The state of Virginia was home to the first European settlement in the United States and, as an integral state to the founding of the nation, is the site of many early educational institutions. The following list of nine colleges and universities includes those within the top 100 national schools and those within the top 40 regional schools in the South. Most of them are high-ranking public schools and many focus on a liberal arts curriculum. Each has qualities that make it unique, and it is important to consider all aspects of the school before choosing which one to enroll in. Some students thrive at larger schools, while others appreciate the more individualized attention that smaller institutions offer. Some seek a strong study abroad program, while others look for supportive research programs. Whatever a student is looking for in a university, Virginia has many top-rated institutions that have produced numerous successful alumni.
University of Virginia: Charlottesville
The University of Virginia is a large public school which sits on over 1,500 acres of land in Charlottesville and has an undergraduate enrollment of about 17,000. Despite this large size, over half of the classes offered at UVA have less than 20 students, and the University prides itself on its high quality undergraduate teaching. Founded by Thomas Jefferson and ranked #24 of all colleges in the nation, UVA is also a competitive NCAA District I school, with their mascot, the Cavaliers, being colloquially known as the Hoos. Notable alumni include Senator Edward Kennedy, football player Tiki Barber and Katie Couric.
College of William and Mary: Williamsburg
The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II of England and is the second oldest college in the nation. It is a public school with about 7,000 undergraduate students, and it offers over 30 majors focusing on a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. William and Mary is considered one of the nation’s Public Ivy League schools and holds the ranking of #32 among universities across the nation.
Virginia Tech: Blacksburg
Virginia Tech is a public university located in the rural setting of Blacksburg and hosts about 25,000 undergraduate students. Beginning in 1872 as a land-grant college with compulsory Cadet Corps training, the school has continued its focus on science, engineering, research and vocational professions and still maintains an active voluntary Cadet Corps. The school is nationally ranked #74 overall and #27 in public schools. Virginia Tech also offers programs in the humanities and encourages students to use science to look at arts and culture in innovative ways.
James Madison University: Harrisonburg
James Madison University is a public school in Harrisonburg that is ranked #8 in the regional South. It enrolls around 20,000 undergraduate students studying over in seventy different degree programs across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. JMU offers a wide range of extracurricular activities including student clubs, out-of-classroom learning engagements and study abroad. JMU is also a NCAA Division I school, and it has also been nationally ranked #2 in public schools and #3 among the most innovative schools.
Christopher Newport University: Newport News
Christopher Newport University is ranked #14 on the list of regionals schools in the South. Though growing in number of applicants and faculty, CNU strives to keep its freshman class to 1,200 students and its class sizes small. The university supports community service and leadership engagement, encourages study abroad for all students and maintains a special community learning program to help freshman acclimate to college curriculums. The school has additionally ranked #5 among the nation’s public schools.
University of Mary Washington: Fredericksburg
Ranked #16 of regional universities in the south and #6 of nation-wide public school, the University of Mary Washington is home to about 4,000 undergraduate students studying a variety of fields across the arts and sciences. UMW notably has one of the nation’s best historic preservation programs and is consistently a top contributor of Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers. Committed to small class sizes, UMW prides itself as one of the nation’s best liberal arts schools. They also focus on incorporating the internet into their curriculum and have programs to offer free personal domain names and blog hosting to students.
Hampton University: Hampton
Hampton University is a private historically black college and is the alma mater of Booker T. Washington. The school’s 3,500 undergraduate students pursue degrees in 50 programs across a liberal arts curriculum with a research-oriented programs. The school competes in NCAA Division I sports and offers more than 100 student organizations. High-achieving high school students need not provide standardized test scores for admission, and Hampton also boasts one of the lowest private school tuitions in the country. The school has been ranked #18 in the regional South and #3 among historically black colleges.
Longwood University: Farmville
Longwood University is a public university of less than 5,000 undergraduate students located in the rural setting of Farmville. With over 100 majors and minors across the liberal arts and sciences, over 125 student organizations and low student-to-faculty ratio, Longwood ranks #31 in Southern regional universities. It also ranks #10 in public schools across the country. Part of Longwood’s curriculum is a required internship or research project for all students, ensuring high levels of student scholarship, achievement and engagement.
Lynchburg College: Lynchburg
Lynchburg College is a small private school of about 2,000 undergraduate students, and it ranks #35 in schools from the regional South and #17 in best value schools across the nation. Aiming to develop the character and leadership of its students for intelligent participation in the global society, Lynchburg offers a number of experiential learning program. These include service learning and study abroad, internships and research and educational facilities such as the Claytor Nature Study Center, an astronomical observatory and a cadaver lab.