Virginia Wesleyan University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Virginia Wesleyan University
A meaningful education in a small coastal setting is exactly what one finds at...

Virginia Wesleyan University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

A Virginia Wesleyan University education involves developing relationships, learning new skills, cultivating new ways of looking at the world, stretching in new ways, and making connections.


That kind of meaningful education happens best . . .


– at a place where students have a multitude of opportunities both on and off campus

– within a community where values matter and where the value of education is linked to civic engagement

– on a small campus at which students receive personal attention, guidance, and advising, and

– in an inspiring setting on a 300-acre, park-like campus just minutes from the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.


The mission of Virginia Wesleyan University is to engage students of diverse ages, religions, ethnic origins, and backgrounds in a rigorous liberal arts education that prepares them to meet the challenges of life in a complex and rapidly changing world. In this endeavor, the University employs a wide range of approaches to teaching and learning, providing many opportunities to connect the study of the liberal arts with practical learning experiences. In accord with its United Methodist heritage, Virginia Wesleyan aspires to be a supportive community that is committed to social responsibility, ethical conduct, higher learning, and religious freedom.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
1,402 undergraduate students
95% of undergrad students are full time
36% male — 64% female
27.2% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
92 full-time faculty
37 part-time faculty
12.8 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
87% of first year students live on campus
58.7% of all students live on campus

School Location

Virginia Wesleyan’s beautiful 300-acre campus is a refreshing, wooded oasis in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, VA. The campus is both in the middle of a bustling metropolitan area and just 15 minutes away from the beach.

High-Impact Practices

High-Impact Practices Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities X
Writing-Intensive Courses X
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning X
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X

Retention Fall 2015

65% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate Fall 2015

47.3% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 1%
Hispanic/Latino 8%
Black or African American 24%
White 54%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 5%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 6%


Virginia Wesleyan University Marlins work hard and play hard. With 22 varsity teams, VWU is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Virginia Wesleyan’s Softball Team garnered the 2017 NCAA DIII National Championship! With nationally ranked teams and committed and caring coaching staff, VWU student-athletes get the best of both worlds—academic and athletic.

Other Information

Virginia Wesleyan University is Coastal Virginia’s premier university of the liberal arts and sciences. Situated on a 300-acre park-like campus in Virginia Beach, the University annually enrolls approximately 1,500 students in undergraduate, graduate, and online programs. In accordance with its United Methodist heritage, the University aspires to be a supportive community that is committed to social responsibility, ethical conduct, higher learning, and religious freedom.

More Distinctions

  • Chosen as one of the nation’s best by The Princeton Review and featured in its guide: The Best 381 Colleges: 2017 Edition.

  • Selected by The Princeton Review as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada; profiled in its Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition.

  • Named among the top tier of National Liberal Arts Colleges and recognized as one of the most diverse institutions in the country in the 2014 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges guide.

  • Recognized as one of the top eight liberal arts colleges in the country for veterans by U.S. News & World Report in its 2014 rankings of the Best Colleges for Veterans.

  • Named to the 2016 list of Military Friendly School designation by G.I. Jobs, the premier magazine for military personnel transitioning to civilian life.

  • In January 2016, Virginia Wesleyan University President Scott D. Miller became a charter signatory of the Climate Commitment, a carbon neutrality and climate resilience initiative created by Second Nature, a  Boston-based organization that sets new standards for climate leadership in higher education. The College is also a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

  • Virginia Wesleyan University Dining Services is one of a handful of Virginia colleges and universities to be designated as a “Virginia Green Restaurant” by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. To qualify, restaurants (or dining halls) must minimize the use of disposable foodservice products, recycle grease, recycle and reduce waste, use water efficiently, and conserve energy.

  • Virginia Wesleyan’s beautiful 300-acre campus is home to an old-growth beech forest that is listed on the Council of Independent Colleges' site for the Historic Campus Architecture Project. It is a sustainable ecological system with several acres of mature hardwoods and an undisturbed understory.

Life-changing.” That’s how many students describe the experiences available to them at Virginia Wesleyan University. The University employs a wide range of approaches to teaching and learning and provides opportunities to connect the study of the liberal arts with practical learning experiences on campus, in the Coast Virginia region, and throughout the world.

The Extra Mile

Students are exposed to a myriad of internship, study-away, and undergraduate research experiences through The Lighthouse: Center for Exploration & Discovery. The Lighthouse is a one-stop shop to help students gain experiences that pave the way for success. Some past experiences have included: taking photographs in New Zealand, visiting film studios in Hollywood, doing biology experiments in Belize, experiencing theatre in New York, studying ecotourism in Maui, and doing service learning in Ghana.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries X
Choral groups X
Concert band  
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band  
Literary magazine X
Marching band  
Model UN X
Music ensembles X
Musical theater X
Pep band  
Radio station X
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station  

Involved Faculty

Virginia Wesleyan professors are respected scientists. They are published authors and musicians. They are experts on environmental ethics, public relations, Buddhist philosophy, criminal behavior, supply-chain management, and Irish literature. But most of all, they are mentors and friends who develop meaningful relationships with the students whose lives they touch.

The Liberal Arts Education

As a liberal arts institution, Virginia Wesleyan embraces the values inherent in a liberal education—an education dedicated to developing the open-minded, disciplined reflection necessary not only to professional success, but also to a life of personal accomplishment and social commitment. Classes are small, and students are expected to engage their fellow students and faculty in an active learning environment. They develop intellectual confidence and independent thinking skills as well as respect for others, intellectual humility in the face of complexity, and openness to a better argument.  

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy X
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages X
History X
Humanities X
Mathematics X
Philosophy X
Sciences (biological or physical) X
Social science X

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 180 220 82 3 0 0 0 485

There is no excuse for becoming one with the futon at Virginia Wesleyan. From the annual Mud Games and Seafood Party in the Dell to Greek Life, intramural sports, and community service opportunities, there is always something to keep both the body and soul active at VWU.

Student Activities

Students at Virginia Wesleyan discover just how rich and valuable the campus experience can be. There are many student clubs and organizations available to engage interests and ignite passions—everything from The Marlin Chronicle student newspaper and Habitat for Humanity to the Wesleyan Singers and Marlins Vote. There’s something for everyone; the Wesleyan Activities Council, a student programming board, brings a steady stream of musicians, comedians, speakers, and other entertainment to campus to keep students’ days full of opportunities.


Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

Coed dorms X
Men’s dorms X
Women’s dorms X
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing X
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing X
Wellness housing X
Other housing options  

Career Services

The University’s Career Development & Internship Program offers counseling services to help students find the right major and gain the most benefit from their liberal arts education. This is accomplished through externships; internships and appropriate part-time/seasonal employment; assistance in preparing for an effective job search or graduate school application; and on-campus employer recruitment events.

Prepared for the World

Providing the foundation for a good career, however, is only one part of a Virginia Wesleyan education. First and foremost, Wesleyan seeks to prepare each student to be a Renaissance citizen—an honorable, caring, and culturally literate person who will lead a good and reflective life in service to family and community. This is the transformative Wesleyan experience.

Alumni Network

Virginia Wesleyan students are connected to a network of nearly 10,000 Marlin alumni across the country and the world. Graduates represent a wide range of professional backgrounds, gladly sharing their knowledge and experience with current students.


Admissions Fall 2015

1,850 Total Applicants
1,712 Total Admissions
349 Total Freshmen Enrollment

92.54% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Priority: Mar 1

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA
Level of applicant’s interest

Standardized test scores
Extracurricular activities

Application Essay
Character/personal qualities
First generation
Alumni/ae relation
Volunteer work
Work experience

Freshmen Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 430 550
SAT Math 430 540
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 17 26
ACT Math 17 24
ACT English 17 24
ACT Writing    

The Admissions Process

Virginia Wesleyan University seeks to enroll qualified students from diverse social, religious, racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds. Admission is based solely on the applicant’s academic and personal qualifications. Factors that are considered include grades, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities. Virginia Wesleyan requires either an SAT 1 or ACT score. If the applicant has taken the SAT multiple times, the Office of Enrollment Services will  take the highest individual Reading & Writing and Math scores from all tests taken. A high school diploma is required (GED accepted), and proof of English proficiency is required for all international applicants. Virginia Wesleyan considers applications on a rolling-admission basis. Applicants can expect notification regarding admission within two weeks after the University receives a completed application and its supporting documents. Priority for spring freshman applications is January 1; for fall freshman applications, March 1. Prospective students are encouraged to visit VWU’s beautiful 300-acre campus for a tour and to meet with an enrollment counselor.




Tuition $32,636
Fees $650
Total $33,286
Room and Board (on campus) $8,594
Estimated Total On Campus $41,880


Average Financial Aid Packages 2014-15 Final

$27,262 First year students
$22,004 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-15 Final

71.2% on average, the percentage of need that was met
18% of financial need students that had need fully met

$22,004 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$7,926 Average need-based loan

Scholarship Information

A Virginia Wesleyan University education is made affordable by a generous merit scholarship program. Awards made to freshmen range from $8,000 to $24,000 per year, and are renewable through the student’s fourth year of attendance.  Prospective students are encouraged to contact an enrollment counselor before applying for admission in order to learn the value of the award for which they will qualify. More than 99% of full-time day students receive financial assistance, and the average aid package has a value of  $30,000.

Learn more about admissions and merit awards at