2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST COLLEGES IN VIRGINIA
Where to Find Top Public Colleges in Virginia | Big, Cheap or Small, VA Colleges are the Best
Virginia may be for lovers, as the tourism slogan says, but it’s also for college students. Many of the best colleges in Virginia are ranked among the top in the nation. The state is also known as the gateway to the South, and located right next to our nation’s capital.
Whether you’re dreaming of going to a large school or one of the small colleges in Virginia with a low student-to-faculty ratio, the public colleges in Virginia have something for all.
Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Colleges in Virginia
Don’t judge a school by the tuition here. You can find really good colleges in Virginia that are affordable, especially if you’re a VA resident. It turns out some of the cheapest colleges in Virginia also happen to be some of the finest.
Being the “Birthplace of a Nation” where the first colonists settled in Jamestown, the state has a rich military history. Two of the colleges in Virginia on our list are a top choice of both military and non-military students alike.
Virginia is definitely a great place to live, work, and go to school, and in our 2017 ranking, we are going to review the top 6 best colleges in VA you should consider.
We’ll also explain the difference between the resident and non-resident tuition rates so you’ll know what’s needed to qualify for the cheapest rates at Virginia colleges.
AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Colleges in Virginia
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the school names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that school):
- Longwood University
- Old Dominion University
- University of Virginia
- Virginia Military Institute
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
- William & Mary
Top 6 Public Colleges in Virginia | Brief Comparison & Ranking
Public Colleges in Virginia
Average Undergraduate Tuition/Fees/Room & Board
Location of the Colleges in VA
|Old Dominion University|
|University of Virginia|
|Virginia Military Institute|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)|
|William & Mary|
Table: Top 6 Best and Cheapest Colleges in Virginia | Above list is sorted alphabetically
Good Colleges in Virginia FAQ | How to Qualify for the Resident Rate at Top Virginia Colleges
At some colleges in Virginia the non-resident (out-of-state) rate can be just about double the resident (in-state) rate. That’s a big difference in costs even at the cheapest colleges in Virginia, so many people wonder how to qualify for the lower tuition rate.
Here are some important things to know about the in-state residency requirement when applying to Virginia colleges, both public and private, from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
Image Source: Top Colleges in Virginia
Tuition and Financial Aid
Being a resident of Virginia not only grants you the in-state tuition rate at colleges in VA, but state financial aid programs are also generally reserved for state residents.
Resident Requirements in Brief
A person has to show that they not only live in Virginia, but they intend to keep living there indefinitely. Once the VA domicile requirement is met, you need to live there for at least 12 months before starting classes at any VA colleges.
Intent to Remain in VA
This is an important requirement that many students planning to attend top colleges in Virginia might overlook. You have to show “domiciliary intent” by means like ownership of property, having a driver’s license there, being employed in VA, or several other ways.
If You’re Under 24
If you’re under the age of 24 and attending one of the many good colleges in Virginia, you’ll be classified as a dependent and fall under your parents’ state of residency, unless you demonstrate independence by being married, financially independent, or in the military.
Other Special Circumstances
There are a few other means by which you could be considered for the lower tuition. So it’s a good idea to review all the other ways that you might be able to qualify to save money attending the best colleges in VA.
All-in-One Change Management Tools
Top Rated Toolkit for Change Managers.
Get Your Change Management Tool Today...
AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top-rated lists?
Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.
Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best Colleges in Virginia
Below, please find a detailed review of each school on our list of top public colleges in Virginia. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these best and cheapest colleges in Virginia to score so highly in our selection ranking.
Longwood University Review
Located west of Richmond, in Farmville, VA, is one of the great small colleges in Virginia, Longwood University. The school’s 5,000 students come from 25 states and 20 countries, demonstrating that this is one of the top Virginia colleges with a global reputation.
Longwood began in 1839 originally as the Farmville Female Seminary Association. This is also one of the Virginia colleges that has a claim to fame others don’t, which is being the place that the four national sororities, the “Farmville Four,” were founded.
Image Source: Longwood University | Top Colleges in Virginia
Highlights That Make Longwood University Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Colleges in Virginia
With an average cost to attend of $22,184–$36,614, this is one of the cheapest colleges in Virginia to go, even if you’re a non-resident.
Longwood has its roots in educating teachers and remains one of the best colleges in VA for a teacher-focused, liberal arts curriculum. Besides the usual undergraduate and graduate programs, this is one of the VA colleges that offer continuing education courses.
Five Top Virginia Colleges to Choose From
Longwood University may be one of the small colleges in Virginia, but they’re no less mighty than larger colleges in Virginia when it comes to a quality education.
They have five main schools there to choose from, whether you’re planning to get a degree in education, science, or business, this is one of the VA colleges that can help you get there. The schools are:
- Cook-Cole College of Arts & Sciences
- College of Business & Economics
- College of Education & Human Services
- Comier Honors College for Citizen Scholars
- College of Graduate & Professional Studies
Hull Springs Farm
Who wouldn’t love talking a walk on beautiful farmland after a long day in the classroom? Longwood is one of the few colleges in VA that has a working educational farm.
Their Hull Springs Farm has 662 acres situated just a short distance from Chesapeake Bay. The site is used to help teach best and sustainable practices in forestry and agriculture to students.
Old Dominion University Review
Old Dominion University is located on the coast in Norfolk, VA, and is one of the colleges in Virginia that has ties to two other schools on our list. The school was initially founded in 1930 as an extension for these best colleges in VA, William & Mary and Virginia Tech.
If you’re looking for one of the larger Virginia colleges, you’ll find that at Old Dominion. With an enrollment of 24,670 students representing 180 countries, this is one of the largest public colleges in Virginia.
Image Source: Old Dominion University | Good Colleges in Virginia
Highlights That Make Old Dominion University Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Colleges in Virginia
The school is one of the top colleges in Virginia that is a nationally known research facility. They work with organizations like the Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory and NASA-Langley Research Center.
If you’re planning to become a marine biologist or study coastal tides, this is one of the best colleges in VA to attend. Research strengths include:
- Coastal Resilience
- Modeling and Simulation
- Port Logistics
- Cyber Security
- Maritime Engineering
Center for Enterprise Innovation
Old Dominion may be one of the cheapest colleges in Virginia to attend as an in-state resident, but they’re also one of the top Virginia colleges for bringing together business and innovation.
Their Center for Enterprise Innovation is a business-friendly portal offering local startups and other organizations the ability to engage the intellectual capital of the cutting-edge technologies and talent there.
Old Dominion is one of the colleges in VA that is military friendly, and 25% of their students are military affiliated. They not only have a Military Connection Center, but also offer distance learning to troops who may be stationed overseas.
University of Virginia Review
This next school has some serious bragging rights because they’re one of the public colleges in Virginia that was founded by a U.S. president. The University of Virginia was started by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 to educate the country’s citizens for governing the new nation.
The college is located in Charlottesville, VA, which was named “Happiest City in America” by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research. So if you love the Blue Ridge Mountains and world-class restaurants, this is among the best colleges in Virginia to go to.
Image Source: University of Virginia | Good Colleges in Virginia
Highlights That Make the University of Virginia Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Colleges in Virginia
When you first compare the tuition costs at each of the Virginia colleges, this one definitely doesn’t initially stand out as one of the cheapest colleges in Virginia. But there’s something you should know.
This is one of the colleges in Virginia that emphasizes affordability. Their founder envisioned a place where value wasn’t ascribed by wealth, but by talent. So they’re one of the few public colleges in Virginia that meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all students.
Leader in Health and Medicine
If you’re pursuing a career in any of the medical fields, then the University of Virginia is one of the top colleges in VA to apply to.
It’s one of their core areas since their founding and the school is one of the few VA colleges with all the resources of a Tier 1 Research University and a major academic medical center.
Arts Taught Here!
If you plan on majoring in one of the arts, you’ll love what the University of Virginia has to offer. It’s one of the really good colleges in Virginia if you’re a film student because they sponsor the Virginia Film Festival and other signature art events.
Virginia Military Institute Review
Another one of the top colleges in Virginia that is military-focused in both academia and name is Virginia Military Institute (VMI). This four-year undergraduate college was founded in 1839 and is one of the nation’s top undergraduate public liberal arts colleges.
Most of the large and small colleges in Virginia are in scenic locations around the state, and VMI is no different. The school is located on more than 200 acres in Lexington, VA, the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.
Highlights That Make Virginia Military Institute Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Colleges in Virginia
When you attend Virginia Military Institute, you’re going to get the very best of Cadet Life. This is one of the colleges in Virginia that is like no other, and that’s why many students want to go there.
Living in the barracks is a key focal point of the cadets that attend VMI. The closeness to other students helps to foster teamwork and friendships that will last a lifetime. So this is one of the best colleges in VA to attend if you want to experience school military style.
Surrounded by History
If you enjoy American history and having the chance to explore it daily, then VMI is going to be one of your best public colleges in Virginia to consider.
There are several historic markers and museums nearby, including:
- The VMI Museum
- Virginia Museum of the Civil War
- Stonewall Jackson House
- VMI Archives
- Marshall Museum and Library
- The Chessie Trail
Small Class Sizes
Some VMI classes have as few as 11 students, so this is one of the good colleges in Virginia to attend if you don’t want to get lost in a sea of other students.
Cadets and faculty often conduct research projects together and the smaller class sizes allow instructors to develop meaning mentor relationships with their students.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) Review
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is quite a mouthful. That’s why everyone knows this college by the name Virginia Tech, and it’s one of the best colleges in Virginia that you can attend.
This is one of the colleges in Virginia that has had many names since it was begun in 1872 as Virginia’s white land-grant institution. Their nickname of “Hokie” actually came about during one of those name changes when a student added the word to his spirit yell, and won a competition.
Highlights That Make Virginia Tech Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Colleges in Virginia
Virginia Tech is no stranger to being one of the most well-respected public colleges in Virginia. They have Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivering their 2017 Commencement address.
With more than 33,000 students and a research portfolio of more than $504 million, this is definitely not one of the small colleges in Virginia—it’s one of the largest.
Image Source: Virginia Tech | Good Colleges in Virginia
They Work with Robots
Who doesn’t get excited about the prospect of working with robots? Virginia Tech is one of the good colleges in Virginia to go to if you love engineering and playing with (we mean studying) robots.
Humanoid robot ESCHER, created to respond to natural or man-made disasters was designed by a team in Virginia Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
You can’t find the type of cutting-edge education at other top colleges in Virginia that you can find at Virginia Tech. Where else can you find a Biocomplexity Institute where researchers have created a toolset to estimate how a set of criminal justice reforms will impact rates of imprisonment?
William & Mary Review
The last school on our list of the best colleges in Virginia is the second-oldest college in America. William & Mary was started in 1693 from a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II, hence the name.
They’re one of the only public colleges in Virginia that can say they actually had to cancel classes due to the British invading. Today, the school is known for their rigorous liberal arts curriculum and remains one of the small but best Virginia colleges.
Highlights That Make William & Mary Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Colleges in Virginia
While William & Mary may not be one of the cheapest colleges in Virginia, they have earned a reputation that makes their tuition worth the price.
This is one of the VA colleges with tons of recognitions and top rankings, including:
- Best College Values: Public—Kiplinger 2017
- America’s Top Colleges: Public Schools—Forbes 2016
- Best Colleges: Top Public Schools—U.S. News & World Report 2017
- America’s Top Colleges: Research Universities—Forbes 2016
Image Source: William & Mary | Good Colleges in Virginia
Student/Professor Knowledge Creation
If you’re worried that you won’t be let in on the great research projects as a first year student, then you’ll be glad to know that William & Mary is one of the best colleges in Virginia that promotes knowledge creation and collaboration from day one.
A few of the exciting projects their students and professors are partnering on include helping scientists figure out how to make bricks on Mars and sending a team to compete in the iGEM Jamboree—the “World Cup of synthetic biology.”
When you’re one of the oldest of the public colleges in Virginia, you’re going to have had some famous figures walk through your halls. When you attend William & Mary, you’ll be included in a very prestigious and exclusive group.
William & Mary alumni include three U.S. presidents:
- Thomas Jefferson
- James Monroe
- John Tyler
Conclusion—Top 6 Best Colleges in Virginia
Virginia has a lot to offer students looking for the best and most enriching education. Even the cheapest colleges in Virginia offer a tradition of excellence and hands-on learning that is just a good as one of the larger public colleges in Virginia.
If you happen to be in the military or want to join as an officer after you graduate, there are some very good colleges in Virginia on our list that can give you a stellar education and the full-on military bonding experience.
And whether you choose one of the more expensive or cheapest colleges in Virginia, on the coast or near the mountains, you can count on having a gorgeous view along with a top-quality education.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.