Virginia’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Virginia.

Virginia’s Best Private 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

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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How do we determine Virginia's best private 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 call “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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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 28 private universities in Virginia, 23 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best private universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

Best Private Colleges & Universities in Virginia

  1. #1

    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

  2. #2

    Southern Virginia University

    #4364 institution's historical influence
    #141 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1083/22

    Buena Vista, VA

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    What is Southern Virginia University known for?

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

    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    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

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  4. #4

    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

  5. #5

    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

  6. #6

    Virginia Union University

    #1405 institution's historical influence
    #433 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    849/15

    Richmond, VA

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    What is Virginia Union University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    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

  8. #8

    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

  9. #9

    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
  10. #10

    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
  11. #11

    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
  12. #12

    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

  13. #13

    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
  14. #14

    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

  15. #15

    Mary Baldwin University

    #4640 institution's historical influence
    #1238 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/20

    Staunton, VA

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    What is Mary Baldwin University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    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

  17. #17

    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

  18. #18

    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

  19. #19

    Averett University

    #8244 institution's historical influence
    #422 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/18

    Danville, VA

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    What is Averett University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    Bluefield College

    #6325 institution's historical influence
    #800 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/19

    Bluefield, VA

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    What is Bluefield College known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    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
  22. #22

    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

  23. #23

    Ferrum College

    #4181 institution's historical influence
    #667 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/18

    Ferrum, VA

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    What is Ferrum College known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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