The Virginia Employment Commission projects that employment in the state will increase by more than 10% from 2016-2026, translating to roughly 418,000 new jobs. Industries like personal care, business and financial operations, and healthcare are projected to grow the fastest during this period, while sectors such as production and mining will likely experience an overall decline in employment. Of the 10 individual occupations that are projected to see the highest percentage of growth, seven require at least some form of postsecondary education.
Top 10 Online Colleges in Virginia
- University of Virginia - Charlottesville, VA
- James Madison University - Harrisonburg, VA
- Regent University - Virginia Beach, VA
- George Mason University - Fairfax, VA
- Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA
- Virginia Commonwealth University - Richmond, VA
- Old Dominion University - Norfolk, VA
- Averett University - Danville, VA
- Radford University - Radford, VA
- Hampton University - Hampton, VA
2020 Best Online Colleges in Virginia
In addition to expanding job opportunities, a college degree can also lead to more lucrative professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage in Virginia was $55,310 in 2018. Operations research analysts in the state, however, earned an average salary of $104,980, while information security analysts earned $111,780. Both of these roles typically require at least a bachelor's, while other in-demand and high-paying jobs in Virginia, such as nurse practitioner and physician assistant, require a master's degree.
Continuing your education can help you advance in your career, but many people cannot afford to give up their professional or personal responsibilities in order to return to school. For these individuals, online education may be the solution -- many online programs allow students to learn on their own schedule and from the comfort of their own home. By studying online, you can also avoid costs associated with living on or commuting to campus, reducing the overall price of your degree.
To help you choose a distance education program, we have compiled a list of the best online colleges in Virginia. This ranking considers information related to admission requirements, financial aid opportunities, and the types of degrees and programs of study available at each institution. Unless otherwise noted, all of the colleges and universities mentioned below hold regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges -- a distinction that ensures they have met certain standards of academic quality.
University of Virginia
|Charlottesville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 95%||
Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia now serves nearly 24,000 students each year across more than 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. To help expand its reach, the university offers fully online bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in subjects such as civil and environmental engineering, data science, educational administration and supervision, and health sciences management.
Online learners at UVA can also develop specific professional skills through certificate programs in cybersecurity, project management, and digital marketing. An additional 180 individual courses across a variety of disciplines are available online to on- and off-campus students.
UVA is a highly selective institution. Roughly 90% of incoming first-year students graduated within the top 10% of their high school class. Undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and take the ACT or SAT. Graduate admission requirements vary, but most programs require a bachelor's and results from the GRE or GMAT. UVA has committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of its admitted students.
James Madison University
|Harrisonburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
James Madison University awards online master's degrees and graduate certificates in fields like educational technology, information security, mathematics, and speech and language pathology. The university also hosts an online bachelor's degree completion program for adult learners and an RN-to-BSN program for currently licensed nurses.
Online learners at JMU enjoy access to the same support services available to on-campus students. Academic advisors help online undergraduates design an individualized course of study, while career counselors remotely help students explore possible career paths, providing access to assessments and internships. The university also provides web-based writing assistance and an online library of tutorials.
To apply to one of the university's online bachelor's programs, you typically must have an associate degree or at least 30 transferable college-level credits. Graduate applicants must share college transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement. While not required, JMU recommends that prospective graduate students also submit GRE scores.
|Virginia Beach, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Regent University -- a Christian institution located in Virginia Beach -- provides working professionals and other busy students the flexibility they need to continue their education. In addition to offering dozens of fully online degrees in subjects like communication, business analytics, and health information systems administration, the university also allows online learners to choose between accelerated eight-week classes and 15-week courses.
Regent also boasts a generous transfer policy. Incoming undergraduates can apply up to 90 credits from another accredited college or university toward their bachelor's degree. Students can also receive credit for military service, professional training/certification, and community service activities. To receive credit for prior coursework, you must have earned a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Applying to an undergraduate program requires a high school diploma or GED certificate, and prospective master's students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. However, Regent does not require applicants to submit standardized test results.
George Mason University
|Fairfax, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Roughly 37,000 students from around the world study at George Mason University each year. Along with the programs available at its campus just outside of Washington, D.C., the university offers 50 online degrees and certificates in areas such as computer game design, emergency management and homeland security, health informatics, and social work. Additional programs in teaching and nursing are also available in a hybrid format.
Online courses at Mason feature the same faculty, assignments, and rigor as those available on campus. While online students can complete the majority of their coursework from home and on their own schedule, some class sessions -- such as exams or labs -- may require a brief visit to campus or a proctored testing location.
When reviewing undergraduate applications, the admissions office looks at a student's high school GPA, ACT or SAT scores, and letters of recommendation. While optional, Mason also strongly encourages undergraduate applicants to submit a personal statement. Graduate programs typically require a bachelor's and results from an exam like the GRE or GMAT.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Through more than 600 online and residential programs of study, Liberty University works to train "Champions of Christ." Online students at the university can choose to earn associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, equipping themselves with the skills and knowledge needed for careers in fields like aviation, criminal justice, information technology, and sports management.
All online classes at Liberty are delivered in an asynchronous format and run for eight weeks. Students can also enroll in a program at any one of eight start dates throughout the year. In addition, to further increase accessibility, the university does not require undergraduate applicants to take the ACT or SAT.
Committed to providing an affordable college experience, Liberty has frozen the tuition levels of its online bachelor's programs for the past four years. The university also offers discounted tuition to military service members and veterans, as well as scholarships for first responders and members of certain churches.
Virginia Commonwealth University
|Richmond, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
Students at Virginia Commonwealth University can pursue fully online and asynchronous degrees in addiction studies, special education, homeland security and emergency preparedness, and mechanical and nuclear engineering. The university's master of business and administration and doctor of nursing practice programs are also offered to distance learners, although these tracks require synchronous participation in class sessions.
All first-year applicants must submit high school or GED transcripts, one letter of recommendation, and a personal essay. VCU waives its ACT or SAT requirement for high school students who maintained a GPA of 3.3 or higher, along with undergraduate applicants over the age of 22. Prospective graduate students generally need a bachelor's degree, three letters of reference, and satisfactory scores on the GRE or GMAT.
All admitted students receive automatic consideration for a variety of merit- and need-based awards, including a Presidential Scholarship worth up to $16,000 each year. The university also provides funding specifically to students transferring from the Virginia Community College System.
Old Dominion University
|Norfolk, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
By pursuing a degree or certificate through ODUOnline, students at Old Dominion University enjoy the freedom to study at their convenience. Online programs of study include civil engineering technology, fashion merchandising, medical laboratory science, and risk management and insurance. Distance learners can also choose to earn all of their credits at ODU or enroll in one of the university's many degree completion programs.
Enrollment coordinators work with all incoming online students, helping them select a program and evaluate transfer credits. Once admitted, students are paired with a dedicated advisor who provides coaching and support through graduation; these workers also help connect students with additional career and accessibility services.
Traditional undergraduate applicants need only a high school diploma or GED certificate, though bachelor's degree completion programs require at least 45 credits from another accredited college or university. Graduate admission standards vary, though most require a bachelor's, letters of recommendation, exam scores, and a writing sample.
|Danville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
At Averett University, students can earn online associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in fields like applied data analytics, business administration, education, and sociology and criminal justice. The university also offers an online independent study program for undergraduates, allowing adult learners to create a customized learning experience that suits their academic interests and professional aspirations.
Online coursework at Averett is asynchronous, though students must submit assignments and interact with their classmates and instructors on a weekly basis. While most online classes rely on research papers and projects to assess learning, students can also take exams directly through the university's web-based classroom management system when required.
Associate programs require applicants to hold a minimum 2.0 high school GPA. To earn a bachelor's at Averett, you generally need at least 45 transferable credits from another accredited institution. Master's applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
|Radford, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
As a comprehensive public university, Radford University provides online and in-person educational opportunities to close to 12,000 students every year. Fully online programs of study include criminal justice, educational leadership, emergency services, and public health. The university also hosts several hybrid programs, allowing students to combine the flexibility of learning at a distance with the personal attention offered in a traditional classroom setting.
Students who are not ready to commit to enrolling in a full graduate degree program can instead choose to pursue one of the university's nine fully online graduate certificates. These programs give students the opportunity to develop and signal expertise in areas like crime analysis and design thinking, while saving time and money. Students who elect to continue their education can then easily transfer their credits into a master's or doctoral program at Radford.
First-year applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Prospective undergraduates with a high school GPA lower than 3.0 must also submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate admission requires an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75.
|Hampton, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 56%||
At Hampton University -- a historically black institution founded in 1868 -- students can earn associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees completely online. Fully asynchronous coursework in subjects like aviation management, information assurance, nursing, and systems organization means that you can study whenever and wherever you choose.
To help working professionals and full-time caregivers deal with the added stress of assignments and exams, HU provides free, remote access to counseling services. In addition to trained staff, peer counselors are available to help their fellow online students address academic and emotional challenges.
All undergraduate applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Prospective first-year students who graduated in the top 10% of their class or maintained a minimum GPA of 3.3 can decide whether to submit ACT or SAT scores. All graduate applicants must take the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT.
|Winchester, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Combining liberal arts education with specialized career training, Shenandoah University offers online degrees in fields like nursing, pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine, and occupational therapy. Through its accelerated distance programs, the university also enables students to earn both a bachelor's and master's in public health or performing arts leadership in five years.
Shenandoah's online RN-to-BSN program specifically caters to registered nurses looking to develop new skills or take on leadership roles. The program awards advanced placement to incoming students with a diploma or associate degree in nursing, allowing them to earn their bachelor's in just two years of additional study.
While admission requirements vary across master's and doctoral programs, all graduate applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Specific programs may also require up to three letters of recommendation, entrance exam results, and documentation of prior experience in a clinical setting.
Virginia University of Lynchburg
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
Virginia University of Lynchburg was originally founded in 1886 by members of the Virginia Baptist State Convention. To better serve students who cannot travel to its main campus, the university began offering fully online bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration, religious studies, and organizational management. Online learners can also pursue an associate degree in liberal arts and sciences, helping them to qualify for entry-level roles or meet the general education requirements of a four-year program.
First-year applicants typically must have a high school GPA of at least 2.0 or a GED score of at least 530. Transfer students must also hold a GPA of 2.0 or higher to receive credit for their prior college-level study. The university does not require incoming students to take the ACT or SAT.
While online learners at VUL can apply for various forms of state and federal financial aid, the university does not currently offer institutional scholarships or grants.
Mary Baldwin College
|Staunton, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
In 1977, Mary Baldwin University became the first institution of higher education in Virginia to create programs specifically for working professionals. Today, the university continues this tradition through more than 30 fully online programs in fields of study like applied behavior analysis, health informatics and information management, marketing and communication, and social work.
MBU also offers a variety of scholarships specifically for online learners. For example, the university's Loyalty Fund Scholarship provides aid to currently enrolled online undergraduates with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. First responders, members of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and military veterans and their families may also qualify for awards worth up to $1,500 per year to support their online education.
To apply to a bachelor's program at MBU, you must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate admission requires a bachelor's degree and satisfactory scores on an entrance exam like the GRE or GMAT.
Virginia Wesleyan College
|Norfolk, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 14%||
Founded in 1961, Virginia Wesleyan University enrolls roughly 1,600 students each year in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and distance education programs. Online undergraduates at VWU can major in subjects like business, criminal justice, social science, and sustainability management. The university also offers a fully online master of business administration that can be earned in 12 months.
Online coursework is delivered asynchronously in eight-week sessions, and classes begin six times per year. VWU allows incoming undergraduates to apply up to 96 credits toward a bachelor's, and prospective graduate students can transfer as many as 12 credits into the school's online MBA program.
Enrolling in a bachelor's program requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. While the university encourages undergraduate applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores, individuals who have not taken these exams may still be admitted based on an evaluation of their high school coursework. MBA applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and a GPA of 2.7 or higher.
Norfolk State University
|Norfolk, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Established in 1935, Norfolk State University is a historically black institution that enrolls roughly 5,300 students each year. NSU offers 13 fully online programs, including bachelor's degrees in psychology and health services management and master's degrees in cybersecurity and urban education.
NSU distance learners have access to a suite of learning tools and services, including the Blackboard mobile app, which they can use to view course content and participate in classes. Students can take a Blackboard orientation class to familiarize themselves with the app's features and receive remote academic support through the school's Office of Extended Learning.
Undergraduate applicants must submit academic transcripts, SAT or ACT test scores (for applicants under the age of 21), and a recommendation letter. Transfer students must possess a minimum collegiate GPA of 2.0. Graduate admission requirements vary by program.