Virginia’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Virginia. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

Virginia’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Virginia

Liberty University, a private Christian school in Lynchburg, is the largest school in Virginia, serving over 60,000 students. The largest public university, Virginia Tech, has a student population of about half that but offers many in-person degree programs as well as eight master’s programs and 19 certificate programs online. Students who attend Virginia Tech can pursue fields like engineering, criminal justice, education, and business.

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The majority of Virginia’s universities and colleges could be considered small schools, serving populations of less than 5,000 students. Included on this list are public schools, like Christopher Newport University in Newport News, and private schools, like Hampton University, a historically black university in Hampton. Though most of its higher education institutes charge tuition fees above the national average, Virginia offers several loan forgiveness programs for qualifying attorneys and medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmaceutical professionals.

Virginia is perhaps most famous for its rich history — but the state is also home to many unique museums and famous landmarks. For example, those who love the classics can visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond. Those who harbor romantic dreams of espionage and intrigue might visit the CIA Museum in McLean. And, if you like your attractions random, you could check out Virginia’s 300-yard-long natural tunnel or its 29-ton spinning granite ball. While you’re here, you might consider attending one of the 78 colleges located in the state.

Learn more about Virginia’s higher education opportunities by checking out the state’s many colleges and universities.

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What are Virginia’s Colleges & Universities?

Virginia’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Virginia's best colleges and universities?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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Every fall, more than 2 million high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the United States. Finding the best college for your educational, personal, and professional goals may be challenging. The purpose of this ranking is to help you manage this challenge with an accurate, objective, and up-to-date ranking of the best colleges and universities in Virginia for earning a bachelor’s degree.

We’ve identified a total of 43 colleges and universities in Virginia, 28 satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best schools in the state focuses on those that offer four-year undergraduate degrees, includes both public and private colleges and universities, and also meet the following two conditions:

  1. It must be fully accredited.
  2. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

Best Colleges & Universities in Virginia

  1. #1

    University of Virginia

    #36 institution's historical influence
    #40 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    23%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    Charlottesville, VA

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    What is University of Virginia known for?

    University of Virginia’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Washington and Lee University

    #361 institution's historical influence
    #80 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/33

    Lexington, VA

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    What is Washington and Lee University known for?

    Washington and Lee University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    William & Mary

    #274 institution's historical influence
    #53 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    Williamsburg, VA

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    What is William & Mary known for?

    William & Mary’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Literature
    • History
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Virginia Military Institute

    #608 institution's historical influence
    #124 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/24

    Lexington, VA

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    What is Virginia Military Institute known for?

    Virginia Military Institute’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    George Mason University

    #208 institution's historical influence
    #548 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    31K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/27

    Fairfax, VA

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    What is George Mason University known for?

    George Mason University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Law
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

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  6. #6

    Hollins University

    #1328 institution's historical influence
    #476 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/26

    Roanoke, VA

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    What is Hollins University known for?

    Hollins University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Communications
    • History
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Virginia Tech

    #231 institution's historical influence
    #230 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    35K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1285/28

    Blacksburg, VA

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    What is Virginia Tech known for?

    Virginia Tech’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    University of Richmond

    #658 institution's historical influence
    #145 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    31%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1375/31

    University of Richmond, VA

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    What is University of Richmond known for?

    University of Richmond’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Hampden–Sydney College

    #1077 institution's historical influence
    #740 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/23

    Hampden-Sydney, VA

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    What is Hampden–Sydney College known for?

    Hampden–Sydney College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Hampton University

    #655 institution's historical influence
    #666 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    36%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    4K

    Hampton, VA

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    What is Hampton University known for?

    Hampton University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Sweet Briar College

    #1901 institution's historical influence
    #719 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/24

    Sweet Briar, VA

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    What is Sweet Briar College known for?

    Sweet Briar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Physics
  12. #12

    Virginia Commonwealth University

    #405 institution's historical influence
    #994 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    Richmond, VA

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    What is Virginia Commonwealth University known for?

    Virginia Commonwealth University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Randolph–Macon College

    #1548 institution's historical influence
    #962 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/23

    Ashland, VA

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    What is Randolph–Macon College known for?

    Randolph–Macon College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #14

    Marymount University

    #3033 institution's historical influence
    #510 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/20

    Arlington, VA

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    What is Marymount University known for?

    Marymount University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #15

    University of Mary Washington

    #1737 institution's historical influence
    #558 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/26

    Fredericksburg, VA

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    What is University of Mary Washington known for?

    University of Mary Washington’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Eastern Mennonite University

    #2228 institution's historical influence
    #1308 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Harrisonburg, VA

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    What is Eastern Mennonite University known for?

    Eastern Mennonite University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Randolph College

    #2804 institution's historical influence
    #766 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/22

    Lynchburg, VA

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    What is Randolph College known for?

    Randolph College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #18

    Emory and Henry College

    #1849 institution's historical influence
    #835 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Emory, VA

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    What is Emory and Henry College known for?

    Emory and Henry College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    James Madison University

    #922 institution's historical influence
    #1172 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/25

    Harrisonburg, VA

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    What is James Madison University known for?

    James Madison University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    Old Dominion University

    #794 institution's historical influence
    #709 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/21

    Norfolk, VA

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    What is Old Dominion University known for?

    Old Dominion University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Radford University

    #1316 institution's historical influence
    #353 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    9K

    Radford, VA

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    What is Radford University known for?

    Radford University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    Christopher Newport University

    #2175 institution's historical influence
    #1255 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/24

    Newport News, VA

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    What is Christopher Newport University known for?

    Christopher Newport University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #23

    Roanoke College

    #1633 institution's historical influence
    #332 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Salem, VA

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    What is Roanoke College known for?

    Roanoke College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    Liberty University

    #976 institution's historical influence
    #116 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    67K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/24

    Lynchburg, VA

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    What is Liberty University known for?

    Liberty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Law
    • Medical
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. #25

    Shenandoah University

    #3888 institution's historical influence
    #858 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Winchester, VA

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    What is Shenandoah University known for?

    Shenandoah University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  26. #26

    Bridgewater College

    #4607 institution's historical influence
    #457 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/21

    Bridgewater, VA

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    What is Bridgewater College known for?

    Bridgewater College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  27. #27

    Longwood University

    #2445 institution's historical influence
    #456 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/20

    Farmville, VA

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    What is Longwood University known for?

    Longwood University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Economics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  28. #28

    University of Lynchburg

    #5286 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/22

    Lynchburg, VA

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    What is University of Lynchburg known for?

    University of Lynchburg’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Earth Sciences
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

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