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General University Information

The University

Francis Marion University, founded in 1970, is one of South Carolina's 13 four-year, state-assisted universities. As one of the state's six comprehensive institutions, FMU prides itself on providing a strong liberal arts education.

Named for Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion, who was nicknamed the "Swamp Fox" for using the South Carolina terrain to out-fox the British, the university enrolls more than 4,000 students. The university offers a broad range of undergraduate degrees and a select number of graduate programs in serving the needs of communities, businesses and industries of the Pee Dee region. Francis Marion is the only state university serving the Pee Dee region, and many of its students are the first in their families to go to college.

FMU has the look and feel of a small, liberal arts college with all the benefits of a state-assisted comprehensive university. FMU offers an excellent learning environment, small enough to afford students personalized attention from faculty and staff, and large enough to let students expand their intellectual curiosities.

While 95 percent of its students come from South Carolina, the university enrolls students from 32 states and 17 countries, allowing the FMU community to experience the diversity of people from other cultures. The student-faculty ratio is 16 to 1, and the overall class size is 21. The average age of undergraduates is 22, while the average age of graduate students is 36.

All faculty members have advanced degrees, and 79 percent of the full-time faculty hold doctoral or terminal degrees.

Francis Marion University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award bachelor's, master's, and specialty level degrees. The university is approved by the S.C. State Board of Education and is a member of the American Council on Education and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. A number of FMU's individual academic programs have also been accredited by specialized agencies.

Located about six miles east of Florence, the 400-acre campus is known for its beautiful foliage and landscaping. The campus includes 100 acres of mixed pine-hardwood and bottomland forests accessed by a series of trails. Several acres have been set aside as an Arboretum that is being developed into a resource with many of the native species of the area.

The campus features modern classroom buildings, laboratories and residence facilities to provide a safe, comfortable learning environment for students. The campus also features a number of recreational facilities that are available for use by students, faculty, staff and alumni, and for use in intramural and intercollegiate athletic competition.

Most buildings have been constructed or renovated since 1970. Facilities are equipped with ramps, and those of more than one story are equipped with elevators. Though each building has its own unique design, all are planned for architectural harmony.

One of the busiest places on campus is James A. Rogers Library, the largest library in northeastern South Carolina.  It is not only an asset to the FMU community, but serves as a valuable resource for individual citizens, business and industry for the entire region.  The library holdings include more than 412,000 volumes, 1,100 current subscriptions, 500,000 microforms and access to more than 21,000 full-text journals, more than 30,000 electronic books and 79 electronic databases to access information from almost anywhere.

The Pee Dee Education Center occupies a 10,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the campus.  The Pee Dee Education Center is a regional consortium serving 18 area school districts, 70,000 students and 4,500 teachers. FMU works closely with the Pee Dee Education Center and the Pee Dee Math/Science Hub, which also is housed in the new facility, to provide resources and services to school districts in the Pee Dee.

FMU also provides numerous services to the community, region and public at large. Additionally, the university offers technical and professional assistance, industrial and economic development and artistic and cultural enrichment. Many of the cultural arts are sponsored by FMU, making concerts, lectures, plays, art exhibits and film series free to the public.

The FMU Alumni Association numbers more than 18,300, with about 79 percent living in South Carolina and more than half residing in the Pee Dee area. Private support comes from the FMU Foundation which was organized in 1974 to provide a means for soliciting and accepting substantial gifts of money or property to build an endowment fund that promotes the educational mission and welfare of the university.


The Community

Francis Marion University is located just east of the city of Florence in the beautiful northeastern section of South Carolina. Florence is the burgeoning hub of commerce, agriculture and industry for what is known as the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, an eight-county area located between the Piedmont and Coastal regions of South Carolina. Florence offers relaxed Southern living with all the amenities of big city life. Florence is about 90 miles from the state capital of Columbia, 60 miles from the shores of Myrtle Beach, and the mountains of the Carolinas are only three hours drive to the northwest.



Francis Marion University was founded in response to an overwhelming need for a public higher education institution in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. The university was founded in 1970 and named in honor of Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion, who was nicknamed the Swamp Fox for using the South Carolina terrain to out-fox the British.

However, the university can trace its history to 1957 when the University of South Carolina established a freshman center at the Florence County Library. In 1961, a permanent campus for USC-Florence was established seven miles east of Florence on land donated by the Wallace family, the current location of FMU. By 1966, enrollment at USC-F had reached 350, and community leaders began a movement to establish a four-year institution to better meet the educational needs of the area. Following a Commission on Higher Education recommendation, Gov. Robert E. McNair signed into law an act creating Francis Marion College, effective July 1, 1970. The institution gained university status in 1992.

The institution has had four presidents: Dr. Walter Douglas Smith (1969 to 1983), Dr. Thomas C. Stanton (1983 to 1994), Dr. Lee A. Vickers (1994 to 1999), and Dr. Luther F. Carter (present).


Admission to the University

Students wanting to further their education are encouraged to apply for admission to FMU.  The university seeks qualified students to enter the university as freshmen or transfer students.  Freshman admission is based upon high school coursework, grades and SAT or ACT scores. Students wishing to transfer from another college or university should have 22 transferable hours with a 2.0 or higher grade point average.  The application to FMU may be found online at


Residence Life

FMU offers a modern and progressive residence life program for the student who wishes to live on campus. The addition of new campus housing in fall 2004 enables about 40 percent of the student body to live on campus.  Freshmen are typically assigned to traditional residence halls where students live two to a room in a suite arrangement. Sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students may live in the residence halls or choose an apartment.  The apartments offer a variety of choices – from one, two or four bedroom units. In the apartments, students have their own bedroom and share living/dining, bath and kitchen facilities. Apartments are furnished with beds, chest-of-drawers, study desks, sofas, chairs, stoves, microwaves and dishwashers.  All campus housing is wired for phone, cable television and high-speed Internet access.  Students should apply for housing immediately after acceptance to the university.



The FMU intercollegiate athletics program sponsors 12 sports, six each for men and women. The Patriot women's soccer team and the men's golf team both compete as NCAA Division I independents, while the remaining 10 teams compete in the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference. FMU continued its streak of having student-athletes compete in NCAA post-season competition every year since the athletic program moved to NCAA affiliation in 1992 by having a pair of squads advance to NCAA post-season play in 2012-13. In its short 43-year history, Francis Marion has captured five national championships in three sports and garnered 52 conference or district titles. The Peach Belt Conference, in only its 24th year of existence, has produced 33 NCAA Division II national champions and 28 national runners-up. The PBC consists of 14 members, with schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. FMU is a two-time recipient of the Commissioner’s Cup, signifying the best all-around program in the conference. FMU annually ranks among the conference leaders in the number of student-athletes named to the PBC Presidential (academic) Honor Roll, which requires a 3.0 grade point or B average.


Financial Assistance

Financial assistance is available in several forms - scholarships, grants-in-aid, loans and part-time employment on campus and off. Eighty-one percent of FMU students receive some form of financial aid, totaling more than $35 million annually. The university makes every effort within limits of available resources to encourage and assist students in securing an education. For more information or to obtain financial aid forms, contact the FMU Office of Financial Assistance, phone 843-661-1190 or visit the website.


Last Published: December 3, 2013 11:12 AM
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