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The 10 Best and Most Prestigious Universities in Virginia

Shalom Kamau - September 01, 2022

Virginia is a beautiful state with a lot to explore, including Shenandoah National Park and historic presidential homes. The state is also home to over 80 colleges and universities, and US News and World Report has the state of Virginia’s universities ranked at number 17 in the US. We looked into the best universities in Virginia to help you with your college search.

So what are the best universities in Virginia? This article highlights the top 10 universities in Virginia and shares the criteria we used to determine rankings. We also provide important information about each of the most prestigious universities in Virginia. Any of these schools would be a gread choice for students, so read on to find which one suits you best.

How We Defined Virginia University Rankings

We listed the top 10 most prestigious universities in Virginia based on a wide variety of factors. We considered the US News and World Report national rankings, graduation rates, enrollment information, access to resources, facilities, student support, and whether each school had affordable tuition. These factors combined make it easy for prospective students to choose a university in Virginia.

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Virginia Universities Ranked: Top 10 Universities in Virginia

  1. University of Virginia
  2. William & Mary
  3. Virginia Tech
  4. George Mason University
  5. Virginia Commonwealth University
  6. Hampton University
  7. Old Dominion University
  8. Shenandoah University
  9. Regent University
  10. Washington and Lee University

The Best Colleges and Universities in Virginia, Explained

Students engaging with their professor in class. Best Universities in Virginia
The best universities in Virginia have an impressive four-year graduation rate and invest in acclaimed and highly-qualified faculty. The are a place for undergraduate and graduate degree students to get a great learning experience and make awesome friends at the same time.

Below is an overview of our top 10 universities in Virginia, with information about campus location, undergraduate enrollment, graduation rate, and details about what makes each university unique. This section is perfect for aspiring first-year students who want to make lifelong friends and have an educational experience that will lead to career fulfillment and great pay. Information was sourced directly from the schools’ official websites.

1. University of Virginia

  • US News National Ranking: #25
  • Campus Location: Charlottesville
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 18,066
  • Graduation Rate: 92%

Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson and Joseph C Cabell, the University of Virginia (UVA) prides itself on state-of-the-art facilities, nationally ranked academic programs, a diverse student population, and an outstanding sense of community and leadership. Prospective students can apply to any of UVA’s 12 schools for undergraduate studies, online learning, international studies, continuing education, summer and winter sessions, and graduate studies.

2. William & Mary

  • US News National Ranking: #38
  • Campus Locations: Williamsburg, Gloucester Point
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,543
  • Graduation Rate: 85%

As a public institution founded in 1693, William & Mary (W&M) is the second-oldest university in the US after Harvard University. This university is known for its cutting-edge research, STEM curriculum, and liberal arts education. You can select from over 45 undergraduate programs and excellent professors who teach classes with an average student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to one.

3. Virginia Tech

  • US News National Ranking: #75
  • Campus Locations: Blacksburg, Roanoke, Northern Virginia
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 30,770
  • Graduation Rate: 65%

Virginia Tech, formerly known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, is a public university in Blacksburg. Students can choose from over 100 undergraduate programs and 170 master’s and doctoral degree programs. Virginia Tech is well known for research, and many students undertake tech and research programs.

4. George Mason University

  • US News National Ranking: #148
  • Campus Locations: Fairfax, Arlington, Manassas
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 26,515
  • Graduation Rate: 48%

George Mason University (GMU) is the second-largest university in Virginia and is a diverse, phenomenal college with three campuses in Virginia. GMU offers over 200 degree programs across its 10 schools. Each of its college campuses provide an engaging academic experience, and offer students access to city life in nearby Washington, DC.

5. Virginia Commonwealth University

  • US News National Ranking: #172
  • Campus Location: Richmond
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 22,277
  • Graduation Rate: 44%

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is one of the nation’s top public research universities. VCU offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs that will prepare you for employment opportunities, including a career in science if that’s what you’re interested in.

Outside of classes, you’ll find an active student body as well as student resources, campus concerts, student organizations, an exciting city culture, and a place to make some amazing friends.

6. Hampton University

  • US News National Ranking: #202
  • Campus Location: Hampton
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,863
  • Graduation Rate: 41%

Hampton University is a historically black university (HBCU) with a 314-acre campus along the Virginia Peninsula near the Chesapeake Bay. A large portion of the campus land is considered a National Historic Landmark District. Popular undergraduate majors are liberal arts, education, science, and business.

7. Old Dominion University

  • US News National Ranking: #263
  • Campus Location: Norfolk
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 19,372
  • Graduation Rate: 27%

Old Dominion University (ODU) was founded in 1930 and is an acclaimed research university. ODU enrolls over 24,000 students annually to pursue a wide range of flexible programs, including criminal justice, education, engineering, and nursing. In addition to educating students, ODU also contributes nearly $2.6 billion to Virginia’s economy through initiatives and community partnerships.

8. Shenandoah University

  • US News National Ranking: #263
  • Campus Locations: Winchester, Loudoun, Fairfax
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,416
  • Graduation Rate: 60%

Shenandoah University is one of Virginia’s best private schools, and is a liberal arts university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The institution has eight schools and offers more than 90 programs of study. The Christian colleges that this institution governs encourage students to be liberal thinkers and build a community of trust through athletics, study abroad programs, career services, and unique student organizations.

9. Regent University

  • US News National Ranking: #277
  • Campus Location: Virginia Beach
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,519
  • Graduation Rate: 50%

Regent University is a mid-sized Christian university that was founded in 1978. The 70-acre campus accommodates approximately 11,000 students who pursue undergraduate and graduate programs in over 150 fields of study.

Degree programs include business, law, leadership, nursing, and healthcare education. Or, if you want to learn how to get a job in cyber security , this school is for you. Online students would do well at this school because Regent University’s programs rank among the top online bachelor’s degree programs.

10. Washington and Lee University

  • US News Ranking: #11 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Campus Location: Lexington
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,822
  • Graduation Rate: 91%

Founded in 1749, Washington and Lee University is one of America’s oldest liberal arts colleges. Undergraduate students can earn bachelor’s degrees through the college or the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. Places for graduate studies at this amazing institution include the Graduate School of Law.

Is a University in Virginia Right for You?

Yes, a university in Virginia could be right for you. Even if none of the universities on our list seemed like a good fit, there are other great universities in Virginia like Marshall University, James Madison University, Christopher Newport University, Averett University, and the University of Richmond. These universities must be doing something right, because Virginia has a higher percentage of degree holders than the national average.

If you are still unsure about university education, Virginia also hosts several alternative learning paths like community colleges, coding bootcamps , and trade schools where you can access affordable education, transferable credits, and enough experience to join the job market. If you’re a student athlete, there are also several strong athletic programs so you can have a vast array of experiences for you to enhance your skills.

Best Universities in Virginia FAQ

What is the largest university in Virginia?

Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, is the largest university in Virginia. This institution accommodates approximately 100,000 students and has an alumni network with over 200,000 members. This private, Christian university offers over 700 programs of study.

Which universities have the lowest and highest acceptance rate?

According to US News & World Report, the University of Virginia has the lowest acceptance rate of 23 percent and the University of Lynchburg has the highest acceptance rate of 97 percent.

Are coding bootcamps a good alternative to Virginia universities?

Yes, coding bootcamps are a good alternative to some Virginia universities. Coding bootcamps are short-term, immersive, career-specific training programs that will teach you the skills you need for a career in tech in less than a year. Coding bootcamps are also more affordable than many universities, and many guarantee job placement.

How can I apply for an undergraduate degree in Virginia?

The admission process varies from school to school, but most use an online application system and require school transcripts and letters of recommendation. The minimum GPA for most universities in Virginia with higher acceptance rates is 2.0. Check the official school website to get a detailed list of admission requirements, tuition rates, and to learn how fast admission decisions are made.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Shalom Kamau

About the author: Shalom is a career freelance writer whose work has appeared online at Ledmond and Watotolove. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Film Technology from Kenyatta University. She also has a copywriting certificate from DigitalMarketer.

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