2022 Top Private Colleges and Universities in Virginia

Private colleges and universities frequently top the lists of the best schools in the U.S. These institutions offer rigorous academic programs for students looking for a personalized college experience.

Private colleges and universities generally cost more than their public counterparts, but students often receive the benefits of smaller class sizes, strong alumni networks, and generous financial aid opportunities.

Unlike public colleges and universities, private institutions do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition. This means students from anywhere can enroll in Virginia’s private institutions without paying higher out-of-state rates.

2022 Best Private Colleges and Universities in Virginia

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

  1. #1

    Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA

    Graduation Rate

    47%

    Enrollment

    85,586

    Format

    Online, In person

    Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University grants college degrees as a private institution. The college offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. During a bachelor's degree, students take lower-division and upper-division coursework. Undergraduates also complete general education credits. Degree-seekers study advanced concepts in their major during upper-division courses. Learners receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. Students pay a per-credit fee of around 750 at the school. Learners at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. #2

    Washington and Lee University

    Lexington, VA

    Graduation Rate

    94%

    Enrollment

    2,264

    Format

    In person

    From its campus in Lexington, Virginia, Washington and Lee University offers programs as a private institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their professional goals. Students complete coursework to prepare them for advanced roles. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit standardized test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to enroll. Learners receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal student aid programs. Washington and Lee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. #3

    Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs

    Danville, VA

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    485

    Format

    Online, In person

    Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs, located in Danville, Virginia, enrolls students as a private institution. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their career goals. Students prepare to contribute to their field by completing courses. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The school supports enrollees with tutoring and career services. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. #4

    Standard Healthcare Services-College of Nursing

    Falls Church, VA

    Graduation Rate

    76%

    Enrollment

    417

    Format

    In person

    A top-ranked school, Standard Healthcare Services-College of Nursing enrolls learners in programs from its campus in Falls Church, VirginiaInstructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help learners meet a variety of professional goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. The waiver makes it simpler to apply. The admissions department can help students apply to the school. Degree-seekers at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover costs. Standard Healthcare Services-College of Nursing has been accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, an independent accrediting body.

  5. #5

    University of Richmond

    University of Richmond, VA

    Graduation Rate

    89%

    Enrollment

    3,914

    Format

    In person

    University of Richmond is a private institution located in University of Richmond, Virginia. Learners study with experts in many different fields. Students who complete an academic or technical program often enter the workforce right away. The cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. At the institution, 64% of students receive financial aid and 36% take out loans. Students graduate from the school at a rate of 89%. Prospective enrollees can expect an 28% admission rate. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. University of Richmond is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

  6. #6

    Riverside College of Health Careers

    Newport News, VA

    Graduation Rate

    50%

    Enrollment

    305

    Format

    In person

    From its campus in Virginia, Riverside College of Health Careers enrolls students in 6 programs. Students benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The school reports a 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. According to the school, 50% of students receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a 50% graduation rate. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. The admission rate is 60% for new students. Some programs let applicants apply without submitting test scores. Applicants can reach out to the admissions office to learn more about enrolling.

  7. #7

    Saint Michael College of Allied Health

    Alexandria, VA

    Graduation Rate

    86%

    Enrollment

    140

    Format

    In person

    A top-ranked school, Saint Michael College of Allied Health enrolls learners in programs from its campus in Alexandria, VirginiaThe institution's faculty brings expertise in multiple fields. The programs offer academic and technical tracks to help learners meet their career goals. Consult the institution's website to find information on the typical timeline for program completion. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The admissions department can help students apply to the school. At the accredited institution, degree-seekers also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Saint Michael College of Allied Health is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.

  8. #8

    Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing

    Richmond, VA

    Graduation Rate

    67%

    Enrollment

    448

    Format

    Online

    A private institution, Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing educates students on its campus in Richmond, Virginia. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing the program's coursework. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school often fund their education with federal aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school holds accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, an independent accrediting body.

  9. #9

    University of the Potomac-VA Campus

    FALLS CHURCH, VA

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    144

    Format

    Online, In person

    University of the Potomac-VA Campus, located in FALLS CHURCH, Virginia, offers 28 programs for students. Degree-seekers enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The school maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 10-to-1. The school reports that 20% of students receive financial aid. The private school reports a 100% graduation rate. Hands-on experience helps graduates stand out on the job market. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs waive the test score requirement for qualified applicants. Prospective students can contact the admission department for more information about applying.

  10. #10

    University of Management and Technology

    Arlington, VA

    Graduation Rate

    60%

    Enrollment

    342

    Format

    Online

    From its campus in Arlington, Virginia, University of Management and Technology enrolls students in programs as a private institution. Students earn an accredited degree that prepares them for careers and professional advancement. Learners enroll in academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Why Choose a Private College or University in Virginia?

Virginia is home to more than 100 private colleges and universities.

Some private schools — like those in the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia — boast accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). They also can be found in metro and rural areas of Virginia.

More than 135,000 students choose to enroll in private colleges and universities in Virginia. Private colleges in Virginia can offer diverse liberal arts majors, small class sizes, personalized student support services, and a variety of activities, including athletics and student clubs.

When trying to decide between a private vs. public college, many students choose a bigger public college or university. But Virginia’s select private colleges attract many learners as well. Private schools include historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), gender-specific and coeducational institutions, and graduate and undergraduate programs.

Many private institutions in Virginia also participate in collaborative business programs, including corporate sponsors that can offer job opportunities to graduates.

Many students shy away from private colleges due to cost. However, others find Virginia’s private institutions affordable, utilizing available financial aid packages.

Pros and Cons of Attending a Private Institutions in Virginia

Pros

Personalized attention through small class sizes, personal mentorship, and direct communication with professorsEmphasis on career development and matriculation to a four-year degree program at a partnering public, state-sponsored schoolMany achieve accreditation through SACSCOC, on par with SACSCOC-accredited public four-year colleges and universities in Virginia

Cons

May offer limited academic programs for non-liberal arts majors or those aspiring to non-trade and non-technical fieldsTypically emphasize merit-based and institutional scholarships but offer limited federal financial aid options compared to public collegesSometimes lack the broad engagement opportunities and campus culture of a larger public college or university

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in Virginia

Nonprofit and for-profit colleges and universities differ primarily in how they approach operating expenses. Nonprofit colleges and universities receive state and federal funding to maintain campus facilities, pay staff, and maximize financial aid packages.

For-profit institutions generally receive less federal funding and must earn income in other ways by, for example, charging higher tuition rates and fees. Other sources of income may include donations, endowments, and government grants.

Nonprofit colleges invest any profits they earn back into the school to improve student and educational services, for example. For-profit schools distribute profits among their investors and shareholders.

Most public state colleges and universities and community colleges are nonprofit. Nonprofit vs. for-profit status can also affect admissions, programs, and student debt.

Most private schools are for-profit, as are many private schools in Virginia. However, nonprofit private schools also exist.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private College or University in Virginia?

In 2019-2020, undergraduates attending a private four-year college or university in Virginia paid more than $23,000, on average, in tuition and fees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Including room and board, the average total cost of attendance rose to nearly $35,000 during that academic year.

Washington and Lee University is among the most expensive private schools in the state, charging $58,260 in tuition during the 2021-2022 academic year. Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing ranks among Virginia’s most affordable private colleges, with annual tuition as low as $3,450 for select programs.

Students should seek out multiple scholarship and grant opportunities as they plan to attend a private college or university in Virginia.

Other cost-saving measures include living at home and/or enrolling in an online or hybrid program. Some private colleges and universities also offer budget-friendly options such as textbook loan programs and financing plans.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges and Universities in Virginia

How many private institutions are there in Virginia?

While estimates vary slightly depending on the source, Virginia has at least 119 private colleges and universities, according to NCES. This figure includes both nonprofit and for-profit institutions and two- and four-year programs. It also includes private schools that offer programs that take less than two years to complete.

What is the most expensive private college or university in Virginia?

One of the state’s most expensive private schools is Washington and Lee University, where annual tuition is more than $58,000. Other schools include Marymount University ($35,950) and Mary Baldwin University ($30,690).

Attending a private college typically costs more than attending a public institution. However, private schools tend to offer more grant and scholarship aid packages as enrollment incentives.

Prospective students also should keep in mind that tuition can vary by resident status and program.

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing is one of Virginia’s least expensive private colleges, with select programs costing $3,450 in tuition per year. Other options include the University of the Potomac’s Virginia campus and Sovah College of Health Professions.

In addition to seeking out financial aid options, students may decide to sign up for an online or hybrid program or live off campus to further cut expenses as they pursue their education.

Is a private institution right for me?

Choosing to attend a public or private college is a personal decision.

Private colleges in Virginia offer broad academic and technical programs to students across the state’s metro and rural areas.

Private schools can offer small class sizes, personalized attention from instructors, and targeted career development services. These may benefit some students but deter others seeking a more big-college experience.

Students should consider multiple factors — a private college’s cost, financial aid options, choice of programs, and student support services — when making their decision.

Can I get more scholarship money at a private institution?

Possibly. However, the margin is debatable since private schools may only award more scholarships than public schools to offset the higher cost of tuition.

In the U.S., the average cost of tuition and required fees at private colleges and universities was more than double the cost at public colleges in 2019-2020, according to NCES.

Grantford reported in 2021 that public colleges covered approximately 75% of the cost of in-state tuition. Private colleges covered approximately 61% of tuition costs through financial aid, primarily federal funding and scholarships, respectively.

Since cost is a critical consideration among college applicants, private institutions commonly attract students by advertising comprehensive financial aid packages.