Springfield, Virginia (VA) Colleges and Universities

There are over 40 colleges and universities within the Springfield, VA, area. See how four of these schools stack up against each other to find the school for you.

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School Ranking Overview

While only one school -- a private for-profit institution -- is based out of Springfield, Virginia, numerous four-year universities, vocational schools and community colleges are located in nearby communities. This article compares four of these schools to help students find the right one for them; the top three of those are ranked in the categories below:

  • Program Variety
  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

No matter what field they're interested in, students can benefit from attending a school that offers a lot of program options, including areas of concentration or specialization. It gives them the opportunity to explore various subjects and perhaps take a wide range of classes to round out their college education. Of those compared, these three schools have the most program variety.

1. George Mason University

Home to 119 program options, George Mason University in Fairfax tops the list in this category. The public institution is located within ten miles of Springfield and awards bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, graduate certificates and doctorates. George Mason University offers the nation's largest doctoral program in public policy, a professional law program and multiple interdisciplinary programs. Other programs at the school include nursing, public administration, management, economics, biotechnology and creative writing.

2. Northern Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) offers 88 programs that give students the opportunity to earn undergraduate certificates or associate's degrees. This two-year public school, situated in Annandale less than ten miles from Springfield, is the state's largest -- and country's second largest -- community college. Students can pursue postsecondary studies in a range of fields, including massage therapy, interior design, engineering, automotive technology, music, paralegal studies, social sciences, veterinary technology, allied health and nursing. The college also operates the Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, a joint program with several area high schools and George Mason University that assists students in earning a bachelor's degree.

3. Marymount University

A private not-for-profit Catholic institution, Marymount University is within roughly 15 miles of Springfield in Arlington. Students can earn undergraduate and graduate certificates in addition to bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through the institution's 73 program offerings. Available areas of study include fashion design, criminal justice, forensic psychology and pastoral counseling. Career-oriented graduate programs include doctoral degrees in nursing practice and physical therapy as well as teaching licensure programs and an online master's degree in Catholic school leadership. Pre-professional programs in law, medicine and physical therapy are also available to students.

Net Price

Many aspiring college students are unable to pick a school without first considering the cost of attendance. According to 2012-2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the following institutions have the lowest undergraduate net prices of the four compared.

1. Northern Virginia Community College

NOVA comes out on top in this category for having the most reasonable net price of the profiled institutions. Students pay around $9,173 on an annual basis.

2. George Mason University

George Mason University has the second lowest net price; undergrads here can study for about $16,155 a year. As with students at other institutions in this article, George Mason students can seek to offset their educational expenses by applying for government or institutional financial aid.

3. Center for Employment Training - Alexandria

The Center for Employment Training (CET) is a private not-for-profit institution providing vocational certificate programs. Though the school has multiple campuses throughout the country, the closest to Springfield is the Alexandria, VA, location. It ranks third among the featured schools in this category for its net price of $18,584.

Graduation Rate

The quality level of education at a college or university can impact students' success both in and beyond the classroom. Graduation rates are useful to examine because they offer clues about what kind of academic experience students may have at a school. According to the NCES, the following three institutions have the highest graduation rates based on undergraduates who completed their programs within 150% of the normal amount of time.

1. Center for Employment Training - Alexandria

CET - Alexandria has a graduation rate of 68% -- the highest of the four compared institutions. This figure is based on the number of students who began their certificate programs in the 2010-2011 academic year (NCES). Among full-time students who enrolled in their first college program at CET in fall 2012, 80% returned the next fall (NCES). Based on stats like these, most students seem to be satisfied with the training the school offers them.

2. George Mason University

Based on full-time undergrads who began their postsecondary studies in fall 2007, George Mason University has the second highest graduation rate at 67%. The retention rate for students who entered a bachelor's degree program in fall 2012 and returned in the fall of 2013 was 87% -- an indication that the majority of students at George Mason University like the kind of education they're receiving.

3. Marymount University

Marymount University has a graduation rate of 58% for its students who entered their first degree or certificate program in fall 2007. In addition, 72% of undergrads who started a bachelor's degree program at the school in fall 2013 returned the following school year (NCES).

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

College students generally want to know they have a voice in the classroom and can get personal assistance from educators. Student-to-faculty ratios offer insight into just how feasible one-on-one interaction between instructors and students will be at a school. Stats from the NCES point to the following schools as having the lowest ratios of the compared institutions.

1. Marymount University

With a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1, Marymount University ranks first in this category. The small class sizes offered at the school should make one-on-one attention from professors commonplace. Students here learn from 162 full-time and 241 part-time educators, according to 2013 NCES figures.

2. George Mason University

George Mason University has a ratio of 16 students to every one faculty member, which suggests that it should be fairly easy for students to receive individual attention in the learning environment. As of 2013, the school employs 1,431 full-time and 1,125 adjunct professors (NCES).

3. Center for Employment Training - Alexandria

Rounding out this category is the Center for Employment Training in Alexandria. Its student-to-faculty ratio is 20:1; the 169 students at the campus are trained by five instructors, of which four are part-time employees (NCES).

Schools Near Springfield: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Center for Employment Training Alexandria, VA Private not-for-profit Undergraduate certificates #3 in Net Price, #1 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
George Mason University Fairfax, VA Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #1 in Program Variety, #2 in Net Price, #2 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Marymount University Arlington,VA Private not-for-profit Undergraduate and graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #3 in Program Variety, #3 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, VA Public Undergraduate certificates and associate's degrees #2 in Program Variety, #1 in Net Price
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