Best Small Private Colleges In Virginia

Last Updated on May 31, 2022

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna.

The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most-populous city, and Fairfax County is the most-populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth’s population in 2020 was over 8.65 million, with 36% of them living in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.

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Best Small Private Colleges In Virginia

20. Regent University

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA

Points: 5

Founded in 1978, Regent University is a private Christian university located in Virginia Beach. More than 11,000 students study on-campus and online, pursuing top-value associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees delivered through a Christian perspective. With more than 135 areas of study, Regent equips students to put their skills and knowledge into practice with purpose, compassion, and integrity.

Students looking for an affordable undergraduate degree in Virginia can choose from academic options in psychology and counseling, nursing and healthcare, education, divinity and theology, business and leadership, arts and communication, and law, government, and history as well as programs in the STEM fields. Outside of the classroom, the Office Student Activities & Leadership offers more than 50 chartered student organizations as well as intramural sports and student government.

In-State Tuition: $18,380
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,380
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 42:1
Graduation Rate: 59 percent

19. Norfolk State University

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

Points: 5

Norfolk State University, founded in 1935, is a public HBCU and a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. NSU is one of the most affordable colleges in Virginia, conferring more than 64 low-cost undergraduate majors, minors, and graduate academic options through its six colleges and schools: Liberal Arts, Social Work, Business, Education, Graduate Studies and Research, and Science, Engineering, and Technology.

Not only does NSU offer plenty of academic support for minority students, but the school is also part of the Virginia High-Tech Partnership which connects HBCUs with local organizations and businesses in order to provide internships for traditionally underrepresented and underserved students. Students may also join a variety of on-campus clubs and organizations or participate in the Student Government Association and intramural sports.

In-State Tuition: $9,490
Out-of-State Tuition: $20,658
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Graduation Rate: 37 percent

18. Marymount University

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Marymount University is a private Catholic University located just six miles from Washington, D.C. in Arlington. This best-value university, founded in 1950 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, enrolls students from 43 states and 68 countries, making it one of the most diverse institutions of higher learning in the region.

Marymount is comprised of four colleges and schools: Health Professions; Business and Technology; Design, Arts, and Humanities; and Sciences, Mathematics, and Education. Marymount offers affordable undergraduate majors, minors, and certificates in an array of disciplines as well as opportunities to pursue further study through a pre-professional program or earn teaching licensure.

Students will find like-minded companions in professional and liberal arts fields such as cybersecurity, health, education, business, communications, design, and STEM. The school recently opened a state-of-the-art Ballston Center that focuses on hands-on collaboration and experiential studies.

In-State Tuition: $31,926
Out-of-State Tuition: $31,926
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Graduation Rate: 57 percent

17. Mary Baldwin University

STAUNTON, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Mary Baldwin University, one of the most affordable colleges in Virginia, is a private Presbyterian liberal arts institution located in Staunton. Founded as Augusta Female Seminary in 1842, the school is now home to the University College which provides coeducational residential undergraduate programs and the Mary Baldwin College for Women, a residential women’s college that focuses on leadership and liberal arts programs.

Students can choose from 26 economical bachelor’s degrees in areas such as marketing and communication, international affairs, healthcare administration, exercise science, and performing arts as well as a number of top-value pre-professional degree programs in chiropractic medicine, law, dentistry, occupational therapy, and more. From iconic, on-campus celebrations such as Apple Day to the school’s strong tradition of global interactions, theater productions, NCAA athletics, student government, and more, MBU’s undergraduate experience is built on connection and community.

In-State Tuition: $31,110
Out-of-State Tuition: $31,110
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9:1
Graduation Rate: 47 percent

16. Hampton University

HAMPTON, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Hampton University is an inexpensive private HBCU located on a 314-acre campus in Hampton. Established as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in 1868, Hampton University initially provided education to freedmen and now offers undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 4,300 students.

Students seeking a low-cost bachelor’s in Virginia can choose from popular affordable majors at Hampton University such as psychology, corporate communications, and office management as well as broadcast journalism, biology, and business. Hampton University is home to more than 110 student organizations that help students meet new people, learn new things, and build many memorable experiences. On-campus events are also held throughout the year, including dozens of movies, theatrical performances, recitals, and concerts.

In-State Tuition: $26,702
Out-of-State Tuition: $26,702
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Graduation Rate: 58 percent

15. Sweet Briar College

SWEET BRIAR, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s most innovative schools for 2019, Sweet Briar College is an affordable accredited college in Virginia. Located in Sweet Briar, SBC is a women’s liberal arts college that was established in 1901 as Sweet Briar Institute.

The school’s best-value undergraduate majors are divided into three “centers of excellence” That highlight interdisciplinary, collaborative, and hands-on learning: Human and Environmental Sustainability; Creativity, Design, and the Arts; and Engineering, Science, and Technology in Society.

Among SBC’s newest economical bachelor’s degrees is a four-year program in elementary education, but students may choose from other popular majors in areas such as archaeology and ancient studies, visual and performing arts, liberal studies, environmental science, engineering science, business, and biology.

Inexpensive pre-professional degree programs are offered in veterinary medicine, law, and medicine. On- and off-campus programs, services, and resources benefit both students and the larger community by fostering personal, ethical, and intellectual growth. Students may participate in more than 20 organizations and clubs that enhance the liberal arts education and advance the school’s co-curricular mission.

In-State Tuition: $21,000
Out-of-State Tuition: $21,000
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 5:1
Graduation Rate: 46 percent

14. University of Virginia-Main Campus

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

One of the low-cost colleges in Virginia, the University of Virginia is a public research institution of higher learning located in Charlottesville. Founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, UVA is known for its secret societies, student-run honor code, and its historical foundations. The flagship university of the state, UVA is also home to Academical Village, the school’s central lawn and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its campus is often ranked as one of the most beautiful collegiate grounds in the country.

UVA Is comprised of 11 schools that offer a variety of affordable undergraduate majors, including exceptional programs in environmental and urban planning, neuroscience, interdisciplinary studies, and aerospace engineering. Student engagement is paramount, and as a leader in research and innovation, UVA provides no shortage of hands-on learning opportunities.

In-State Tuition: $17,653
Out-of-State Tuition: $49,032
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Graduation Rate: 94 person

13. George Mason University

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

George Mason University is a public research university located in Fairfax. Established in 1956 as a branch of the University of Virginia, it became an independent school in 1972 and has grown to become the largest four-year public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Often recognized as a top-value affordable Virginia university, GMU enrolls more than 37,000 students across four campuses and offers more than 140 low-cost undergraduate degrees and concentrations through 10 colleges and schools.

Popular areas of study include psychology, police and criminal science, information technology, and biology as well as the liberal arts and humanities, accounting, rhetoric and composition, and management science and information systems. GMU is also home to the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC), the only program of its kind in the U.S. GMU offers more than 500 student organizations and hosts thousands of events each year.

In-State Tuition: $12,462
Out-of-State Tuition: $35,922
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Graduation Rate: 70 percent

12. James Madison University

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

James Madison University is an inexpensive college in Virginia located in Harrisonburg. Established as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg in 1908, JMU is ranked among the top public institutions of higher learning the South.

JMU enrolls nearly 21,200 bachelor’s-seeking students each year and confers more than 80 affordable undergraduate degrees in popular areas of study such as geographic science, architectural design, integrated science and technology, communication sciences and disorders, quantitative finance, engineering, modern foreign languages, earth science, and more.

Undergraduates are encouraged to assist with faculty research projects and explore their unique academic interests. JMU is home to 400 student clubs and organizations that promote involvement and community engagement, covering everything from three-dimensional printing to environmental management.

In-State Tuition: $12,016
Out-of-State Tuition: $28,416
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Graduation Rate: 84 percent

11. Radford University

RADFORD, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Radford University, an inexpensive college in Virginia, is one of eight doctorate-granting institutions of higher education in the state. Established in 1910, Radford offers more than 100 low-cost degree programs across six colleges: Education and Human Development, Business and Economics, Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, Health and Human Services, Science and Technology, and Visual and Performing Arts. In addition to being one of the most affordable colleges in Virginia, Radford is also recognized for its involved students and active campus.

Student-centered programs, services, and facilities provide diverse experiences to further social, civic, and intellectual development while promoting a sense of engagement, collaboration, and community. Students have no trouble finding something to do on Radford’s 204-acre grounds, whether they wish to participate in 19 NCAA Division I sports teams or get involved in the school’s student-run media outlets.

In-State Tuition: $11,210
Out-of-State Tuition: $23,292
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Graduation Rate: 59 percent

10. Old Dominion University

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Old Dominion University, established in 1930 as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, is a public research university located in Norfolk. As one of the most affordable colleges in Virginia, ODU enrolls around 25,000 students each year and offers nearly 275 academic programs through its eight colleges.

With more than 2,400 courses, 73 bachelor’s programs, 43 master’s degrees, 22 doctoral options, and two education specialist programs, ODU has an area of study for everyone. However, ODU boasts the second-largest percentage of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health (STEM-H) graduates in the state.

ODU is also known for its research strengths in maritime engineering and port logistics, cybersecurity, bioelectrics, modeling and simulation, and coastal resilience. In fact, ODU is a key academic research partner for the NASA-Langley Research Center and the Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory. In terms of student life, ODU is home to more than 300 student organizations and nearly 30 fraternities and sororities.

In-State Tuition: $10,560
Out-of-State Tuition: $29,460
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 52 percent

9. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

WISE, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a best-value low-cost college in Virginia and the westernmost public institution of higher learning in the state. UVA-Wise students can choose from a number of prestigious academic programs at this affordable college in Virginia, including the only bachelor’s degree in software engineering in the state. Other popular cheap majors at UVA-Wise include business, education, social sciences, and pre-professional studies.

The school is home to the Center for Student Development that provides support for all students, including professional development, health, and counseling services. The Center for Teaching Excellence offers continuing education options for PK-12 educators. In terms of athletics, UVA-Wise competes in NCAA Division II athletics through its 13 teams, including lacrosse, basketball, and baseball.

In-State Tuition: $10,119
Out-of-State Tuition: $27,846
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 48 percent

8. Virginia State University

PETERSBURG, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Virginia State University, located in Petersburg, is a public land-grant institution and HBCU. Founded in 1882, it was the nation’s first fully state-supported four-year institution of higher education for black Americans. As one of the most affordable colleges in Virginia, VSU is comprised of six colleges which offer academic programs and services that integrate outreach, extension, research, and instruction.

Students can choose from more than 40 cheap majors that lead to a bachelor’s degree in fields such as the liberal arts, technology, science, engineering, business, and agriculture. In addition to offering abundant research opportunities and wide-ranging academic programs, VSU also offers cutting-edge technological resources and personalized, student-focused mentoring, advisement, and teaching.

Students have many opportunities to explore their interests in the arts, music, sports, and more through dozens of organizations and clubs that contribute to their growth as well-rounded individuals. VSU’s 236-acre campus is home to 16 dormitories, 17 academic buildings, and a 416-acre agriculture research facility.

In-State Tuition: $9,056
Out-of-State Tuition: $20,307
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Graduation Rate: 39 percent

7. Virginia University of Lynchburg

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA

Points: 6

Located in Lynchburg, Virginia University of Lynchburg is a private HBCU that offers affordable degrees and instruction primarily in religious studies. Founded in 1886 and incorporated two years later as the Lynchburg Baptist Seminar, the school held its first classes in 1890 under the name Virginia Seminary. Students looking for an inexpensive university in Virginia can choose from associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs as well as certificates in areas such as philosophy and religious studies, the social sciences, and business, management, and marketing as well as the humanities, liberal arts, and sciences. Outside of the classroom, students may participate in clubs, organizations, and intramural athletics, including flag football, cornhole, volleyball, kickball, and soccer.

In-State Tuition: $9,000
Out-of-State Tuition: $9,000
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Graduation Rate: 13 percent

6. Shenandoah University

WINCHESTER, VIRGINIA

Points: 7

Founded in 1875, Shenandoah University, located just 70 miles west of Washington, D.C. in Winchester, is a private liberal arts university that enrolls students from 46 states and 67 countries. Approximately 97 percent of students receive financial aid, and they graduate with the lowest average student loan debt of all private schools in the state.

This affordable college in Virginia is comprised of the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Nursing, Shenandoah Conservatory, School of Pharmacy, School of Health Professions, School of Education and Leadership, and Division of Applied Technology.

SU offers unique low-cost undergraduate programs in areas such as acting, costume design, cybersecurity, esports management, music production and recording technology, virtual reality technology, and kinesiology. SU offers more than 100 organizations and clubs ranging from community service and singing groups to dance and professional organizations. SU students may also choose to cheer on the school’s 21 NCAA Division III athletic teams.

In-State Tuition: $32,530
Out-of-State Tuition: $32,530
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Graduation Rate: 58 percent

5. Christopher Newport University

NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA

Points: 7

Christopher Newport University, a top-value affordable college in Virginia, is a public liberal arts institution of higher education located in Newport News. Established in 1960 as Christopher Newport College, it is the youngest comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The school offers cheap undergraduate programs in four broad areas of study: the social sciences, natural and behavioral sciences, business, and the arts and humanities. Several of CNU’s popular inexpensive majors include government, political science, psychology, and biology.

In addition to providing rigorous academic programs, CNU encourages students to explore meaningful co-curricular activities and involvement that amplify their accomplishments. The school’s four pillars, including study abroad, undergraduate research, service, and internships, help students gain real-world experience as they work toward becoming engaged leaders and citizens.

In-State Tuition: $14,754
Out-of-State Tuition: $27,620
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Graduation Rate: 72 percent

4. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA

Points: 7

Established in 1872 as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a public land-grant and research university and one of six senior military colleges in the U.S. A high-value affordable college in Virginia, Virginia Tech’s 2,600-acre main campus in Blacksburg is home to more than 210 buildings and an airport, and the school owns a 2,000-acre agriculture farm for research located near the campus.

Virginia Tech is known as the leading research university in the state, conferring more than 280 cheap undergraduate and graduate degrees to nearly 35,000 students. More than 150 low-cost undergraduate majors are available through the school’s College of Engineering, College of Natural Resources and Environment, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students may choose from an array of unique and innovative academic options, including a sustainable biomaterials degree, one of the most renowned programs for natural resource science in the country.

In-State Tuition: $13,620
Out-of-State Tuition: $31,908
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 84 percent

3. Longwood University

FARMVILLE, VIRGINIA

Points: 7

Longwood University, one of the best-value affordable universities in Virginia, is a public liberal arts university located on a 154-acre campus just 65 miles west of Richmond in Farmville. Established as Farmville Female Seminary Association in 1839, it is the third-oldest public institution of higher education in the state. The school enrolls nearly 5,100 students from 25 states and 20 countries.

Longwood confers more than 100 high-value areas of study, and 100 percent of students participate in internships, faculty-directed research studies, or field experiences to gain real-world instruction. With a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the average class consists of 21 students, and 82 percent of full-time faculty hold terminal degrees in their fields.

The school is known for its volunteering opportunities, logging more than 58,000 hours with more than 160 organizations. Students may also participate in more than 200 clubs and organizations. Students enjoy Longwood’s historic Jeffersonian architecture, foundations, and lush quads nestled just steps from Farmville, the oldest two-college town in the U.S.

In-State Tuition: $13,340
Out-of-State Tuition: $29,300
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 69 percent

2. University of Mary Washington

FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA

Points: 7

Located just one hour from Washington, D.C. in Fredericksburg, the University of Mary Washington is a public liberal arts and sciences university that is consistently ranked as one of the best colleges in the U.S. This top-value inexpensive college in Virginia is comprised of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, and College of Education which offer more than 60 majors, minors, and courses of study.

Unique affordable degree programs are available in environmental geology, biochemistry, historic preservation, studio art, and Latin as well as communication and digital studies, women’s and gender studies, and international business.

Students also have the opportunity to develop a custom major designed according to their individual interests by combining multiple courses of study. Notable features at UMW include the University of Mary Washington Galleries, home to a permanent 5,000-piece art collection, and the Hurley Convergence Center, a multi-purpose, high-tech, one-of-a-kind academic commons.

In-State Tuition: $12,714
Out-of-State Tuition: $28,648
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 66 percent

1. Virginia International University

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA

Points: 7

Ranked as the best affordable college in Virginia, Virginia International University is a private institution that offers cheap undergraduate and graduate degrees to fewer than 500 students. Established in 1998, VIU’s academic options are offered through six departments: Business, Computer Information Systems, Education, Public and International Affairs, Language Studies, and General Education.

VIU faculty have contributed to a growing body of knowledge through conference presentations, professional workshops, research publications, book publications, and other endeavors, and students benefit from collaborating with their professors on various research projects.

The school also boasts a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, meaning that students have plenty of opportunities to get to know their peers and professors on a personal level. Students are encouraged to get involved in extracurricular activities to build professional, social, and leadership skills by meeting new people and sharing ideas.

In-State Tuition: $10,328
Out-of-State Tuition: $10,328
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9:1
Graduation Rate: 50 percent

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