A campus lockdown was lifted Friday evening following the 1:30 p.m. shooting outside the off-campus Hugine Suites residence hall, WLTX-TV, Columbia, S.C., reported.
"The students are safe," University Police Chief Mernard Clarkson said at a news conference. "The perimeter of the campus has been secured."
The dead student was identified as 20-year-old Brandon Robinson of Orangeburg.
"We are extraordinarily sad about this," SC State President Thomas Elzey said. "He's a very nice young man ... and it hurts. It hurts us all."
Police at Claflin University, across the street from SC State, issued an alert to students identifying one of the suspects as Justin Bernard Singleton of Charleston, the TV station said. A 2-hour lockdown there also was lifted.
Both schools are historically black colleges.
The incident was the second this week at a major U.S. university. A student was shot to death Tuesday at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind.