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Online and On-Campus Colleges in VIRGINIA

Article Sources
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed March 2, 2016, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
  • College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 28, 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=VA&ic=1
  • School pages, accessed March 28, 2017: About W&M, College of William and Mary, http://www.wm.edu/about/index.php; JMU is top producer of Fulbright scholars, James Madison University, https://www.jmu.edu/news/2017/02/21-jmu-fulbright-top-producer.shtml; About Our National Ranked Public Liberal Arts College, University of Virginia's College at Wise, https://www.uvawise.edu/uva-wise/; General Campus Information, University of Virginia's College at Wise, https://www.uvawise.edu/uva-wise/facts/; About, Virginia Military Institute, http://www.vmi.edu/about/; About Us, Longwood University, http://www.longwood.edu/about/;
  • VCCS Transfer, Virginia's Community Colleges, accessed March 28, 2017, http://www.vccs.edu/students/transfers/
  • Top Producers of Fulbright Scholars and Students, 2016-17, The Chronicle of Higher Education, accessed March 28, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Top-Producers-of-Fulbright/239220
  • U.S. News and World Report, accessed March 28, 2017: Overall Rankings, Virginia Tech, https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/virginia-tech-3754/overall-rankings; Overall Rankings, Virginia Military Institute, https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/vmi-3753/overall-rankings;
  • QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed March 28, 2017, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/5127440,5157000,00
  • Financial Aid Programs, State Council for Higher Education of Virginia, http://www.schev.edu/index/tuition-aid/financialaid/state-student-aid/undergraduate-financial-aid-programs
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According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are nearly 100 colleges and universities awarding four-year degrees in Virginia. With all those schools to choose from, students might find it difficult to figure out which one can best help them reach their educational goals.

Whether you're hoping to study at a main campus, at a regional satellite location or from home via distance education, it can help to have some idea of which institutions are the best traditional and online colleges in Virginia. We put together a huge portfolio of data on four-year universities in the state and analyzed them with an in-house methodology that covers 13 conventional measures of affordability, flexibility and student success.

When the dust settled, the 10 best colleges for a campus-based or online bachelor's degree in Virginia became pretty clear. Nearly all the schools on our list — nine out of ten, to be precise — have guaranteed admission agreements in place for students transferring from two-year schools in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). Read on to find out who made the cut, and to learn why each school ranked the way it did.

Best 4-Year Colleges in Virginia

Here are the schools, some big and some small, that our data showed were the 10 best traditional and online colleges in Virginia.

Methodology
1University of Virginia-Main Campus+
ADMISSION RATE
30%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$70
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
32

Our No. 1 school landed in the statewide top five across a large percentage of our metrics. It had the No. 1 graduation rate in the state in 2015-16, as well as the largest proportion of institutional grant aid per student. The selection of on-campus programs at the University of Virginia ranked No. 3 among our best schools, and students looking to earn an online bachelor's degree in Virginia had more distance education options here than at all other schools on our list but one.

What's more, several agreements are in place to help transfer students from Virginia's community colleges move on to a four-year degree at UVA. Along with the general agreement that applies to most major subjects, students of engineering, nursing, interdisciplinary studies and health sciences management can take advantage of subject-specific transfer policies.

Additional Info
2College of William and Mary+
ADMISSION RATE
34%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$70
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
0

Chartered in 1693, the College of William and Mary is the second-oldest college in the country, and its more than 300 years of higher education experience have likely given it some rare insights about the best ways to engage with its students. The Williamsburg school had the No. 1 retention rate and No. 2 graduation rate in the state in 2015-16.

Despite the prestige suggested by its long tenure, William and Mary was one of the more affordable schools in the state for low-income students. The school's average net price, an affordability measure that subtracts the average amount of grant and scholarship aid from the total estimated cost of tuition, fees, supplies, housing and other expenses, was No. 1 in the state for low-income students and ranked among the top 25 schools nationally. The median student debt load for graduates was also lowest of any school on our list.

Additional Info
3George Mason University+
ADMISSION RATE
69%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$60
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
25

As the largest public university in Virginia, it may come as no surprise that George Mason University took the No. 1 spot for its massive variety of available academic programs. It was also one of the best online colleges in Virginia, placing third among schools on our list for its selection of distance education programs.

Affordability was another bright spot for prospective GMU students. The Fairfax school ranked in the top five among schools on our list for its relatively low cost of tuition and fees, and it took the No. 5 spot statewide for the manageable student debt load of its graduates. Only 11 other schools statewide charged students a lower average net price than GMU, and it placed in the statewide top 10 in the graduation rate category.

Additional Info
4James Madison University+
ADMISSION RATE
73%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$70
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
10

This Harrisonburg school posted the lowest overall cost of books and supplies of any institution on our list. Tuition and fees were also on the low side, coming in at No. 6 statewide for affordability. Perhaps as a result of these manageable costs, College Scorecard reports that James Madison University had the second-highest percentage of graduates who paid off their student loan balances within three years after graduation.

Students with high academic aspirations may have an additional reason to consider JMU in their application process. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently recognized JMU as a top producer of Fulbright scholars, thanks to a total of three of the esteemed scholarships being awarded there in 2016-17.

Additional Info
5Radford University+
ADMISSION RATE
83%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Recommended
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
5

Affordability of tuition and fees was a bright spot at Radford University, which came in at No. 5 statewide in that category. It took the No. 2 spot among schools on our list in terms of its average net price for middle-income students, and low-income students paid a lower average net price at Radford than at all but six other colleges in the state.

Even though its catalog offers a smaller total number of available degree programs than some of the other schools on our list, Radford students have access to no fewer than eight of the 10 most popular degree programs in Virginia. Radford was also the only school among our top 10 to list criminal justice as its top major, which may suggest enhanced networking opportunities for aspiring members of law enforcement and criminal justice professions.

Additional Info
6Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University+
ADMISSION RATE
73%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$60
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
13

Better known as Virginia Tech, our No. 6 school scored some top-five rankings in a few important categories. It placed No. 2 in the state for its vast variety of available degree programs, and its retention and graduation rates ranked No. 3 and No. 4 statewide respectively. More than 87 percent of Virginia Tech graduates repaid their student loan balances within three years, according to the NCES.

A few of the bachelor's degree programs available at the Blacksburg school have earned accolades from academic ranking agencies. The bachelor's degree in industrial and manufacturing engineering ranked No. 5 in the country for 2017, according to U.S. News and World Report, with the civil engineering program coming in at No. 9 and the degree for agricultural engineers taking the national No. 6 spot.

Additional Info
7The University of Virginia's College at Wise+
ADMISSION RATE
77%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$25
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
0

Coming in at No. 7 among the best traditional and online colleges in Virginia is this extension campus of our No. 1 school, where the most affordable education of any school on our list can be found. Its raw cost of tuition and fees ranked No. 3 statewide for affordability, and its average net price figure for 2015-16 was lower than all other schools in the state.

UVa-Wise has one of the smallest student bodies on our list, with little more than 2,000 students enrolled in 2015, but its degree catalog has made some cutting-edge additions. As of 2017, the southwestern Virginia school was home to the only undergraduate degree in software engineering available in the state. It was also one of the best online colleges in Virginia by enrollment, reporting that nearly 50 percent of its students were taking at least some of their courses via distance education.

Additional Info
8Virginia Military Institute+
ADMISSION RATE
53%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$40
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
0

Virginia Military Institute offered the second-best average net price in the state for low-income students in 2015-16, and we're not the only ones to notice the affordable cost of education at this Lexington institution. U.S. News and World Report listed VMI at No. 3 on its ranking of the best value liberal arts colleges in the country for 2017.

What's more, graduates of VMI repay their student loans at an enviable clip. Nearly 94 percent of graduates paid off their loan balance within three years of graduating, according to NCES data. Class sizes are also some of the smallest among schools on our list. VMI's website reports that the student-faculty ratio is just 12:1, suggesting that students who can benefit from more personalized instruction may have access to the resources they need.

Additional Info
9Old Dominion University+
ADMISSION RATE
83%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
39

Our No. 9 school takes its name from Virginia's state nickname and educates its students in one of the state's most metropolitan settings. Old Dominion University students can earn their campus-based or online bachelor's degree in Virginia's second-largest city, combining the amenities of an urban environment with an average raw cost of tuition and fees that ranks No. 2 among schools on our list.

ODU is also one of the best online colleges in Virginia. Only one other school in the state offered more total degree programs via distance education than the 39 available at Old Dominion, and only one institution on our list reported a higher percentage of online course enrollment among its students.

Additional Info
10Longwood University+
ADMISSION RATE
79%
TEST REQUIREMENTS
Required
APPLICATION FEE
$50
NO. OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
1

We go from one of Virginia's most urban college environments to one of its most rural for our No. 10 school. The town of Farmville in central Virginia has an estimated population of around 8,200 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and sits about an hour away from its nearest metropolitan area of Richmond.

The average cost of tuition and fees paid by students at Longwood University was one of the 10 most affordable in the state in 2015-16. Its graduation rate came in at No. 6 among schools on our list. The student debt load carried by graduates placed in the top 20 statewide, and 88.5 percent of former students report having paid down their student loan balance within three years of graduation.

Additional Info

Most popular degree programs in Virginia

Whether you're hoping to pick a major that gives you plenty of study partners or avoid common study plans in your quest to stand out, it can help to be aware of the most popular campus-based and online bachelor's degree programs in Virginia. Here's a list of the top degrees by enrollment in the state.

In-Demand Careers in Virginia

Focusing your education on a high-demand industry can help you increase the chances that you'll successfully more into the career of your choice after finishing your degree. Take a look at the hottest job fields in Virginia this year and see if one might be right for you.

Career TitleProjected Job GrowthTotal EmploymentAnnual Salary
Occupational Therapy Assistants53.1%1,040$62,890
Physical Therapist Aides48.1%1,260$24,950
Home Health Aides46%11,340$22,640
Personal Financial Advisors44.1%4,560$124,360
Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians43.5%290$23,940
Nurse Practitioners43.2%4,630$101,060
Physical Therapist Assistants42.9%2,550$54,990
Hearing Aid Specialists42.6%190$51,030
Audiologists41.4%360$81,710
Physician Assistants40.1%2,450$94,810
Interpreters and Translators39.6%2,400$74,130
Nurse Midwives39.5%-$107,170
Statisticians38.9%1,120$81,780
Commercial Divers38.8%170$55,090
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists36.4%310$120,260
Physical Therapists36%5,790$90,360
Operations Research Analysts35%7,930$106,490
Forensic Science Technicians34.9%660$69,310
Phlebotomists34.4%3,640$33,160
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists32.3%440$76,930
Medical Assistants32%12,510$32,610
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians31.9%-$35,940
Optometrists31.7%1,240$134,970
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers31.6%1,610$72,250
Occupational Therapy Aides31.3%170$33,180
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians31.2%1,650$35,240
Occupational Therapists28.7%2,850$91,450
Nurse Anesthetists28.7%900$171,540
Web Developers28.5%3,780$80,950
Speech-Language Pathologists28.4%3,140$83,430
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Financial Aid and Scholarships in Virginia

There are numerous state-based financial aid opportunities that may be available to Virginia residents seeking four-year degrees. Here's a short list:

  • The Virginia Commonwealth Award and Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program aim to ease the burden for students with appropriate financial need.
  • The Two-Year College Transfer grant provides up to $2,000 for qualifying students transferring into select four-year schools the year after finishing an associate degree.
  • The Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program provides assistance for immediate family members of military veterans killed or drastically disabled in war.
 
Commonwealth of Virginia Nurse Educator Scholarship Program
Applicant must be accepted as a full-/part-time student in a school of nursing program.
More

AWARD AMOUNT

$20,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

Jul-31

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Renewable up to five years if recipient reapplies and demonstrates satisfactory academic progress.

 
Provost Scholarship
Applicant must be an out-of-state resident with a minimum 3.75 GPA and minimum combined SAT Reasoning score of 1400 (composite ACT score of 32).
More

AWARD AMOUNT

$20,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

November 15 (Early Action admissions deadline)

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.25 GPA and full-time status.

 
Virginia Nursing Assistance Grant
Applicant must be a nursing graduate student in Virginia. Priority given to master's degree candidates who will teach in community colleges.
More

AWARD AMOUNT

$20,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

Jun-30

RENEWAL CRITERIA

Renewable for up to two years.

 
Moody's Mega Math Challenge
Applicant must be a high school junior or senior who is part of a team working to solve an open-ended, applied math-modeling problem focused on a real-word issue in 14 hours. Teams must be comprised of three to five students.
More

AWARD AMOUNT

$20,000

APPLICATION DEADLINE

Feb-17

 

 

Additional Resources

Article Sources
Methodology

To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,649 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the most recent data available from government sources. Our data points include:

  • The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The average net price for students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • The average net price for low-income students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
  • Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
  • 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
  • No. of degree and certificate programs offered, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Average retention rate for full-time and part-time students, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2015-16
  • Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
    • Dual credit
    • Credit for life experience
    • Advanced Placement credit
    • Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
    • Remedial services
    • Academic and career counseling
    • Job placement services for graduates
    • Guaranteed tuition plan
    • Tuition payment plan
    • Any other alternative tuition plan
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College of William and Mary
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
200 Richmond Road
City
Williamsburg
State
VA
Zip Code
23187
Website
www.wm.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
630-730
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
630-730
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
620-720
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
28-32
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Suburb: Small
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
6,301
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$70
Admission Rate
34%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$16,919
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
12
Number of Online Programs Offered
0
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
1%
George Mason University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
4400 University Dr
City
Fairfax
State
VA
Zip Code
22030
Website
www.gmu.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
520-620
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
520-630
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
23-29
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Suburb: Large
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
23,066
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$60
Admission Rate
69%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$10,952
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
16
Number of Online Programs Offered
25
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
23%
James Madison University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
800 South Main Street
City
Harrisonburg
State
VA
Zip Code
22807
Website
www.jmu.edu/
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
520-610
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
520-610
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
23-27
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Small
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
19,396
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$70
Admission Rate
73%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$10,018
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
16
Number of Online Programs Offered
10
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
11%
Longwood University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
201 High St
City
Farmville
State
VA
Zip Code
23909
Website
www.longwood.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
450-550
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
440-540
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
18-23
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Town: Remote
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
4,613
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$50
Admission Rate
79%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$11,910
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
16
Number of Online Programs Offered
1
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
21%
Old Dominion University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
5115 Hampton Blvd
City
Norfolk
State
VA
Zip Code
23529
Website
www.odu.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
460-570
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
460-570
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
18-24
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
City: Midsize
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
20,101
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$50
Admission Rate
83%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$9,480
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
19
Number of Online Programs Offered
39
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
38%
Radford University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
801 East Main St.
City
Radford
State
VA
Zip Code
24142
Website
www.radford.edu
Test Scores
Recommended
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Small
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
8,880
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$50
Admission Rate
83%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$9,809
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
17
Number of Online Programs Offered
5
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
24%
The University of Virginia's College at Wise
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
1 College Avenue
City
Wise
State
VA
Zip Code
24293
Website
https://www.uvawise.edu/
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
420-530
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
430-510
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
410-510
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
17-22
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Town: Distant
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
2,027
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$25
Admission Rate
77%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$9,220
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
12
Number of Online Programs Offered
0
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
48%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
210 Burruss Hall, 800 Drillfield Dr.
City
Blacksburg
State
VA
Zip Code
24061
Website
WWW.VT.EDU
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
540-640
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
560-680
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
530-630
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Small
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
25,384
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$60
Admission Rate
73%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$12,485
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
14
Number of Online Programs Offered
13
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
28%
University of Virginia-Main Campus
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
1827 University Avenue
City
Charlottesville
State
VA
Zip Code
22903
Website
www.virginia.edu/
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
620-720
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
630-740
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
620-720
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
29-33
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Suburb: Small
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
16,736
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$70
Admission Rate
30%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$14,295
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
15
Number of Online Programs Offered
32
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
5%
Virginia Military Institute
Basic Information
Test Score Data
Address
VMI Parade
City
Lexington
State
VA
Zip Code
24450
Website
www.vmi.edu
Test Scores
Required
SAT Critical Reading 25th-75th Percentile
520-620
SAT Critical Math 25th-75th Percentile
520-610
SAT Writing 25th-75th Percentile
N/A
ACT Composite 25th-75th Percentile
23-27
Campus/School Overview
Campus Environment
Town: Distant
School Type
Public
Total UnderGraduate Enrollment
1,717
UnderGraduate Application Fee
$40
Admission Rate
53%
Offers On-Campus Housing
Yes
In-State Tution & Fees
$16,536
Student-to-Faculty Ratio
11
Number of Online Programs Offered
0
Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes
N/A
X
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