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Undergrad Profile

Intimate academics no joke at South Carolina school

A professor walks into a crowded classroom and says, “Well, I guess I’m not at Francis Marion University.”

Okay, it’s not much of a punch line, but that’s all right. When it comes to creating an intimate academic experience, FMU doesn’t joke around. Our faculty and staff is committed to teaching our students. We rarely have graduate students—teaching assistants, as they are sometimes called—in charge of a class. And if you’re looking for a nice, personal lecture inside a big hall filled with 200 of your closest classmates, then we’re sorry, Francis Marion isn’t going to be for you. We just don’t do that here. We expect more from a university, and we expect you do too.

We think students should have a chance to form the kind of intimate academic relationship that’s at the heart of great higher education. We do all we can to make that happen. We try to be as efficient with our tuition dollars as possible, both to keep college affordable (FMU has one of the lowest tuitions in South Carolina) and to continually invest in the academic side of the University. By doing that we make sure our students get what they expect—and deserve. That means, among other things, “small classes” that really are small and an honest-to-goodness, no-fudging-the-numbers student-faculty ratio of 18:1. Of course, some classes are a little bigger than that average. But many are smaller.

In all cases, when a professor walks into the classroom, she might not know a good joke . . . but she will know your name.

An unusual combination
Yet, despite small classes, Francis Marion is no small place.

We’re a comprehensive public university, a part of the South Carolina university system. We offer more than 60 majors and 10 graduate degrees.

FMU’s faculty include a high percentage of professors with the highest possible degree in their field. Many are top-notch researchers. We have scientists who work with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, writing professors who publish novels, and music instructors who perform in Nashville. Members of our business faculty came from the private sector. Some of our health science instructors still toil on the front line of medicine in our area. They’re real professionals who are focused on giving back to the next generation, to being teachers—and to being mentors.

FMU students go to class in state-of-the-art facilities, like the four-year-old FMU Performing Arts Center or the brand-new Center for Health Sciences, which opens in our downtown campus this fall. We have our own recording studio, an active childcare center that our education majors use as a lab, an on-campus supercomputer, and two medical simulation labs. Students at FMU do not lack for facilities. But, as already noted, they do not lack for personal attention either. That’s an unusual combination, one that can’t be found many places. But it can be found at Francis Marion.

The path to a career
College should be about more than just preparing for a “job,” but we do our best to take care of that task as well. Our students leave ready for a career and ready for life. One sophisticated new college resource——recently named Francis Marion among the 40 most efficient colleges in the nation (out of more than 1,200) in advancing a student’s career earning potential. Their formula is complex, but it demonstrates an FMU strength that’s existed for years: our students gain more by being here than students at most other colleges. And they do it at an affordable cost.

A diverse place
Francis Marion opened in 1970. From the outset it was designed to provide quality higher education for the people of the state of South Carolina, especially those living in the Pee Dee Region (the northeastern corner of the state, on the coast). That’s still our mission, but we’ve branched out a bit over time. Our bedrock liberal arts program, coupled with our well-known Schools of Business, Education, and, now, the Health Sciences and Engineering, draw a student body of some 4,000 students from across South Carolina. Patriots come from 17 different U.S. states and 14 countries. We have an international faculty and working exchange programs with 19 foreign colleges and universities. It’s an interesting and diverse place, but in an interesting and diverse state like South Carolina, we wouldn’t expect anything else.

Right-sized and beautiful
Our campus is located just east of Florence, South Carolina, the unofficial “capital” of the Pee Dee. It’s a beautiful part of the state, a paradise for outdoorsmen of all stripes. The FMU campus is located on 400+ acres of beautifully landscaped woodlands. Many call it South Carolina’s most beautiful campus. Whether that’s true or not, we can’t say for sure (we’re biased!). But we do know it is a lovely, restful place that our students, faculty, and staff all enjoy.

Athletics are a big part of campus life. FMU fields 14 teams, most of which compete in NCAA athletics at the Division II level. The University offers an array of student organizations and activities. Some are standard fare, some are not. Ducks Unlimited, the conservation organization, has a branch here. So do a number of Greek fraternities and sororities. The Young Gifted and Blessed choir is a faith-based group that travels the state and the nation, singing in competitions and ministering to the world.

Not surprisingly, much of the social life at FMU is right-sized too, just like our academics. We have plenty to offer, but it’s served up in a personal way. And maybe that’s the right way for you.

Y’all stop by now, hear?
We’d welcome a visit, and our famed Southern hospitality is always on display. Regular campus tours are available every Friday—stop by on the way to the beach!—but we’ll make time for you whenever you want. Remember, it’s always warm and sunny in South Carolina.To set up your tour, give us a call at 843-661-1231. Or check us out the new-fashioned way. Find out more about what we expect, and, more importantly, what you can expect, at Or send us an e-mail at and we’ll send you even more great information!




The growing need for new health care practitioners has fueled the fast growth of Francis Marion’s School of Health Sciences. Founded as a nursing program, the School of Health Sciences is now home to the University’s B.S.N. programs, its nurse practitioner and nurse educator graduate degrees, the new physician assistant program, and graduate and undergraduate degrees in health care administration/management and is allied with programs in health physics and clinical psychology.

Starting in the fall of 2016, all will be housed in the new Luther F. Carter Center for Health Sciences in downtown Florence. The 51,000-sq. ft. building will house classrooms, offices, and a state-of-the-art simulation lab.

It’s a win for all concerned. The people of the region receive the skilled health care providers they need, and FMU students have a pathway to a meaningful career in a growing field.

FMU Majors

Environmental Science
Medical Technology
Pre-physical Therapy

Business Economics
Computer Science
Healthcare Administration
Management Information Systems

Environmental Science

Art Education
Early Childhood Education
Elementary Education Middle Level Education
Secondary Education

Professional Writing

History Mass Communication
Broadcast Journalism
Print Journalism
Public Relations
Sports Broadcasting

Modern Languages

Music Industry


Civil Engineering Technology
Electronic Engineering Technology
Computational Physics
Health Physics
Industrial Engineering

Political Science
Criminal Justice



Theatre Arts
Design Specialty
Performance Specialty

Visual Arts
Ceramics Specialty
Painting Specialty
Photography Specialty
Visual Communication Specialty

Students at Francis Marion University have access to an array of study abroad opportunities. Different times, different places, different lengths of stay—there’s a lot of variety.

None is more unique than a trip to the Wildsumaco Biological Research Station in northern Ecuador.

Wildsumaco is a beautiful and remote wild life sanctuary. It’s located on a bird-watching preserve on the slopes of the Andes, next to a volcano. It is an internationally recognized “biodiversity hotspot” where researchers (including students!) have already discovered more than a dozen new species or species variations.

The experience is like no other, and though it’s been open to students for just a few short years, the Wildsumaco experience has already changed lives and career paths.

Maybe it could change yours.

L: Dr. Jeff Camper with new caecilian species discovered at Wildsumaco