West Virginia Colleges & Universities

Trying to decide if college in this beautiful state is right for you? Read on to find out some facts and figures about schools in West Virginia.

Education in the Mountain State: Colleges in West Virginia: West Virginia--the nation's 41st largest state--is the home of a number of public and private higher education institutions. Nestled between the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, this mountainous coal mining state may be the perfect environment for your college education.

Top Colleges in West Virginia: Just over twenty colleges and universities have their campuses located on West Virginia grounds. Among these, the five schools ranked most highly for overall academic excellence are:

  • • West Virginia University
  • • Marshall University
  • • Fairmont State University
  • • Mountain State University
  • • Shepherd University

West Virginia Schools: A Student Body Snapshot: Schools in West Virginia include institutions of varying size and student body demographics. West Virginia University - the state's largest university - has a total enrollment of about 26,000, with nearly 20,000 of those students in the undergraduate student body. Smaller institutions - such as Fairmont State University, Mountain State University, and Shepherd University - have undergraduate enrollments of about 4,000. Marshall University falls in the middle, with an enrollment of almost 10,000 undergraduates.

More than 83% of students at these West Virginia colleges report their ethnicities as White non-Hispanic, with Black non-Hispanic being the second most prevalent ethnic group (2.9%-9.8%). While many of the top universities have roughly equal percentages of male and female undergraduates, Mountain State University attracts more female students, resulting in a 2-to-1 female-to-male ratio on campus.

The Cost of a West Virginia Education: Residents of West Virginia will find a college education to be very affordable, with an average annual in-state tuition of just under $5,000; however, some private institutions do not offer reduced tuition to state residents. Out-of-state college students will incur a higher--but generally still moderate--cost, with an average annual tuition of just over $15,000; the range of out-of-state tuition extends from around $9,000 up to $24,000. For students who choose to live on campus, the price tag for room and board averages just over $7,000; these costs are rather uniform across both public and private institutions. (All figures reported are for the 2010-2011 academic year.)

Working in West Virginia: Making Your Education Pay: If you're considering West Virginia as a place to find a job after your complete your degree, the following information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics may be useful to you. In May of 2009, West Virginia reported 704,310 employees, with a total mean annual wage of $34,580. The job categories in which the most individuals were employed were Office and Administrative Support (mean annual wage of $27,270), Sales (mean annual wage of $26,680), and Food Preparation and Serving (mean annual wage of $18,520). However, the top-paying job categories included Management (mean annual wage of $72,050), Architecture and Engineering (mean annual wage of $59,730), and Legal (mean annual wage of $58,430).

With a variety of affordable options, West Virginia has something for everyone. Is it the right place for you?

The writer Dave Raiser is a doctoral candidate in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. In addition to substantial experience in biomedical research, his industry experience includes work for a biological and clinical data search engine company, a biotechnology review blog, and an idea-to-market inventor services company. Dave has bachelor's degrees in biology and music from the University of Richmond.

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