After the Civil War, Converse College was established in 1889 in honor of the cotton mill pioneer Dexter Edgar Converse with an inaugural class of 168 students. Today, Converse has evolved into a premier private women’s liberal arts institution. Its small, close-knit community enrolls just over 1,300 female students from across the United States. Converse College also offers co-educational online, graduate, and adult education programs for men. Within just 80 miles west of Charlotte, Converse is located on a beautiful 70-acre urban campus in Spartanburg in South Carolina’s popular “Upstate” region. The Romanesque Revival buildings on Converse College’s campus are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to the U.S. News, Converse is ranked the 25th best regional college and third top value school in the South. Forbes magazine has named Converse College the 103rd best Southern college and 305th best private school in the United States with a financial grade of C. Consistently, Converse is included within the Princeton Review’s “Best in the Southeast.” In Washington Monthly magazine, Converse College landed in the ninth spot for best master’s-level institution for social mobility, research, and service nationally. For six straight years, Converse was on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Converse also exceeded the national average in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
Converse College Accreditation Details
For more than a century, Converse College has been continuously accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This regional accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for awarding degrees at Level IV. In particular, teaching degrees are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Art programs meet the standards of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Music degrees are also approved by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
Converse College Application Requirements
With an acceptance rate of 53 percent, Converse College is a highly selective women’s school requiring rigorous admissions criteria. First-year students must be upcoming graduates from a state-approved secondary school or home school. Passing the General Educational Development (GED) test with a minimum score of 600 is also acceptable. On average, admitted students maintain a high school GPA of 3.89. Freshmen typically score an average of 24 on the ACT and 1060 on the SAT, excluding writing. Undergraduate transfers must have 30 or more credits from a regionally accredited college. Since transfer admissions is competitive, having a minimum collegiate GPA of 2.75 is strongly recommended.
For master’s or specialist programs, graduate applicants to Converse must have graduated with a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. or foreign college. Non-provisional admissions is reserved for students with an overall cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher. Certain programs, such as the Master of Education (M.Ed.), require a 3.0 GPA. Having an undergrad major appropriate to the field of study is encouraged. Graduate teaching programs mandate that students have passed the Praxis II and been state certified. MFA applicants must display merit with at least 25 samples of creative works. Taking the GRE or MAT isn’t required.
Interested students wishing to enroll can apply by submitting the Common Application or Converse Online Application with the following:
• $40 non-refundable application fee
• Official transcripts from all schools attended
• Standardized testing score reports
• One to three letters of recommendation
• International educational credentials (if applicable)
• 250-300 word personal statement
Tuition and Financial Aid
In 2014, Converse made national news for resetting its tuition at a price 43 percent lower than the previous year. Full-time undergraduate students are now charged $16,500 annually for tuition. A $350 annual fee is required for funding the Student Government Association. Room and board is projected to cost $9,995 every year. Total cost of attendance for full-time undergrads is $26,495. Graduate students at Converse College are billed $390 per credit hour. Online master’s classes cost $400 per credit hour. On average, full-time graduate students pay $8,210 in tuition and fees annually.
100 percent of beginning, full-time Converse students receive financial aid. Several scholarships are available, including the Merit Scholarship, School of Arts Scholarship, Athletics Scholarship, Converse Scholars Invitational Scholarship, and Talent Scholarship. Certain students could qualify for the Pell Grant, FSEOG Grant, TEACH Grant, or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. South Carolina residents should apply for the SC Tuition Grant, Palmetto Fellows Program, and SC Hope Scholarship. There’s also a need-based Converse College Grant. Students can work four to eight hours weekly for Federal Work-Study (FWS). Monthly plans are offered for interest-free payments over 10 months. If needed, students can also borrow money with the Federal Stafford, Perkins, or PLUS loans.
Converse College is split into three schools: the School of Arts, School of Humanities and Sciences, and School of Education and Graduate Studies. Currently, students can select from 28 bachelor’s, 12 pre-professional, and 11 graduate programs. Some unique undergraduate majors include Art Therapy, Creative Writing, Musical Theatre, German Studies, Genetic Counseling, and Biochemistry. Students can also customize their studies with the Individualized Major. Those needing an extra challenge can join the Nisbet Honors Program. Thanks to the low student-faculty ratio of 12:1, students are able to work one-on-one with a faculty advisor.
Students at Converse have high-quality learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom. More than 50 percent of students are involved in independent research or creative projects. The college recently won an NIH grant to create the Science and Technology Research Scholars (STARS) program. Students can travel abroad for a semester or during January Term. Women at Converse often study volcanoes in Ecuador, explore Renaissance art in Italy, immerse in Parisian culture in France, or search for vampires in Budapest. Art lovers can also attend nearly 200 public exhibitions at the Milliken Art Gallery each year.
There are over 40 student-run organizations on the Converse campus. Depending on their interests, students could debate on the Model Arab League team, perform with the Palmetto Players, get creative with the Art Club, or go green on the WISE club. Students participate in several campus traditions, including “Montgomery by Moonlight,” “1889 Spirit Week,” and “Wild Wednesdays.” Classes create bonds as Pink Panthers or Red Devils based on their graduation year. Athletic students at Converse College can compete for the Valkyries in NCAA Division II for basketball, cross country, equestrian, lacrosse, tennis, swimming, and more.