In order to provide prospective students with the best chance at having a great education, we have compiled this list of the top universities and colleges in Virginia. Some schools may excel at online programs while others may focus exclusively on the traditional, on-campus aspect of higher education. Regardless of the delivery format, these schools excel at providing a quality education for their students.
Table of contents
Virginia is for lovers. Lovers of history, lovers of the arts, lovers of opportunity and lovers of education. Online colleges in Virginia know that non-traditional situations can make learning a challenge, but that the leadership and dedication of Virginia are more than sufficient to achieve. As the first colony in the country and the mother of presidents, Virginia has a long history of overcoming obstacles and producing leaders.
Education in Virginia is some of the best in the country, with a host of awards and recognition to back up their claims. And in the spirit of the state, they are only getting better and better. To help you choose the right school for you we have put together a list of the best colleges in Virginia. Every school on the list provides students with exceptional experiences and education and was selected based on its quality, cost and student satisfaction. Whatever your circumstance, a college in Virginia has a program waiting for you.
|1||Regent University||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|2||George Mason University (Mason)||Fairfax, Virginia|
|3||Liberty University||Lynchburg, Virginia|
|4||Old Dominion University (ODU)||Norfolk, Virginia|
|5||Hampton University (HU)||Hampton, Virginia|
Here are the Best Colleges in Virginia
Regent University is a Christian focused University providing students with the skills needed to succeed academically, professionally, personally and spiritually. This is primarily done through Regent’s core courses that incorporate Christian teachings and theology into the academic curriculum. The University offers distance learners over 60 online degree programs in Virginia at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Classes are offered asynchronously in a condensed 8-week format, allowing students to finish coursework quickly and individually. Regent ranks highly for online education, the school was listed as one of the top 20 best online bachelor’s programs and one of the top 15 best bachelor’s programs for veterans by U.S. News and World Report.
George Mason University (Mason)
George Mason University offers over 50 undergraduate fully online or hybrid courses to students, allowing them to customize their education to best meet their needs. The school is the largest public research university in Virginia and as such has an impressive online library and writing center, available to all students. Mason has a high graduation rate of 67% and two professors from Mason have earned the Nobel Prize (one in 1986 and another one in 2002). Mason prides itself on being a current, flexible, and adaptable university ever progressing with modern resources and education. Classes are offered to students in January, May, and August.
Liberty University first began offering online classes in Virginia back in 1985 and now provides students with over 120 online bachelor’s degree programs and are well known for their quality online Early Childhood Education Program. Students are also able to participate in associate, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as some certificate programs. While most courses are eight weeks long and can be finished completely online, some programs last between 14 to 17 weeks and may require some on-campus involvement. The school has a low student to faculty ratio of 17:1, ensuring individual and personalized attention to students during their learning process. Liberty considers itself primarily an online institution and nearly 90% of undergraduate students are enrolled in some kind of distance education course. Liberty is also a military-friendly university, offering discounts and tuition breaks to students with ties to the armed forces.
Old Dominion University (ODU)
Old Dominion University has both undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered entirely online. Students have the ability to choose either a synchronous or asynchronous format and are always able to receive online tutoring and 24/7 technology assistance. Old Dominion partners with several community colleges in Virginia, Washington, and Arizona allowing students to transfer up to two years of college-level coursework toward their ODU degree. Student satisfaction at ODU is very high, with 96% of students stating that they were very satisfied with their experience at the institution.
Hampton University (HU)
Hampton University was founded to provide a quality education to those in need. A historically black college, HU was started around the Civil War era and was designed to allow recently freed slaves access to an education. Online students are able to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree, or simply study a variety of noncredit career and professional development courses, designed for personal enrichment and career advancement. With a 65% graduation rate, it’s clear that Hampton always has the student’s best interest at heart. When education is interrupted for personal, financial or family reasons outside of the student’s control, Hampton offers generous reentry scholarships to qualifying students to help them return and finish their degree.
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)
While bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a variety of fields are available for students at Virginia Commonwealth University, the school is particularly beneficial for students pursuing an online degree in the healthcare field. US News ranked the school as one of the best for graduate and professional programs, with courses available either entirely online in an asynchronous or synchronous format or in online and in-class hybrid format. All students have access to a career center, writing center, and disability resources. Unfortunately, because of state regulations, VCU is currently unable to offer degrees to students who live in California, Florida, and Massachusetts.
Bluefield College knows the importance of online education in Virginia. With 51% of attending students enrolled in online courses and an 11:1 student to faculty ratio, Bluefield puts an emphasis not only on developing student and faculty relationships but also on improving and enhancing online resources and abilities. Bluefield’s online degrees are particularly popular in the fields of business, management, nursing and criminal justice. The school is Christian centered and provides a strong emphasis in its education on Christian values and doctrine, teaching students not only how to succeed academically but also how to incorporate faith into all aspects of life. Classes are taught on a rolling schedule every eight weeks with the same faculty that teaches on campus.
University of Virginia (UVA)
Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia (UVA) has been rated 26th overall, 3rd in public universities, 10th in research universities and 9th in career readiness by U.S. News and World Report. The University of Virginia online offers graduate and undergraduate degrees online or in a hybrid format as well as non-degree programs for students interested in self-improvement, personal growth, or career advancement courses. Students may also transfer up to 15 credits toward their degree from another accredited university.
James Madison University (Madison)
Founded in 1908, James Madison University has also been ranked in our list of the top ten southern universities. The school has online undergraduate and graduate degrees available for study at a low-cost high-value ratio that has been called an “impressive balance” by the Princeton Review. Madison in part receives its high ranking because of the resources that are available to students online. These tools include an online library, and online tutoring services specifically for math, science, writing and more.
Mary Baldwin University (MBU)
Since it was founded in 1842, Mary Baldwin University has offered students cutting-edge education to help them become leaders in the classroom and the workforce. Mary Baldwin offers students the choice of bachelor, master, or doctoral degrees to provide variety for all kinds of students. Students who prefer online studies don’t get any less quality, and still have access to resources, tutors, and one-on-one relationships with teachers.
Eastern Mennonite University (EMU)
While EMU only currently offers two online degrees, both their business and nursing degree have a large variety of concentrations to choose from, creating a wide variety of diversity and study available to online students. Eastern Mennonite University has a 10:1 student to faculty ratio and does all that it can to help students not only excel but also become part of the EMU community. As a Christian college, students at EMU receive not only a quality but also a Christ-centered education. The university’s mission is to magnify and stand for service, social justice, Christian Discipleship, and peacemaking.
Norfolk State University (NSU)
NSU is well known for its strong balance between affordable college, quality, and variety. If you’re looking for some of the cheapest online college in Virginia, NSU might fit your needs. With classes available at only a little over $400 a credit and over a dozen online bachelor’s and master’s degrees to choose from, Norfolk is an obvious choice for online education in Virginia. A historically black school, online classes at Norfolk are offered asynchronously for the greatest convenience.The school puts the interest of the student first and provides traditional and well-known programs as well as some less common degrees that would normally have to be sought on campus. Some of these degrees include a Bachelors in Tourism and Hospitality Management and a Bachelors in Art History.
Founded in 1839, Longwood has been a part of Virginia history since before the American Civil War. Since that time, the school has been providing education, experience, and growth to students throughout the country. Degree programs at Longwood follow a seven-week term and are organized in a cohort structure, where students are put into groups with a pre-determined order of classes. The group of students then complete the courses together from start to graduation. This method creates a camaraderie between students and fosters a community of friendship, education, and collaboration.
University of Lynchburg
Founded in 1903, the University of Lynchburg is a vibrant learning community where students are empowered to discover their passions and change lives — as servant leaders in their communities and beyond. A fully accredited, coeducational, residential university affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Lynchburg offers more than 100 undergraduate programs and 14 pre-professional programs, all supported by a strong liberal arts foundation. Graduate studies include three doctoral degrees and 14 master’s programs. One of Virginia’s greenest universities, Lynchburg is nationally recognized by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report, and the John Templeton Foundation’s Honor Roll of Character-Building Colleges. It is also one of 45 “Colleges That Change Lives.”
Marymount is a comprehensive Catholic university, guided by the traditions of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, which distinguishes itself through a culture of intellectual curiosity, service to others, and a global perspective. A Marymount education is grounded in the liberal arts, promotes career preparation, and provides opportunities for personal and professional growth.
MU students have the advantage of living and studying right next door to one of the world’s great cities—Washington, D.C. They get to see politics in action and history in the making. They enjoy world-class arts, culture, and entertainment. Additionally, internships and experiential learning strengthen knowledge, test career interests, and provide valuable employment opportunities. With 100% internship placement at Marymount, the Washington, D.C. region offers unparalleled opportunities; from Capitol Hill and the Smithsonian to the National Institute for health and international corporations.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
Best known as Virginia Tech, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has been rated in the top 10 percent of universities found throughout the world by OQ World University Ranking. The school has also been called one of the best global universities according to US News and World Report. With an emphasis on engineering, Virginia Tech offers a wide array of engineering options and emphasis, with options like ocean engineering and more.
Averett University is one of the best small colleges in Virginia. It has been ranked as one of the top ten liberal arts colleges in the south and one of the top ten colleges for veterans by US News and World Report. Averett has a student to faculty ratio of 14:1 which providing small and sustainable class sizes. Perhaps its greatest asset to the online learner, however, is the school’s IDEAL program. Designed for non-traditional students, the program offers tuition discounts and other advantages to both in state and out of state distance participants. Online programs are all offered to students asynchronously.
Founded in 1875, Shenandoah University provides online education to students in a cohort structure. Students meet together online in a synchronous learning style. New cohorts start every August and most programs finish in two and a half years. Shenandoah’s mission is to foster students with the ability to be creative, intellectual, critical, reflective, lifelong learners and to emulated the attributes of ethics and compassion within their community, nation, and the world.
Virginia Baptist College (VBC)
Virginia Baptist College is unique from its fellow universities by having some of the lowest out of state tuition in Virginia and by offering online degrees only within the fields of ministry and Christian studies. The school believes in preparing students for Christian service and leadership and achieving academic excellence in that regard. Virginia Baptist College’s mission is to ready men and women for ministry, both professionally and lay in the way that best suits their Christian beliefs and needs. Classes are offered to distance learners in an asynchronous format for freedom and flexibility. While certainly a unique form of education, for anyone looking for a degree related to the Christian faith, Virginia Baptist College is an excellent choice.
Virginia University of Lynchburg (VUL)
Founded in 1886 to meet the growing needs of the area to educate and help the African American Community, Virginia University of Lynchburg has always sought to educate and uplift the less fortunate. With a motto of “Self-help and interdependence”, VUL still seeks out students who would benefit most from educational opportunities. As a Christian institution, VUL is committed to Biblical principles and practices, particularly the theology’s belief in self-help and finding the potential in everyone.
Virginia State University (VSU)
Founded in 1882 as one of the first historically black colleges, VSU offers students online degrees in an asynchronous style. Students have access to many traditional online sources like academic advisement and an online library. What sets VUS apart from its competitors are its personal enrichment classes. These courses are available to anyone simply wanting to gain a greater knowledge in fields such as writing, photography, and more. Virginia State is known for being a military-friendly institution and has also been rated one of the top 20 best colleges for African Americans by ESSENCE magazine.
University of Mary Washington (UMW)
Originally founded in 1908 as an industrial school for Women, the University of Mary Washington was named after the mother of George Washington. The school has claimed a host of high rankings, boasting 6th in Top Public School in the South, 11th for Best College for Veterans and 16th for Regional Universities in the South by US News and World Report. The school also place 13th in Public Colleges by Forbes and has also received praise from The Princeton Review and other well-known sources. UMW takes integrity and academic excellence very seriously and requires all students to sign a code of conduct known as an honor code. This code promises that students will follow certain academic and living standards during their time at the university.
Radford University is a comprehensive, public school with over 89 degree options for its students. Founded in 1910, Radford has always strived to improve men’s “immortal minds,” because that is what will withstand the tests of time. To meet the variety of student needs, Radford provides certificates and graduate degrees entirely online.
Lord Fairfax Community College
Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College is one of the best community colleges in Virginia. It offers 75 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs throughout its four campuses. LFCC offers more online programs than any other college in the area to fit the needs of the busy schedule of contemporary students.
We know that finding the best school to fit your unique needs is a huge challenge. For that reason, we work hard to develop lists of the best schools based on the characteristics most important for you. Whether that be the cost of attendance, student success, resources available, flexibility of schedule, or any other number of important factors, we’ve got you covered. For more information about our ranking process and to find lists of schools based on specific characteristics, check out our methodology page.
If your school isn’t included here but deserves consideration for a future list, please contact us today!