Best Public Colleges in West Virginia 2024

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

10 Best Public Colleges in West Virginia

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  1. West Virginia University
  2. Marshall University
  3. West Virginia State University
  4. West Liberty University
  5. Fairmont State University
  6. Shepherd University
  7. Bluefield State University
  8. Potomac State College of West Virginia University
  9. Concord University
  10. West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  1. West Virginia University
  2. Marshall University
  3. West Virginia State University
  4. Fairmont State University
  5. West Liberty University
  6. Potomac State College of West Virginia University
  7. Shepherd University
  8. Concord University
  9. West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  10. West Virginia University at Parkersburg
  1. Fairmont State University 99%
  2. Marshall University 98%
  3. West Virginia State University 97%
  4. Bluefield State University 97%
  5. Concord University 96%
  6. Shepherd University 96%
  7. West Virginia University 90%
  8. West Liberty University 74%
  9. West Virginia University Institute of Technology 66%
  1. West Virginia University 21 to 1
  2. Potomac State College of West Virginia University 18 to 1
  3. Marshall University 18 to 1
  4. Glenville State University 17 to 1
  5. Concord University 16 to 1
  6. Fairmont State University 15 to 1
  7. West Virginia University at Parkersburg 15 to 1
  8. Bluefield State University 14 to 1
  9. Shepherd University 14 to 1
  10. West Virginia University Institute of Technology 13 to 1
  1. West Virginia University $9,144
  2. West Liberty University $8,354
  3. West Virginia State University $8,308
  4. Concord University $8,130
  5. Bluefield State University $8,084
  6. Glenville State University $7,886
  7. West Virginia University Institute of Technology $7,728
  8. Marshall University $7,190
  9. Fairmont State University $5,946
  10. Shepherd University $5,790
  1. West Virginia University $10,332
  2. Concord University $8,730
  3. West Virginia State University $8,636
  4. Shepherd University $8,298
  5. Marshall University $7,520
  6. West Liberty University $6,786
  7. Fairmont State University $5,946
  1. Glenville State University
  2. West Virginia University at Parkersburg
  3. West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  4. Concord University
  5. Potomac State College of West Virginia University
  6. Bluefield State University
  7. Shepherd University
  8. Fairmont State University
  9. West Liberty University
  10. West Virginia State University
  1. Glenville State University
  2. Bluefield State University
  3. West Virginia University at Parkersburg
  4. West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  5. Concord University
  6. Shepherd University
  7. Potomac State College of West Virginia University
  8. West Liberty University
  9. Fairmont State University
  10. West Virginia State University
  1. West Virginia University Institute of Technology 66%
  2. West Liberty University 74%
  3. West Virginia University 90%
  4. Shepherd University 96%
  5. Concord University 96%
  6. Bluefield State University 97%
  7. West Virginia State University 97%
  8. Marshall University 98%
  9. Fairmont State University 99%
  1. West Liberty University 11 to 1
  2. West Virginia State University 12 to 1
  3. West Virginia University Institute of Technology 13 to 1
  4. Bluefield State University 14 to 1
  5. Shepherd University 14 to 1
  6. Fairmont State University 15 to 1
  7. West Virginia University at Parkersburg 15 to 1
  8. Concord University 16 to 1
  9. Glenville State University 17 to 1
  10. Potomac State College of West Virginia University 18 to 1
  1. West Virginia University at Parkersburg $3,840
  2. Potomac State College of West Virginia University $4,632
  3. Shepherd University $5,790
  4. Fairmont State University $5,946
  5. Marshall University $7,190
  6. West Virginia University Institute of Technology $7,728
  7. Glenville State University $7,886
  8. Bluefield State University $8,084
  9. Concord University $8,130
  10. West Virginia State University $8,308
  1. Fairmont State University $5,946
  2. West Liberty University $6,786
  3. Marshall University $7,520
  4. Shepherd University $8,298
  5. West Virginia State University $8,636
  6. Concord University $8,730
  7. West Virginia University $10,332

Colleges and Universities in West Virginia

West Virginia has 20 public higher education institutions, all at a sticker price of $9,000 or less, making it one of the more affordable states to earn a degree. With over 25,000 students in attendance, West Virginia University is the largest and charges $9,000 in tuition. Aside from the community and state colleges, six other public universities have populations ranging from about 2,100 to just over 10,000, and all schools have a tuition rate of about $8,000.

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The state is also home to 12 private schools, eight of which are religiously affiliated. The University of Charleston is the largest private university, but its student population is still small. About 2,000 students take classes in fields such as chemistry, political science, and history, and the tuition totals $21,000. At $32,000 in tuition and fees, West Virginia Wesleyan College is the most expensive, but its student population is only slightly above 1,300.

As the only state contained entirely within the Appalachian range, West Virginia is rightfully nicknamed The Mountain State. Those who love the outdoors will feel at home hiking through the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve or skiing at Canaan Valley Ski Resort. History buffs can visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, where they can take a walk through life in the 1800s. In addition, the state offers over 30 private and public colleges and universities to those looking to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.

Check out the state’s top programs and see why West Virginia could be a good fit for your educational goals and budget.


What are West Virginia’s Colleges & Universities?

West 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 12 public universities in West Virginia. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in West 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 West Virginia 2023

  1. #2

    Marshall University

    Huntington , WV
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1042/22

    Career Outlook for degree at Marshall University

    Cost of Degree: $8,604
    Expenses: $15,340
    Starting Salary: $41,700
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    Marshall University’s Online Degrees

    BA in General Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in English
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Geography
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Geography
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Writing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    Degree Concentrations
    • Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    980/19

    Career Outlook for degree at West Virginia State University

    Cost of Degree: $9,431
    Expenses: $16,615
    Starting Salary: $33,800
    Cost Recoup Time: 14 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary

    West Virginia State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • Required Credits: 35
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in English
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    RBA in Regents Bachelor Of Arts
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. #4

    West Liberty University

    West Liberty , WV
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1010/20

    Career Outlook for degree at West Liberty University

    Cost of Degree: $8,716
    Expenses: $15,789
    Starting Salary: $39,500
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is West Liberty University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    West Liberty University’s Online Degrees

    BSN in Nursing
    Degree Concentrations
    • Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/20

    Career Outlook for degree at Fairmont State University

    Cost of Degree: $8,008
    Expenses: $13,022
    Starting Salary: $38,400
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Fairmont State University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    Shepherd University

    Shepherdstown , WV
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    5K

    Career Outlook for degree at Shepherd University

    Cost of Degree: $8,282
    Expenses: $14,862
    Starting Salary: $43,000
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Shepherd University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/19

    Career Outlook for degree at Bluefield State University

    Cost of Degree: $9,840
    Expenses: $16,100
    Starting Salary: $31,900
    Cost Recoup Time: 14 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Bluefield State University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Bluefield State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Accounting
    • Sport Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Accountancy
    • Required Credits: 150
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 121-122
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Forensic Investigation
    • Corrections
    • Law Enforcement
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Social Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120-121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Middle Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Humanities
    • Required Credits: 81
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Regents Bachelor Of Arts
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Social Sciences
    Degree Concentrations
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120-121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Services Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Registered Nurse (2+2)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Applied Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Pre-Medicine
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Required Credits: 120-122
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Civil Engineering Technology
    • Required Credits: 89-91
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Engineering Management
    • Required Credits: 64
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Imaging Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • 2+2 Program
    • Computed Tomography
    • Nuclear Medicine
    • Sonography
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Electrical Engineering Technology
    • Required Credits: 60-64
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    24%

    Student body

    2K

    Career Outlook for degree at Potomac State College of West Virginia University

    Cost of Degree: $4,752
    Expenses: $13,236
    Starting Salary: $52,700
    Cost Recoup Time: 8 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Potomac State College of West Virginia University known for?

    Potomac State College of West Virginia University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    Potomac State College of West Virginia University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • General Business
    • Marketing
    • Hospitality And Tourism Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Integrated Marketing Communications
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BAS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BMDS in Multidisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    RBA in Regents Bachelor Of Arts
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. #9

    Concord University

    Athens , WV
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    930/19

    Career Outlook for degree at Concord University

    Cost of Degree: $9,100
    Expenses: $14,418
    Starting Salary: $35,700
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Concord University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Concord University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  9. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/20

    Career Outlook for degree at West Virginia University Institute of Technology

    Cost of Degree: $7,848
    Expenses: $15,626
    Starting Salary: $52,700
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is West Virginia University Institute of Technology known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    3K

    Career Outlook for degree at West Virginia University at Parkersburg

    Cost of Degree: $4,132
    Starting Salary: $33,200
    What is West Virginia University at Parkersburg known for?

    West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

  11. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    2K

    Career Outlook for degree at Glenville State University

    Cost of Degree: $9,064
    Expenses: $15,158
    Starting Salary: $38,400
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Glenville State University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    Glenville State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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West 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 utilized 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. West Virginia University
  2. Marshall University
  3. West Virginia State University
  4. Glenville State University
  5. Concord University
  6. Shepherd University
  7. West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  8. Fairmont State University
  9. Bluefield State University
  10. West Liberty University

Check out our directory of public colleges throughout the U.S. for a look at the top public colleges in every state.

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