Best Public Colleges in Virginia 2022

Best Public Colleges in Virginia 2022

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Virginia provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

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.


What are Virginia’s Colleges & Universities?

Virginia’s Best Overall

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, 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 bachelor’s 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. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 15 public universities in Virginia. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in Virginia, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

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Best Public Colleges in Virginia 2022

  1. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/21

    Old Dominion University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Business Analytics
    • Economics
    • Finance
    • Information Systems and Technology
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Real Estate
    • Risk Management and Insurance
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN to BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MS in Mechanical Engineering Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Manufacturing Systems
    • Mechanical System Design
    • Nuclear Systems
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Civil Engineering Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Public Health
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Engineering
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Electrical Engineering Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Communication Systems Technology
    • Computer Engineering Technology
    • Embedded Systems Technology
    • Mechatronics Systems Technology
    • Power Systems Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Cybercrime
    • Leadership
    • Professional Writing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Medical Laboratory Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Cybersecurity
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA or BS in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Sciences
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Services Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Dental Hygiene
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Occupational and Technical Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Fashion Merchandising
    • Industrial Technology
    • Training Specialist
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Engineering Technology- Electromechanical Systems (Ids)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS or BA in Geography
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Human Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Marketing Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Risk Management And Insurance
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Technology Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Business Analytics
    • Economics
    • Finance
    • Information Systems and Technology
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Real Estate
    • Risk Management and Insurance
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Civil Engineering Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Engineering
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Cybersecurity
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Dental Hygiene
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Engineering Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Computer Engineering Technology
    • Embedded Systems Technology
    • Communication Systems Technology
    • Mechanical Engineering Technology
    • Nuclear Systems (Mechanical Engineering Technology)
    • Power Systems Technology
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Engineering Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Electromechanical Systems
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Geography
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Sciences
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Services Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Human Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Cybercrime
    • Leadership
    • Professional Writing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Marketing Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Medical Laboratory Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Occupational and Technical Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Fashion Merchandising
    • Industrial Technology
    • Training Specialist
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Public Health
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA/BS in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #7

    James Madison University

    Harrisonburg , VA

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/25

    James Madison University’s Online Degrees

    BIS/BA/BS in Individualized Study
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business and Information Technology
    • Child Development
    • Early Childhood Education (2+2)
    • Family and Consumer Sciences
    • Healthcare Leadership
    • Human Resource Development and Management
    • Professional Workplace Communication
    • Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. #8

    Radford University

    Radford , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    9K

    Radford University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Economics
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Services
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Science
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. #10

    Virginia State University

    Petersburg , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    920/17

    Virginia State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Hospitality Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #12

    University of Mary Washington

    Fredericksburg , VA

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/26

    University of Mary Washington’s Online Degrees

    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    950/18

    Norfolk State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business
    Degree Concentrations
    • Information Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Services Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #14

    Longwood University

    Farmville , VA

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/20

  8. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    What is University of Virginia's College at Wise known for?

    University of Virginia's College at Wise’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Virginia's College at Wise’s Online Degrees

    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Virginia’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. University of Virginia
  2. William & Mary
  3. Virginia Military Institute
  4. George Mason University
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Virginia Commonwealth University
  7. Virginia State University
  8. Norfolk State University
  9. University of Mary Washington
  10. James Madison University
  11. Old Dominion University
  12. Radford University
  13. Christopher Newport University
  14. University of Virginia's College at Wise
  15. Longwood University