2017 Best Colleges in Virginia

The Best Colleges ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. The ranking compares more than 1,000 top colleges and universities in the U.S.
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Viewing 1-25 of 44
  1. 1

    Washington & Lee University

    • Lexington, VA
    • 388 reviews
    College Senior:I love this place. If I had to make this decision again 1000 times over, I would make the same choice every time. W&L has given me so many opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. I've had many firsts here, and some lasts as well. The professors are amazing and really care about the students and their success. I've house/pet sat and had dinner at my professors' homes, and I see them all the time at Kroger and at restaurants in town. I have close relationships with my academic advisors and can talk to them about anything. Residence life freshman year was awesome and everyone got the shared experience. By the time recruitment rolled around in January, we were all on even footing and more comfortable with the upperclass women, which made the experience more enjoyable. I pledged a sorority and never looked back. I love my sisters and the way the Greek Life and campus life fit together like two puzzle pieces; it's like no other college I've seen or heard of, in that respect. Because 85% of students participate, greek life at W&L is open and inclusive with minimal infighting. (That said, the rumor mill is unreal here. Everyone knows everything.) As an athlete I've gotten close with my team, but widespread student body support of athletics is nonexistent. For instance, it's school tradition to leave football games at halftime. I love living off campus and having my friends live off campus where we can hang out together in a more comfortable, relaxed environment. Some of my best memories are in off campus houses either partying or just having a quiet night with friends. The honor system is REAL. Yes, some do cheat, but as a school, we don't condone it at all. The professors trust us implicitly and I've enjoyed the freedom to take tests whenever I want (within a certain period) and have keys to all the classrooms in my department. I know this is really long, so some highlights to finish it off: House mountain hikes, Fancy Dress, and the greatest people ever.
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  2. 2

    University of Virginia

    • Charlottesville, VA
    • 2,003 reviews
    College Sophomore:I absolutely adore my school. There is not a day that goes by that I don't walk to class, finding new reasons to be grateful for choosing it. The combination of history, academics, athletics, social scene and opportunities is one that cannot be compared.
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  3. 3

    Virginia Tech

    • Blacksburg, VA
    • 3,385 reviews
    College Sophomore:Virginia Tech may be one of the best decisions I've made in my life. The people I've met, the experiences I've had, and the environment in general is one that can't be beat. I gladly call Tech my home away from home, and when I'm not there I want to be there, when I am there, I don't want to leave. Tech has great academic programs, it's an easy place to make a ton of friends and have fun, a great place to live, and best of all it's been rated one of the most fit campuses in the states. Next to the fittest campus we're also rated number one for campus dining. In my opinion, it would be hard to find any other school that would make me as happy as Tech has.
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  4. 4

    University of Richmond

    • University of Richmond, VA
    • 667 reviews
    College Sophomore:There are so many course options and major options. You can study anything that interests you at this school. All of the professors are extremely dedicated and always helpful. Class sizes are always kept small.
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  5. 5

    College of William & Mary

    • Williamsburg, VA
    • 1,356 reviews
    Recent Alumnus:William and Mary does a great job at filling the class with reasonable, amazing people. There were a few questionable choices, but I was able to quickly find my niche of people. I really enjoyed my four years here.
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  6. 6

    James Madison University

    • Harrisonburg, VA
    • 2,587 reviews
    College Sophomore:My time at JMU has honestly changed me into a completely different person, and only for the better. While my first semester (as a second-semester sophomore transfer student) was pretty rough, it lead me to my current major, Media Arts and Design, which I love and is a field I don't think I'll ever tire of, since it changes every day! I lived on my own for the first time in my life after moving here, and got my first job the summer after my first semester. I've grown so much and become so much more confident in myself as a person since coming here.

    JMU is a place like no other. We are a community here. There are so many different ways to get involved on campus, so much to do in Harrisonburg and the surrounding valley. You meet so many different types of people here, and we all come together to make JMU what it is. My first semester I was lonely; the only person I really knew was my boyfriend, and I had such a hard time with one of my major classes that I didn't have the time or energy to get involved with anything on campus. My second semester was completely different. I applied and was accepted to a new major, loved my classes, and got involved in a service sorority and the campus newspaper. I've made so many more friends and feel like I have a support group here.

    While my first semester was rough, once I was in a better place mentally everything fell into place. I love JMU and I love being a student here. I never want to leave!
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  7. 7

    Virginia Military Institute

    • Lexington, VA
    • 175 reviews
    College Sophomore:Virginia Military Institute has the reputation for being the toughest school in the nation, and that reputation is well earned. Students who choose to take on this academically, physically and mentally challenging environment will immerse themselves in something that no other college will offer them. The Ratline is an integral part of this school, and it is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I have endured the Ratline, and now I am proud to be part of the prestigious VMI brotherhood. I now look forward to challenging myself in other ways over the next three years, and walking away a better man for it. If you are up for the challenge, you will not be sorry.
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  8. 8

    Liberty University

    • Lynchburg, VA
    • 6,040 reviews
    College Junior:They have accepted a wide variety of transcripts in the past so sometimes the top of the class is not challenged fully, but the nursing program challenges each and every student greatly.
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  9. 9

    George Mason University

    • Fairfax, VA
    • 3,907 reviews
    College Junior:I have just learned how to avoid the bad professors over the years. I've had my fair share of bad professors. But the Communication department has overwhelmingly good professors. I'm sure there are still some departments with a lot of bad professors. The History department is one of them, but it has gotten better as of the last year. Then I hear the IT and Computer Science department still have a lot of bad professors.
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  10. 10

    Hollins University

    • Roanoke, VA
    • 440 reviews
    College Sophomore:Great community. Very supportive people. Almost all identity groups are represented though by strictly numbers there are not a lot of large percentages of minority groups excepting women and LGBT. Very small college and a gorgeous campus. Hollins is definitely a university for those aiming to go somewhere.
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  11. 11

    Christopher Newport University

    • Newport News, VA
    • 1,065 reviews
    College Senior:Classes are difficult, but it is possible to do well if you work hard. Just as with any other school, some professors are helpful and some are not. Success is measured by effort.
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  12. 12

    Hampden-Sydney College

    • Hampden-Sydney, VA
    • 136 reviews
    College Student:Elite college. If you can sacrifice getting less girls, experiencing occasional dead weekends, and not seeing any girls during the week; then, you will be rewarded with elitist connections, a six figure salary upon graduating, and almost guaranteed financial stability for the rest of your lifetime. A degree from H-SC is prestigious and respectable.
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  13. 13

    Roanoke College

    • Salem, VA
    • 653 reviews
    College Sophomore:I would choose my school if I could do it all over again. The students, faculty, and staff at Roanoke College are so welcoming, friendly, and personal.
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  14. 14

    Virginia Commonwealth University

    • Richmond, VA
    • 3,750 reviews
    College Junior:Virginia Commonwealth University is right here in the heart of our state's capital, Richmond, VA. Having a pretty firm grasp of their credibility as well as a high interest in their Men's Basketball Team, it only made sense for me to apply here. Being a little over an hour away from home it seemed like a great fit. Touring the campus for my first time, I quickly fell in love with the atmosphere and was excited for the opportunity to be around a diverse group of peers. Overall great university and I know that I made the right decision to attend!
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  15. 15

    Eastern Mennonite University

    • Harrisonburg, VA
    • 310 reviews
    College Junior:Cross cultural defines us. Undergrad students are required to go on either a summer (3-6 wk) or semester long study abroad trip ranging from just going to Washington D. C. or traveling to the Middle East, Mexico, China, etc. It is always a highlight and is much anticipated among the students.
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  16. 16

    ECPI University

    • Virginia Beach, VA
    • 1,155 reviews
  17. 17

    Sweet Briar College

    • Sweet Briar, VA
    • 345 reviews
    College Sophomore:I absolutely love my college. Everything about it, from the amazingly beautiful 3,200 acre campus to the comfortable small student body, is what I wanted in my education. The dorms are beautiful, with the dorm I'm in this year (as well as most of last year) being built in 1912. Despite the large campus size, all of the important buildings are close together, providing a wonderful walk to class every day! There are always fun events on the weekend to participate in. With the student body as small as it is, there are opportunities to participate in student activities and be an officer of whatever you want to! Women's colleges provide wonderful opportunities to those who choose to attend one, and with the rate of students employed immediately after graduation as high as it is for women's colleges, there's no place I'd rather be.
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  18. 18

    Longwood University

    • Farmville, VA
    • 989 reviews
    College Junior:The class registration process is very frustrating. Many classes needed for major courses fill up and there are too few class options. There are hardly any study areas on campus if you do not live in a dorm.
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  19. 20

    Radford University

    • Radford, VA
    • 1,356 reviews
    College Sophomore:So far everyone on campus I have met have been wonderful, very welcoming, and very inclusive. By everyone, I mean from the housekeepers of the dorm to the president of the university itself. I love the campus; it's very beautiful. They have very unique concerts, and fun programs that get everybody on campus together to grow and get everyone out of their shell. I love it. I also love all of my professors so far. Some of the best professors I have met. They are very willing to help you succeed beyond you normal limits and give you the courage to think more about every day things to help expand your own knowledge. If I had to go through college selection again, I would definitely pick Radford University again. It's the best decision I have ever made.
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  20. 21

    Marymount University

    • Arlington, VA
    • 667 reviews
    Recent Alumnus:I came from a small high school so a small University was ideal. I often had classes with less than 10 students. You were able to get to know the teachers well which was helpful in many ways. The only issue I had was with advisors. I had to figure out everything on my own; how to get an internship, how to make sure I was eligible to graduate, etc.
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  21. 22

    Emory & Henry College

    • Emory, VA
    • 207 reviews
    College Sophomore:Small school life is the best. Its like everybody knows each other. Really easy to make a nice close group of friends. Athletics are okay, football is great but most other sports typically struggle.
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  22. 23

    Lynchburg College

    • Lynchburg, VA
    • 614 reviews
    College Sophomore:It has been a little more on an adjustment than I anticipated being away from home. Having an injury and having to switch rooms the first week of school was challenging as well. If I had it to do over again, I would have put more effort into working out a living situation with a like-minded student.
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  23. 24

    Hampton University

    • Hampton, VA
    • 1,873 reviews
    College Sophomore:I love Hampton University a lot. At times the school can be sheltering, but the rules are all there for our benefit. The professors really care about you and put in the time to make sure you succeed. The communications program is exceptional.
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  24. 25

    Old Dominion University

    • Norfolk, VA
    • 3,703 reviews
    College Sophomore:I love that my school gives me a sense of pride. Everyone is so dedicated to what they do and there is Monarch pride everywhere you look. All of the people I have met here have been nothing but welcoming and friendly. I've met some of my closest, and what I believe to be, lifelong friends here. Most of the professors I have had are willing to help any student out in any way they can. It can be difficult at times but I would not change my decision to come to Old Dominion University if I had the chance.
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