Best Online Colleges in Virginia

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Online students in Virginia are part of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market. This education initiative expands in-state tuition beyond Virginia students to those who are from throughout the Southeast, from Texas to Louisiana to Florida and as far north as Maryland. More than 1,900 programs in 16 states participate in the market, including 7 universities located in Virginia.

Online colleges in Virginia stand out among the Academic Common Market due to the unique variety of online study programs. Earn a Master’s in Cybersecurity from Norfolk State, a Bachelor’s of Art in Religious Studies from Virginia University of Lynchburg or a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Virginia Commonwealth. By studying at a school participating in the exchange marketplace, students from throughout the Southeastern United States have the opportunity to pursue an affordable, high-quality education that helps them meet their future career goals.

Using the valuable online Virginia Education Wizard, prospective students can take an assessment to see which careers would be a good fit for their skills and interests. Students may also create a planner for degree completion, work on technical or soft skills, practice interviews, learn about networking, estimate financial aid and search for schools that offer guaranteed admission.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Virginia International University RANKING SCORE 83.19 COST GRADUATION RATE 56% LOCATION Fairfax, VA

Based in Fairfax and founded in 1998, Virginia International University quickly grew into one of the top online colleges in Virginia. Today, the school offers a wide selection of online degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level. VIU offers rolling applications and six start dates throughout the year, with all courses delivered in eight-week blocks that maximize flexibility. Most courses utilize an asynchronous format that requires no set class meetings or login times. VIU offers four bachelor’s programs in finance, international business, marketing, and computer science. Graduate students have a wider selection, including degrees in global logistics, hospitality and tourism management, international relations, and mass media and public relations. VIU emphasizes practical, professionally-focused education, and students perform internships as part of their studies. The school’s Career Planning and Placement Center connects online learners with internship opportunities, helping to identify and secure opportunities with businesses and professional organizations of all types.

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2 University of Virginia-Main Campus RANKING SCORE 77.50 COST GRADUATION RATE 94% LOCATION Charlottesville, VA

UV, founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, offers two online bachelor's degrees: a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, and a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Health Sciences Management. The school has five undergraduate certificate programs in accounting, federal acquisition, human resources management, information technology, and procurement and contracts management. The credits from the certificates can be applied to undergraduate degrees. These courses can be taken in person at the Charlottesville campus, online, or hybrid.

The University of Virginia supports students in completing their classes remotely through many resources. The school's web portal, called UVaCollab, is a valuable tool for online students, it enables students to use video conferencing, instant messaging, discussion forums, and media gallery tools to complete their coursework. These resources, in combination with the accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, makes the University of Virginia one of the best online colleges in Virginia for undergraduate students.

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3 Liberty University RANKING SCORE 70.83 COST GRADUATION RATE 51% LOCATION Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University Online, one of the oldest oldest online colleges in Virginia, has been offering classes since 1985 from its Lynchburg location. The school has 120 bachelor's degree online programs that students can access and complete remotely, earning their undergraduate degree without stepping foot on campus. Some programs require students to partake in a one to two week on-campus intensive. Most courses are eight weeks long, some last between 14 and 17 weeks.

Liberty University aims to make their online courses intimate with a 17:1 online student to professor ratio. Liberty University provides a slew of student academic services available through their website, including an online writing center, library, and list of study aids that include exam preparation, time management, and note taking tips. The accessibility of these online services in combination with the school's vast bachelor's degree offerings make Liberty University a top online college in Virginia.

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4 Virginia Baptist College RANKING SCORE 68.61 COST GRADUATION RATE 45% LOCATION Fredericksburg, VA

Established in 1984 in Fredericksburg, Virginia Baptist College focuses on Christian-based education, offering online degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level. The school’s online programs prepare students for Christian service in a variety of settings, including schools, churches, ministry, and other religious organizations. At the undergraduate level, the school offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in ministry and Christian education, with minors available in English, history, music, church office management, and youth ministries. VBC also offers a one-year Bible certificate that focuses on the Old Testament, New Testament, and Bible doctrines. At the graduate level, online learners can pursue degrees in ministry, biblical studies, and Christian education. Most of VBC’s degrees are available either fully online or in a blended mode that includes some campus courses, giving students the flexibility to enroll in classroom courses when convenient. Courses generally use an eight-week, modular format and an asynchronous delivery mode with no set meeting times.

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5 James Madison University RANKING SCORE 68.33 COST GRADUATION RATE 82% LOCATION Harrisonburg, VA

Another of the top online schools in Virginia, James Madison University offers practical, career-focused online degree options for working students. Online learners choose from an adult degree, an RN-BSN pathway for nurses, or an autism spectrum disorders certificate. The adult degree is a unique program that allows students to earn either a bachelor of arts or science in individualized study, pursuing a customized course of learning that suits their professional interests. Applicants to the individualized study program must be at least 22 years old and hold at least 30 transferable credits from a two- or four-year college.

After completing JMU’s general education requirements, students can pursue several subject area modules, including business technology, entrepreneurship, human resource development, and professional communication. Candidates can also select additional courses in various liberal arts areas, including literature, American studies, and history. The adult degree ends with a capstone research project that allows candidates to explore an academic area of interest.

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6 George Mason University RANKING SCORE 67.92 COST GRADUATION RATE 70% LOCATION Fairfax, VA

George Mason's Mason Online offers over 50 fully online and hybrid undergraduate degree options. The school is the largest public research university in Virginia and has a wide selection of online resources including an online library, writing center, and a Mason Online Team to support the schools over 33,000 students. The school's on-campus student resources office in Fairfax, Virginia, extends their knowledge to assist online students in everything from counseling and finances to technology.

As students study for their online undergraduate majors or minors, individuals may encounter different course delivery options. Some courses can be completed 100% online, while others require students to attend class on campus part-time. The format of classes may vary from subject to subject. The vast number of program options offered to undergraduate students at George Mason creates one of the most diverse and rapidly growing Virginia online colleges.

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7 Virginia Commonwealth University RANKING SCORE 64.03 COST GRADUATION RATE 62% LOCATION Richmond, VA

Virginia Commonwealth is located in Richmond. The school offers individual online courses as well as full online undergraduate degree programs. There are three bachelor's degrees offered through [email protected]: two Clinical Laboratory Sciences degree programs and one School of Nursing degree option. Distance learners receive online help through Virginia Commonwealth's online resources, this includes access to academic advisors, tutoring, foreign language conversation groups, and writing support.

One detail that differentiates Virginia Commonwealth University from other online colleges in Virginia is their tuition and fees. Regardless of whether students are enrolled in a degree program or are non-degree seeking individuals, Virginia Commonwealth University has an online course fee of $55 per credit hour (capped at three credit hours). This fee is tacked on to the standard tuition that all online students must pay. Virginia Commonwealth uses Blackboard as their learning management system.

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One of the top Christian online colleges in Virginia, Bethel’s online degree offerings focus on church ministries, with programs at the diploma, associate, and bachelor’s level. The one-year diploma prepares students for entry-level ministry positions, while the two-year associate degree builds a foundation for further undergraduate study. The bachelor of science in church ministries offers concentration options in ministerial leadership, biblical studies, missions, and Christian counseling. The leadership track prepares graduates to lead in their chosen area of ministry, while the missions path focuses on missionary work both at home and abroad. The counseling degree trains candidates to serve as counselors in churches and other religious organizations, while the biblical studies track is the most academic of the four, preparing students for teaching positions or advanced religious study. All courses are available fully online, making it possible for candidates to complete their degree without visiting campus.

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9 Old Dominion University RANKING SCORE 62.50 COST GRADUATION RATE 51% LOCATION Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion University offers a select number of bachelor's degrees online. The school is most well known for their bachelor's degree completion programs. It is one of the only Virginia online colleges that partners with select community colleges in Virginia, Washington, and Arizona through a program called +ODU, it allows students to transfer the first two years of college-level coursework to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Students can then finish their undergraduate degree completely online, taking 300 and 400-level courses through ODU Online.

To assist in planning students' academic pathways, Old Dominion University pairs together prospective students with Enrollment Coordinators. Once admitted, all students have the opportunity to work with an advisor for academic planning, ensuring students enroll in classes in at the right time. Old Dominion University provides students with online resources including free online tutoring and 24/7 technology help.

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10 University of Mary Washington RANKING SCORE 54.72 COST GRADUATION RATE 72% LOCATION Fredericksburg, VA

Mary Washington supports undergraduate students in completing their education through the school's diverse online course offerings. The majority of these web-based class listings can be combined to create a personalized major through the school's flexible Bachelor of Liberal Studies program. Mary Washington has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree Completion Program with more specific requirements, and is designed for adults with health care experience who want to further develop their nursing careers; it includes hybrid courses.

The Fredericksburg, Virginia based school features an accelerated degree that has a shorter degree-completion-timeline when compared to other online colleges in Virginia with a similar program. Their web-based degree programs can be completed in as little as one year, and students can skip the foreign language requirements that are required by on-campus students. Remote learners who work full-time jobs can opt to take courses on a part-time basis, earning their degree while gaining work experience.

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11 Eastern Mennonite University RANKING SCORE 53.06 COST GRADUATION RATE 62% LOCATION Harrisonburg, VA

A private liberal arts college associated with the Mennonite Church USA, EMU operates a main campus in Harrisonburg, a satellite campus in Lancaster, and a distance education program that places it among the best online schools in Virginia. EMU offers an online RN-BSN pathway, graduate programs in business and nursing, and a doctor of nursing practice. The school offers two options for business students: a traditional MBA and a collaborative MBA. The traditional program is a hybrid degree that features both online courses and weekly campus meetings in the evening. The unique collaborative MBA, offered through partnerships with three other colleges, focuses on sustainability, relational and organizational skills, and effective leadership. This hybrid program blends campus and online courses, with some campus sessions held at partner colleges around Virginia. Given the nature of the program and its additional travel requirements, the collaborative MBA is typically a better fit for students with more flexible schedules.

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12 Hampton University RANKING SCORE 50.69 COST GRADUATION RATE 55% LOCATION Hampton, VA

Hampton U Online provides students with the opportunity to earn their undergraduate degree remotely. The school has continuously grown their online degree offerings over the years and currently offers eight bachelor's degree programs that undergraduate students can select from. There are three certificate programs in entrepreneurship, human resource management, and paralegal studies; students can transfer the credits to a degree program. The school offers many non-credit, career and professional development courses. Hampton's web-based educational services can be accessed at any time and are backed by an list of online student services including an online university bookstore and financial aid information from advisors on campus in Hampton, Virginia.

It is important to note that students who reside in select states are eligible to apply to Hampton University; students residing in all other states cannot be admitted to this school. The school has authorization in Maryland to offer select programs.

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13 Regent University RANKING SCORE 49.17 COST GRADUATION RATE 30% LOCATION Virginia Beach, VA

Regent is one of the best online colleges in Virginia for students looking to pursue a career that involves Christian leadership skills. The school's College of Arts & Sciences provides over 30 online undergraduate degrees that range from biblical and theological studies to early childhood education. All students are required to take core courses that integrate Christian teachings and methodology into the curriculum.

Regent, located in Virginia Beach, uses Blackboard to facilitate the school's online course delivery, curriculum, and assignments. Distance learners have access to a rich database of library files. Regent provides students information on professional fields and assists with career planning; a free New York Times subscription is offered. Given all the student resources Regent provides, the school is able to provide a solid foundation for online learning success. The school has an "A" rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

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14 Jefferson College of Health Sciences RANKING SCORE 48.33 COST GRADUATION RATE 43% LOCATION Roanoke, VA

Based in downtown Roanoke, Jefferson College of Health Sciences is a private institution unique among online colleges in Virginia for its focus on healthcare education programs, many of which are nationally recognized. Serving around 1,000 students, JCHS offers several online degrees at the bachelor’s, graduate, and doctoral level. Undergraduate options include health sciences, healthcare management, and a post-licensure nursing track. At the master’s level, the school offers programs in healthcare administration, family nurse practitioner, and nursing administration. JCHS also hosts a doctor of health sciences and a doctor of occupational therapy, along with several professional certificate programs. Online courses use both asynchronous and synchronous course components, mixing live lectures and class activities with independent assignments and readings that can be completed at any time. While many degrees are available fully online, some programs, particularly those with interactive lab or clinical components, may require occasional visits to campus.

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15 Mary Baldwin University RANKING SCORE 47.50 COST GRADUATION RATE 46% LOCATION Staunton, VA

A private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, Mary Baldwin University is widely recognized as one of the best online schools in Virginia. Available online degrees include a wide selection of bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs. Undergraduate options include history, English, marketing and communications, and health sciences, while graduate students can pursue advanced programs in business administration, education, and healthcare administration. MBU also offers a variety of professional certificates, with unique options such as long-term care administration, sustainable business management, autism spectrum disorders, and environment-based learning. The school’s online programs are particularly attuned to the needs of working students, offering significant resources to help online learners acclimate to academic life. Online advisors are available to help with admissions, enrollment, and course selections, ensuring that all students receive needed support. MBU also offers a flexible, generous credit transfer policy that allows new students to combine their credits from the Virginia Community College System or other accredited four-year schools.

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Young college students and experienced professionals alike can benefit from attending an online college. Whether you’re seeking a higher income, greater expertise, or a more rewarding career, an online program can help you pursue your academic interests and professional ambitions. Today, with so many online options available, it is important for prospective distance learners to consider both their educational goals and their budget to help them find the right program.

Our affordability methodology considers value-driven metrics and ranks schools that have low tuition rates, as well as proven graduation rates and employment outcomes that provide a high ROI for students. For students in Virginia, there are plenty of opportunities to find an affordable program locally. While distance education provides more flexibility than an exclusively residential curriculum, there are still plenty of advantages to attending a local online college, including access to lower tuition prices and local scholarships. If you’re considering going back to school, and are thinking about studying online, the following list of cheap accredited online colleges in Virginia will help you start your search.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Virginia RANKING SCORE 92.50 COST GRADUATION RATE 93% LOCATION Charlottesville, VA

Established in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia continues to innovate and expand beyond its historic Charlottesville campus. The school, at the forefront of affordable online colleges in Virginia, offers a variety of fully online and hybrid degrees. Students can take coursework through the UVACollab learning platform in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The school offers two online bachelor's degrees in interdisciplinary studies and professional studies, and 60 credits must be completed at UVA. The two bachelor's can be self-paced or taken in an accelerated format, and generally take three years to complete.

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2 George Mason University RANKING SCORE 71.67 COST GRADUATION RATE 66% LOCATION Fairfax, VA

George Mason University, established in 1949 in Arlington, continues to distinguish itself not only as a home for innovative research, but as one of the most highly regarded affordable online colleges in Virginia. The school offers a wide range of fully online and hybrid degrees for students looking to complete their degree at one of the most prestigious colleges in Virginia. In addition to the RN to BSN option, fully online programs at GMU include subjects such as bioinformatics, computational biology, and systems engineering. Students can take coursework through Blackboard in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The school offers all students free access to its email-based tutoring service, the Online Writing Lab.

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3 University of Mary Washington RANKING SCORE 71.25 COST GRADUATION RATE 73% LOCATION Fredericksburg, VA

Founded in 1908, the University of Mary Washington offers quality instruction at an affordable price. The school, building a solid reputation among affordable online colleges in Virginia, offers a number of online degree completion options and hybrid degrees tailored for distance learners on a tight budget. The bachelor of liberal studies degree completion program allows students to bypass the school's foreign language requirement and work with faculty to design their own majors. Students take courses through the Canvas learning platform. Associate degree-holders and students with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 may qualify for guaranteed admission. UMW allows prospective students to transfer credits from relevant work and life experience.

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4 Old Dominion University RANKING SCORE 67.08 COST GRADUATION RATE 51% LOCATION Norfolk, VA

Established in 1930 in Norfolk, Old Dominion University, with its 30-year history of distance learner programs, has forged a strong reputation among affordable online colleges in Virginia. The school offers several online degree completion options in areas such as accounting, computer science, and health sciences. Courses are offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, and most online coursework is delivered through Blackboard. Applicants must possess an associate degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 in order to be considered for a degree completion program. ODU allows prospective bachelor's students to consult the school to see which credits are transferable prior to admission.

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5 Regent University RANKING SCORE 61.25 COST GRADUATION RATE 50% LOCATION Virginia Beach, VA

Established in 1978 in Virginia Beach, Regent University offers a number of online degrees and certificates in disciplines such as business, international studies, and criminal justice. The school's flexible, student-focused approach continues to distinguish it among the many affordable online colleges in Virginia. Students can take coursework asynchronously through Blackboard, though there are some synchronous components. Courses can be self-paced or taken in an accelerated format. Additional areas of study for online degrees include healthcare, law, public administration, and nursing. RU offers tuition discounts for veterans and active duty service members.

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6 Bluefield College RANKING SCORE 52.08 COST GRADUATION RATE 47% LOCATION Bluefield, VA

Established in 1922, Bluefield College imparts a well-rounded liberal arts education with a Christian foundation. As one of the most affordable online colleges in Virginia, BC offers a wide range of fully online undergraduate and graduate degrees, a number of which are offered in an accelerated format. Undergraduate degrees are available in areas such as early childhood education, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. Applicants to all programs except the RN to BSN degree must possess a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered, though applicants with a GPA below 2.0 may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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7 Virginia Commonwealth University RANKING SCORE 51.25 COST GRADUATION RATE 57% LOCATION Richmond, VA

Established in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University serves as a hub for innovative research and healthcare instruction among colleges in Virginia, and continues to expand into online education. The school offers online degrees in disciplines such as addiction studies, clinical laboratory science, and homeland security. Students complete most online coursework through Blackboard in courses that combine asynchronous learning with both synchronous components and video-conference instruction. Undergraduate applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 2.5 in all prior coursework. Transfer applicants must have completed 30 credits or more in order to be competitive.

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8 Virginia State University RANKING SCORE 42.92 COST GRADUATION RATE 41% LOCATION Petersburg, VA

Virginia State University, founded in 1882, continues to expand beyond its historical campus in Petersburg into online programs. Students complete most online coursework through Blackboard in courses that combine synchronous and asynchronous learning. The school offers general education courses online through its Local Online Courses platform. Available courses include Africana studies, critical thinking, and principles of microeconomics. Prospective students must take a preparatory assessment for online learning created in collaboration with SmarterMeasure. The school gives all students access to its internship and employment opportunity database, Trojans4Hire.

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9 Averett University RANKING SCORE 41.67 COST GRADUATION RATE 48% LOCATION Danville, VA

Founded in Danville in 1859, Averett University has undergone a boom in both student enrollment and retention in recent years. The school, building a strong academic track record both nationally and among colleges in Virginia, offers a wide range of degrees, certificates, and endorsements in both full online and hybrid formats. Available programs include business administration, leadership studies, and an RN to BSN degree. Students take both synchronous and asynchronous courses through the Moodle learning platform. AU provides all students with access to free online tutoring services through Smarthinking. Students who are not seeking degrees can also take credit or noncredit standalone courses.

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10 Hampton University RANKING SCORE 37.08 COST GRADUATION RATE 66% LOCATION Hampton, VA

Hampton University, founded in 1868, continues to grow its reputation for excellence into distance learning programs. The school is affordable among colleges in Virginia and offers high quality instruction and a range of fully online and hybrid degrees. Students can choose from degrees in areas such as paralegal studies, criminal justice, and educational management. Courses can be completed in self-paced or accelerated formats. Most online coursework is available through Blackboard in courses that combine synchronous and asynchronous learning. HU offers a number of financial aid benefits for active service members, veterans, and their dependents.

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More About Online Colleges in Virginia

The South Atlantic state of Virginia is home to over 110 colleges and universities; including highly competitive Virginia Tech and the nation’s first Public Ivy, The College of William and Mary. With this prestige, the higher-than-average cost of living and recent statewide tuition hikes are not surprising, and can be prohibitive for some hoping to seek an education in Virginia. However, the state has measures in place to make college affordable to all, such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act; it also now offers a selection of free online courses through the University of Virginia.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Virginia for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.


A recent NCES report indicates that 18.6% of students enrolled in higher education institutions in Virginia were in exclusively-online degree programs.

  • 45.2% were residing in Virginia
  • 52.1% resided in other parts of the US
  • 67.3% were considered undergraduates
  • 7.5% studied through public, 4-year institutions
  • 8.2% studied through private, nonprofit 4-year institutions

Those who pursue an online degree in Virginia can be assured that the state takes educational effectiveness seriously; a recent study was commissioned through Columbia University to determine how well students respond to online learning. Further paving the way to a successful online degree experience, the Commonwealth ranks #4 in the nation for 4-year graduation rates; the state is also a participant of the State Authority Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which promotes and streamlines state-to-state distance learning.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Colleges in Virginia of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
2 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
4 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
5 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
6 Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs Danville, VA
7 University of Mary Washington Fredericksburg, VA
8 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
9 Hampton University Hampton, VA
10 Bluefield College Bluefield, VA

Best Online Colleges in Virginia of 2016
Rank School Location
1 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
2 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
3 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
4 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
5 Jefferson College of Health Sciences Roanoke, VA
6 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
7 Norfolk State University Norfolk, VA
8 Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing Richmond, VA
9 Mary Baldwin University Staunton, VA
10 Averett University Danville, VA
11 Bluefield University of Lynchburg Lynchburg, VA
12 Sentara College of Health Sciences Chesapeake, VA