University of Virginia
#44 Overall Influence#40 Desirability Rank

University of Virginia

Public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

By James Barham, PhD

The University of Virginia (UVA) was very much the personal project of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia already had a venerable and distinguished university, the College of William & Mary, which is the second-oldest in the country—founded right after Harvard—and was Jefferson’s own alma mater.

However, in Jefferson’s day, William & Mary continued to require its students to subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, whereas Jefferson had become a deist—not an atheist, but not a Christian, either, and certainly not a friend to the C of E.

Jefferson was a great admirer of the French Revolution, and nothing if not a child of the Enlightenment. Therefore, he wanted his home state of Virginia to benefit from a more modern kind of university that would advance the enlightened and progressive values he held dear.

In 1817, Jefferson met with three of his friends and political colleagues, the newly elected, fifth President of the United States, James Monroe; the outgoing fourth president, James Madison; and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall. At this meeting, they decided on a location for the new university near the town of Charlottesville.

Two years later, UVA received its charter from the Commonwealth of Virginia and construction began, with Jefferson himself serving as the main architect. The new university’s first classes began in 1825.

Two centuries later, UVA has become one of the premier public universities in the Old South. It has been affiliated with nine Nobel Prize laureates, namely,

  • Norman Ramsey and Clinton Davisson—physics
  • Alfred Gilman, Ferid Murad, & Barry Marshall—physiology or medicine
  • Ronald Coase & James M. Buchanan—economics
  • William Faulkner—literature
  • Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919

Two UVA undergrads have gone on to win the Turing Award for outstanding achievements in the field of computer science:

  • Edward M. Clarke
  • John Backus

Other UVA-connected faculty and alumni include:

  • Early American poet, pioneer of detective fiction, and virtuoso of the Gothic horror story form, Edgar Allan Poe
  • Arctic and Antarctic explorer, Richer E. Byrd
  • Painter, Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Former US poet laureate, Rita Dove
  • Novelist, Edward P. Jones
  • Comedienne, Tina Fey
  • Political analyst, Larry Sabato
  • Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian
  • Television personalities Brit Hume, Laura Ingraham, & Katie Couric
  • Civil Rights–activist, Julian Bond
  • no fewer than eight NASA astronauts


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


1827 University Avenue, Charlottesville VA 22903-2628

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

10 per 100k

Violent Crime

0 per 100k

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

26 per 100k

Violent Crime

5 per 100k

What is University of Virginia known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#35 World Rank #13 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#29 World Rank #15 USA Rank
#24 World Rank #15 USA Rank
#37 World Rank #22 USA Rank
#45 World Rank #22 USA Rank
#31 World Rank #23 USA Rank
#36 World Rank #25 USA Rank
#33 World Rank #25 USA Rank
Political Science
#33 World Rank #27 USA Rank
#56 World Rank #31 USA Rank
#56 World Rank #36 USA Rank
Computer Science
#103 World Rank #38 USA Rank
#106 World Rank #39 USA Rank
#80 World Rank #40 USA Rank
#51 World Rank #40 USA Rank
#80 World Rank #44 USA Rank
#130 World Rank #47 USA Rank
#67 World Rank #49 USA Rank
#146 World Rank #54 USA Rank
#102 World Rank #55 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#45 World Rank #40 USA Rank
#67 World Rank #55 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#105 World Rank #79 USA Rank
Social Work
#121 World Rank #43 USA Rank
Earth Sciences

Influential People

Who are University of Virginia's Most influential alumni?

University of Virginia's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Law, Literature, and Education. University of Virginia’s most academically influential people include Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, and Ronald Coase.

Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe

American-Irish Author.

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William Faulkner
William Faulkner

American writer

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Ronald Coase
Ronald Coase

British economist and author

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Francis Collins
Francis Collins

American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health

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Katie Couric
Katie Couric

American television and online journalist, presenter, producer, and author

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William Barton Rogers
William Barton Rogers

American scientist, founder of MIT

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Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O'Keeffe

American artist

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Allen Tate
Allen Tate

American poet, essayist and social commentator

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Richard E. Byrd
Richard E. Byrd

American naval officer and explorer

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Anselm Strauss

American sociologist

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Richard B. Spencer
Richard B. Spencer

American white supremacist

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Seymour Schulich

Canadian businessman

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