The Ivy Scholars guide to The University of Virginia’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Type: Public Research Institution
Population: 24,500 (16,500 undergrads)
Founded by Thomas Jefferson, who was also the primary designer for its 1,135 acre campus, the University of Virginia was founded as an institute for the pursuit of knowledge alone, based on Thomas Jefferson’s principles of lifelong learning and love of knowledge. The university today works to continue this vision, while grappling with the mixed legacy of Jefferson. It’s picturesque campus has served as an inspiration for the design of numerous other universities; in the US and abroad.
Year Founded: 1819
4 Year Graduation Rate: 87%
Gender Distribution: 55% female, 45% male
Acceptance Rate: 27%
Residency: 70% in state, 25% out of state, 5% international
Location Type: College Town
Schedule System: Semesters
Student/Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Average Class Size: 17
Demographics: 60% Caucasian, 14% Asian, 12% Other, 7% Hispanic, 7% Black
US News Rankings:
Average Applicant Pool: 36,800
Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 10,000
Average Number Enrolled: 3,800
Application Systems: Common App
Average GPA: 4.32 weighted
SAT Scores: 25th% – 1370, 75th% – 1530
ACT Scores: 25th% – 29, 75th% – 33
*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.
Demonstrated Interest: UVA does not consider demonstrated interest.
Recommendation Letter Policies: One letter from a counselor and one from a teacher of a core academic subject.
University of Virginia Essay Prompts:
UVA considers the following factors very important: course rigor, class rank, GPA, recommendations, character, and state residency. Important factors are test scores, essays, extracurriculars, and talent.
In-state applications are more likely to be accepted by UVA, and the majority of the student body is from Virginia. That is not to say Virginia residents will automatically gain access, but their admissions rate is near double that of out-of-states students (in 2019-2020 35% of in-state EA students were admitted, while only 15% of out-of-state students were). This is due to Virginia law requiring two-thirds of each entering class to be made up of Virginia residents.
UVA also practices additional review, where students meeting certain criteria will have their applications looked at a second time. These students are: legacy admits, development cases, first generation students, athletic recruits, children of faculty members, and candidates for the ROTC. Recruited athletes do generally have a slightly easier time getting admitted overall, though they must still have competitive profiles.
What is UVA Looking For?
UVA practices holistic review, and has no automatic cutoff where students below certain GPA levels or test scores are automatically rejected. Every applicant’s file is read in full, multiple times, before a decision is reached. That said, having very low grades or test scores makes your chances of admission increasingly unlikely.
UVA seeks to recruit top-performing students, both from within Virginia and nationally. Further, they want students who will fit with the ideals and vision of the university, especially the honor code. Indeed, when students apply to the school they must acknowledge that they have read the honor code and pledge to abide by it if they are admitted.
UVA has begun a new initiative to increase recruitment and support of low and middle-income students, along with first generation students. This includes increases in scholarship funding, and a renewed pledge to meet all demonstrated financial need.UVA is also need blind, meaning they do not factor a student’s financial need into their admissions decision.
The school is further planning a new school for Data Science, and are actively looking for graduate students for the program. They plan to add both an undergraduate degree and certificate program once the school is established. They will be looking for talented students to fill the first class of this school.
While UVA does not conduct interviews or consider demonstrated interest, they began an Early Decision program in 2019. Thus, if UVA is your first choice school, this program will be a great help to you, as the binding commitment will make them consider students who they might pass over in EA pools. This will make EA admissions more competitive, however.
Admission to UVA is much easier if you are a resident of Virginia, financial aid is better for in-state residents as well. Out of state residents who are unable to apply early should have some method of setting themselves apart, either through extracurriculars or other means.
UVA is described by some as “predictable” in their admissions process. While this designation may change as they adjust to ED applicants, in practice it means that students with high grades in challenging classes and high test scores have a very good chance of getting admitted so long as they don’t tank on another section of the application. Thus, the first and most important step to securing admissions to UVA is to ensure your grades and test scores are on par with what they expect.
The essays are important as well, for they are used to determine whether or not prospective students will fit in with UVA’s culture and values. UVA is an old institution, with long standing customs and a well established culture, and they want to continue nurturing that with each new class of students. Essays, especially the school-specific ones, demonstrate to UVA that a student is compatible with their vision, as well as able to write at the collegiate level.
UVA is very proud of and devoted to their traditions, especially their honor system. Make sure you know what you are signing up for and that you agree with the principles of the honor system before deciding to attend school at UVA.
Courses of Study:
AP Credit Policies:
Computer Science Options:
Additional Specialty Programs:
Programs for High Schoolers:
ams for High Schoolers:
Mission and Values:
UVA has both traditional dormitories, and three residential colleges. The residential colleges have their own application systems, and admission is decided on by current residents. The traditional dorms are commonly called the “old dorms” and the “new dorms.” 54 4th year undergraduates are invited to live on “The Lawn” each year, and it is considered a great honor. This building is near the center of campus, and a number of professors live there as well.
Campus & Surrounding Area:
30% of the student body is involved in greek life, including social, service, and academic organizations.
Yearly Cost of Attendance:
UVA has programs to provide need-based financial aid, and it requires students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for eligibility. Some merit scholarships and outside aid are available.
Scholarships are awarded to students primarily on the basis of outstanding achievement. There are a number of privately endowed need-based scholarships available. There are a number of more selective scholarships open to students who meet specific criteria. None of the scholarships require separate applications; students are entered for consideration when they apply. As funds are limited, students who apply earlier have a better chance of receiving funding.