Top Virginia Colleges

Virginia's best colleges and universities are among the top in the country. From large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, from military colleges to single-sex campuses, Virginia offers a little of everything. The top Virginia colleges listed below vary so much in size and mission that I have simply listed them alphabetically rather than force them into any sort of artificial ranking. That said, Washington and Lee, the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary are probably the most selective and prestigious schools on the list.

Christopher Newport University

Christopher Newport University Ferguson Center for the Arts
Christopher Newport University Ferguson Center for the Arts. jeredb / Flickr
  • Location: Newport News, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 5,042 (4,930 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: $500 million in campus improvements in recent years; rated as an "up and coming" school by U.S. News & World Report; excellent center for the arts; active student life scene 
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Christopher Newport University profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Christopher Newport

College of William and Mary

William and Mary
William and Mary. Lyndi&Jason / flickr

George Mason University (GMU)

George Mason University
George Mason University. funkblast / Flickr

Hampden-Sydney College

Hampden-Sydney College Gilmer Hall
Hampden-Sydney College Gilmer Hall. deeleywoman / Flickr

Hollins University

Horse Fields at Hollins University
Horse Fields at Hollins University. drewsaunders / Flickr
  • Location: Roanoke, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 837 (664 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college for women
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio; 475-acre campus near the Blue Ridge Parkway; strong international learning and internship programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; good financial aid
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Hollins College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Hollins

James Madison University (JMU)

James Madison University
James Madison University. taberandrew / Flickr
  • Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 21,270 (19,548 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: High rankings for value and academic quality; attractive campus features a lake and arboretum; member of the NCAA Division I Colonial Athletic Association and Eastern College Athletic Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the James Madison University profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for JMU

Longwood University

Longwood University
Longwood University. basbarnowl / Flickr
  • Location: Farmville, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 5,087 (4,520 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Emphasis on hands-on learning (all students are required to take part in an internship or research project); average class size of 21; athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division I level
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Longwood University profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Longwood

Randolph College

Randolph College Recital Hall
Randolph College Recital Hall. taberandrew / Flickr
  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 679 (663 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 12; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; high marks for student engagement; located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains; good financial aid
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Randolph College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Randolph

Randolph-Macon College

Randolph-Macon College
Randolph-Macon College. Photo Credit: Randolph-Macon College

Roanoke College

Roanoke College
Roanoke College. mlctuckerphotography / Flickr

Sweet Briar College

Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar College. Photo by Aaron Mahler

University of Mary Washington

University of Mary Washington
University of Mary Washington. Jte288 / Wikimedia Commons

University of Richmond

University of Richmond
University of Richmond. rpongsaj / Flickr

University of Virginia

University of Virginia
University of Virginia. rpongsaj / flickr

Virginia Military Institute (VMI)

Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Military Institute. Mrzubrow / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Lexington, Virginia
  • Enrollment: 1,713 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: public military college
  • Distinctions: Oldest public military college in the U.S.; 11 to 1 student/faculty ratio; disciplined and demanding college environment; strong engineering programs; member of the NCAA Division I Southern Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Virginia Military Institute profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for VMI

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Campus
Virginia Tech Campus. CipherSwarm / Flickr

Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University. wsuhonors / Flickr