West Virginia’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

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.

West Virginia’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

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 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 West Virginia's best public colleges and universities?

Methodology

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.


This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 12 public universities in West Virginia, 10 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best public universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must receive direct funding from the state.
  2. It must be a four-year college or university.
  3. It must be fully accredited.
  4. It offers a broad range of bachelor’s degree programs.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in West Virginia

  1. #1

    West Virginia University

    Morgantown , WV
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/24

    What is West Virginia University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Marshall University

    Huntington , WV
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/22

    What is Marshall University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
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  3. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    965/19

    What is West Virginia State University known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Glenville State College

    Glenville , WV

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Glenville State College known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Concord University

    Athens , WV
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1000/20

    What is Concord University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Shepherd University

    Shepherdstown , WV

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/22

    What is Shepherd University known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/21

    What is West Virginia University Institute of Technology known for?

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

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1010/20

    What is Fairmont State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
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  9. #9

    Bluefield State College

    Bluefield , WV

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    880/18

    What is Bluefield State College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    West Liberty University

    West Liberty , WV

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    2K

    What is West Liberty University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

Find the best public college in West Virginia for your interests

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