on their feet and present their ideas with confidence. This truly is “a model learning experience.”


Trans4mations, Coker’s four-year program, incorporates engaged learning (like internships, study abroad, and community service) into every student’s experience. Throughout each student’s four years at Coker, Trans4mations guides them through a personalized sequence of curricular and co-curricular experiences designed to help them discover their best self. Year one (personal academic exploration) teaches them how to succeed in the classroom. Year two (cultural events and community service) helps them grow within the wider Coker community. Year three (study away) challenges them to apply their skills outside the gates of the college. And in year four, it all comes together in an individual capstone project. 

Study Away

Coker believes that all students should be active participants in their own education. This is why every single Coker student will take part in a Study Away opportunity as a part of the four-year program Trans4mations. Options range in length from two weeks to a full semester or longer and include domestic programs and locations all across the world so each student can find the the right-fit program for them.


Coker College gives students the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research directly alongside their professors as early as their freshman years. Students may be supported by grant funds or receive academic credit for taking on research projects. Labs include cutting-edge equipment, such as a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. Students complete significant research and frequently present at conferences throughout the country.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries X
Choral groups X
Concert band X
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band  
Literary magazine  
Marching band  
Model UN  
Music ensembles X
Musical theater X
Pep band  
Radio station  
Student government X
Student newspaper  
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station  

To Coker’s faculty, students aren’t just students—they’re all individuals, each of whom can make a difference. Professors are dedicated to helping every student develop the skills they need to be leaders and make an impact on the world.

Personal Relationships

Among our 63 full-time faculty members, 90 percent hold a doctorate or the highest equivalent degree in their field. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, the faculty choose Coker so that they get the opportunity to know their students on a personal level. They don’t just give out grades—they’re mentors throughout students’ college careers and beyond. At Coker, it’s not unusual to see professors having lunch with students or meeting outside of class to offer personal and professional advice. Students form friendships with their professors that last far beyond their time at Coker.

Coker College 101

Coker College 101 is designed to integrate first-year students academically and socially into the college environment. Through this required freshman course, students develop an understanding of the liberal arts education, an appreciation of the values and traditions behind the Coker College experience, and a strong sense of belonging to the college community.

Learning Support Services

Coker offers several learning support services to help students navigate Coker’s academic environment. These include tutoring, career services, test-taking guidance, academic planning, and much more. For example, the College’s Writer’s Studio helps students brainstorm ideas; discuss and understand assignments; organize and write first drafts; improve the focus, organization, and clarity of their writing; and develop to better articulate their own ideas.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy  
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages X
History X
Humanities X
Mathematics X
Sciences (biological or physical) X
Social science X


Other: Knowledge of Cultural Diversity

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 169 149 79 1 0 0 0 398

Coker College changes the way students live. Located in the heart of Hartsville, SC, the close-knit and beautiful campus becomes home base for exploring, getting involved, and having fun.


Coker College’s campus is full of 15-acres’ worth of paths, lawns, trees, and Georgian-style buildings, some of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A few blocks from the campus is the Sory Boathouse and Clubhouse, which provides students access to Prestwood Lake. Also nearby is the 30-acre Kalmia Gardens of Coker College, where students can explore walking trails and engage in other outdoor activities. Adjoining campus is the 22-acre complex for baseball, cross country, soccer, softball, and tennis.

Student Organizations

With more than 30 registered student organizations, Coker has something for everyone. Organizations include special-interest groups, honor societies, performance ensembles, leadership programs, religious groups, intramural sports, and more.

Campus Events

Throughout the year, Coker hosts many public performances and lectures featuring national and international authorities and artists. Coker faculty and students also produce performances each semester.


Enactus (Entrepreneurs in Action) is a community service-oriented program with a business twist. Enactus partners with businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions to promote free-market economics by completing projects that teach business concepts, financial literacy, and free market economics.

C.O.W. Days

A school of great traditions, the College holds the Coker Olympics of Winter (C.O.W. Days) for a week each February. The week includes activities such as a hot wing eating contest, tug of war, lip syncing, and the “Miss Cow Pageant” and “Coker Hunk Contest.” It also culminates with the C.O.W. Day games on Saturday. Each class competes in Coker’s version of Olympic events in hopes of earning the title of “C.O.W. Days Champions.”

In another tradition that originated in 1924, Coker’s Commissioners welcome freshmen with great excitement: each Commissioner is responsible for a group—or “family”— and helps with the personal and academic concerns of freshmen students. With their Commissioner’s help, the families are easily adjusted into college life.


Coed dorms X
Men’s dorms  
Women’s dorms  
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing  
Other housing options  

Coker students arrive ready to learn and graduate ready to change the world. Within six months of graduation, 94 percent of Coker students report working full-time or attending graduate school.

Career Services

At Coker, planning for a career starts in every student’s freshman year. Career Services will aid in the career exploration and planning process by helping students create career plans that successfully integrate academic studies and engaged learning to meet the challenges of today’s competitive job market. Career Services offers personal career counseling, career interest inventories, online job listings, job fairs, workshops, presentations, and resume services.

Capstone Experience

As a final project before graduation, students apply the knowledge and experience they’ve gained throughout their previous years at Coker, both in and out of the classroom, to a capstone project. Capstone experiences are an advanced form of scholarly activity where students use the academic and professional skills developed over the course of the undergraduate career, culminating in a scholarly work that is presented in a public forum. Each student’s unique capstone experience is completely tailored to his or her personal academic and career goals. It’s a demonstration of knowledge and skills, challenging students to communicate and share what they’ve learned and who they’ve become.

Successful Alumni

Founded in 1908, Coker has been producing successful alumni for more than 100 years. For example, 1994 graduate Terrance Hayes was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (commonly called “genius grants”) in 2014 for his poetry. He is currently an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Ashley Zearfoss, a 2008 graduate, has completed a research assistantship in North Carolina State University’s Department of Plant Pathology. She earned a master’s degree from NC State and a Ph.D. in Clemson University’s Department of Genetics and Biochemistry.

Recent Graduates

Last year’s graduates ended up at employers like Cerner Corporation, SC Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, Sonoco Products, Long Island University, Apple, Cintas Corporation, Enterprise, and Fastenal, to name a few. They also ended up at graduate schools like Boston College, Drexel University, MUSC, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, UNCW, Marymount University, and University of Maryland.


Admissions Fall 2015

1,581 Total Applicants
737 Total Admissions
222 Total Freshmen Enrollment

46.62% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling admission? No

Closing date: Aug 15
Priority date: Feb 1

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Academic GPA
Standardized test scores

Rigor of secondary school record
Class rank

Application Essay
Extracurricular activities

Tour Information

There’s nothing like experiencing Coker in person, and so prospective students are invited to visit campus any time during the year. Anyone interested can get to know Coker students and faculty by taking student-led campus tours, attending round table classes, and meeting with faculty members in their areas of academic interest. They may also eat lunch in the dining hall, meet with one of the athletic coaches, or spend the night in the residence halls.

To schedule a personalized visit, students may contact Coker Admissions to make an appointment at least one week in advance. Appointments are accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (or by special arrangement on the weekends).

Open House Programs are also scheduled throughout the year. Please contact the Office of Admissions by phone at 843-383-8050 or 1-800-950-1908 or by email at for more information.




Tuition $13,812
Room and Board (on campus) $4,284
Estimated Total On Campus $18,096


Average Financial Aid Packages 2014-2015 Final

$14,707 First year students
$4,907 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015 Final

43% on average, the percentage of need that was met
7% of financial need students that had need fully met

$4,907 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$3,765 Average need-based loan


Merit Based Scholarships: Merit based awards are determined by a student’s GPA and test scores. Scholarships range from $3,000-$11,000 per year for 4 years. Some academic departments also offer scholarships to qualified students.

The Susan Coker Watson Fellowship Foundation provides funds annually to support study abroad in European countries and provides awards for study at a university or Coker Program outside the United States.

The Sparrow Scholars Program offers scholarships to help students cover the costs of their education while giving back to the community. Scholarship recipients complete a service learning requirement as part of the program.

Ashley Zearfoss

When Ashley Zearfoss graduated from Coker College, she left with more than just a degree. The biology and chemistry double major had developed a structured work ethic, an understanding of basic laboratory procedures and, perhaps...

Fall Outdoor Adventure Trip

Students participating in Coker College’s Fall Outdoor Adventure Trip test their limits at the U.S. National White Water Center (USNWC) in Charlotte, N.C. “Through the Outdoor Adventure Trips, students learn new things that can’t be...

Coker College’s Sparrow Scholars

Coker College’s Sparrow Scholars make life-changing differences in Hartsville and beyond by immersing themselves in the community and focusing their energy where it’s needed most. Each week, Jessica Covington and Kira Dobbs volunteer for at...

Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes, a 1994 Coker College alumnus, won the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry for “Lighthead,” his fourth collection of poetic works. Hayes’s other books include “Wind in a Box,” which was named one...

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