Charlottesville, Virginia (VA) Colleges and Universities

While there are only three schools in Charlottesville, there are many schools located within a 50-mile radius. Read about the top schools in several categories, including most program variety and lowest net price, to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overvew

Prospective students looking for schools in the Charlottesville, VA area will find a number of options, including three community colleges and a large state university. To help students find the right school, this article examines eight mainstream schools within 50 miles of Charlottesville, providing a top three ranking in the following categories:

  • Most Program Variety
  • Lowest Net Price
  • Highest Graduation Rate
  • Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

Most Program Variety

The top three schools in the Charlottesville-area each had more than 60 programs available. These schools include two public universities and a private not-for-profit college. Information about the most popular degree programs available at each of these institutions during the 2011-2012 school year came from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

1- University of Virginia

Located in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia has around 99 programs. U.S. News and World Report ranked the university 24th in the national universities category for 2013. Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degree programs in more than 10 different main fields of study, including architecture, commerce, engineering, business, medicine, nursing and law. Business commerce and psychology were the most popular bachelor's degree programs at the college. At the graduate level, business administration was the most popular master's degree program, and law was the most popular doctoral degree program.

2- James Madison University

James Madison University is located in Harrisonburg and has roughly 79 programs available. Although the university is within a 50-mile radius from Charlottesville, the actual driving distance between locations is anywhere from 55-63 miles, depending on the chosen route. The university is ranked as the sixth regional college in the South, according to U.S. News and World Report. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available in such areas as arts and letters, business, health, education, engineering, performance arts and science. During the 2011-2012 school year, the NCES showed that the highest number of bachelor's degrees were awarded to students in the following programs: liberal arts and sciences, health and physical education, speech, community health services and psychology. The most awarded master's degree programs at this school included health and physical education, accounting, education and business administration. Audiology was the most popular doctorate program.

3- Eastern Mennonite University

Also located in Harrisonburg, Eastern Mennonite University has around 63 programs. This private college offers degrees at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Students can also enroll in several pre-professional programs. Registered nursing was the most popular bachelor's degree program, per the NCES, while curriculum and instruction was the most pursued master's degree program.

Lowest Net Price

The NCES determines an institution's net price by subtracting the average amount of financial aid received from the average cost of attendance. Within a 50-mile radius of Charlottesville, the net price of all colleges ranged from about $6,000-$24,000. The three schools with the lowest net prices were each public institutions, and the net prices ranged from about $6,000-$7,000. The net price statistics used in the following paragraphs are from the NCES' 2010-2011 records.

1- Piedmont Virginia Community College

Piedmont Virginia Community College is located in Charlottesville and had a net price of $5,777. Tuition and fees at the 2-year college were $3,830 for in-state students and $9,593 for out-of-state students during the 2012-2013 school year. NCES records from 2010-2011 showed that nearly 60% of first-year students received some form of financial aid. Data from that same year indicated that many first-year students received scholarship or grant aid in the average amount of $4,379 per student.

2- Blue Ridge Community College

Located in Weyers Cave, which is approximately 50 miles northwest of Charlottesville, Blue Ridge Community College had a net price of $6,585. During the 2012-2013 school year, in-state tuition and fees were $4,404, while out-of-state students paid $10,167. Sixteen percent of all students received federal student loans in 2010-2011, and the average loan amount was $5,458.

3- Germanna Community College

Situated about 50 miles or so northeast of Charlottesville in Locust Grove, Germanna Community College had the third lowest net price in the area of $7,297. Less than half of the students received financial aid at this institution. In fact, in the 2010-2011 school year, only 37% of first-year students received aid and only 25% of all students received grant or scholarship aid. The average amount of grant or scholarship aid awarded to students during that year was $3,195. In 2012-2013, in-state students had tuition and fees of $3,998, and out-of-state students' rates were $9,773.

Highest Graduation Rates

To figure out each school's graduation rate, the NCES looks at how many students graduated from their programs within 150% of normal time, which would be three years for an associate's degree and six years for a bachelor's degree. Out of all schools in the expanded Charlottesville-area, graduation rates ranged from 17%-94%. The top three ranking traditional public and private not-for-profit schools in the area each had a graduation rate of 70% or higher, according to the 2011 NCES records.

1- University of Virginia

The University of Virginia had a graduation rate of 94%, which represented students who started their programs in 2005. Of the students who also started in 2005, 87% earned their bachelor's degrees within normal time. The NCES reported that the retention rate in 2011 was 97% for full-time students.

2- James Madison University

The graduation rate at James Madison University was 81% for students who enrolled in 2005. According to the NCES, of the students who started during that same year, eight percent transferred to another institution, but 65% of the students earned their bachelor's degrees within four years instead of six. Retention rates at this university were fairly high in 2011, with 91% for full-time students and 100% for part-time students, per the NCES.

3- Sweet Briar College

In the city of Sweet Briar, this college is located southwest of Charlottesville at a driving distance of about 53 miles. The overall graduation rate reported in 2011 was 70%. Of students who started their studies in 2005, 64% were able to complete bachelor's degree programs within four years. Retention rates for all first-time full-time students were at 78% in 2011, as reported by the NCES.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

A school's student-faculty ratio can be a good indicator of class sizes. The student-faculty ratios of all schools in the expanded Charlottesville-area ranged from 2:1 to 23:1; however, most schools were within the range of 10:1-18:1, according to the NCES. The three traditional public and private not-for-profit schools with the lowest ratios are as follows.

1- Sweet Briar College

This private college had the lowest student-faculty ratio of 8:1. In the fall of 2011, the NCES reported that Sweet Briar College employed 77 full-time and 29 part-time faculty to teach the student population of 760 students. Although this is a single-sexed women's college, the faculty included a fairly even mix of male and female teachers, according to the U.S. News & World Report. Information from this same source showed that nearly 87% of all classes had 20 students or fewer.

2- Eastern Mennonite University

Eastern Mennonite University had a student-faculty ratio of 10:1. Approximately 100 full-time and 100 part-time faculty members worked at the school in the fall of 2011, per the NCES. The student population at this school is fairly small at about 1,500 individuals, and the U.S. News & World Report indicated that less than 35% of classes had more than 20 students.

3- Mary Baldwin College

In the city of Staunton, which is 40 miles west of Charlottesville, Mary Baldwin College had a student-faculty ratio of 11:1, per the NCES. This private school employed eight public service and research graduate assistants in 2011, as well as 273 part-time and 74 full-time faculty members. Records from the school's website showed that the average class size was 17 students, and the NCES indicated that the entire student population was 1,783 as of fall 2011.

Charlottesville Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Degree/Program Levels Offered Area Ranking
Blue Ridge Community College Weyers Cave, VA (50.4 miles from Charlottesville) 2-year, public 1-year and 1-2-year certificates; associate's degrees 2nd Lowest Net Price
Eastern Mennonite University Harrisonburg, VA (55-63 miles from Charlottesville) 4-year, private, not-for-profit 1-2-year certificates; associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees; post-baccalaureate certificates 2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
3rd Most Program Variety
Germanna Community College Locust Grove, VA (About 50 miles from Charlottesville) 2-year, public 1-year and 1-2-year certificates; associate's degrees 3rd Lowest Net Price
James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA (55-63 miles from Charlottesville) 4-year, public Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; post-master's certificates 2nd Most Program Variety,
2nd Highest Graduation Rate
Mary Baldwin College Staunton, VA (40 miles from Charlottesville) 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's and master's degrees 3rd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Piedmont Virginia Community College Charlottesville, VA 2-year, public 1-year and 1-2-year certificates; associate's degrees Lowest Net Price
Sweet Briar College Sweet Briar, VA (53 miles from Charlottesville) 4-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's and master's degrees Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
3rd Highest Graduation Rate
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 4-year, public Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; post-baccalaureate and post-master's certificates Most program variety,
Highest graduation rate

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