Updated: May 24, 2017

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Want to be as well-educated as possible? Then consider going to college in Virginia, which aims to become “the best-educated state by 2030.” As their state government notes, of all the 11.5 million new jobs created since the Great Recession, 99 percent require more education than just a high school diploma. Going to college has never been more important.

And Virginia is taking this reality very seriously. In 2016, the state devoted $316 million to higher education. This led to the lowest tuition increases in the past 15 years, which should help ensure that fewer students graduate with debt—and that those who do have a smaller, more manageable load.

Going to college in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as it’s officially known, will not only put you in a strong educational environment, but in a beautiful and historic part of the country. Called the “Mother of Presidents,” Virginia has been the backdrop for much of American history: Jamestown, the American Revolution, and the Civil War being obvious examples.

You’ll also benefit from proximity to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., which is nearby. If you’re interested in areas like politics, defense, or technology, going to college in Virginia will give you the opportunity to build networks with likeminded students and alumni who might be able to connect you to the internships and jobs that will put your career on a firm footing.

What are the best colleges in Virginia?

This ranking takes under consideration every college and university in Virginia that grants 4-year degrees. We take that list, and filter it through our methodology. Our methodology accounts for three central factors: student body diversity, academic quality, and return on investment, which we analyze using data from IPEDS, a database on higher education statistics available through the National Center for Education Statistics.

1

Washington and Lee University

College Choice Score: 100

Average Net Price: $20,700

School Website

Washington and Lee University

Overview

With roots that lead back to 1749, Washington and Lee University is one of the oldest universities in the country. Named for both George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the school is tucked in amid the scenic mountains surrounding Lexington, VA. In 1985, women joined the undergraduate student population of this private, liberal arts university. Today approximately 1,900 undergraduates enjoy W&L’s small class sizes and student/faculty ratio of 8:1.

Features

An education from Washington & Lee University lays the groundwork for success after graduation. Students become ethical leaders that are ready for “lives of consequence,” as envisioned by the university’s namesakes. Opportunities abound at W&L, such as the distinctive spring term that allows students to complete an intensive four-week class at home or abroad. W&L offers 37 majors leading to a bachelor’s degree as well as a graduate law program. Popular studies include:

  • Business
  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • English Literature

Notables

Washington and Lee University is the #11 liberal arts school in the country and the #9 in best value, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.   Additionally, W&L has more than 130 student organizations, and 80% of students are involved in sororities or fraternities. As a side note, Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition graduated from W&L in 1793.

2

University of Virginia

College Choice Score: 96.83

Average Net Price: $14,069

School Website

University of Virginia

Overview

In 1819, Thomas Jefferson established the University of Virginia, and his vision to create a revolutionary institution that would educate the citizenry of a newly-formed country continues to live on at UVA’s campus in Charlottesville, VA. Some areas of the original grounds, designed by Jefferson, are named to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Almost 16,000 undergraduate students and 6,500 graduate students attend this public, co-educational university. In 1970, women were admitted to UVA. The student/faculty ratio is 15:1.

Features

The University of Virginia was the first school to practice interdisciplinary study which is still emphasized in UVA’s current curriculum. Students are taught how to lead, to push the boundaries of knowledge, and to influence the path of the world. Experiential learning is available during innovative summer session classes and January term. More than 140 undergraduate majors, 80 master’s degrees, and 54 doctoral degrees are attainable. The most popular majors:

  • Economics
  • Commerce
  • Biology
  • International Relations
  • Psychology

Notables

The University of Virginia is a highly ranked university. U.S News & World Report lists UVA as #2 in the country for best public school, #24 of best public and private universities, #5 for value among public universities, and #8 among top law schools. For best value among public institutions, UVA is #2 according to Kiplinger’s and #3 according to Money magazine.

3

University of Richmond

College Choice Score: 93.70

Average Net Price: $24,011

School Website

University of Richmond

Overview

The University of Richmond is a private, liberal arts university in Richmond, VA with a low 8:1 student/faculty ratio. Nearly 4,200 students go to classes at UR and 90% live on campus. Only 18% of undergraduates are Virginians. The history of UR goes back to 1830 when the school was first conceived as a Baptist seminary. Later the seminary transformed into Richmond College and Westhampton College, which still exist today as part of UR.

Features

The University of Richmond promises that each student is given $4,000 for an internship or research over the summer. This guarantee enables students to work closely with mentors and develop skills required for productive careers. Not a single class is taught by a teaching assistant, which underscores UR’s commitment to quality academics. UR makes available over 60 undergraduate majors and 7 graduate programs. Popular choices include:

  • Business Management
  • Social Sciences
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Psychology

Notables

The first-year seminar is required for freshman at the University of Richmond and prepares them for academic success through critical discourse. Such programs have helped earn UR high marks from U.S. News & World Report. UR is #27 among top liberal arts universities nationwide and #26 for best value. Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s also called out UR as a top value for the money.

4

College of William and Mary

College Choice Score: 92.51

Average Net Price: $12,406

School Website

College of William and Mary

Overview

Williamsburg, VA is home to the historic College of William and Mary. Dating back to 1693 when England’s King William III and Queen Mary II established the college, the school is second oldest in the country. This public university became co-educational in 1918. Approximately 8,600 graduates and undergraduates are enrolled at William and Mary, where the student/faculty ratio is 12:1.

Features

The College of William and Mary focuses its education on original research, volunteer service, and academic excellence via top notch teaching. Students at William and Mary are encouraged to make an impact on the world. The university presents students with 40 majors for undergraduates and 20 programs for graduates. Popular majors are the following:

  • Social Sciences
  • Economics
  • Biology and Neuroscience
  • Psychology

Notables

The prestigious, academic honor society of Phi Beta Kappa was started at the College of William and Mary in the 1700s. The first law school in the U.S. was also established at William and Mary. U.S. News & World Report named William and Mary to the #6 spot for public universities in the U.S., to the #12 spot for excellent teaching, and to the #19 spot for top colleges for veterans. Kiplinger’s and Forbes also rank William and Mary among the best institutions nationally and for value.

5

Virginia Military Institute

College Choice Score: 76.86

Average Net Price: $16,233

School Website

Virginia Military Institute

Overview

Nearly 1,750 cadets attend the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. Established in 1839, VMI is a public, co-educational institution and also the country’s oldest, public military college. VMI has a 12:1 student/faculty ratio and students receive individual support from VMI professors. Classes are taught by faculty only, not teaching assistants.

Features

The Virginia Military Institute purposely keeps the number of its majors to a minimum to maintain academic quality. There are only 14 majors for cadets, each resulting in a B.A. or B.S. degree. Popular areas of study are:

  • Engineering
  • International Studies
  • Psychology
  • History

Cadets must join an ROTC program while at VMI. Half of all students enter military service upon graduation, but going into the military is not required. Cadets are expected to follow the military lifestyle while at VMI which includes upholding values such as honor, integrity, and responsibility.

Notables

For more than 15 years, the Virginia Military Institute has merited top marks for its education. This year, U.S. News & World Report selected VMI as #4 among public schools in the country, #3 of national colleges for value, and #72 in best liberal arts institutions. Money magazine also recognized VMI as among top U.S. colleges.

6

George Mason University

College Choice Score: 75.78

Average Net Price: $17,347

School Website

George Mason University

Overview

Not too far from Washington D.C. is where you’ll find George Mason University. The public, co-educational university started out in Fairfax, VA with fewer than 20 students in 1957 but today enrolls more than 34,000. Approximately 6,300 students live on campus, but the majority of attendees are commuters. Mason is one of youngest schools in Virginia and also the largest. The student/faculty ratio is 16:1.

Features

A forward-leaning education that prepares students to serve their communities and tackle the world’s biggest problems is the goal of George Mason University. Students are urged to complete an internship at places like the White House, the Justice Department, or ESPN. There are over 200 degree programs at Mason for the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. A few of the generally popular majors are:

  • Psychology
  • Political Science
  • Accounting
  • Biomedical Science

Notables

Considered as one of the top 15 innovative universities nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University also placed #71 among all public institutions, and its law school placed #41. Additionally, Mason is widely thought to be a best value by Kiplinger’s and Forbes. Upon graduation, Mason students earn the highest salaries on average of those who attended Virginian universities.

7

Bridgewater College

College Choice Score: 73.57

Average Net Price: $19,303

School Website

Bridgewater College

Overview

Almost 2,000 students are pursuing their degrees at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, VA where the student/faculty ratio is 14:1. Tucked into Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley, the school is only minutes away from Harrisonburg. From its founding day in 1880, Bridgewater was the first private, liberal arts institution in the state to allow women. Bridgewater maintains ties with Church of the Brethren but also welcomes students from all religious backgrounds. Around 9% of students are Brethren.

Features

Equality and inclusion are important ideals of the academic community at Bridgewater College. The curriculum here challenges students to ask more of themselves, live with purpose, and contribute to society. Students experience a close-knit environment in which education holistically addresses each individual. Bridgewater’s 62 majors and 10 pre-professional areas of study lead to an undergraduate degree. The most popular majors include:

  • Business Administration
  • Biology
  • Athletic Training
  • Psychology
  • Health and Exercise Science

Notables

Through Bridgewater’s Center for Engaged Learning, students can experience hands-on learning outside the classroom via activities such as teaching in the community, research, peacebuilding, study abroad, and green programming. According to Princeton Review, Bridgewater College is one of the best schools in the Southeast, an honor that Bridgewater has received multiple times.

8

Hampton University

College Choice Score: 73.49

Average Net Price: $22,529

School Website

Hampton

Overview

Hampton University’s history reaches back to the years prior to the Civil War, but the official founding date of the school is 1868. This private, co-educational institution is a historically black university with an inspiring past and a multicultural, 21st century future. HU enrolls nearly 4,700 students at its campus in Hampton, VA where class sizes are small with a 9:1 student/faculty ratio. Notable alumni include Booker T. Washington.

Features

Progressive teaching, diversity, and the pursuit of excellence are hallmarks of Hampton University. The dual objectives of research and service come together during a student’s tenure at HU. Character is developed and graduates are ready to lead with integrity. There are 49 undergraduate majors, 21 graduate programs, and 7 doctoral programs for students. Some of the popular majors are the following:

  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • Business Administration
  • Communications
  • Pharmacy

Notables

Among historically black colleges, U.S. News & World Report named Hampton University as #3 in the U.S. HU also scored #18 for best colleges in the South, and #13 for best schools for veterans in the South. More than 110 student organizations are part of student life at HU, and the Black History Extravaganza is an engaging and widely-attended event.

9

Hampden-Sydney College

College Choice Score: 73.43

Average Net Price: $29,533

School Website

Hampden-Sydney College

Overview

Hampden-Sydney College is one of the only private, all men’s institutions in the United States. Almost 1,100 men form the student body at H-SC in Hampden-Sydney, VA about an hour from Richmond. H-SC was founded in 1775 by Presbyterians who modeled the school on the University of Edinburgh. Among the ten oldest colleges in the nation, H-SC has a student/faculty ratio of 10:1 and an average class size of 14. The majority of students (65%) are from VA.

Features

Hampden-Sydney College requires all students to complete its distinctive Rhetoric Program, an intensive reading, writing, and speaking course to build superior communicative skill. An H-SC education also focuses on critical thinking, honor, and common good. Students can select from 25 majors and 5 pre-professional programs at the bachelor’s level. Popular majors at H-SC include:

  • Economics and Commerce
  • Biology
  • History
  • Government

Notables

U.S. News & World Report ranks Hampden-Sydney College among the top liberal arts institutions in the U.S. H-SC came in at #105 overall and #11 for best schools for veterans. Forbes seconded that opinion, also placing H-SC among best Southern colleges. Students can join more than 60 clubs for extracurricular, leadership, and service. Outdoorsmen will love fishing, hunting, and camping in the nearby state forest.

10

James Madison University

College Choice Score: 73.08

Average Net Price: $14,772

School Website

James Madison University

Overview

Harrisonburg, VA in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley is home to James Madison University. A public, co-educational university with 19,300 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students, JMU has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio. Established in 1908 by the state of Virginia to fulfill the need for a teacher’s college, JMU began as a women’s school but changed to include men in 1966.

Features

Despite its larger size, James Madison University students receive personal attention from their professors, and that is one of the reasons JMU’s student body is among the happiest in the nation. More than 97% of classes are taught by faculty, not teaching assistants. Approximately 80% of students complete an internship or study abroad. JMU has a variety of coursework across 123 degree programs. Some popular majors are:

  • Nursing
  • Biology
  • Marketing
  • Health Sciences
  • Finance

Notables

Among public universities, Kiplinger’s selected James Madison University as a best value, and so did Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report picked JMU as the #2 public university in the South and the #3 most innovative school. Of all public and private Southern institutions, JMU ranked #8. Additionally there are almost 400 student organizations ranging from 3-D printing to environmental management and everything in between.

11

Liberty University

College Choice Score: 71.50

Average Net Price: $23,367

School Website

Liberty University

Overview

In and around the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains sits the 7,000 acre campus of Liberty University. Established in 1971by Baptist Pastor Jerry Falwell Sr., Liberty is the largest Christian university in the world and the largest university in Virginia. This private, evangelical institution is located in Lynchburg, VA and its total enrollment tops 110,000 students. Almost 95,000 of those are online students, and of the rest, approximately 9,000 live on campus.

Features

Liberty University is one of the youngest universities in Virginia but it has grown quickly and smartly including its modern, world-class facilities. At Liberty, all aspects of education and student life are in step with Christian and Evangelical teachings. More than 500 programs of study for bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and specialists are accessible, and almost half of the programs can be completed online. Popular degree programs include:

  • Business
  • Health Studies
  • Psychology
  • Fitness Studies

Notables

Liberty University is an innovator in distance learning and led the school to offer an extensive online body of coursework to students. On campus, students can learn to ski or snowboard at Liberty’s Snowflex Centre, open year-round. Additional activities include an ice skating center, fitness center, horseback riding, and intramural and collegiate sports.

12

Eastern Mennonite University

College Choice Score: 70.73

Average Net Price: $20,559

School Website

Eastern_Mennonite_University

Overview

Eastern Mennonite University is a private, Anabaptist institution in Harrisonburg, VA. Half of EMU’s students are Mennonite, and the other half represents more than 30 different religious faiths. Almost 1,000 undergraduate students and 900 graduate students attend EMU where class size averages 14 students and the student/faculty ratio is 10:1. EMU was established in 1917.

Features

Finding one’s purpose and serving the community are central to learning at Eastern Mennonite University. Developing peace, addressing social inequities, and respecting the environment are central themes found across the curriculum. Students are urged to combine spring break with community service, and study abroad often includes missionary work and service. EMU provides 35 undergraduate majors, 8 graduate programs, and seminary studies. Some of EMU’s popular areas of study:

  • Nursing
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Restorative Justice
  • Peacebuilding

Notables

Eastern Mennonite University is #41 out of the best universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students are required to complete some coursework while experiencing a different culture, typically while living with a host family and performing service work. The pre-med program at EMU has resulted in 100% acceptance of all students pursuing physical therapy and 90% acceptance for physician’s assistants. EMU’s teaching program has placed 100% of graduates in educational fields.

13

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

College Choice Score: 70.13

Average Net Price: $18,398

School Website

Virginia Tech

Overview

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, nicknamed Virginia Tech, is a research leader among Virginia universities. More than 33,000 students are registered at this public, co-educational university, making the school one of the largest in the state. The rural campus in Blacksburg, VA includes an executive airport. Originally established as a land-grant university in 1872, Virginia Tech began admitting black students in 1953, well ahead of other southern universities. The current student/faculty ratio is 16:1.

Features

Science and technology are big players at Virginia Tech as the university commands $504 million of research among its 9 colleges and graduate school. More than 250 majors and graduate programs (master’s and doctoral) make up a wide-ranging body of study provided to students. Some of the most popular majors:

  • Engineering
  • University Studies
  • Business
  • Bioscience
  • Animal Science

Notables

Not just science and research oriented, Virginia Tech recently opened a $100 million Center for the Arts, and there are more than 600 student organizations on campus that span various disciplines. Virginia Tech has been nationally and internationally recognized for superior academics (particularly in engineering, public affairs, and business) and value. Money magazine, Princeton Review, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report all rank Virginia Tech as a top school in multiple categories.

14

Hollins University

College Choice Score: 69.97

Average Net Price: $21,384

School Website

Hollins University

Overview

Celebrating 175 years, Hollins University is a private, women’s college in Roanoke, VA. Although Hollins started out as a co-educational institution, it changed to admit only women students in 1852. Today Hollins’ graduate courses are co-educational. Approximately 800 students matriculate at this liberal arts school that was one of the first to include study abroad as part of its education. There is a 9:1 student/faculty ratio.

Features

Hollins University allows students to pick from 27 programs for undergraduate study and 10 programs for graduate study. Some of their popular majors are:

  • English
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Psychology

While at Hollins, almost 80% of students complete an internship, typically during the college’s January Short Term. Half of all students study abroad in places like England, France, Italy, Jamaica, and beyond. Education at Hollins readies its graduates for meaningful lives that include continuous learning and service.

Notables

U.S. News & World Report lists Hollins University as #105 in best liberal arts schools nationwide, #11 in best colleges for veterans, and #27 in best value. Around 96% of students are employed or seek further education within a year of graduation. Hollins is nationally renowned for its English programs which have produced many accomplished writers.

15

Randolph-Macon College

College Choice Score: 69.64

Average Net Price: $26,056

School Website

Randolph-Macon College

Overview

Randolph-Macon College is a private, liberal arts institution with an 11:1 student/faculty ratio and 16 students in an average class. The college was founded in 1830 by Methodists, but students of all religious backgrounds are encouraged to attend. Slightly more than 1,400 undergraduate students make up the R-MC population. The school is located in Ashland, VA and not far from Richmond.

Features

Getting students ready for extraordinary lives is the driving factor behind the education at Randolph-Macon College. Students learn directly from faculty and not teaching assistants. Fellowships, internships, and study-abroad are part of the competitive advantage afforded to students through R-MC’s specialized career center. Of the 50 majors offered at R-MC, popular selections include:

  • International Studies
  • Economics
  • Biology/Pre-Med
  • Sociology

Notables

Both U.S. News & World Report and Forbes have recognized Randolph-Macon College as among the top liberal arts institutions in the country. In addition, the college promotes its degree guarantee which promises that students will complete their degrees within 4 years, or the subsequent tuition is free. All students must reside in campus housing which fosters a sense of community, and R-MC is host to at least 80 student clubs.

16

Virginia Commonwealth University

College Choice Score: 69.31

Average Net Price: $19,335

School Website

Virginia Commonwealth University

Overview

Virginia Commonwealth University started out as an offshoot of Hampden-Sydney College in 1838. Sixteen years later the school gained its independence and then later merged with another institution, but by 1968, VCU was firmly established as its own university. Currently, VCU is home to upwards of 31,000 students in Richmond, VA. This public, co-educational university includes a first-rate research hospital. The student/faculty ratio is 18:1.

Features

In 2016, Virginia Commonwealth University was responsible for $271 million in sponsored research, and applying that research to solve today’s most challenging health issues is what VCU does every day. VCU aligns itself with a diverse student body and graduates the largest number of minority students in Virginia. VCU gives students the option of 59 undergraduate programs, 69 master’s programs, and 42 doctoral programs. Some popular majors:

  • Biomedicine
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Nursing
  • Marketing
  • Psychology

Notables

Virginia Commonwealth University is highly ranked for its graduate arts program (#1 in public universities) as well as its graduate schools of pharmacy and social work by U.S. News & World Report. Several of VCU’s visual arts specialties place in the top ten in the country, and VCU’s nurse anesthesia program is #1 in the nation.

17

Roanoke College

College Choice Score: 66.57

Average Net Price: $29,077

School Website

Roanoke College

Overview

Roanoke College is nestled on a cozy 80-acre campus in Salem, VA. This private, liberal arts institution conducts classes for almost 2,000 undergraduate students. The student/faculty ratio is 13:1. Founded in 1842 and affiliated with the Lutheran Church, Roanoke is the second-oldest Lutheran college in the nation. Students of all faiths are encouraged to apply. Roanoke pioneered the concept of inclusion beginning in the 1870’s when Native American, Mexican, Japanese, and Korean students joined the college. Women were admitted in 1930.

Features

The philosophy of Roanoke College includes helping students to discover what they truly love and make society better for all. To that end, students are required to take classes that are part of the intellectual inquiry core curriculum, which allows students to choose unique topics of interest to them. This innovative program sets Roanoke apart from other colleges. Roanoke has 34 majors and 11 pre-professional programs. Popular choices include:

  • Business
  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • History

Notables

Recent restructuring of its academic programs has earned Roanoke College the #4 spot for up-and-coming liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes and Princeton Review have also recognized Roanoke as one of the top schools nationally.

18

University of Mary Washington

College Choice Score: 65.94

Average Net Price: $16,780

School Website

University of Mary Washington

Overview

The University of Mary Washington is named for George Washington’s mom. Although UMW traces its history to 1908 as a women’s college, the school went through several transitions before it was reborn as UMW in 2004. Men were admitted around 1971. Slightly more than 4,000 students are enrolled at this public, co-educational university in Fredericksburg, VA. The student/faculty ratio is 14:1, and the average class size is 19 students.

Features

As a liberal arts university, UMW places high regard on top-notch teaching, discovery, and a caring, academic community that serves the regional population. Incoming freshmen register for seminars that set them up for success during their college years and in the future. Study abroad is encouraged, and around 30% of students do so. There are over 60 majors and graduate programs. Popular majors include:

  • Social Science
  • Business
  • English Literature
  • Psychology
  • Biology

Notables

Among public universities in the South, the University of Mary Washington was named #6, and among public and private institutions UMW was #16, according to U.S. News & World Report. UMW also rated as #11 for best schools for veterans. Forbes, Princeton Review, and Money magazine all agreed that UMW was among the best nationwide while Fiske recognized UMW as a best value college.

19

Old Dominion University

College Choice Score: 64.76

Average Net Price: $14,512

School Website

Old Dominion University

Overview

Old Dominion University started out training engineers and teachers as a branch of both Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the College of William and Mary, but in 1962, ODU became its own four-year institution. Today, nearly 24,700 students call ODU home, and 25% of the student body has military ties. This public, co-educational university is located in Norfolk, VA. The student/faculty ratio is 19:1.

Features

Old Dominion University focuses on research that stimulates business and economy, resulting in a $2.1 billion yearly impact to the region and the state. Additionally, ODU is second in Virginia for proportionally awarding the most STEM-H degrees annually. ODU has more than 160 academic programs for undergraduates and graduate students, including 42 doctoral degrees. The most popular academic programs are:

  • Health Professions
  • Multidisciplinary Studies
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Criminology

Notables

U.S. News & World Report placed Old Dominion University in the top 11% of best colleges and universities in the country, and ODU’s online M.B.A. courses have received past honors as well. ODU has also been recognized as among the best schools in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Finally, ODU is nationally known for its expert knowledge in resiliency planning for coastal flooding and rising sea levels.

20

Emory & Henry College

College Choice Score: 64.43

Average Net Price: $18,661

School Website

Emory & Henry College

Overview

Emory & Henry College is a small, private liberal arts college with just over 1,000 undergraduate students and a couple dozen graduate students. Almost 80% of undergraduates reside at the college where the student/faculty ratio is 11:1. Emory & Henry was established in 1836 by Methodists who named the college after Bishop John Emory and American Revolutionary Patrick Henry to represent both faith and civic responsibility. Emory & Henry is located in Emory, VA.

Features

Emory & Henry College promotes the values of civic mindfulness and living up to one’s potential. Faculty at Emory & Henry work with students to transform them intellectually and inspire them to effect change in the community. The college’s civic life center provides a wide variety of service opportunities for social change. There are 64 degree programs and an option to customize a major. Popular majors are:

  • Social Science
  • Education
  • Business Administration
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Notables

Washington Monthly, Newsweek, and USA Today have all recognized Emory & Henry College for its top notch service learning programs. Emory & Henry was named to the Presidential Service Learning Honor Roll in 2013. Additionally, all of Emory & Henry’s grounds are in the National Register of Historic Places.

21

Christopher Newport University

College Choice Score: 63.93

Average Net Price: $20,996

School Website

Christopher Newport University

Overview

The coastal city of Newport News, VA is the home of Christopher Newport University. This public, co-educational institution began in 1960 and is one of the youngest universities in Virginia. With approximately 5,000 students and a 15:1 student/faculty ratio, CNU’s classes are generally small in size.

Features

Christopher Newport University’s core education is based on liberal arts. Superior academics via exceptional teaching is a main tenet of CNU as is preparing students to lead and serve their communities. Students learn how to live in a way that makes a positive difference. CNU’s more than 60 undergraduate majors and 3 master’s programs give students a choice of possibilities. Some of CNU’s popular majors include:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Political Science
  • Government

Notables

Many sources have praised Christopher Newport University for the quality its education. Earning the #5 spot among Southern public schools, CNU also came in at #14 among private and public institutions, according to U.S. News & World Report. CNU is #10 for best schools for veterans. In addition, Forbes and Princeton Review rated CNU as among the best institutions in the South, and Bloomsburg Businessweek specifically mentioned the strength of CNU’s undergraduate business courses.

22

Randolph College

College Choice Score: 63.62

Average Net Price: $20,443

School Website

Randolph College

Overview

Randolph College began as the women’s counterpart to Randolph-Macon College in 1891. It wasn’t until 2007, and after much soul searching, that men were admitted and the school started its new life as Randolph College. Today this private, liberal arts and sciences college enrolls fewer than 700 students. The student/faculty ratio is 9:1. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Randolph is located in Lynchburg, VA.

Features

With an overarching intent to guide students to a successful career path, Randolph College’s academics are taught by faculty only and students develop a strong foundation in writing well. Students work with advisors to design a Randolph Plan or personalized roadmap for maximum career potential. During Randolph’s summer research initiative, students can complete research with their professors. Randolph’s curriculum spans across 29 undergraduate majors and 2 master’s programs. Popular majors are:

  • Pre-professional
  • Sports and Exercise
  • Social Sciences
  • English Literature

Notables

Fiske and Princeton Review have both chosen Randolph College as one of the best among Southern institutions. And, Sierra Club says Randolph is a “Cool School”.  Newsweek reports that Randolph’s faculty is the most approachable and available nationwide. Perhaps the most well-known alumna of Randolph is Pearl S. Buck.

23

Southern Virginia University

College Choice Score: 63.41

Average Net Price: $21,863

School Website

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Overview

Southern Virginia University can trace its origin to 1867 when it existed as a home school for kids. Throughout the years, SVU had several identities, including a once-renown equestrian program. In 1996, the Latter-day Saints shored up the struggling college. Today 90% of the student body is Mormon. Around 800 students attend this private, liberal arts institution located in Buena Vista, VA. SVU’s average class size is 15.

Features

The teachings of the Latter-day Saints are present in all aspects of Southern Virginia University’s curriculum. Flexibility is afforded to missionaries, devotionals are held weekly, and a larger meetinghouse has been built. Each semester, students are asked to complete 15 hours of community service. The small nature of SVU ensures that students will have 1:1 attention from faculty. SVU’s coursework forms the basis for 16 undergraduate majors. Some popular majors include:

  • General Liberal Arts
  • Business
  • English Literature
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Foreign Languages

Notables

Southern Virginia University is the country’s only private liberal arts college that is committed to the teachings of Latter-day Saints. SVU has a 93% success rate for graduates finding employment within a month after receiving their degrees. And, if they could go back and do it again, 98% of students would make the same decision.

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The University of Virginia's College at Wise

College Choice Score: 63.04

Average Net Price: $10,907

School Website

The University of Virginia's College at Wise

Overview

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is its own, separate 4-year institution with a current enrollment of more than 2,000 students. This public liberal arts college has 17 students in class on average and a 13:1 student/faculty ratio. UVa-CW was originally established to educate Virginia’s western and southwestern population in 1954. The mountain area of Wise, VA is where UVa-CW is located and 30% of students live on campus.

Features

The coursework at the College at Wise is built upon a traditional liberal arts education and designed for professional success upon graduation. In addition to academics, UVa-CW seeks to serve the community of Southwestern Virginia and surrounding region. There are 30 majors and 7 pre-professional programs leading to a bachelor’s degree and also teaching certifications. UVa-CW’s popularly chosen majors are:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Social Sciences
  • Software Engineering
  • Pre-professional Studies

Notables

The College at Wise is the only school to award a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. Almost 97% of students find employment or pursue further study after graduation, and students at UVa-CW are fortunate to have one of the lowest debt rates in the country. There are more than 50 student clubs for extracurricular activity.

25

Sweet Briar College

College Choice Score: 62.92

Average Net Price: $25,395

School Website

Sweet Briar College

Overview

Founded in 1901, Sweet Briar College was almost closed permanently in 2005 because of financial challenges, but efforts from alumnae succeeded in renewing the institution and keeping it solvent. Today, this private, women’s college enrolls around 300 students, and the average class size is less than 12. Men are admitted to Sweet Briar’s graduate programs. Sweet Briar College is located in Sweet Briar, VA and is named for the Sweet Briar Rose.

Features

A tight-knit community of learning and personal attention is at the forefront of the student experience at Sweet Briar College. Close and continuing relationships with faculty are typical as students become leaders, researchers, and foreign exchange students. Study abroad opportunities include JYF in Paris or JYS in Seville. Sweet Briar has over 30 undergraduate majors or 2 graduate programs. Popular majors at Sweet Briar:

  • Biology
  • Business
  • Engineering Science
  • Creative Writing
  • Environmental Science

Notables

In the South, Sweet Briar College has been recognized by Princeton Review as among top schools, best women’s institutions, and notable private colleges. Forbes and Washington Monthly listed Sweet Briar as among best value colleges. Sweet Briar’s campus has garnered praise from Forbes, Business Insider, and others. Lastly, Sweet Briar is well-known for its equestrian center and equine studies.

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