Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, students can choose from 16 public colleges, 32 private non-profit colleges, and 16 private for-profit colleges in Virginia.


    The average academic-related costs in Virginia for the 2020-21 school year was $13,860, according to College Board.


    Students in the U.S. pursuing a bachelor’s degree received an average financial aid package of $14,940 during the 2019-20 school year.

Our Research

Our list covers the best colleges in Virginia, including large research universities, midsize colleges, and liberal arts institutions. Each school has been evaluated on important factors such as cost of attendance, the number of credits needed to graduate, and how coursework is offered (online, in-person, or combined learning formats).

The colleges on this list are accredited by national and regional accreditors to validate their academic offerings. The colleges in our guide are accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 62 hours to write this article
  • 189 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 267 education programs we compared

The Top 39 Colleges in Virginia

Best Colleges In Virginia
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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Virginia

Understanding the career opportunities available in the state where you wish to attend college can help you make an informed decision about where to study. Researching the largest industries in Virginia provides additional insight into the future job market. As of October 2020, the top five industries in Virginia are professional and business services; government; trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; and goods-producing services.

The five fastest-growing careers for job seekers in Virginia with an undergraduate degree are information security analysts, operations research analysts, software developers, athletic trainers, and interpreters and translators.

When thinking about post-graduation opportunities, it’s also helpful to look at the biggest employers in the state. Companies on the list of the top 50 employers in Virginia include Virginia Commonwealth University, College of William & Mary, Hungtington Ingles-Newport, Heart & Vascular Institute, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Nestle USA, Lab Corp, and Sodexo.

What’s Next?

Consider the financial aid options available to you when researching schools in Virginia. This list of federal and state resources will provide you with information about scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and other aid opportunities available to you.

  • State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). SCHEV provides a detailed overview of the higher education system in Virginia as well as a comprehensive list of all state financial aid programs.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Over $120 billion is allocated to eligible students who wish to pursue higher education. Provided by the U.S. Department of Education, this aid is given in the form of grants, loans, and work-study programs. Determine your eligibility and apply for aid via the online FAFSA form.
  • CareerOneStop. Learn more about available scholarships, grants, and fellowships on the CareerOneStop website. Use the filter options to narrow your search by degree level and state. All funding opportunities include the purpose of the scholarship, the award amount, and the submission deadline.