Ph.D. Programs in Virginia with School Overviews

Virginia is home to about around 20 colleges and universities offering Ph.D. programs. Compare four of the schools in Virginia to determine which ones might be right for you.

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School Ranking Overview

This article reviews four public universities in Virginia that offer Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree programs. The top three out of the four schools profiled in this article were ranked in each of the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Graduate Tuition
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

While many doctoral students already have a clear area of focus, it may be helpful to attend a school that offers a wide variety of programs. This could translate to more experiential learning opportunities, such as through research or teaching assistantships.

1. Virginia Commonwealth University

This Richmond-based university offers the most total number of programs by far, specifically 135, according to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Ph.D. programs are available in such areas as molecular biology and genetics, counseling psychology, epidemiology, neuroscience, pharmaceutics and social work. The NCES noted that approximately 750 doctoral degrees were awarded in 2012-2013.

2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Not far behind is this university in Blacksburg, offering 120 total programs of study. Virginia Polytechnic Institute, or Virginia Tech, offers several graduate programs that are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, including those in engineering, public affairs, business, geosciences, psychology and earth sciences. Other Ph.D. programs at Virginia Tech include:

  • Aerospace engineering
  • Architecture and design research
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Crop and soil environmental sciences
  • Dairy science
  • Entomology
  • Fisheries and wildlife science
  • Forestry
  • Genetics, bioinformatics and computational biology
  • Macromolecular science and engineering
  • Molecular plant sciences

3. George Mason University

George Mason University in Fairfax is just shy of the second-place spot for this category. There are just under 120 total program offerings here. This university offers ambitious research programs in conservation, molecular medicine, biochemistry and cognitive neuroscience. Additionally, some Ph.D. programs at GMU include:

  • Biodefense
  • Climate dynamics
  • Conflict analysis and resolution
  • Cultural studies
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Electrical and computer engineering
  • Environmental science and policy
  • History
  • Information technology
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Public policy

Graduate Tuition

Cost of attendance is a key consideration for many college students. The NCES offers school-specific graduate tuition rates for the 2013-2014 year, and the following universities are the most affordable among the four schools profiled.

1. George Mason University

Graduate students classified as state residents paid an average of $9,350 for the year, while those categorized as non-residents were required to pay $25,754. Additionally, all graduate students were responsible for annual fees of $2,688.

2. Virginia Commonwealth University

In close place is this institution, with a graduate in-state tuition of $9,994. Students who were required to pay out-of-state rates were charged an average of $20,461. Graduate fees of $2,008 were also required.

3. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In-state graduate students at this institution paid an average of $11,185 in the 2013-2014 year, while out-of-state students averaged $22,146. The additional fees here averaged $1,838 for the year.

Graduation Rate

The NCES also offers information on graduation rates. While the data is specific to undergraduate students, it offers insight into the overall focus on timely program completion. The following details are based on full-time bachelor's degree students who began their studies in 2007 and completed them by 2013, or what is referred to as 150% of normal completion.

1. University of Virginia

The graduation rate at this Charlottesville institution is 93%. Even more impressive is the school's retention rate. For all full-time bachelor's degree students who began in 2012, 97% returned for a second year in 2013.

2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Tech also boasts an arguably high graduation rate of 82%. In addition, the undergraduate student retention rate in 2012-2013 year was 91%.

3. George Mason University

This institution beat out Virginia Commonwealth University by ten percentage points. The most recent NCES data notes that the graduation rate here is 67%, while the retention rate is 87%.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Another factor to consider when contemplating which school to attend is the average number of students per faculty member. The following data was taken from 2013 data compiled by the NCES. All the schools listed below have identical student-to-faculty ratios. To break this tie, these three schools were ranked from larger to smaller student populations.

1. George Mason University

On average there are 16 students for every one faculty member. Additionally, the total student population at this university was around 33,900 in 2013. Of these students, roughly 11,900 were graduate students.

2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Around 31,200 students attended this school in 2013, of which around 7,170 were graduate degree seekers. These students also benefited from an average 16:1 ratio.

3. University of Virginia

Around 7,370 graduate students who attended here in 2013 were able to take advantage of the school's relatively low student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1. In the same year, there was a total student population of 23,464 with a faculty made up of roughly 2,430 full- and part-time instructors.

Virginia Schools Offering Ph.D. Degrees: At a Glance

School NameLocationSchool Type Programs OfferedArea Ranking
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VA4-year, publicPh.D. Degrees#3 Program Variety, #1 Graduate Tuition, #3 Graduation Rate, #1 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of VirginiaCharlottesville, VA4-year, publicPh.D. Degrees#1 Graduation Rate, #3 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond, VA4-year, publicPh.D. Degrees#1 Program Variety, #2 Graduate Tuition
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg, VA4-year, publicPh.D. Degrees#2 Program Variety, #3 Graduate Tuition, #2 Graduation Rate, #2 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
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Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Stanford
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts
  • School locations:
    • Cambridge
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Architecture
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
    • Computer Sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Legal
    • Liberal Arts and Humanities
    • Medical and Health Professions
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Visual and Performing Arts

Popular Schools