Best Colleges in Virginia

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Once you have decided to attend college, finding the right school is the next essential step. Those considering an education in Virginia will have over 110 colleges and universities to choose from, with a broad selection of 2-year and 4-year degree programs across a number of fields of study. To assist you in this process, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Virginia, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

If a bachelor-granting institution is what you have set your sights on, Virginia is a great place to pursue a degree. The state’s 25-plus public and private universities include one of the nation’s oldest, William and Mary College, which is also considered the original Public Ivy. Additionally, Virginia has seen a steady increase in 4-year graduates since 2011, when the state enacted the Top Jobs Act, an initiative that promotes degree completion across all demographics. According to the Council of Higher Education, Virginia’s goal of 100,000 annual bachelor graduates will be met by 2025. To aid your search, below is a list of the best 4-year institutions in the state.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Washington and Lee University 5/587.67%Lexington, VA

Washington & Lee owes its success to the nation’s first president, whose generous $20,000 donation in 1796 helped the fledgling institution survive and thrive. Today, the university offers a world-class education in 37 majors and 29 minors ranging from African studies to women’s and gender studies.

The university is known for giving students individualized attention through small classes and several student life programs. The school designed a first-year-experience program aimed specifically at making freshman students feel welcome and supported. All students may also choose from over 130 organizations and numerous sports teams.

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2University of Virginia 3/594.16%Charlottesville, VA

UVA offers students a rich environment in which they can pursue their academic and personal goals. Unique areas of study include architectural history as well as urban and environmental planning. A variety of bachelor’s degrees in business, health, and sciences are also available.

A special feature that sets UVA apart from other four-year schools is its dedication to service. Eighty percent of its students engage in community service on a regular basis. With over 600 student organizations and a total of 14 recreation halls, courts, and fields to choose from, UVA also offers students plenty of excitement outside of the classroom.

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3University of Richmond 5/584.26%University of Richmond, VA

The University of Richmond stands out for its distinguished tradition of research. As part of the Richmond Guarantee, every undergraduate student who is enrolled in a traditional four-year program receives up to $4,000 in funding for a summer internship or research opportunity.

In addition to offering rigorous academics reinforced by small class sizes, the university strongly believes in engaging students beyond the classroom, and offers over 175 student organizations and sports teams. Students also have the option to participate in living-learning programs for intellectual and social engagement.

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4College of William and Mary 3/590.44%Williamsburg, VA

At 323 years old, this college is the second-oldest in the United States. But what really sets W&M apart from other colleges in the state is its emphasis on research. W&M believes that research is essential to assimilating classroom instruction and reaching a deeper understanding of various subjects.

W&M is proud to welcome students of all backgrounds and from various countries, and strives to promote diversity of thought by offering more than 400 student clubs and organizations. Students may choose from Greek life, sports teams, creative groups, and more.

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5James Madison University 2/582.43%Harrisonburg, VA

James Madison University offers several unique majors among its almost 60 undergraduate programs. Students may choose to study athletic training, dietetics, intelligence analysis, international business, quantitative finance, and more.

With over 300 student organizations to choose from, students also enjoy a rich and vibrant life outside the classroom. In addition to a number of faith-based groups and a thriving Greek life, notable organizations include a 3D-printing club, firefighters of JMU, KnitWits, Madison Flyfishers, and a women in technology group. The university also features six men’s and 11 women’s sports teams.

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6George Mason University 2/566.88%Fairfax, VA

With 34,000 students from all 50 states and 130 countries, George Mason is known for its diversity. Each spring the university features an international week, hosting events that allow students to share and celebrate their cultures.

Students here can choose from dozens of programs offered through the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, the College of Science, and more. In addition to its 350 student organizations, George Mason students also have the unique opportunity to work and learn in one the country’s most dynamic cities, Washington, DC. Located just 15 miles from the nation’s capital, students are able to take a university shuttle to enjoy the city’s various cultural and natural attractions.

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7Christopher Newport University 3/567.55%Newport News, VA

Students at Christopher Newport University can choose from undergraduate degrees in American studies, fine arts, neuroscience, music, and more. The school also offers a five-year bachelor’s to master’s program, allowing students to earn a master’s degree in a graduate discipline in just one additional year.

Featured among its extensive offerings of more than 200 student organizations and activities are three leadership programs designed to help students move confidently into their future. Students also learn from distinguished professors who are recognized as experts in their fields. With over 80 subject areas delivered in small classes, learners engage with course material in a dynamic way.

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8University of Mary Washington 2/572.88%Fredericksburg, VA

Located just an hour away from opportunities in both Washington, DC and Richmond, Virginia, University of Mary Washington is known for placing students in internships and research positions. Students are also able to partake in the two cities’ rich cultural life and entertainment venues.

Mary Washington offers 40 undergraduate majors and programs. Notable selections include American studies, historic preservation, and women’s and gender studies. Smaller class sizes allow Mary Washington’s distinguished professors to provide students with individualized attention. Faculty members are also happy to supervise undergraduate research projects.

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9Eastern Mennonite University 2/561.75%Harrisonburg, VA

Eastern Mennonite is a Christian university. Though founded upon the Mennonite church’s tradition as a peace church, the university welcomes students of all faiths and features a diverse spiritual community.

The university offers a full liberal arts curriculum with over 50 majors to choose from. Notable programs include accounting, Bible and religion, digital media, environmental sustainability, gender studies, and peacebuilding and development. Eastern Mennonite focuses on teaching and empowering students to work toward service and advancing the public good.

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10Radford University 2/558.74%Radford, VA

Radford offers opportunity and innovation. The school invests in its students by providing them with top-rated faculty and the latest tools to make learning more dynamic. Since 2008, the university has built and upgraded hundreds of thousands of square feet of classroom space with the latest technologies. Its visual arts center is one of the most technologically advanced in the state.

Students can choose from dozens of graduate and undergraduate programs from its seven colleges and departments, including the College of Education and Human Development, Waldron College of Health and Human Services, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and more. Campus life at Radford is as exciting as its strategic vision. Students enjoy intramural sports, state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and over 250 student organizations.

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11Virginia Commonwealth University 3/559.18%Richmond, VA

Located in the state capital of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University offers students a wide range of internships and other beyond-the-classroom learning opportunities. One such program is the university’s service learning elective, which allows students to apply skills learned in the classroom to a real-world setting by engaging in community service projects.

With 250 areas of study -- including arts, dentistry, pharmacy, and world studies -- over 500 student organizations, and more than 100 weekly fitness classes to choose from, the on-campus environment is as lively and vibrant as the surrounding city.

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12Longwood University 3/566.16%Farmville, VA

Aiming to produce the next generation of social leaders, Longwood requires every student from every major to participate in one internship or research project prior to graduation. As part of the same mission, the university also encourages students to participate in numerous other leadership, community service, and service learning opportunities that are available on campus.

With over 100 majors to choose from, students may pursue knowledge in a number of exciting fields. Notable selections include artist’s books and printmaking, real estate, music education, sociology, and therapeutic recreation.

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13Hampden-Sydney College 5/567.31%Hampden-Sydney, VA

Founded in 1775, Hampden-Sydney College has the distinction of being the oldest college for men in the United States. Aiming to help men become the best versions of themselves, the college reinforces academics with several kinds of service opportunities.

The average class size is 14, ensuring each student receives personalized attention. Students may pursue 25 majors in either the arts or sciences. Additionally, the college offers more than 60 clubs, which include 14 honor societies, 10 fraternities, and several intramural and intercollegiate athletic teams.

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14Roanoke College 5/563.71%Salem, VA

Although Roanoke is the second-oldest Lutheran institution in the United States, it welcomes students of all faiths and takes a nonsectarian approach to its mission. A small college with a big impact, Roanoke boasts class sizes of just 18.

Students can choose from over 90 majors, including actuarial science, Christian studies, sport management, and U.S. history. Almost 90% of its students also embark on real-world learning programs such as internships, research, and study abroad. May term, a month of intensive hands-on study in another country, is another popular real-world learning option available at the school.

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15Hollins University 5/562.2%Roanoke, VA

Hollins is one of the oldest women’s colleges in Virginia. Its campus is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just minutes from downtown Roanoke, allowing students to experience breathtaking natural beauty and vibrant city life.

The university offers 27 majors in the arts and sciences. In addition to pursuing majors like biology, dance, and theatre, students may also enroll in the honors program. After completing four seminar courses designed to foster inquiry and research, students will receive an honors designation on their transcript.

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16Old Dominion University 2/551.58%Norfolk, VA

With over 300 student organizations, 28 Greek life options, 17 dining locations, and 14 residence halls, life at Old Dominion is never boring, and the nearby port city of Norfolk offers even more cultural, sports, music, and arts attractions.

In the tradition of like-minded Virginia colleges, Old Dominion offers more than 100 majors spanning the arts and sciences. Notable majors include civil engineering, cytotechnology, sport management, and three-dimensional media.

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17Bridgewater College 4/561.07%Bridgewater, VA

Bridgewater College is guided by the values of the Church of the Brethren, but welcomes students of all faiths into its inclusive community. It also emphasizes the idea of enhancing classroom education with research. Although a research project is not required for graduation, the college encourages it by providing class credits and financial grants where available.

The college also believes in enhancing its more than 60 majors -- including athletic training, environmental science, music, and more -- with opportunities to study abroad in over 50 countries. Additional academic support is offered through an honors program and special lectures and convocations featuring distinguished speakers.

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18Randolph College 5/540.97%Lynchburg, VA

Randolph was founded in 1891 as a women’s-only college. However, as more men’s colleges in the state transitioned into coed institutions, Randolph followed suit and started welcoming male students in 2007. Today, the diverse student body is thriving, with 29 majors and over 50 on-campus organizations to choose from.

One of Randolph’s other attractive features is its fantastic housing program. The residence halls allow students of different class years to live together, helping to create a sense of community among the entire student body.

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19Emory & Henry College 4/547.3%Emory, VA

Emory & Henry College is known among Virginia colleges for its special approach to fostering spiritual development and civic leadership. The college is named for John Emory, a prominent bishop in the Methodist church, and Patrick Henry, Virginia’s first governor, whose legacies continue to inform and inspire the college’s mission.

In accordance with its values, the college offers a public policy and community service major as part of its civic innovation program. Students may also choose from dozens of other majors such as chemistry, economics, equine studies, pre-law, and theatre.

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20Sweet Briar College 5/565.15%Sweet Briar, VA

Sweet Briar’s beautiful 3,250-acre campus is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A women’s college founded by a woman, Sweet Briar was established when Indiana Fletcher Williams bequeathed her entire estate in the memory of her late daughter to create a place where women could be educated to become “useful members of society.”

This legacy has inspired the college’s rigorous programs in a wide variety of majors and pre-professional programs. Students may study anthropology, archaeology, international affairs, pre-medicine, molecular biology, and more.

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21Randolph-Macon College  62.05%Ashland, VA

Located just 15 minutes from Richmond, Randolph-Macon is perfectly positioned to work with the city’s businesses and Fortune 500 companies to create exciting internship opportunities for its students. Proximity to Richmond also offers Randolph-Macon students access to art, dining, shops, concerts, and other cultural events.

On campus, students enjoy small class sizes, 34 majors, more than 80 clubs and organizations, 17 intercollegiate sports, and 11 Greek life options. With 85% of students living on campus for all four years, students at the school enjoy a tight-knit community.

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22Liberty University  50.41%Lynchburg, VA

Liberty is not only distinctive among state colleges, but stands out on the world stage. As the world’s largest Christian university and the fourth-largest university in the United States, Liberty’s Baptist-inspired mission to impart both knowledge and values makes tremendous impact.

Liberty students have the unique opportunity to choose from more than 500 majors. Those interested in music will quickly find a home in one of several programs including guitar performance, vocal performance, and woodwind, brass, or percussion performance. The university also features a number of ministry and theology programs to train the next generation of Christian leaders.

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23Hampton University  66.47%Hampton, VA

The Emancipation Oak, a campus symbol of liberty and social justice, is one of the distinctive features of Hampton’s rich history. At the height of the Civil War, Mary Peake, a liberated woman, taught a group of fellow liberated slaves under the tree. Once the war ended, a school for liberated children was established, and eventually became Hampton University.

Today, Hampton continues its tradition as a historically black college. Its bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS) programs in such majors as business administration and nursing provide students with excellent, well-rounded training.

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24Norfolk State University 2/532.63%Norfolk, VA

Norfolk State extends excellent benefits to veterans and active military personnel. Active personnel may qualify for special tuition grants and can receive instruction on campus or on base. The university also offers credit for military training and features a very active veteran’s organization that welcomes all students with a military affiliation.

All students receive a quality liberal arts education in a wide variety of majors. Some notable choices include architecture technology, food science & nutrition, optical engineering, and urban affairs. Army ROTC is also available.

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25Marymount University  51.24%Arlington, VA

Founded on the tradition of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Marymount is a Catholic university that emphasizes intellectual inquiry and public service. To ensure that they receive a well-rounded education, Marymount requires students to take courses in its liberal arts core program consisting of mathematics, social sciences, and religious studies.

Proximity to Washington, DC makes Marymount a popular choice among incoming freshmen. Students are required to complete an internship prior to graduation, and the nation’s capital offers unique opportunities for doing so.

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Virginia’s 2-year colleges are a great option for those seeking to transfer to a 4-year school; in fact, every bachelor-granting institution in the state has some type of agreement with their associate-granting counterparts. If you aren’t seeking to transfer, these colleges can also provide a standalone education across multiple fields of trade and study — although, with earning potential in mind, it may be best as a supplement to another degree. A report in 2011 shows those in Virginia with an associate degree make (on average), nearly 40% less than the state median wage. Whichever path you choose, we’ve compiled the top 2-year colleges below to help you begin.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Mountain Empire Community College 1/534.92%Big Stone Gap, VA

Mountain Empire Community College is located in Big Stone Gap and features a general education program covering topics such as communication, critical thinking, cultural and social understanding, information literacy, personal development, quantitative reasoning, and scientific reasoning.

The campus is home to the Virginia small business development center. It offers free business consulting and training courses to area businesses. For more than 40 years, the college has hosted the Home Craft Days Festival, which features musicians and artisans from Virginia and the region. Demonstrations of traditional crafts, such as weaving, pottery, and grist milling, are on display during the event.

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2Lord Fairfax Community College 1/535.17%Middletown, VA

Lord Fairfax Community College was founded in 1970 and has locations in Middletown and Fauquier campuses, the Luray-Page County Center, and Vint Hill. It also serves a number of localities throughout the state, offering more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs.

The school's associate of arts and science degree in liberal arts, general studies, or business administration can be completed online. Lord Fairfax also offers certificate programs in office legal assistant/paralegal studies, medical administrative assistant/transcription, medical billing/coding, practical nursing, administration of justice, and more.

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3Wytheville Community College 1/531.63%Wytheville, VA

Wytheville Community College opened in 1963 as a branch of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, and is now part of the Virginia Community College System. The school provides cooperative education/internship programs that allow students to work part-time at jobs related to their future career goals. The school emphasizes experiential learning combined with classroom theory when preparing students for a successful career.

WCC offers a career studies certificate (CSC) to serve students who have specific occupational, industrial, and/or professional goals that are more short-term than a degree sequence. Some of the certificate programs include carpentry, computed tomography, electrical, health sciences, heating, ventilation, & air conditioning (HVAC), and legal assisting.

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4New River Community College 1/518.71%Dublin, VA

New River Community College has a 100-acre campus in Dublin and maintains a satellite campus at the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg. The Christiansburg site features a STEM center for students pursuing disciplines in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. The school has an annual enrollment of approximately 5,000 students, and is one of the best colleges in the state for aspiring STEM students.

NRCC is a leader in distance education, offering over 180 different courses online. Many degrees and certificates can be completed entirely online.

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5Rappahannock Community College 1/529.17%Glenns, VA

Rappahannock Community College has two campuses, including one in Glenns and a second in Warsaw. In 2016, RCC was designated as a military friendly school for the extended opportunities it offers to military service members and their spouses.

The college has a student ambassador program, wherein 20 students from each campus meet weekly with the director of student activities to plan student events and outreach programs. RCC also offers dual enrollment credit through its RCC scholars program, which allows current high school students to enroll in evening and weekend classes at RCC.

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6Riverside School of Health Careers  100%Newport News, VA

Riverside School of Health Careers is part of the Riverside Foundation, which operates several hospitals and retirement communities. Riverside trains students for healthcare careers and offers training in the following specialties: professional nursing; LPN to RN advanced placement option; practical nursing; radiologic technology; surgical technology; physical therapist assistant; medical assistant; sterile processing technician; and concurrent enrollment BSN Program (offered by Old Dominion University).

Riverside an ideal choice for students interested in healthcare careers. The school has been training nurses for over 100 years and offers students a range of clinical experiences in a hospital setting.

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7Germanna Community College 1/524.54%Locust Grove, VA

Germanna Community College was founded in the early 1970s. It has campuses in Locust Grove, Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Culpeper. The school operates the Joseph R. Daniel Technology Center on its 34-acre campus. The center was designed for workforce development instruction and technology training and offers for-credit classes. It also includes a 300-seat conference center.

The college is also home to the Cadow Art Collection, which Tia and Robert Cadow donated to the university in 2009. It contains a number of limited-edition prints, which the college sells support the school and its students.

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8Virginia University of Lynchburg  39.13%Lynchburg, VA

Virginia University of Lynchburg is a private college founded in 1886. Its campus is home to several historic buildings, one of which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The School of Arts and Sciences prepare students for law, education, journalism, the ministry, and other fields.

Virginia University of Lynchburg has a number of athletic teams that compete in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, football, and golf, while women's teams include basketball, indoor and outdoor track and field, softball, and volleyball.

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9Central Virginia Community College 1/528.63%Lynchburg, VA

Central Virginia Community College educates roughly 4,440 students a year on its Lynchburg campus, and has off-site centers in Amherst, Appomattox and Bedford. CVCC has three academic divisions that encompass all if its majors, including business and allied health, humanities and social sciences, and science, math, and engineering.

CVCC's campus features a career center to assist current students and alumni in the job search. The staff assistance includes résumé and cover letter preparation and interviewing. To help qualified students with their financial needs, the school offers a selection of scholarships.

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10Blue Ridge Community College 1/528.18%Weyers Cave, VA

Blue Ridge Community College is in Weyers Cave and serves the residents of the central Shenandoah Valley. It is one of the state's 23 community colleges. Along with its degree offerings, students can choose from a variety of continuing education career training programs, where they learn new skills and prepare for certification/licensure exams. Some of the certificate programs include massage therapy, medical office assistant, personal trainer, commercial driving, and welding.

BRCC's campus features its Fine Arts Building, a 23,500-square-foot facility that contains a black box theater, art gallery, art and ceramics studios, classrooms, and administrative offices.

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11Dabney S Lancaster Community College 1/528.48%Clifton Forge, VA

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College was established in 1962 as a branch of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Along with its associate degrees, it offers certificates in disciplines such as advanced manufacturing and technology, culinary arts, forensic science, microcomputer operations, and wind turbine service technology.

The school has been recognized for academic excellence. The Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program named the school as one of the top 150 community colleges in the country. In 2016, the school was also a finalist for the American Association of Community Colleges' (AACC) Emerging Leadership Awards of Excellence.

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12Virginia Highlands Community College 1/523.55%Abingdon, VA

Virginia Highlands Community College was founded in 1967. During its inaugural year it began offering occupational-technical programs. In 1970, the schooled moved to its current 100-acre campus in Abingdon. Today it has 122 full-time and 205 part-time faculty who serve 3,500 students each year.

The campus features a workforce development and continuing education center and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. VHCC is an ideal choice for art students, and those studying the subject can broaden their interests via The Arts Array Series, an outreach program that brings foreign and independent films, concerts, lectures, and exhibits to the school.

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13Patrick Henry Community College 1/528.74%Martinsville, VA

Patrick Henry Community College offers 30 associate degree programs, 11 certificate programs, and 50 career studies certificate programs. The top-three degree programs at the school are general studies, science, and health sciences. The annual student enrollment is approximately 3,000, and includes international students from countries such as the Dominican Republic, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Mexico, Honduras, and France.

Along with academics, the college has many social clubs, including the Administration of Justice Association; Black Student Association (BSA); Motorsports Club; Nursing Students Association (NSA), and the Veterans Club.

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14Northern Virginia Community College 1/523%Annandale, VA

Northern Virginia Community College is made up of six campuses and four centers located around the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The school is the second largest multi-campus community college in the nation and the largest school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The College serves more than 75,000 students and 2,600 faculty and staff members.

NVCC is one of the most internationally diverse colleges in the country, with students from more than 180 nation. The college offers online courses through its distance learning programs, known as the Extended Learning Institute (ELI).

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15Piedmont Virginia Community College  19.08%Charlottesville, VA

Piedmont Virginia Community College serves students in Central Virginia. Each year more than 500 students transfer from PVCC to a four-year college or university. The University of Virginia is a popular transfer destination, with more than 2,400 PVCC students having moved onto the famed four-year institution after completing their studies at Piedmont.

The school is well known for its nursing programs; more than 1,400 students have become registered nurses. The school offers distance learning courses that include accounting, art and dance, biology, business, communications, English, healthcare, history, foreign language, and more. PVCC uses the Blackboard distance learning platform for its program, which delivers course content and posts grades.

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16Virginia Western Community College 1/523.4%Roanoke, VA

Virginia Western Community College is located on 70 acres in historic Roanoke. The school was founded in 1966 and features a state-of-the-art center for Science and Health Professions and, as of 2016, work was being completed on new a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) facility.

The school features a workforce solutions program, which provides continuing education, credentialing programs, educational resources, and consulting services. The school also offers certificate programs designed to help students prepare for specific jobs. They include basic manufacturing skills, CDL training, industrial maintenance technician, and more.

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17Danville Community College 1/524.76%Danville, VA

Danville Community College began in 1936 as Danville Textile School. Of all the Virginia colleges, it has one of the more colorful histories: during World War II (1944–1945) the school housed prisoners of war. Along with its associate degree offerings, the school awards diplomas in Air Conditioning & Refrigeration; Automotive Analysis & Repair, and many more.

The school won the Virginia Community College System state baseball championships in 2006 and 2007.The schools hosts a number of organizations and clubs for students, including the Afro-American Culture Club, Christian Student Fellowship, DCC Graphics Club, and National Technical Honors Society.

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18Southside Virginia Community College 1/534.71%Alberta, VA

Southside Virginia Community College was founded in 1970 and serves students in 10 counties and the city of Emporia. SVCC has two main campuses, the Christanna Campus near Alberta in Brunswick County, and the John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville in Charlotte County.

The school boasts has a robust distance learning program. In addition to online courses that utilize the online course management system Blackboard, SVCC also offers classes in a hybrid online/on-campus format. School clubs and organizations include Campus Activities Team, the Christian Crusade, and Minority Awareness Programming.

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19Southwest Virginia Community College 1/534.87%Richlands, VA

Southwest Virginia Community College was founded in 1968 and is located in Richlands. Each year over 4,000 students are enrolled during the fall and spring semesters.

SVCC is one of the best two-year colleges in the state for students with literary ambitions. Since 2009, Appalachian Arts Center and Appalachian Authors Guild/A Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club have presented an annual writer's conference at Southwest Virginia Community College. In 2016, the school hosted the eighth annual Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium. The school publishes The Clinch Mountain Review, which is an annual literary journal of writing by writers with ties to Southwestern Virginia.

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20Richard Bland College of the College of William and Mary 1/529.88%Petersburg, VA

Richard Bland College of the College of William and Mary was established in 1960 as a branch of the College of William and Mary, and exists under the umbrella of "the Colleges of William and Mary,” though it is a self-functioning college. RBC is the only two-year college in the state of Virginia to offer campus housing.

The school offers seamless transfer of credits for students who wish to continue their education at four-year schools. RBC has 50 direct transfer agreements with well-known universities such as William & Mary, Virginia State University, and Virginia Tech.

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21Tidewater Community College 1/513.15%Norfolk, VA

Tidewater Community College is located in South Hampton Roads and is ranked 19th in the nation in awarding two-year degrees. TCC is also the 11th largest public two-year community college in the United States.

TCC nurtures the talents of aspiring writers. Each year the school hosts the TCC Literary Festival. The festival is a celebration of the written word and explores diversity through music and lyrics. In 2016, former MSNBC co-host Touré was the keynote speaker. The college also publishes ChannelMarker, an annual literary anthology consisting of TCC students' poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.

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22John Tyler Community College 1/511.74%Chester, VA

John Tyler Community College offers 17 associate degree programs, eight certificate programs, and 36 career studies certificate programs. John Tyler is the first college in the Virginia Community College System to be recognized for its energy sustainability work. In 2010 JTCC received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for its Midlothian Campus Science Building.

Many John Tyler students transfer to four-year schools such as James Madison University, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

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22Paul D Camp Community College 1/514.29%Franklin, VA

Paul D. Camp Community College was founded in Franklin in 1971, and now has additional locations in Suffolk and Smithfield. The college is named after a local education advocate. PDCCC serves the cities of Franklin and Suffolk and the counties of Southampton and Isle of Wight.

PDCCC is known to be a military friendly school. Every 4th Thursday of the month, the Franklin campus hosts a veterans monthly outreach event, with services including general VA benefit information, benefits and qualification information for VA medical care and ID card, VA disability compensation information, VA education information, and job search assistance.

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24Eastern Shore Community College 1/520.54%Melfa, VA

Eastern Shore Community College is located in Melfa on a 115-acre site. It offers six AAS degrees and five AA&S degrees. In addition, it offers six certificate programs and 10 career studies certificate (CSC) programs. Each year the college hosts a regional job fair on the campus, in collaboration with the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce and the Chincoteague and Northampton County Chambers.

The school is committed to conservation and waste reduction. ESCC has implemented a single-stream recycling program for paper products, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles. The college also provides free or reduced-fare transportation to the college on fixed routes by area transit.

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25J Sargeant Reynolds Community College 1/512.61%Richmond, VA

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College was named for Virginia Lieutenant Governor J. Sargeant Reynolds, and is the third-largest college in the Virginia Community College System. The college offers 25 two-year occupational/technical degree programs and nine occupational/technical certificate programs. It has three locations: the downtown Richmond campus, the Parham Road Campus in Richmond, and the Goochland Campus in Goochland.

The college is committed to the conservation of energy and natural resources and the reduction of campus wastes. The Environmental Sustainability Committee is charged with identifying and creating opportunities for the college to become a model global citizen for its environment.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Virginia, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Old Dominion State.

Officially the ‘Commonwealth of Virginia,’ this South Atlantic state of 8,014,955 was the first British Colonial possession, and as such, is rich in history and artifacts. It also contains the oldest (continuously running) government system in the US. With that background, it is no surprise Virginia has been selected multiple times by the Pew Research Center as having the most effective and efficient state governing body.

Beyond politics and history, Virginia is home to an array of natural attractions and contains varied climate and topography enough to keep any outdoor enthusiast entertained. To the east is the Atlantic coastline, including the Eastern Shore (the southmost part of Delmarva Peninsula), which is a habitat for wild ponies and also includes a NASA launch site. To the west, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests provide camping, hiking and mountaineering inside over 230,000 acres of old-growth trees and a total of 1.8 million acres of parkland. Below, we’ve outlined the distinct regions of Virginia and their individual highlights.


  • Major Cities: Alexandria, Leesburg, Harrisonburg, Winchester
  • Attractions: Shenandoah National Park, Old Town Alexandria, Great Falls State Park, Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery
  • Cost of Living: Alexandria
  • Popular Schools: George Mason University Fairfax, James Madison University, University of Mary Washington


  • Major Cities: RIchmond, Charlottesville, Lynchburg
  • Attractions: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Monument Avenue, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Amazement Square
  • Cost of Living: Richmond
  • Popular Schools: University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Longwood University, Piedmont Virginia Community College


  • Major Cities: Danville, South Hill, Emporia, Clarksville
  • Attractions: Virginia International Raceway, Danville Museum of Fine Art and History, Roanoke River
  • Cost of Living: Danville
  • Popular Schools: Averett University, Mary Baldwin College, Southside Virginia Community College


  • Major Cities: Blacksburg, Wytheville, Abingdon
  • Attractions: Jefferson National Forest, Mount Rogers, The Lincoln Theater, Jacksonville Center for the Arts
  • Cost of Living: Blacksburg
  • Popular Schools: Virginia Tech, Radford University, Appalachian School of Law


  • Major Cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake, Cape Charles
  • Attractions: Jamestown Settlement, Virginia Air and Space Center, Mariner’s Museum, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cost of Living: Virginia Beach
  • Popular Schools: College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University


With Virginia’s wealth of top schools and beautiful landscapes, establishing residency prior to enrollment is a great idea for students who have decided to pursue an education in the state. Keep in mind, required criteria may vary at each institution ― use the information below as a baseline guide to help you get started.


For students under 18, residency status depends on their parents. To be considered a resident, the individual’s parents must live in Virginia, and the minor must live with the parent or parents. If they are divorced or separated, the student must live with the parent who resides in Virginia. Proof of parental residency must be established prior to a minor’s enrollment, as well as proof that the minor lives with this parent.


To be eligible for Virginia residency for the purpose of tuition, the following criteria must be met before the first day of the quarter you plan to enroll in.

  • You must live Virginia for 12 consecutive months, during which you must prove you are not in the state exclusively for educational purposes.
  • Proof of residency (beyond educational purposes) can be proven by documentation of citizenship activities, such as a state driver’s license, voter registration, vehicle registration and so on.
  • You must relinquish all legal ties to your former state of residence.
  • If you are on active military duty and stationed in Virginia, you may be eligible for immediate residency status.

Additional Resources for Virginia College Students