Harrisonburg, Virginia (VA) Colleges and Universities

There are six schools within the Harrisonburg, VA, area. Read about the schools with the most program variety, highest graduation rates, lowest student-faculty ratios and lowest costs to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

The schools located in Harrisonburg, VA, and its surrounding area offer a unique variety of learning experiences. Students can choose among schools that offer associate's degrees and certificates, as well as private and public 4-year schools. The information in this article draws on several sources to help students find the right traditional school for them. Read about how these schools compare with one another based on:

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

Most Program Variety

Students in the Harrisonburg area can choose from a variety of degree programs through both public and private institutions. Since a range of programs within a single school can benefit undecided students and provide options for minors and electives, students may want to make this part of their research. The following are the top three schools in Harrisonburg for academic program variety.

1 - James Madison University

James Madison University (JMU) is a public research school and is the largest institution of higher learning located within the city limits of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The school offers about 83 programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels through seven schools and colleges. These schools fall into the areas of arts and letters, integrated science and technology, science and mathematics, visual and performing arts, business, education and graduate studies. The U.S. News & World Report ranked this school in 2013 as 6th for Best Regional Universities (South).

2 - Eastern Mennonite University

About six miles from downtown Harrisonburg, this private, not-for-profit school offers students about 54 degree program options. A small liberal arts college, Eastern Mennonite offers primarily bachelor's degree progams; however, students can pursue master's degree programs in a small range of fields, which include business, education, conflict management, counseling and divinity/ministry. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), registered nursing was the most popular undergraduate degree during the 2011-2012 school year.

3 - Blue Ridge Community College

Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) is a public, 2-year school located in the small town of Weyers Cave. The school offers about 42 certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs. The NCES reported that BRCC awarded 325 associate's degrees in liberal arts and sciences to graduates in 2012, making liberal studies the most popular major. Veterinary tech and business associate's degree programs were also popular.

Lowest Net Price

The NCES determines the net price of U.S. universities by deducting the average amount of financial aid freshman students at the main campus of each school receive from the total cost of attendance. Find below the three traditional schools that offered the lowest net prices in the Harrisonburg area from 2010-2011.

1 - Blue Ridge Community College

Blue Ridge Community College offered the lowest net cost in the area at $6,585. During the 2012-2013 academic year, in-state tuition was $4,404, while out-of-state tuition cost significantly more at $10,167. Books and supplies were estimated to cost $1,200. In addition, the NCES estimated that, from 2010-2011, roughly 65% of all beginning students received some form of financial aid.

2 - James Madison University

James Madison University had the second lowest net price in the area at $12,875. Per NCES estimates, in-state tuition and fees for the 2012-2013 academic year were $8,808, while out-of-state tuition and fees were $22,796. Books and supplies cost about $940 per year. During the 2010-2011 academic year, 29% of all undergraduates received grant or scholarship aid in the average amount of $6,771.

3 - Mary Baldwin College

Mary Baldwin College is a private liberal arts institution for women located about 22 miles outside of Harrisonburg in the town of Staunton, Virginia. This school had a net price of $19,152, which is the 3rd lowest for the Harrisonburg area. Tuition and fees were $28,020 for the 2012-2013 academic year, per the NCES. In addition, books and supplies were estimated to cost $900 annually. On-campus living expenses during this school year were approximately $10,580.

For the 2010-2011 academic year, 98% of full-time, first-year students received grant or scholarship awards, with an average amount of $16,253. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school #39 among Regional Universities in the South. Mary Baldwin College is home to the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership, a military academy for women.

Highest Graduation Rate

The NCES calculates the overall graduation rate for each school. This refers to the percentage of students beginning their undergraduate studies in 2005 and completing their programs within 150% of 'normal time' (for example, six years for a bachelor's degree program). The NCES also provides data on the percentage of students at each school who complete their bachelor's degree programs within four years (100% of 'normal time'). Below are the three schools with the highest graduation rates in the Harrisonburg area.

1 - James Madison University

James Madison University has the highest overall graduation rate in the area at 81%. Among students pursuing bachelor's degrees and beginning in 2005 at JMU, 65% graduated within four years. The retention rates for first-time students pursuing bachelor's degrees were 91% for full-time students and 100% for students attending part time. These figures indicate a high rate of student satisfaction.

2 - Eastern Mennonite University

Eastern Mennonite University has the second highest graduation rate in the area, logging in an overall graduation rate of 66%. Among students who began in 2005, 57% earned their bachelor's degrees within four years. The NCES reports that 78% of full-time students beginning in 2010 returned the following fall for sophomore year.

3 - Bridgewater College

Bridgewater College is a small, private liberal arts college located about seven miles from downtown Harrisonburg. The overall graduation rate for students who began degree programs in 2005 was 59%. Among students beginning the same year, 52% graduated within four years. The retention rate from 2010 to 2011 was 76% among full-time students.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

Student-faculty ratios provide a general indicator for the size of classes at a school. The student-faculty ratio data comes from the NCES, which also gives information about the numbers of faculty and graduate assistants on staff. The following are the top three schools offering degree programs with the lowest student-faculty ratios.

1 - Eastern Mennonite University

The lowest student-faculty ratio in Harrisonburg is 10:1, which is held by Eastern Mennonite University. This school enrolled 1,521 students (1,062 undergraduates) in Fall 2011. During the same year, the school employed 104 full-time and 101 part-time faculty members. All classes at this school are taught by professors.

2 - Mary Baldwin College

Ranked second is Mary Baldwin College, with a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. According to the NCES, the student population at this school in Fall 2011 was 1,783; of these students, 1,526 were undergraduates. The faculty included 74 full-time and 273 part-time instructors. According to U.S. News & World Report, 68.4% of the classes at this private college had fewer than 20 students in 2011.

3 - Bridgewater College

At 14:1, the third lowest student-faculty ratio in Harrisonburg is available at Bridgewater College. The NCES reported that the school enrolled 1,648 students in Fall 2011, all undergraduates. There were 106 full-time and 35 part-time faculty members on staff. Since this school doesn't employ graduate assistants, professors teach all courses. The school states on its webpage that it offers an average class size of 21 students.

Harrisonburg Area Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Degrees Offered Area Ranking
Blue Ridge Community College Weyers Cave, VA (12 miles from Harrisonburg) Two-year, public Less than one-year certificates, one to two-year certificates; associate's degrees Lowest Net Price,
3rd Most Program Variety
Bridgewater College Bridgewater, VA (seven miles from Harrisonburg) Four-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's degrees 3rd Highest Graduation Rate,
3rd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Eastern Mennonite University Harrisonburg, VA Four-year, private, not-for-profit One to two-year certificates, postbaccalaureate certificates; associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
2nd Most Program Variety,
2nd Highest Graduation Rate
James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA Four-year, public Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; post-master's certificates Most Program Variety,
Highest Graduation Rate,
2nd Lowest Net Price
Mary Baldwin College Staunton, VA (23 miles from Harrisonburg, VA) Four-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's and master's degrees 2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
3rd Lowest Net Price

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