To identify the Best Colleges in Virginia for 2019 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in Virginia anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Washington and Lee UniversityLexington, VA
University of RichmondUniversity of Richmond, VA
University of Virginia-Main CampusCharlottesville, VA
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg, VA
College of William and MaryWilliamsburg, VA
James Madison UniversityHarrisonburg, VA
Hampden-Sydney CollegeHampden-Sydney, VA
Christopher Newport UniversityNewport News, VA
Virginia Military InstituteLexington, VA
Eastern Mennonite UniversityHarrisonburg, VA
Sweet Briar CollegeSweet Briar, VA
Roanoke CollegeSalem, VA
University of Mary WashingtonFredericksburg, VA
University of LynchburgLynchburg, VA
Randolph-Macon CollegeAshland, VA
Averett UniversityDanville, VA
Longwood UniversityFarmville, VA
Bridgewater CollegeBridgewater, VA
Mary Baldwin UniversityStaunton, VA
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VA
Hampton UniversityHampton, VA
Radford UniversityRadford, VA
Emory & Henry CollegeEmory, VA
Randolph CollegeLynchburg, VA
Hollins UniversityRoanoke, VA
Nicknamed “The Mother of Presidents,” Virginia has had more influence on American culture, thought, and government than any other state (except, perhaps, New York). Virginia was at the center of the American Revolution, supplying some of the crucial architects of the Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. The Virginia General Assembly, the oldest government in America, is frequently named the healthiest and most effective state government. With Washington, DC, established on the border, Virginia continues to be one of the most influential states, intimately tied to the federal government and a home to more than 4 million federal employees.
We can’t ascribe all of the commonwealth’s success to its higher education system, but that won’t stop us from trying. With some of the oldest, some of the most prestigious, and some of the most connected colleges and universities in the nation, Virginia easily ranks as one of the most educated states. Virginia’s greatness isn’t all in the past, either; from its small liberal arts colleges to its major research universities, Virginia is, as it has always been, in the vanguard of education and research, setting a course for the future.
The Best Colleges in Virginia: A Tall Order
The best colleges and universities in Virginia account for some of the most important institutions in American history, period. Three of Virginia’s colleges were founded before the American Revolution: Washington & Lee University, Hampden-Sydney College, and the College of William & Mary, though only William & Mary is considered a Colonial College (the other two were not chartered as colleges until after the Revolution). That gives Virginia alone three of the oldest colleges in the nation – more than any other state. They’re some of the most acclaimed, as well; Washington & Lee and Hampden-Sydney both rank not only as some of the top national liberal arts colleges but as some of the best small colleges as well; Washington & Lee also rates as one of the top Mountain Colleges, giving students recreation and inspiration in the beautiful Appalachians.
The University of Virginia is a pioneering public research university, founded by Thomas Jefferson himself as the exemplar of American Revolution and Enlightenment values, and widely recognized as one of the best national research universities. In many ways, UVA is the very picture of what we imagine a Public Ivy to be, down to some of the best college dorms in the nation. Virginia Tech, UVA’s STEM-focused cousin, is widely considered one of the world’s foremost institutions for engineering and other applied sciences, as well as business. Like UVA, Virginia Tech racks up rankings as one of the best public research universities in the US, but it’s also known for its commitment to students: Tech is not only ranked for one of the best college dining halls, but as one of the best colleges in the US for veterans.
In addition, Virginia has some of the nation’s best public colleges and universities; smaller regional colleges like the University of Mary Washington and James Madison University define excellence and rank among the best regional universities in the South. Hampton University, one of the most prestigious historically black colleges, traces its lineage back to the Emancipation Tree, where a fearless freed black woman taught escaped slaves to read and write even before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The Virginia Military Institute, in turn, is a model of the form, ranking nationally in a slew of categories from best small colleges to best public liberal arts colleges.
Virginia and America’s Future
The best colleges in Virginia are actively, intentionally driving innovation and development in American culture, politics, education, and technology. There is certainly no reason to expect that to change, neither soon nor years from now. Virginia’s top colleges and universities continue to attract the best and brightest young people from all over America and the world, gaining strength in diversity, and to prepare professionals for service in every field and discipline. If you want to know where America is going, look to Virginia – it’s always been there first.