RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The U.S. News and World Report released its annual ranking of the best universities and colleges in the United States Monday, which saw some major shifts among Virginia’s schools.

The rankings, which are released every year in mid-September, can have an enormous influence on students choosing schools to apply to in the Fall.

Unlike many other states, Virginia’s top-ranking schools are all public universities, with the exception of the commonwealth’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), some of which are private.

The Best in the Old Dominion

Topping the list, as it has for years, was the University of Virginia, which ranked 25th overall, and 3rd among public universities, as the top 20 are dominated primarily by exclusive private universities with hefty price tags.

That’s one place better than the university did in 2021 for both rankings, a fact the university celebrated after the results were released.

Virginia’s other top-ranking school, on the other hand, saw its ranking slide. The College of William & Mary, the oldest public university in the country, ranked 39th overall in 2021, but fell to 41st this year. Similarly, it fell from the 10th ranked public university to 13th in 2022.

In a statement following the announcement of the rankings, the college spent its opening line on money, celebrating the “highest alumni giving rate of any public university.”

The school’s overall ranking wasn’t mentioned until the third paragraph.

However, the college offered an explanation for the slide in rankings, saying that the college was penalized for refusing to raise tuition during the pandemic. The financial component accounts for 10% of the institution’s overall score, and William & Mary had one of the lowest among top-ranking schools.

“That position is due in part to the decision to hold tuition flat for students in recent years,” a representative of the college wrote. “While an important step to support W&M students and families, especially given the financial challenges experienced by many during the pandemic, and recent rising inflation, the decision has had an impact on the timeline for key priorities like hiring and larger increases in need-based financial aid.”

Other notable inclusions were Virginia Tech (#62 overall), George Mason (#137), JMU (#151) and VCU (#166).

Virginia Commonwealth University was recognized in particular for its fine arts programs, with its sculpture and printmaking programs ranking at #1 and #2 respectively.

VUU Rises, Hampton Slips

Among Virginia’s four ranked HBCU’s, there have been some major shakeups in recent years.

Hampton University has long been considered one of the best HBCU’s in the country, but it fell this year from the number 4 slot to 6th place. That still makes it the best HBCU in Virginia, but the university has not yet issued a statement on this year’s ranking.

Norfolk State University, on the other hand, rose one place from 20th to 19th. Virginia State University, the other publicly funded HBCU in Virginia, likewise rose from 29th place to 26th.

Finally, Virginia Union, located in Richmond’s northside, continued its rapid ascent in the HBCU rankings.

VUU was unranked – meaning it didn’t even qualify for the U.S. News list – as recently as 2018. But since 2019, when it was first ranked at #72, it’s jumped in the rankings every year, hitting #43 in 2022.

“Virginia Union is making dramatic progress toward our goal of being the country’s top HBCU,” said Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, President of Virginia Union. “This move forward is a testimony to the hard work of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Working together, they are propelling this University forward, even while grappling with the pandemic.