Education Choice: the SC Governor’s Schools

By Sarah Ostergaard

Did you know that South Carolina offers free, public residential high schools focused on rigorous academics and professional achievement for students in any part of the state? These are called SC Governor’s Schools and there are three: the SC Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe (JDLH), for Arts & Humanities (SCGAH), and for Science & Mathematics (GSSM). Most students begin attending a Governor’s School in the 11th grade, but some programs can begin in the 10th grade.  

Students from all over the state of SC may apply and attend tuition-free.  

Academically, the courses at each school will complete the state’s general high school diploma requirements, provide Honors, AP and/or Dual Enrollment options, and offer students a tremendous wealth of elective courses related to the school’s subject area. For example, students at JLDH (Agriculture) take courses such as Wildlife Management, Cattle Production, Floriculture, Agricultural Mechanics and more, while also earning professional credentials to build their resumes for gainful employment or college studies. Each school also provides plentiful extracurricular activities for further application of learning, such as the Robotics team, Academic Quiz Bowl team, and peer tutoring at GSSM (Science & Mathematics). Athletics are also available. 

SC Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe (JDLH) in McCormick, SC: 

“The SC Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe is a place where students don’t just learn about the world in a classroom — they get out and experience it, getting their hands in the dirt as their minds are focused on the future. There is nothing like it in South Carolina, or anywhere else in the nation.”  

“With 1,310 acres of forests and farmland, the school is a working farm that supports the agricultural mission . . . The farm is composed of a herd of registered Polled Herefords, a cow and calf operation, hogs, goats, horses, pastures, and managed forestry plots, as well as natural areas, wilderness areas with wildlife, pecan groves, crops, and a greenhouse operation.”

“There is no place else like it — a versatile, working farm, where you will learn by doing.”

SC Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities (SCGAH) in Greenville, SC: 

“The mission of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities is to serve the artistically talented high school students of South Carolina through programs of pre-professional instruction in an environment of artistic and academic excellence.”

“What students learn in the classroom and in the studio is woven together through an intense study in the humanities, where we seek answers to three essential questions: Who are we as artists? Why do we do what we do? And Why do the arts have value for society? The continuous exploration of these questions, among other important inquiries, are critical to the growth of our students and help reveal the bigger picture of how they develop during their time in residence.”

SC Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) in Hartsville, SC: 

“Our special opportunities for the advanced study of science, math, and engineering, paired with equally strong offerings in humanities and social sciences, provide students with the deep knowledge and broad, well-rounded perspective that is the foundation for success and achievement in a wide range of future pursuits.”

“GSSM’s two-year residential high school program—as well as its virtual high school program, summer camps, and outreach programs—all invite young people to explore the subjects they love in a diverse, inclusive, and uncommonly supportive academic environment.”  

At GSSM, “challenge is viewed as a gateway to opportunity. GSSM students embrace the school’s rigorous approach to education… [and] GSSM lets committed students devote themselves to their interests and prepare for bright futures.”

All the information above is on each school’s website, retrieved on January 9. More information, online applications, and deadlines are also available on each school’s website:

Arts & Humanities:
Science & Math: