18 Best Colleges in West Virginia

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College keeps getting more and more expensive. This has been well documented.

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In fact, some people wonder whether getting a college degree is even worth it anymore. It’s a fair question, since you could be earning money for four or more years, rather than racking up student debt. For some people, that might be the right path. But you should also consider the fact that getting a degree significantly improves your employment prospects. According to a study conducted by Georgetown University, of the 11.6 million jobs the economy has gained since the Great Recession, 11.5 million have gone to people with at least some collegiate education—that’s more than 99 percent. And of those, 3.8 million went to people with graduate degrees, and 4.6 million jobs went to people with bachelor’s degrees.

Top 10 Best Colleges in West Virginia

Rank School Location
1 Bethany College Bethany, WV
2 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
3 West Virginia State University Institute, WV
4 Concord University Athens, WV
5 Wheeling Jesuit University Wheeling, WV
6 Alderson Broaddus University Philippi, WV
7 Davis & Elkins College Elkins, WV
8 Marshall University Huntington, WV
9 West Virginia Wesleyan College Buckhannon, WV
10 University of Charleston Charleston, WV

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So if you weren’t before, perhaps now you’re convinced that you should give college a shot. If you’re in West Virginia, or would like to go, then this is the page for you. (In fact, even if you’re not, you may be able to attend through one of the Top Online Schools in West Virginia. Originally part of the state of Virginia, West Virginians split off in 1861 in order to fight slavery alongside the rest of the Union. Since then, they’ve nurtured and created a vibrant culture, in evidence especially in their state’s musical traditions, although not only there. And even if you haven’t had the chance to explore West Virginia’s natural beauty, you’ve probably heard John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which describes his experience driving through the state. The hills, forests, and caves make for a stunning landscape.

What are the best colleges in West Virginia?

For such a small state, West Virginia has a surprising number of colleges. In order to compile this list, we combed through the data on every college and university that offers four-year degrees in order to find the best and arrange them in this list. In doing so, we considered three central factors: academic quality, student body diversity, and return on investment—a measurement of total cost against expected early career income. All data comes from IPEDS, courtesy of the National Center for Education Statistics.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Bethany College
    Location

    Bethany, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Bethany College was founded in 1840 in the town of Bethany. This historic town is nestled in the northern panhandle of West Virginia in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. It was founded by Alexander Campbell and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Today, Bethany College is the oldest higher education institution in West Virginia.

    Features

    Today, Bethany serves over 720 students. There are over 30 different programs to study. Bethany also has several Dual-Degree programs with regional larger schools so students can complete a Bachelor and Master degree in less time. In the classroom, the average class size is 14. The student-faculty ratio is 14 to 1. Outside of the classroom, 90% of all students live on campus with access to internet, cable TV and voicemail. Additionally, there are 50 student organizations and 10 different Greek organizations for the students to join. Top majors include:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Communication & Media Arts
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • Public Administration

    Notables

    Bethany requires all students to complete a senior project and to pass a comprehensive exam prior to graduation. Bethany is one of the few colleges that still maintain this requirement. It is a point of pride to know that the students are ready to enter their respective fields with a Bethany Degree.

  2. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    West Virginia University was founded in 1867 in Morgantown, West Virginia, as a land-grant university to teach agriculture and mechanic arts (an early form of engineering). It is part of the state-wide West Virginia University System. Altogether, there are over15,880 acres statewide that include 518 buildings, 10 experimental farms, 4 forests, and a 4-H camp. The main Morgantown campus has over 1,800 acres for research, learning and activities.

    Features

    Today, West Virginia University serves over 22,500 students on their campus studying over 341 majors. Students can join over 400 student organizations, 30 Greek Chapters or watch an NCAA Division I conference game. Inside the classroom, over 50% of their classes will be less than 20 students. The student to faculty ratio is 21 to 1. Top Majors include:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Multi-Interdisciplinary
    • Marketing
    • Healthcare programs

    Notables

    There are a few things to remember when you go to West Virginia University. First, faculty are known for adding volunteering or other forms of service hours to their course requirements. Second, the school’s history and points of pride are in their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs. Finally, because of a great partnership with the FBI, there are three crime scene houses and forensic garages for students to learn forensics. There are plenty of options to explore careers in various fields at West Virginia University.

  3. West Virginia State University
    Location

    Institute, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    West Virginia State University was founded in 1891 to serve as a high school education, vocational training and teacher preparation for black students. It is located a few miles outside of Charleston, West Virginia. Overtime, the small school changed its name several times and grew into a university. It is known as a Historically Black College with a rich history of alumni, military and community relations – bravery, tireless commitment and inspiring fortitude.

    Features

    Today, West Virginia State University serves over 3,500 students in a small school atmosphere with large university opportunities on its 100 acres. Most classes are small with less than 20 students. Student-to-faculty ratio is 17 to 1. West Virginia State University offers 23 undergraduate degrees and 6 graduate degrees. Top majors include:

    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • General Studies

    Notables

    West Virginia has a proud military contribution. They were one of the first six historically black colleges to establish an aviation program connected to the U.S. Army Air Corp. The resulting candidates entered the first group of African-Americans to service in the Air Corps. Today, they continue the tradition the ROTC program. Because of their U.S. Army ROTC Yellow Jacket Battalion, they have produced over 900 Officers – over 100 reaching Lieutenant Colonel and 15 Generals.

  4. Concord University
    Location

    Athens, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Concord University was founded in 1872 by Colonel Henderson French and five local families: Fanning, French, Holroyd, Martin, and Vermillion. Concord University is in rural town of Athens, West Virginia. It was originally started to train teachers for the area rural schools. Over the course of time, it grew to become the university that is known today.

    Features

    Today Concord University serves over 2,400 students. Most classes are less than 20 students with a student to faculty ration of 15 to 1. Outside the classroom, students are encouraged to study abroad, volunteer for local organizations or join one of student organizations on campus. Top Programs include:

    • Business
    • Liberal Arts and Sciences
    • Education
    • Social Sciences
    • Public Administration

    Notables

    The University was founded by veterans of both sides of the Civil War: Union and Confederate soldiers. It was named Concord because both sides were striving to find a place where harmony and sweet fellowship would prevail between both political, emotional and religious groups. Over 125 years later, that history continues today in at Concord.

  5. Wheeling Jesuit University
    Location

    Wheeling, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Wheeling Jesuit University was founded in 1954 in the suburban area of Wheeling, West Virginia, on 65 acres. It is the youngest of 28 Jesuit institutions. The school also has a 550 acre Lantz retreat farm and research preserve not far from the main campus.

    Features

    Today Wheeling Jesuit University serves over 1,300 students studying over 27 programs of study: 35 Bachelors, 7 Masters, 1 Doctoral and 4 Certificate programs. Students can join over 29- different organizations. Over 79% undergraduates live on campus. Nearly 70% of the classes have less than 20 students. The student-faculty ratio is 11:1. Top Majors include:

    • Health Professions
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Homeland Security & Protective Services
    • Psychical Sciences

    Notables

    The Society of Jesuit was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola. He was a Basque Nobleman who gave up his wealth to seek after God. Today, the Soceity of Jesuit is one of the largest male religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church. Their motto is “God in all things”. There are over 25,000 Jesuits serving in 112 nations throughout the world.

  6. Alderson Broaddus University
    Location

    Philippi, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Alderson Broaddus University was technically founded in 1867. The namesake comes from the mergers of two Baptist institutions in 1932 due to financial hardships: the Broaddus Institute and Alderson Academy. The Broaddus Institute was founded in 1871 and named after an American Civil War prominent Baptist Minister: Reverend William Francis Ferguson Broaddus. The Alderson Academy was founded in 1901 by Emma C. Alderson. Then, in 1964, a portion of Storer College, a historically black Baptist college founded in 1867, was added to Alderson Broaddus. Today, Alderson Broaddus University is in rural Philippi, West, Virginia on 170 acres.

    Features

    Today, Alderson Broaddus University serves over 1,000 students. Students study 25 majors, 3 graduate degrees and 7 pre-professional programs. Student-faculty ratio is 17:1. Over 60% of the classes have less than 20 students. Top Majors include:

    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Business Administration
    • Exercise Science
    • Criminal Justice

    Notables

    Alderson Broaddus University is located in Philippi, West Virginia, overlooking the Tygart River. It has a strong focus on faith-based learning and focusing on health-related programs. In 1968 started the nation’s first 4-year physician assistant program and in 1991 developed the physician assistant masters program.

  7. Davis & Elkins College
    Location

    Elkins, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Davis & Elkins College was founded in 1904 by Senators Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen Benton Elkins tucked in the shadow of the mighty Appalachian Mountains. These two senators were also known for their influence and efforts to build the first railroad into this coal-based area. Both Senators assisted in the development, fundraising, and land donations for this college. The local community matched the donations. With the assistance of the community, the college has developed to what it is today on 172 acres.

    Features

    Today, Davis & Elkins College has an enrollment of 796 students and are still strongly affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). On campus students can study over 23 majors and join over 35 student organizations including 2 Greek Organizations. There are small class sizes and a small student-faculty ratio (12 to 1). Top majors include:

    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Marketing
    • Psychology
    • Hospitality

    Notables

    Elkins, West Virginia is a small town of 7,000 students. It is a Certified Art, Preservation and a Tree City. It borders the Monongahela National Forest. It is truly a “Small Town Gem”. It is over 2 ½ -hour drive to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

  8. Marshall University
    Location

    Huntington, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Marshal University was founded in 1837 as Marshall Academy. It is named after John Marshall, the 4th chief justice of the United States. The campus has 114 acres. It is one of the oldest public institutions of higher education. It was originally founded as an academy in 1837. It became Marshall college in 1858 and university in 1961. in Huntington, West Virginia. With locations in South Charleston, Point Pleasant, Texas Valley and Beckley.

    Features

    Today, Marshall University serves over 13,600 students: 9,500 undergraduates and 3,400 graduate students. Students normally attend classes with an average class size of 21. There are 230 recognized student organizations. 18 Greek organizations. 61 undergraduate degrees and 61 graduate degrees. Student faculty ratio is 19 to 1. About 44% of classes have less than 20 students. Top degrees include:

    • Business
    • Liberal Arts and Sciences
    • Health Professions
    • Education
    • Psychology

    Notables

    In November 1970, there was a plane crash that ended the lives of 75 people including a large portion of the Marshal University football team, coaches, and staff as well as other community members and crew. There is an annual fountain ceremony that marks the anniversary of the plane crash and the memory of those who lost their lives. To learn more about the story, please read more on the school website or watch the 2006 Warner Bros. feature film “We Are Marshall”.

  9. West Virginia Wesleyan College
    Location

    Buckhannon, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    West Virginia Wesleyan College was founded in 1890 by the United Methodist Church. Today it is a campus of 110 acres located in Buckhannon, West, Virginia. Buckhannon is located 2 hours south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition to the growth seen on the campus, West Virignia Wesleyan College has developed 3-2 engineering partnerships with Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, and West Virginia University.

    Features

    Today, the college services over 1400 students and offers 49 majors and 34 minors and 5 graduate programs. Local students can engage in over 70 campus groups, 9 greek organizations or watch school teams play. 90% live on campus. 58% of the classes have less than 20 students. Student-faculty ratio is 13:1. Top programs include:

    • Parks, Recreation, Leisure and Fitness Studies
    • Business, Management, Marketing
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Physical Sciences

    Notables

    Buckhannon, West Virginia, is located on the Buckhannon River in Upshur County. They are a progressive small town that has an extraordinary quality of life. This small town can track its history back before the French and Indian wars in 1755. It is proud of its heritage and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

  10. University of Charleston
    Location

    Charleston, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Charleston was founded in 1888. Located in Barboursville, West Virginia. In 1978, Morris Harvey College was renamed the University of Charleston. Today, the University of Charleston is a selective institution known for student innovation, modern venues and green spaces. Their core mission is to “educate each student for a life of productive work, enlightened living and community involvement.”

    Features

    Today, there are over 2,400 students studying at University of Charleston. 1,727 of those students are undergraduate students. In the classroom, there is a 15 to 1 student-faculty ratio. Over 65% of classes have less than 20 students. They have 6 graduate programs including a doctorate in pharmacy and a doctorate in executive leadership. Top programs:

    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Pre-med/Pre-pharmacy

    Notables

    When the University of Charleston moved from the north bank to the south bank of the Kanawha River, they literally ferried buildings across the river. The campus consisted of 5 government surplus buildings, 3 barracks-type buildings a Quonset hut, a small frame building and a hall that doubled as a cafeteria and assembly space.

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