Virginia features excellent career opportunities for professionals at all career stages. The state features several major metropolitan areas, and residents in Virginia's northern counties benefit from lucrative job openings in Washington, D.C. The largest career fields in the state include office and administrative support, business and financial operations, and healthcare.
Careers in these fields pay average annual salaries between $38,000 and $84,000, and managerial positions can confer even higher salaries. Additionally, Virginia has a 2.6% unemployment rate, indicating that employers must raise salaries and improve benefits to attract the most talented candidates.
Top 10 Colleges in Virginia
- University of Virginia - Charlottesville, VA
- College of William and Mary - Williamsburg, VA
- Washington and Lee University - Lexington, VA
- Virginia Military Institute - Lexington, VA
- University of Richmond - Richmond, VA
- James Madison University - Harrisonburg, VA
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - Blacksburg, VA
- Christopher Newport University - Newport News, VA
- George Mason University - Fairfax, VA
- University of Mary Washington - Fredericksburg, VA
To succeed in Virginia's job market, you need a bachelor's degree. Fortunately, Virginia features some of the best colleges and universities in the United States. This article covers the state's 25 best institutions of higher learning -- all of which possess regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In this ranking, you can learn about schools' academic majors, extracurricular activities, and application processes among other vital details. Use the embedded links to visit schools' websites, where you can learn more and find contact information for financial aid and admissions counselors.
2020 Best Accredited Colleges in Virginia
University of Virginia
|Charlottesville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 95%||
Founded by President Thomas Jefferson in 1818, UVA educates nearly 25,000 students on its Charlottesville campus. With over 120 undergraduate and graduate programs, the university attracts learners with a variety of academic interests. Undergraduate majors at this Virginia university include aerospace engineering, Jewish studies, and speech communication disorders. Additionally, nearly half of all graduate programs provide students with the chance to personalize their degree by selecting an area of emphasis.
Each year, nearly 3,000 UVA students study abroad in one of 50 exciting locations. Interested learners can attend a relevant workshop before applying. The university also promotes an international mindset on campus by recruiting over 2,000 learners from foreign countries.
One of the top public universities in the U.S., UVA prefers applicants with an excellent high school GPA and high standardized test scores. Required application materials include transcripts, two recommendation letters, and test scores. Transfer credit must reflect at least a "B" average. Incoming degree-seekers apply to merit-based scholarships by submitting FAFSA results.
College of William and Mary
|Williamsburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
Located in the heart of historic Williamsburg, W&M dates back to 1693, making it the second-oldest college in the United States. The college's 8,700 students can select from many undergraduate and graduate majors that lead to in-demand careers, including business finance, global studies, and physics. Additionally, degree-seekers can take online courses during the summer and graduate in as little as three years.
Campus life provides students with many opportunities to contribute outside of class. Civic and volunteer organizations that work with W&M students include Amnesty International, Challah for Hunger, and the College Red Cross. The school also features campus traditions that bring learners together throughout the academic year.
W&M accepts GED scores and requires SAT or ACT scores from prospective freshmen. Undergraduate applicants also submit a recommendation letter. Each graduate school sets particular application requirements.
W&M considers all incoming undergraduates for three scholars programs that award merit-based scholarships.
Washington and Lee University
|Lexington, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
A private university, W&L serves students from a 325-acre campus in Lexington. Incoming undergraduates can select from 37 majors and 29 minors, including Arabic, journalism and mass communications, and poverty and human capability studies. Additionally, the university provides learners in all majors the chance to perform research as undergraduates.
W&L features many study abroad opportunities. In the Spring Term Abroad program, a faculty member travels with a small group of students to an international destination. Traditional study abroad programs take learners to cities such as Beirut, Shanghai, and Krakow.
All undergraduate applicants submit the Common Application and ACT or SAT scores. The university uses applicants' FAFSA results and essay responses to award funding for the Johnson Scholarship, which offers full tuition and a $7,000 stipend to fund either study abroad or a summer experience.
Virginia Military Institute
|Lexington, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
One of the premier military academies in the U.S., VMI trains undergraduates to become successful military officers. Students, or cadets, can select from 14 majors and 23 minors including Asian studies, civil engineering, and economics. Additionally, academically gifted learners can enroll in the University Honors Program, which emphasizes undergraduate research.
Throughout four years at VMI, cadets participate in ROTC and take part in many leadership and development activities. Cadets live in military-style barracks and wear a uniform. VMI instills certain values and skills from the moment learners arrive on campus -- all new cadets complete nine days of military training before classes begin.
This training qualifies graduates for an officer's commission in any of the five branches of the U.S. military. However, the university does not require graduates to join the military.
Prospective cadets must possess a high school diploma that meets certain prerequisites. VMI accepts AP and IB credits, and the Institute Scholars Program provides generous financial aid to eligible learners.
University of Richmond
|University of Richmond, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
UR hosts five schools that attract learners interested in the arts and sciences, business, leadership, and other subjects. Most undergraduate areas of study offer both major and minor options.
Continuing studies courses at this Virginia university train professionals in areas such as IT management and human resources. Additionally, prospective graduate students can select from five graduate certificates.
UR promotes learning outside of class by offering living-learning communities. Students with similar academic interests live together in on-campus dorms. In the Earth Lodge, learners with a passion for outdoor recreation plan events in which all UR students can participate.
Prospective degree-seekers with GED scores can apply as long as they meet UR's high school course prerequisites. The Honors Program requires a separate application.
The Richmond Scholars Program awards full tuition over four years. UR considers all incoming first-time college students for this financial aid opportunity.
James Madison University
|Harrisonburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
Located in Harrisonburg, JMU delivers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees through nine colleges and schools. Popular undergraduate majors at this Virginia university include industrial design, statistics, and education. Prospective graduate students should consider JMU for the university's online graduate degrees, such as Spanish language or political science.
The Honors College at JMU brings together academically talented students from different backgrounds. The honors curriculum emphasizes seminar-style learning and specialized courses to complement any major. In their junior and senior years, degree-seekers complete a three-semester interdisciplinary capstone project that involves a thesis and presentation.
For freshmen applicants, JMU requires high school transcripts or GED scores. Prospective students can also submit standardized test scores, recommendation letters, and an extracurricular resume.
University and departmental scholarship opportunities -- some of which award full tuition -- require an additional application. Other available financial aid includes on- and off-campus work-study programs.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
|Blacksburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
An excellent option for prospective students planning to enter a STEM career, Virginia Tech features more than 150 undergraduate programs. In addition to four-year degrees, the university also offers multiple transfer majors, specially designed programs that help degree-seekers with an associate degree earn a bachelor's. Fields of study at this Virginia university include agricultural technology, landscape design, and polymer chemistry.
Experiential learning plays a significant role in students' academic and personal development. Virginia Tech's 10 living-learning communities focus on diverse topics, such as personal growth and entrepreneurship. Additionally, degree-seekers can visit the university's Global Education Office to explore study abroad opportunities throughout the world.
Virginia Tech requires that freshmen applicants possess a high school diploma and submit ACT or SAT scores. However, the university accepts transfer students with GED scores. Each college awards different merit-based scholarships, and interested degree-seekers need submit only FAFSA results to apply.
Christopher Newport University
|Newport News, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
A relatively young institution, CNU offers undergraduate majors in four broad areas of study: arts and humanities, business, natural and behavioral sciences, and social sciences.
Students majoring in physics, environmental science, or financial analysis can complete a five-year BA/MA program. Additionally, the Honors Program educates learners through rigorous courses and a custom curriculum.
Students can select from more than 200 clubs and organizations in areas such as faith, political activism, or service. CNU hosts 20 fraternities and sororities, and interested degree-seekers must maintain excellent grades to join. The Trieshmann Health and Fitness Pavilion offers the latest exercise equipment and holds fitness courses each week.
Prospective freshmen can apply for early action or regular decision. CNU recommends that applicants submit standardized test scores and recommendation letters. Merit-based scholarships at this Virginia university include the President's Leadership Program, which awards between $1,000 and $10,000 per year to each recipient.
George Mason University
|Fairfax, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
A public research university located in Fairfax, Mason educates more than 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The vast majority of undergraduate programs feature class sizes of 30 learners or fewer.
Some of the more than 100 undergraduate majors available at Mason include applied science, history, and systems engineering. The university offers more than three dozen master's and doctoral programs in the medical sciences, making it the perfect choice for aspiring nurse practitioners and researchers.
The Honors College at Mason admits academically talented freshmen and transfer students. The specialized 12-credit curriculum can combine with any undergraduate major, and these degree-seekers take specialized coursework in the social sciences and civic engagement. In their senior year, Honors College learners complete an apprenticeship.
In addition to high school transcripts or GED scores, freshmen applicants submit ACT or SAT scores, essays, a resume, and teacher recommendations. Transfer credit must reflect a minimum 2.75 GPA. All incoming learners -- even those earning a professional certificate -- may qualify for financial aid at this Virginia university.
University of Mary Washington
|Fredericksburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Formerly a teachers college, UMW now educates approximately 4,800 students on its Fredericksburg campus and online. The university's more than 60 undergraduate programs feature majors in environmental geology, sociology, and theater. The UMW Honors Program delivers courses in multiple subjects, allowing participants to create a custom curriculum.
Outside of class, students can enhance their educational experience by studying abroad or completing an internship. Study abroad opportunities include week-long, faculty-led trips and traditional semester-long programs on six continents. Degree-seekers can complete an internship for credit, and UMW awards internship grants to academically gifted students.
Advisors at the university's Center for Career and Professional Development work one-on-one with learners to research and apply for internship opportunities.
Prospective degree-seekers can apply for the fall semester. UMW accepts the Common Application and GED scores, and applicants submit at least one recommendation letter.
Some merit-based scholarships at this Virginia university award full tuition. Most scholarship recipients receive between $1,000 and $9,000 per year.
Eastern Mennonite University
|Harrisonburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
EMU affiliates with the Mennonite Church USA and has campuses in both Virginia and Pennsylvania. Majors at this Virginia university include leadership and organizational management, musical theater, and recreation and sports management.
In addition to attending class, students at EMU complete a cross-cultural program. This requirement exposes learners to different cultures, fostering empathy, communication skills, and a new outlook on life. Degree-seekers can study abroad or complete a summer experience in Washington, D.C., among other options.
Freshmen and transfer applicants can submit the Common Application. Each graduate program uses different application requirements. Institutional and departmental scholarships award $15,000-$20,500 per year and renew as long as recipients maintain a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
Virginia Commonwealth University
|Richmond, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
With 11 schools and three colleges, VCU provides over 31,000 students with more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. The university also offers over three dozen online and hybrid programs.
Continuing education programs at VCU help local businesses provide excellent workplace training for employees. Additionally, professionals in a dozen fields (e.g., education, business, public administration, etc.) can take professional development courses at the university.
Learners at VCU can create a customized educational experience by joining one of the university's many living-learning communities. Students in these communities live together and undertake service-learning projects, among other activities. In the ASPiRE learning community, for example, participants complete at least 100 hours of community service through tasks such as renovating local homes.
VCU uses a January 15 application deadline for the fall semester. Application requirements for freshmen applicants include essays, standardized test scores, and one recommendation letter. Merit-based scholarships do not require a separate application and award up to $16,000 per year.
|Farmville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
Longwood's 4,500 undergraduates have more than 100 majors from which to choose. This Virginia university sets itself apart by requiring undergraduates to complete at least one internship or field experience, which bolsters their resumes and imparts transferable skills applicable to future careers.
The university's 500 graduate students can complete a master's degree in one of six areas, five of which train future education administrators.
The first-year experience at Longwood imparts essential academic skills and introduces freshmen to the university's student support resources. Longwood also hosts many parent-outreach programs, such as the annual family weekend. Additionally, all learners can join one of the university's clubs and organizations, which include fraternities and sororities.
Prospective degree-seekers can apply for the spring or fall semester. The nursing program at Longwood requires an essay in addition to high school transcripts and standardized test scores. The university also accepts GED scores.
Merit-based scholarships at Longwood award up to $8,000 per year.
|Virginia Beach, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
A Christian university located in Virginia Beach, Regent offers both online and on-campus programs to approximately 8,600 students. This Virginia university provides undergraduates with over 130 majors in 10 areas of study, including healthcare, divinity, and general studies.
Additionally, Regent offers the vast majority of its undergraduate and graduate programs online. Online courses last eight weeks, making them perfect for students who can learn in an accelerated format.
Religious life plays a significant role for on-campus students. All learners attend religious services twice per week, and students can choose from four service-outreach groups that volunteer not just in Virginia Beach but throughout the world. Learners can also explore many secular activities, including Cosplayers of Regent and the Ice Hockey Club.
A private institution, Regent accepts GED scores. Other application requirements for freshmen applicants include standardized test scores and a personal statement.
Merit-based scholarships for incoming degree-seekers award up to $9,000 per year. The university also provides need-based grants to eligible students.
|Ashland, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
At R-MC, degree-seekers can earn a BS or BA in one of 58 programs of study. Additionally, all learners complete a rigorous core curriculum that emphasizes the sciences, humanities, and a foreign language, among other liberal arts subjects. The college uses an academic calendar that allows learners to take accelerated courses or intern in January.
Like many excellent colleges and universities, R-MC features a four-year degree guarantee -- the college does not charge fifth-year students tuition as long as they study full time and stay in good academic standing.
Honors learners at R-MC enjoy exclusive benefits, including undergraduate research opportunities and honors projects. Additionally, honors students can select from many exciting courses (e.g., introduction to the fairy tale) not open to other degree-seekers.
Freshmen applicants submit high school transcripts or GED scores, ACT or SAT scores, and one recommendation letter. R-MC encourages prospective students to interview on campus, if possible. Incoming freshmen may qualify for one of 10 merit scholarships.
Southern Virginia University
|Buena Vista, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
Southern Virginia educates just over 1,000 undergraduates at its Buena Vista campus. The university follows the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but does not formally affiliate with the denomination. Students can choose a major or minor in one of 20 areas including chemistry, art, and classical studies.
The university offers an even greater selection of career concentrations. Additionally, learners with a bachelor's degree can enroll in a specialized program that confers Virginia teaching licensure.
One day each year, all students participate in service-learning. In addition, LDS learners can go on an annual religious pilgrimage. The university boasts a robust theater program open to all students, and those who participate may qualify for additional scholarship opportunities.
Application requirements at this Virginia university include an ecclesiastical endorsement.
Merit-based scholarships award up to $10,000 per year. Southern Virginia also awards a variety of need-based grants, and students can participate in a work-study program.
Old Dominion University
|Norfolk, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
ODU features more than 160 academic programs. The university also offers dozens of online bachelor's degrees in fields such as accounting, communication, and electrical engineering technology. Additionally, ODU's dozens of on-campus and online certificate programs (e.g., advanced counseling practice, energy systems engineering) increase working professionals' salary potential.
The Patrica and Douglas Perry Honors College at ODU provides learners with rigorous courses, undergraduate research opportunities, and honors housing. Incoming freshmen and transfer students can apply, and in the final semester, participants write a thesis or take a capstone course.
Some majors at ODU require a special application, and the university recommends that all applicants submit 1-3 recommendation letters and a 400-word essay.
Financial aid opportunities at this Virginia university include freshmen and departmental scholarships. Financial aid counselors at ODU help learners explore and apply for private scholarship opportunities.
|Hampden-Sydney, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
A private men's college, H-SC educates over 1,100 undergraduates. Students can choose from more than four dozen majors and minors, including classical studies, psychology, and visual arts. Additionally, all undergraduates complete a core curriculum in world cultures. Learners can select from 100 study abroad opportunities in 30 countries, such as semester-long programs in China or India.
Student life at H-SC emphasizes an honor code that helps students become gentlemen and productive members of society. The college features a new student center, honors fraternities, and Greek life. Additionally, the Civic Engagement Program plans and implements volunteer service activities.
Prospective students can apply for the fall semester and submit the school's application or the Common Application. Transfer credit must reflect a minimum "C" grade.
All learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Scholarship opportunities at this Virginia college include merit-based scholarship and citizen-leader scholarships, which award up to $20,000 per year.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
An evangelical university located in Lynchburg, Liberty offers one of the most robust online education divisions in the state. Some popular online bachelor's degrees at this Virginia university include accounting, criminal justice, and elementary education. All online courses last eight weeks, and new learners can start their program at six dates throughout the year.
Degree-seekers who attend on-campus courses can participate in many student life activities. The university hosts more than 100 events each year, and intramural sports options include basketball and volleyball. Additionally, Liberty students reaffirm faith through weekly religious services and community service activities.
Prospective students must either attend high school or possess a high school diploma. Other application requirements include standardized test scores and an essay. Both online and on-campus learners may qualify for a merit-based scholarship that awards approximately $80,000 over four years.
|Roanoke, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
An excellent choice for aspiring writers, Hollins educates just over 800 undergraduate and graduate students. This Virginia university admits solely female undergraduates, although men can apply to graduate programs.
Undergraduates can select from 29 majors, including French, philosophy, and social justice. Academically ambitious students can participate in a three-year accelerated program, which requires 18-22 credits per semester.
Hollins offers many academic and extracurricular activities. Students can intern with local companies, take specialized courses, or study abroad. The university also provides traditional semester-long study abroad opportunities. Additionally, Hollins encourages all undergraduates to participate in academic research alongside their professors.
Applicants should submit a high school transcript and standardized test scores. Hollins also requires a recommendation letter from a high school counselor or teacher. Application requirements and deadlines vary for each graduate program.
The Batten Scholar Award, a competitive scholarship, awards full tuition. Other merit-based scholarships award between $2,500 and $27,000 per year.
|Radford, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
One of the eight Virginia institutions that confer doctoral degrees, Radford University dates back to 1910. The university's undergraduate programs feature an 18-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.
Available majors include nutrition and dietetics, respiratory therapy, and anthropological sciences. Undergraduates in any major can apply to the Honors College, which requires a capstone experience that emphasizes original academic research.
Radford provides many support services that promote students' academic success and social development. Through the Student Counseling Services office, learners can receive mental health counseling. The university's Office of Student Success and Retention (OSSR) pairs underclassmen who struggle academically with upperclassmen mentors. The OSSR also offers one-on-one and small-group tutoring sessions.
Prospective students with a minimum 3.0 high school GPA need not submit standardized test scores. Homeschooled applicants and those with GED scores may also apply. Additionally, transfer credit must reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Both in-state and out-of-state degree-seekers may qualify for the Red and White Academic Excellence Scholarship.
|Salem, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Located in Salem, Roanoke attracts learners from all 50 states and almost 40 countries. The college's academic programs include 11 pre-professional degrees in dentistry, law, and ministry.
Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Roanoke offers multiple majors in Christian topics. Additionally, all degree-seekers complete the college's core curriculum, which emphasizes critical thinking and analytical skills applicable to coursework and various careers.
The Honors College at Roanoke features one-on-one mentoring and exclusive financial aid opportunities. In addition to taking advanced courses, honors students volunteer in the local community, curate an academic portfolio, and complete an Honors Distinction Project in their senior year. Many Honors College students submit this project as part of a graduate school application.
Prospective students can apply for the fall semester. Although a test-optional school, Roanoke uses standardized test scores to determine merit-based financial aid, which awards recipients between $14,000 and $22,000 per year.
|Bridgewater, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
BC affiliates with the Church of the Brethren and educates approximately 1,800 undergraduates. This Virginia college offers over 60 majors and concentrations in areas such as political science, sociology, and Spanish.
BC features four graduate programs in digital media strategy, athletic training, human resources management, and psychology. Both undergraduate and graduate students can complete a one-semester internship, and the college offers internship placements throughout the state.
Student life at BC centers around five broad areas, including outdoor activities and spiritual life. Ten honor societies feature chapters on BC's campus, and students interested in music can choose from 10 musical ensembles. The college's 11 dormitories include the Cottages, furnished residential homes with modern amenities.
Applicants can submit GED scores or the Common Application. BC uses a holistic review process wherein counselors consider a prospective student's high school GPA, test scores, and class rank, among other factors. Incoming degree-seekers with an excellent high school GPA and outstanding test scores can receive up to $30,000 per year in financial aid.
|Winchester, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
Formerly a seminary, SU affiliates with the United Methodist Church and offers more than 90 bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs. Popular undergraduate areas of study include church music, elementary education, and film studies.
Undergraduates can also select from 10 accelerated programs, including a five-year MBA program and a six-year divinity program. Additionally, distance learners choose from over two dozen bachelor's and master's programs that include certificates.
The cornerstone of student life at SU involves the Shenandoah Conservatory (SC). Featuring theater, music, and dance, SC puts on dozens of events throughout the year, including three guest performances (e.g., world-renowned conductors leading the university orchestra). Additionally, SC allows all learners to audition, a boon for students looking for a creative outlet.
SU uses GED score cutoffs, and the average applicant has a 3.56 high school GPA. Some undergraduate programs (e.g., nursing) feature additional application requirements.
SU awards transfer credit for military training, and degree-seekers interested in financial aid submit a separate scholarship application.
The University of Virginia's College at Wise
|Wise, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
UVA-Wise dates back to 1954, when Wise residents wanted an institution of higher learning. Today, the college's 10 departments award undergraduate degrees in areas such as the natural sciences, business, and nursing. Additionally, this Virginia college features three experiential learning opportunities, including study abroad and undergraduate research.
The Peake Honors Program at UVA-Wise emphasizes interdisciplinary courses and exclusive extracurricular activities. Participants take in-depth seminars on a variety of topics, such as the Black Death and human spaceflight. Honors students complete a semester-long capstone that involves developing a research project under a professor's guidance.
Prospective students can apply for the fall semester. UVA-Wise accepts the Common Application, and transfer degree-seekers must possess a minimum 2.2 undergraduate GPA. All applicants submit FAFSA results.
UVA-Wise awards recipients of merit-based scholarships between $1,000 and $6,500 per year. Scholarships renew automatically as long as students stay in good academic standing.