Virginia’s Best Graduate Schools of 2021

Graduate school may be a critical step in your higher education, whether you are interested in expanding your knowledge, learning a specialization, or earning advanced credentials required by your profession. The best graduate schools in Virginia offer advanced degrees, such as master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as opportunities for independent research, mentorships, and professional networking.

Virginia’s Best Graduate Schools 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

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There are 15 doctorate-granting universities in Virginia, all of which satisfy our criteria. The best graduate schools below are composed of both private and public schools that satisfy the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer doctoral degrees and a broad array of graduate degrees.

How do we determine Virginia's best graduate schools?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. At the undergraduate level, the best colleges and universities are those with the highest concentration of influence. Our Concentrated Influence metric adjusts overall influence by size of undergraduate student body, thus allowing smaller schools to compete with larger schools so long as they have proportionately as strong influential faculty and alums.

But at the graduate level, the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. Overall influence, and not influence controlled by other variables, thus becomes the best gauge of academic excellence at the graduate level. Where smaller size is an advantage at the undergraduate level (hence Concentrated Influence), graduate studies benefit from a large and vibrant community of graduate students, who promise to become the new generation of academic influencers.

If you are serious about finding the best graduate schools, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our methodology here.

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Best Graduate Schools 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

    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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  3. #3

    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

  4. #4

    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

  5. #5

    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

  6. #6

    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

  7. #7

    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

  8. #8

    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

  9. #9

    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

  10. #10

    Regent University

    #1533 institution's historical influence
    #554 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/22

    Virginia Beach, VA

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    What is Regent University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Virginia State University

    #1348 institution's historical influence
    #801 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    920/17

    Petersburg, VA

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    What is Virginia State University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Norfolk State University

    #2021 institution's historical influence
    #497 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    950/18

    Norfolk, VA

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    What is Norfolk State University known for?

    Norfolk State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    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
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  14. #14

    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

  15. #15

    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

Virginia’s Best Grad School for Your Interest!

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Photo By: UVA Darden - UVA Darden website, CC0