College of William & Mary - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
College of William & Mary
William & Mary is the second oldest college in the nation, and it attracts...

College of William & Mary

Williamsburg, Virginia

William & Mary is the second oldest college in the nation, and it attracts attention for its research initiatives and talented student body. Students at William & Mary are well-rounded individuals that are committed to both academic achievement and service to others. 

Student Profile

Fall 2014 Enrollment
6,299 undergraduate students
99% of undergrad students are full time
44% male — 56% female
30% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2014-2015 Academic Year
141 full-time faculty
179 part-time faculty
12 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

74% of students live on campus

Retention Fall 2014

95% of students began in Fall 2013 and returned in Fall 2014 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate 2014

90% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 5%
Hispanic/Latino 9%
Black or African American 7%
White 59%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 8%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 4%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 7%

First Year Experience Initiatives

The First Year Experience (FYE) at William & Mary is made up of four components called “Essential Initiatives.” Each of the Essential Initiatives is considered an integral part of both the FYE and the undergraduate experience as a whole.

  • Making a Tribe Choice—Be Upstanding!: The first essential initiative involves intervention. William & Mary functions as one body, comprised of individuals. The University calls upon students to speak up and intervene if another student is faced with an unhealthy situation. By observing this step of the FYE, students come together as a community of learners and supporters.
  • Community Values and Responsibilities: The second program is an extension of the first. After orientation, members of the Honor and Student Conduct Council put on a series of sketches that outline some of the social challenges freshman face. Students are given tips on how to avoid said dangers.
  • Tribe Unity: In this initiative, students from diverse backgrounds share their experiences and perspective with incoming freshman.
  • Healthful Relationships: The final installment is a recap of the all the programs. William & Mary students share tips on how to maintain healthy relationships, reduce sexual abuse, and give support to survivors of abuse.

Freshman Seminar Requirement

Every student is required to take and pass a freshman seminar. In fact, students cannot declare a major until they have fulfilled this requirement. Freshman seminars introduce students to college-level academics. Through a discussion-intensive curriculum, freshman gain skills in critical thinking, writing, and higher level conceptualization. These skills create a solid foundation for a successful undergraduate experience.

COLL 400: The Capstone

The last step of the Arts & Sciences undergraduate program is the capstone experience. A capstone is a project that allows a student to turn independent inquiry into original work. Individuals typically complete their capstone during their senior year, and the subject of the work is most often related to a student’s major. By the end of a capstone experience, W&M wants students to be able to answer the following question: “What is a liberal arts education?”

Study Abroad

Study abroad is the experience of a lifetime. Students that go abroad gain cross-cultural communication skills as well as an appreciation for another country’s customs and language. William & Mary has several great abroad programs, a handful of which are directed by or connected to faculty members within the Department of Modern Languages. Below are a few of the current programs available:

Summer Program in Beijing: The summer program in Beijing is worth 12 credits and lasts 6 weeks. Students enrolled in the program take courses in Chinese language, literature, and culture. Aside from classes, students go on tours of rural and urban China and even have the chance to participate in a martial arts class. Interested students must have one year’s experience in Mandarin in order to apply.

Exchange Program with L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Lille, France: French majors and minors with an interest in social sciences are invited to apply to the French exchange program. Participants of the program take courses in economics, French politics, and sociology.

Summer Program in Florence, Italy: The summer Italian program lasts for a month and is worth 8 credits. Students enrolled in the program live with host families and take a course on Italian language. Not only to participants get to enjoy the culture-rich city of Florence, but they also take part in weekend excursions to destinations like Cinque Terre and Venice. There is no prerequisite for participation.

Semester Program is La Plata, Argentina: The Argentina program is a full-immersion experience. Students live with host families and take classes at the public university. The program offers a unique opportunity to intern with the Comisiòn Provincial por la Memoria. The internship is related to human rights education.

  • The full list of programs is as follows:
  • Semester Program in Beijing, China
  • Summer Program in Montpelier, France
  • Exchange Program at Kanazawa University in Japan
  • Exchange Program at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan
  • Akita International University Exchange
  • Summer Program is Càdiz, Spain
  • Semester Program is Sevilla, Spain
  • Summer Program is St. Petersburg, Russia

General Education Requirements

All students will take a variety of courses that cross all disciplines. This is to ensure that each student graduates as a well-rounded, intelligent, capable individual. The seven areas for courses include:

  • Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • World Cultures and History
  • Literature and History of the Arts
  • Creative and Performing Arts
  • Philosophical, Religious, and Social Thought

Other Requirements Include: 

Foreign Language: All students must demonstrate competency in a foreign language at the 202 level.

Digital Information Literacy Requirement: Students must take and pass a course that outlines the foundations of digital literacy.

Lower Division Writing: Students must complete a lower division writing course. This is typically accomplished through a “W” freshman seminar or by taking Writing 101.

Major Writing Requirement: All W&M students are required to take writing within their major. Each department has specific rules for writing, so requirements may be different between majors.

Major Computing Requirement: Finally, students must take and pass a computing requirement within their major.

Educational Programs

College Partnership for Kids
College Partnership for Kids (CPK) is a volunteer effort that connects W&M students to local public schools. CPK allows W&M to work with local students, both one-on-one and in a group. The exchange is meant to improve confidence and self-esteem among children. There are 325 W&M students currently working with CPK, and the University logs nearly 500 hours of work per week.

Project Phoenix
Project Phoenix, also known as ProPho is a tutoring and mentoring service. The program allows W&M students to work with students from Berkeley and Toano middle schools. Volunteers work Tuesdays and Wednesdays and lead mentoring activities that take place on select Saturdays. The activities generally focus on one of five areas: community engagement, career exploration, culture education, health/fitness, and life skills.

Knowledge Creation

William & Mary is proud to offer students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty on research projects. Through a $300,000 grant, W&M was able to launch a program that will synthesize faculty research into every undergraduate course. This will open doors for undergraduates, who will have more chances to get involved with research initiatives.

Cohen Career Center

The Cohen Career Center is the go-to resource for all things career and internship related. Students are invited to stop by and take advantage of all the center has to offer. Some of the resources include interview and resume tips, help finding an internship, and advice about career decisions.

Local Internship Program

Local internships allow students to gain hands on experience while still attending school. Students involved in this program typically work 7-10 hours a week. William & Mary has developed internships with several different organizations in the Williamsburg area, and there are positions available across most disciplines. Before students can apply to positions, they must attend an orientation session to gather all of the necessary information.


Admissions Fall 2014

14,552 Total Applicants
4,805 Total Admissions
1,511 Total Freshmen Enrollment

33.02% of applicants admitted

Freshmen Profile Fall 2014

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 640 730
SAT Math 630 740
SAT Writing 620 720
ACT Composite 29 33
ACT Math 27 33
ACT English 29 34
ACT Writing 6 10


Net Price Calculator


  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $10,237 $34,132
Fees $5,228 $5,784
Total $15,465 $39,916
Room and Board (on campus) $10,344 $10,344
Room Only $6,398 $6,398
Board Only $3,946 $3,946
Estimated Total On Campus $25,809 $50,260


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

53% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving any financial aid
26% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving student loan aid

$16,386 Average amount of federal state local or institutional grant aid received
$6,842 Average amount of student loan aid received by full-time first-time undergraduates

Get a free sample of the Colleges of Distinction 2017 guidebook!

Subscribe to receive a free sample of the Colleges of Distinction 2017 guidebook with:

– Must-Read Advice

– College Checklist

– 330+ School Profiles

Plus, we'll send you 3 critical checklists for college-bound students!

You have Successfully Subscribed!