Best West Virginia Colleges & Universities

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West Virginia is in a unique position when it comes to its higher education needs. The state is shifting from its industrial economy, and as a result, most jobs in the state will require a different skillset. West Virginia anticipates that by 2018, an additional 20,000 jobs will require a post-secondary credential, and 49 percent of all jobs will require some college attainment. West Virginia is prepared to meet this demand for more higher education with numerous colleges, universities and two-year institutions. This guide aims to help aspiring students learn more about West Virginia colleges. We looked at important factors, such as tuition, financial aid, alumni incomes, student loan debt and programs, to help with college planning. This guide can help students get a jumpstart on their college experience.

West Virginia College Leaderboard: Rankings

West Virginia offers prospective students a large selection of colleges. To help make the decision on which college to attend a little easier, we have created a rankings list of the best West Virginia colleges. We took into account some of the more common considerations, including tuition, student-to-faculty ratios and future earnings potential. The following list uses those and several other factors to create a comprehensive overview of schools in the state.

Rankings Methodology Minimum Qualifications
  • Located in West Virginia
  • Public or private not-for-profit
  • Institutionally accredited
  • At least 10 total programs
Ranking Metrics
  • Median annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering the college
  • In-state tuition and fees for undergraduates
  • Student/teacher ratio
  • 6-year graduation rate
  • % of students receiving institutional financial aid (first-time, full-time undergrads)
  • Average amount of institutional aid awarded per student (first-time, full-time undergrads)
  • Availability of placement services upon completion
  • Availability of academic/career counseling services
  • Availability of employment services
  • 3-year student cohort loan default rate
Data Sources

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS): National Center for Education Statistics

Latest 'Final Release' data available as of Fall 2016 College Scorecard: U.S. Department of Education

2-Year Programs

Cabell County Career Technology Center View School Profile $ 82% 99.82 $33,000 3:1 8% N/A 0 12 Yes No
West Virginia Northern Community College View School Profile $ 12% 99.3 $23,600 16:1 15% N/A 3 35 Yes Yes
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College View School Profile $ 13% 99.05 N/A 25:1 8% N/A 0 57 Yes Yes
Mountwest Community and Technical College View School Profile $ 7% 98.86 N/A 18:1 12% N/A 2 46 Yes Yes
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College View School Profile $ 9% 98.77 $25,200 13:1 6% N/A 0 37 No Yes
New River Community and Technical College View School Profile $ 10% 98.27 N/A 15:1 9% N/A 0 31 Yes Yes
Ben Franklin Career Center View School Profile $ 16% 98.25 $24,000 12:1 1% N/A 0 14 Yes No
Pierpont Community and Technical College View School Profile $ 12% 98.19 N/A 15:1 14% N/A 1 35 Yes Yes
BridgeValley Community & Technical College View School Profile $ N/A 97.45 N/A 12:1 N/A N/A 0 74 No Yes
Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College View School Profile $ 15% 86 N/A 15:1 11% N/A 0 23 Yes No

4-Year Programs

West Virginia Wesleyan College View School Profile $$$$ 58% 99.74 $43,100 13:1 100% 78% 0 65 Yes Yes
Bethany College View School Profile $$$$ 49% 98.22 $40,900 11:1 98% 62% 0 30 Yes Yes
Wheeling Jesuit University View School Profile $$$$ 61% 97.22 $43,300 12:1 97% 63% 6 40 No Yes
West Virginia University Institute of Technology View School Profile $ 24% 96.74 $43,900 12:1 66% 62% 0 27 Yes Yes
West Virginia University View School Profile $ 56% 96.2 $43,900 21:1 57% 86% 13 140 Yes Yes
Davis & Elkins College View School Profile $$$$ 48% 96.06 $35,900 12:1 94% 58% 0 56 Yes Yes
Alderson Broaddus University View School Profile $$$ 42% 94.42 $43,400 16:1 99% 43% 1 33 Yes No
Ohio Valley University View School Profile $$ 44% 94.04 $34,000 10:1 86% 32% 1 22 Yes Yes
University of Charleston View School Profile $$ 41% 93.75 $42,000 15:1 90% 61% 6 36 Yes Yes
Shepherd University View School Profile $ 43% 93.07 $38,500 16:1 45% 98% 1 31 Yes Yes
Marshall University View School Profile $ 44% 92.65 $35,100 19:1 58% 77% 4 105 Yes Yes
Fairmont State University View School Profile $ 34% 90.83 $34,200 15:1 39% 67% 5 41 Yes Yes
West Liberty University View School Profile $ 41% 90.23 $33,200 14:1 38% 72% 0 26 Yes Yes
Concord University View School Profile $ 38% 89.01 $32,900 15:1 52% 38% 3 28 Yes Yes
Glenville State College View School Profile $ 30% 88.12 $31,400 16:1 51% 47% 1 18 Yes Yes
Bluefield State College View School Profile $ 25% 86.22 $29,400 15:1 33% 38% 4 18 Yes Yes
West Virginia State University View School Profile $ 23% 86 $29,500 16:1 19% 41% 0 25 Yes Yes

West Virginia College Planning and Outreach Initiatives

West Virginia is working on preparing its population for college in order to compete in the changing economy. To that end, the state has developed several programs that raise awareness about every aspect of the college experience, from planning to graduation. Below are a few of the state's helpful programs.

5-Star Challenge

This is West Virginia's "call to action" for higher education institutions to develop certain standards that recognize and accommodate students who are veterans. The West Virginia Office of Veterans Education and Training will issue a Challenge Coin to schools that develop these standards in five areas. The areas include institutional leadership regarding commitment to veterans, improving college access and affordability for service members, increasing academic assistance, social and culture support, and community cooperation for helping veterans reintegrate into the community.

Higher Education Readiness Officers (HEROs)

The HEROs program is aimed at helping students find ways to apply to and plan for college. One reason why students might not go to college is due to a lack of college culture around them; this might be because many of their friends or family members aren't planning to attend or never did attend college. With no one to provide help or advice, it can be tough for a student to get into the college mind-set. The HEROs program helps create a college culture by finding students in high school to act as "HEROs" and support fellow students who are interested in going to college.

College Goal Sunday West Virginia

One of the key hurdles to going to college is paying for it. There are many financial aid options, but most of them revolve around the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out this form can be very challenging, especially for those in unconventional living or family situations. The point of College Goal Sunday West Virginia is to provide students with assistance in filling out the FAFSA. Students can sign up and attend workshops for free in order to receive guidance in maximizing their financial aid awards.

Cost Analysis of Colleges in West Virginia

The cost of college in West Virginia depends on two big numbers: a school's tuition and a financial aid award. The tuition rate must be considered along with a potential financial aid award in order to obtain a clearer picture of what college will actually cost. The following charts provide average tuition and financial aid data for West Virginia colleges as well as a comparison of how the state stacks up to the rest of the country.

Source: CollegeBoard

Source: IPEDS

Source: IPEDS

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.

* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

West Virginia's Most Affordable Colleges

In order to figure out which schools are the most affordable, a prospective college student should take more than just tuition into consideration. A school's financial aid award also matters, since it can offset the overall cost of attendance and provide a net price for a given school. Some of West Virginia's most affordable schools are ranked in the following list.

West Virginia College Net Price vs. National Average

Average Annual Net Price

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

West Virginia Colleges With Top Alumni Earnings

Most students attend college with the expectation that a degree or credential can potentially increase future earnings. In order to find the best schools with respect to long-term earning potential after graduation, we examined how much alumni made ten years after they enrolled in college. The six schools listed below came out on top.

West Virginia Alumni Salaries vs. National Average

Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After Entering College

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Colleges in West Virginia That Produce the Least Student Debt

The number of students graduating with large amounts of debt has garnered a lot of attention lately, and a burdensome debt load can negate a high starting salary. When choosing a school, prospective students should consider schools that tend to produce graduates with minimal debt. The following list shows the top six schools in West Virginia with the least amount of student loan debt.

West Virginia College Grad Debt Vs. National Average

Median Federal Student
Loan Debt After Graduation

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Cost of Living for West Virginia College Students

For most students, tuition is just one of the major components of attending college. Other major considerations are the cost of living and overall living expenses. Depending on the surrounding area, the cost of attending a school can be drastically more or less expensive. For West Virginia students, there is good news: the average cost of living in West Virginia is almost 14 percent lower than the national average. Read on for more cost comparisons of certain areas in West Virginia.

area composite index housing groceries utilities transportation health care misc.
Statewide Average 97% 94% 94% 93% 112% 90% 98%
Clarksburg 96% 104% 89% 97% 105% 83% 91%
Martinsburg-Berkeley County 94% 79% 94% 91% 133% 93% 93%
Morgantown 102% 100% 99% 92% 100% 95% 110%

Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research

College Accreditation in West Virginia

Ensuring a school is accredited is a vitally important step of the college search. Accreditation is validation by an independent organization that assures a specific school's academics meet certain standards. Attending an accredited institution typically means that credits will transfer, more financial aid options will be available, graduate schools will recognize the degree and employers will feel confident that a graduate has learned what they should have during their time in a specific program. Schools can be accredited on the institutional level as well as the programmatic level. Most schools in West Virginia have their institutional accreditation provided by the Higher Learning Commission. Below are examples of accrediting organizations and schools at programmatic level.

West Virginia College City Spotlight


Founded in 1871, Huntington is now the second largest city in West Virginia. Originally a manufacturing city, it now has a more diverse economy with industries of health care, finance, services and tourism. While not an average college town, Huntington is strongly influenced by Marshall University, and residents take great pride in the school.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

HuntingtonMarshall University Public $8,402 $35,100
Marshall offers more than 100 degree programs, including business, information technology, engineering and pharmacy, for its student population of about 13,000. Close attention is paid to students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 19-to-1 and an average class size of 21. Student athletes will find that Marshall teams are quite beloved, especially in light of the tragic loss of the 1970 college football team.
HuntingtonMountwest Community and Technical College Public $7,549 N/A
Originally founded as a college within Marshall University, today Mountwest offers a large selection of programs-over 50 in areas one might expect, such as criminal justice and advertising, as well as others that are unique, like maritime technology and biomedical instrumentation technology. Free tutoring is available to students who need an extra boost. With three campuses in Huntington, Mountwest makes learning as convenient as possible.

Morgantown is the county seat of Monongalia County, one of the fastest growing counties in West Virginia. Morgantown is ideally situated-nearly 50 percent of the population in the United States lives within 500 miles of it. The city is home to many large employers, such as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and West Virginia University (WVU). Given WVU's influence on Morgantown, college students will certainly enjoy the area's college town feel.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

MorgantownWest Virginia University Public $10,449 $43,900
Founded in 1867 as a public land grant university, WVU already enjoys ?R1? research status, the highest level of research activity a university can obtain as described by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. Given its research prominence, it should come as no surprise that 85 percent of the university's teaching faculty have the highest academic degree in their field.
MorgantownWest Virginia Junior College, Morgantown Private for-profit $18,668 $21,500
This junior college has been around for more than 120 years. The many students who enjoy the wide variety of courses and programs also have the luxury of attending a school with a small campus feel. The school offers a personalized level of instruction and attention in many academic areas of study, including dental assisting, business, legal assisting and pharmacy tech.

Source: College Scorecard

Resources for Prospective West Virginia College Students

Getting into college can be stressful. Fortunately, there are many online resources available to help students figure out what to study in college, how to pay for it and how to make the most of their higher education. Below are a few resources specific to West Virginia.

College Foundation of West Virginia

This foundation is an in-depth and easy-to-navigate college and career planning resource for students, families and educators.

Community and Technical College System of West Virginia

This system provides academic and career resources to students and educators within West Virginia's community college system.


Smart529 is West Virginia's 529 college savings plan, an investment plan that receives tax benefits to encourage students and families to save for college.

West Virginia Gear Up

The primary objective of West Virginia's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP, is to provide the necessary resources and support to high school students so that they may pursue a college education.

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

This commission oversees all the public, four-year colleges and universities in West Virginia.

West Virginia Office of Veterans Education and Training

The mission of the Office of Veterans Education and Training is to see that all of West Virginia’s veterans, National Guard members and soldiers are informed of their higher education rights and benefits and able to make the most of them.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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