2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in Virginia

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it's not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public institutions also rank highly among the best colleges and universities in many states, Virginia included.

Public colleges and universities receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in Virginia

#1

University of Virginia-Main Campus

Charlottesville, VA

Graduation Rate

95%

Enrollment

25,012

Format

Online, In person

University of Virginia-Main Campus, a public organization located in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers multiple programs. The school offers accredited degrees that prepare learners for the workforce. The institution offers an academically rigorous course of study at an affordable price. The school offers nationally ranked programs in diverse fields. Degree-seekers pay a per-credit fee of around 1337 at the school. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Students receive an average aid award of $ 15914, making the average tuition cost after aid $ 17579. Learners at the school choose from academic and technical programs. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. University of Virginia-Main Campus is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#2

Henrico County-Saint Marys Hospital School of Practical Nursing

Henrico, VA

Graduation Rate

Not Provided

Enrollment

96

Format

In person

Henrico County-Saint Marys Hospital School of Practical Nursing is a Virginia-based public school that hosts an assortment of professional training programs. Learners seeking an accelerated course of study can select from 1 certificate programs at the school. The coursework teaches core topics and specialized training. The rigorous curricula prepare students to succeed in careers and further studies. Graduates seek jobs in related fields after finishing a certificate. As an accredited institution, learners can receive financial aid from the federal government. For additional information about the application process, prospective students should contact the school's admissions office. The school is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

#3

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, VA

Graduation Rate

86%

Enrollment

36,383

Format

Online, In person

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, located in Blacksburg, Virginia, grants degrees as a public institution. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. The school's academic and technical programs prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. A total of 65% of students receive financial aid and 39% take out loans at the school. The institution reports a graduation rate of 86%. Hopeful learners can expect admission rates of 70%. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements and start dates. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#4

William & Mary

Williamsburg, VA

Graduation Rate

90%

Enrollment

8,773

Format

Online, In person

A public institution in Williamsburg, Virginia, William & Mary offers a variety of degree-granting programs. Learners learn from experts in multiple disciplines. Students who complete a technical or academic program may enter the workforce. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. At the institution, 56% of students receive financial aid and 25% take out loans. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 90%. Hopeful students can expect admission rates of 38%. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. William & Mary holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#5

Virginia Military Institute

Lexington, VA

Graduation Rate

79%

Enrollment

1,698

Format

In person

Located in Lexington, Virginia, Virginia Military Institute attracts students with their well-regarded programs. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help learners reach a variety of career goals. Depending on the program, students can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years earning their degree or certificate. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. A waiver makes it easier to apply. Admission advisors can help applicants complete the process. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. Virginia Military Institute holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#6

Virginia Beach City Public Schools School of Practical Nursing

Virginia Beach, VA

Graduation Rate

86%

Enrollment

60

Format

In person

Based in Virginia, Virginia Beach City Public Schools School of Practical Nursing offers a total of 1 certificate programs. Programs deliver rigorous curricula that prepare learners for careers and further studies. Degree-seekers prepare to enter the workforce or advance professionally. Experiental learning opportunities push enrollees to apply their knowledge in the real world. The postsecondary institution maintains accreditation, signifying high-quality academic programs. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. As an accredited institution, enrollees in a program at the school can receive federal financial aid. Students can learn about program requirements through the school's website. The institution holds accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

#7

Central School of Practical Nursing

Norfolk, VA

Graduation Rate

89%

Enrollment

24

Format

In person

Central School of Practical Nursing, located in Virginia, offers 1 certificate programs. The rigorous curriculum helps learners gain theoretical and practical knowledge. Degree-seekers gain skills necessary to succeed in professional roles. The college's focus on experiential learning lets enrollees apply lessons in real-world contexts. As an accredited institution, the school undergoes regular evaluations. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Learners enrolled at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid. The college provides information about general education and major coursework on its website. The postsecondary institution is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

#8

Culpeper Cosmetology Training Center

Culpeper, VA

Graduation Rate

89%

Enrollment

32

Format

In person

A Virginia-based school, Culpeper Cosmetology Training Center offers 2 certificate programs. The rigorous curriculum meets high academic standards to prepare learners for the workforce. Students prepare to launch their career or pursue promotions. Enrollees apply their knowledge in real-world contexts. The institution holds accreditation, demonstrating the quality of its academic programs. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Learners enrolled in a program at the accredited institution can receive federal financial aid. The school provides information about required coursework on its website. The postsecondary institution is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences.

#9

Eastern Virginia Medical School

Norfolk, VA

Graduation Rate

Not Provided

Enrollment

1,275

Format

Online, In person

A public institution, Eastern Virginia Medical School grants degrees from its campus in Norfolk, Virginia. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their career goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing degree- or certificate-specific coursework. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. This makes it easier to enroll. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal student aid programs. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#10

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA

Graduation Rate

71%

Enrollment

37,863

Format

Online, In person

A public institution located in Fairfax, Virginia, George Mason University enrolls students in several programs. The school offers accredited degrees that prepare students for the workforce. Learners benefit from the school's academic rigor and affordable tuition rate. The school boasts several programs that appear in national rankings. Learners can expect an average cost of 862 per credit. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The school reports that students receive an average aid award of $ 6524, making the average tuition cost after aid $ 20157. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#11

Northern Virginia Community College

Annandale, VA

Graduation Rate

27%

Enrollment

51,822

Format

Online, In person

From its campus in Virginia, Northern Virginia Community College administers 111 total programs. Students benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The school holds a student-to-faculty ratio of 25-to-1. The institution reports that 59% of students receive some form of financial aid. The public institution reports a graduation rate of 27%. The institution understands that real-world experience helps job seekers stand out. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

#12

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, VA

Graduation Rate

53%

Enrollment

23,675

Format

Online, In person

A top-ranked school, Old Dominion University enrolls learners in programs from its campus in Norfolk, Virginia. The college offers a variety of degree-granting programs and courses. The programs offer academic and technical tracks to help learners meet their career goals. Students typically earn an associate degree in two years, a bachelor's degree in four years, a master's degree in two, and a doctoral degree in 3-7 years. Many schools no longer require admissions tests such as ACT or SAT scores. A waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department can help prospective students determine the next steps. Degree-seekers also use financial aid to cover their educational costs. Old Dominion University has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#13

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, VA

Graduation Rate

84%

Enrollment

21,820

Format

Online, In person

From its campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia, James Madison University enrolls students in programs as a public institution. Graduates leave the school with an accredited degree that prepares them for the workforce. The institution offers affordable programs that do not sacrifice academic rigor. The school's programs appear in national rankings. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that students receive an average aid award of $ 8458, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $ 18708. Learners at the school choose from academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. James Madison University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#14

Germanna Community College

Locust Grove, VA

Graduation Rate

37%

Enrollment

7,225

Format

In person

Located in Locust Grove, Virginia, Germanna Community College operates as a public institution. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. The school offers academic and technical programs for students planning to enter the workforce or pursue further studies. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 56% of students receive financial aid and 8% take out loans. Bachelor's students graduate from the school at a rate of 37%. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Applicants can reach out to the admissions office to learn more about enrolling. Germanna Community College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#15

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Roanoke, VA

Graduation Rate

Not Provided

Enrollment

Not Provided

Format

From its campus in Roanoke, Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University enrolls students in programs as a public institution. Students leave the school with experience and credentials that prepare them for the workforce. The programs offer an academically rigorous course of study at an affordable price. Students can enroll in nationally ranked programs. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Students attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#16

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA

Graduation Rate

67%

Enrollment

29,757

Format

Online, In person

Located in Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University enrolls students in 227 programs. Learners enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The student-to-faculty ratio at the institution is 18-to-1. At the institution, 81% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a 67% graduation rate. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. Learners participate in internships, research projects, and other forms of experiential learning. Prospective learners can expect admission rates of 87%. Some programs waive the test score requirement for qualified applicants.

#17

The University of Virginia's College at Wise

Wise, VA

Graduation Rate

44%

Enrollment

1,978

Format

In person

The University of Virginia's College at Wise, located in Wise, Virginia, often ranks as one of the best schools. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help learners reach a variety of career goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may no longer require standardized tests for admission. Students may find it easier to apply without a test score requirement. The admissions department provides more information about the application process. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#18

Christopher Newport University

Newport News, VA

Graduation Rate

78%

Enrollment

4,919

Format

In person

Located in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University grants college degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, this school can help learners reach their educational goals. Students gain knowledge and skill specific to their field by completing their program's coursework requirements. Many schools no longer require admissions tests such as ACT or SAT scores. These policies make it easier to apply. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Learners at the accredited school often fund their education with federal aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Christopher Newport University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#19

John Tyler Community College

Chester, VA

Graduation Rate

28%

Enrollment

10,152

Format

Online, In person

From its Chester, Virginia campus, John Tyler Community College offers 62 program options for students. Students enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The student-to-faculty ratio at the institution is 24-to-1. According to the institution, 61% of students receive some form of financial aid. Students earn their degree from the school at a rate of 28%. Hands-on experience helps graduates stand out on the job market. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Prospective students can contact the admission department for more information about applying.

#20

Dabney S Lancaster Community College

Clifton Forge, VA

Graduation Rate

39%

Enrollment

1,032

Format

In person

Dabney S Lancaster Community College offers programs from its campus in Clifton Forge, Virginia. The institution's faculty brings expertise in multiple fields. Academic and technical programs help learners reach their unique professional goals. Academic programs can take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete, depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may no longer require standardized tests for admission. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The admissions department can help applicants determine the next steps. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. Dabney S Lancaster Community College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#21

Lord Fairfax Community College

Middletown, VA

Graduation Rate

38%

Enrollment

6,716

Format

Online, In person

Lord Fairfax Community College, a public organization located in Middletown, Virginia, offers multiple programs. The school offers accredited programs that prepare students for a successful career. Learners benefit from 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 this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Students receive an average aid award of $4299, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $6580. The institution offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#22

Thomas Nelson Community College

Hampton, VA

Graduation Rate

27%

Enrollment

7,314

Format

Online, In person

Located in Virginia, Thomas Nelson Community College offers 60 programs for students. Students choose from rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. The school reports a student-to-faculty ratio of 19-to-1. The school reports that 63% of students receive financial aid. Enrollees graduate from the school at a rate of 27%. The institution understands that hands-on experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Some programs no longer require standardized tests for admission. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

#23

Piedmont Virginia Community College

Charlottesville, VA

Graduation Rate

45%

Enrollment

5,312

Format

Online, In person

From its campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, Piedmont Virginia Community College awards degrees and certificates as a top school. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the school's programs help learners meet their professional goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. A waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help prospective students complete their application. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. Piedmont Virginia Community College has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#24

Virginia Western Community College

Roanoke, VA

Graduation Rate

32%

Enrollment

6,303

Format

Online, In person

Located in Roanoke, Virginia, Virginia Western Community College often ranks among the best schools. Experts in diverse disciplines teach at the institution. With academic and technical tracks, the school's programs help learners meet their professional goals. Consult the institution's website to find information on the typical timeline for program completion. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. A waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions staff can provide more information on the process. At the accredited institution, learners also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#25

Mountain Empire Community College

Big Stone Gap, VA

Graduation Rate

38%

Enrollment

2,313

Format

Online, In person

Located in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Mountain Empire Community College attracts students with their well-regarded programs. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. Academic and technical programs help learners reach their unique professional goals. Typical time for program completion ranges from a few months to seven years depending on the type of degree or certificate offered. Some programs may let applicants apply without submitting test scores. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to apply. The admissions department can help students complete the process. Financial aid provides options for degree-seekers to pay for their education. Mountain Empire Community College has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#26

Radford University

Radford, VA

Graduation Rate

55%

Enrollment

11,870

Format

Online, In person

Radford University, a public institution in Radford, Virginia, enrolls learners in multiple programs. The school's academic and technical programs help students reach a variety of professional goals. During a bachelor's degree, undergraduates take lower-division and upper-division coursework. Undergraduates also complete general education credits. Upper-division credits focus on various concepts in the major. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. 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.

#27

University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA

Graduation Rate

65%

Enrollment

4,488

Format

In person

A public institution located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, University of Mary Washington educates students through multiple programs. The school's programs help graduates launch or advance professional careers. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Several of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Students attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The school reports that students receive an average aid award of $5878, making the average tuition cost after aid $21640. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. Students complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements depending on their program. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

#28

Tidewater Community College

Norfolk, VA

Graduation Rate

24%

Enrollment

19,064

Format

Online, In person

From its campus in Norfolk, Virginia, Tidewater Community College enrolls learners in 106 programs. Degree-seekers enroll in rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. The school reports a 21-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. According to the institution, 73% of enrollees receive some form of financial aid. The public institution reports a 24% graduation rate. The institution's commitment to experiential learning makes graduates more competitive. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

#29

J Sargeant Reynolds Community College

Richmond, VA

Graduation Rate

23%

Enrollment

8,711

Format

Online, In person

J Sargeant Reynolds Community College, which is often listed among the best schools, operates from its main campus in Richmond, Virginia. Students take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students 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 a standardized test score waiver. These policies make it easier to apply. The admissions department provides additional resources on applying to the school. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#30

Patrick Henry Community College

Martinsville, VA

Graduation Rate

38%

Enrollment

2,238

Format

Online, In person

From its campus in Martinsville, Virginia, Patrick Henry Community College enrolls students in programs as a public institution. The school offers accredited programs that prepare students for a successful career. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. Students attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The school reports that students receive an average aid award of $5371, making the average tuition cost after aid $5383. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. Based on their major, students take essential courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

Why Choose a Public College or University in Virginia?

Students eyeing public colleges and universities in Virginia enjoy a variety of options, from small public schools to large universities. The state offers 15 public 4-year institutions, one two-year college, and 29 community colleges, serving more than 360,000 students.

The best public schools in Virginia offer students broad academic opportunities, immersive learning experiences, and engaging extracurricular activities. Six public universities in Virginia have attained the highest research designation from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Students enjoy access to innovative learning opportunities like the Northern Virginia Fabrication Laboratory, the NOVA Tech Talent Pipeline, and the Hampton Roads Cyber Collaboration Laboratory.

In-state students paid an average of $13,655 in tuition and fees in 2020. That's higher than the U.S. average of $9,349. However, financial aid can lower your out-of-pocket costs. Virginia offers several financial aid programs for residents. Out-of-state students can consider programs offered through the Academic Common Market to save on out-of-state fees.

Students have many options for their post-secondary education. Choosing the school that's right for you requires research. Learn about the differences between public and private colleges, and also consider whether it makes sense for you to attend an online college in Virginia.

Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in Virginia

Pros

Because public colleges and universities in Virginia receive funding from the state government, in-state students can save on tuition costs compared to private or out-of-state schools.Public colleges and universities in Virginia offer a wide variety of degree options, ensuring students can find programs to meet their educational and professional goals.Enrollment in public four-year colleges in Virginia ranges from about 1,800 students to almost 40,000 students, allowing you to choose between both large and small public schools.

Cons

Public colleges and universities may have more limited financial aid opportunities for students than private schools.Out-of-state students pay higher fees than in-state students.Students may find big public schools more difficult to navigate and have less opportunity to interact with faculty or take part in experiential learning.

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in Virginia

Both private and public colleges and universities in Virginia may qualify as nonprofit organizations. These schools channel revenues and funds into their academic and student support programs through facility improvements, hiring additional faculty, or supporting student financial aid programs.

Nonprofit colleges and universities may offer degree-granting programs or focus on in-demand career training. They often seek accreditation and participate in federal financial aid. Public nonprofit colleges and universities receive state funding. Private nonprofit colleges and universities rely on tuition payments and endowments.

For-profit colleges are owned by a company or business. Virginia calls these schools proprietary institutions. These institutions may focus on career training or alternative educational programs. They do not receive federal or state funds and rely on tuition payments for their funding.

While many for-profit colleges offer valuable academic offerings, be sure to research these schools carefully. Check their accreditation status, graduation rates, and institutional reputation. Six for-profit universities operate in Virginia.

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

Students attending public institutions in Virginia paid an average of $13,660 in tuition in 2021, higher than the U.S. average of $9,350. Out-of-state students pay more to attend public colleges and universities in Virginia, with an average of $35,830 in tuition and fees. Room and board added another $11,420 in higher education expenses.

Private colleges and universities in the state charge an average of $23,490 in tuition. Nationwide, private colleges and universities charged an average of $32,770 in tuition and fees that same year. Students should also consider the cost of transportation, books, school supplies, and technology. Students spend an average of $1,220 each year for textbooks.

College costs can vary from student to student. Residents of Virginia may qualify for state financial aid programs in addition to federal student financial assistance, reducing their out-of-pocket costs.

William & Mary reports the highest tuition for in-state students, $36,554 per year, but the U.S. Department of Education reported students paid an average of $19,800 after grants and scholarships. The University of Virginia's College at Wise is the least expensive public institution in Virginia, with an average cost of $10,060.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in Virginia

How many public colleges and universities are there in Virginia?

Fifteen public institutions operate in Virginia. These schools serve more than 220,000 students. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia also oversees one two-year college and 29 community colleges.

Public colleges and universities in Virginia range from small schools offering undergraduate degrees to large universities with associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. Six universities in the state have earned recognition for their research programs.

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

Christopher Newport University in Newport News is the most expensive public institution in Virginia with an average of $25,600 in tuition and living expenses. The school serves about 4,800 undergraduate students. Just under half of the students at the school take federal student loans, graduating with a median of $24,739 in debt.

Christopher Newport conferred 1,100 undergraduate degrees in 2021 in 42 academic majors. Its business and biology programs rank among its most popular degree offerings. It boasts a 74% graduation rate. Graduates reported earning a median salary of around $55,030 a decade after entering the school.

What is the least expensive public college or university in Virginia?

The U.S. Department of Education reported students attending The University of Virginia's College at Wise paid the least among Virginia's four-year public institutions. Students paid an average of $10,060 in tuition and living expenses to attend the small public university. That's below the nationwide average of $19,202 for all four-year schools.

UVA Wise serves about 1,100 undergraduate students, most of whom attend full-time. The college offers degrees in 33 majors, with five pre-professional tracks. More than 80% of students receive financial assistance. The school reported a 44% graduation rate but found 82% of graduates secure post-graduate employment, enter graduate school, or serve in the military or other service programs.

What is the biggest public college or university in Virginia?

George Mason University reported the highest enrollment in 2021 among Virginia's public colleges and universities, with 39,142 students. Most of these students (27,335) were enrolled as undergraduates. The Fairfax campus just outside Washington, D.C., occupies 677 acres. It offers 80 undergraduate degrees through its 10 schools and colleges.

It reported a 74% graduation rate and 87% first-year retention rate. Students paid an average of $21,050 a year in tuition and living expenses in 2021.

Is a public college or university right for me?

Public colleges and universities offer students many advantages, including diverse academic offerings, lower tuition costs, and a large network of classmates and alumni. Several public institutions in Virginia offer highly regarded academic programs. But a public college or university may not be the best fit for all students.

When choosing the best school for you, consider your learning needs, academic and career goals, and financial need. Some students may find a smaller college or university offers a better academic experience with more faculty interaction. Smaller schools may offer a robust roster of extracurricular activities that can provide a fulfilling college experience.