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Life at UVa

Explore life at the University of Virginia.

The University of Virginia is a vigorous, modern institution, animated by the forward-looking spirit of its founder, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s powerful conviction — the idea that the university exists to train young people for public affairs and the belief that the liberal arts constitute the foundation for any education — continues to inspire its students and faculty and guide the development of its programs. Jefferson was a man of many talents, and he expressed them fully in founding the University in 1819; he outlined the institution’s purpose, designed its buildings, supervised construction and planned its curriculum. He also directed the recruitment of its initial faculty. When classes began in 1825, with 68 students and a faculty of eight, U.Va. embodied dramatic new ideas in American higher education. In an era when colleges trained scholars for the clergy and academia, Jefferson dedicated his University to the education of citizens in practical affairs and public service. The innovative curriculum permitted the student a broader range of study than was available at other colleges and universities of the day, and Jefferson implemented novel ideas concerning student self-government and religious freedom. Read more about the University of Virginia’s history.

U.Va. by the Numbers


Enrollment, Fall 2010 (on Grounds)
Undergraduate: 14,039
Graduate and Professional: 6,525
Total on Grounds: 21,049


This financial aid program was created by the University to limit undergraduate student debt and keep higher education affordable for all admitted students, regardless of economic circumstance.

  • First-year students entering in fall 2010 who qualified for loan-free support under AccessUVa: 260
  • Transfer students entering in fall 2010 and spring 2011 who qualified for loan-free support under AccessUVa: 114

Undergraduate Student Profile

  • Students come from 48 states and 119 foreign countries.
  • Virginia residents make up 69 percent of the undergraduate student body.
  • 56 percent of undergraduates are women.
  • Student-to-faculty ratio is 15.9 to 1.
  • Rhodes Scholars: 47

Graduation Rates

  • The six-year graduation rate for undergraduates who entered in fall 2002 is 92.9 percent.
  • The six-year graduation rate for African-American undergraduates who entered in fall 2002 is 84.8 percent.
  • For 15 consecutive years, U.Va.’s graduation rate for African-Americans has been the highest among all public higher education institutions in the country.

University Library (2010)

Books: 5.1 million
Manuscripts and archives: 18.5 million
Films and videos: 44,389

Questions about library resources: 162,640
Online journal downloads: 2.6 million
Loans to other libraries: 36,973
Number of students employed: 250

Land and Facilities

  • 3,398 acres of land in Charlottesville and elsewhere
  • 540 buildings or major facilities with a replacement value of more than $3.19 billion in 2008-09

University Budget, 2010-2011

  • University (all divisions): $2.4 billion
  • Academic Division: $1.3 billion
  • Medical Center: $1 billion
  • U.Va.’s College at Wise: $34.4 million

For the 2010-11 budget year state appropriations were expected to account for $136 million, or 10.3 percent, of the Academic Division’s operating budget, and $156 million, or 6.3 percent, of the total University budget.

Bond Ratings

The University is one of only two public universities (the other is the University of Texas system) with top bond ratings from all three national debt-rating agencies:

  • Standard and Poor’s (AAA)
  • Fitch Ratings (AAA)
  • Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa)

Student Self-Governance

Student life at the University of Virginia is as individual as each of the students. With academics as its central hub, student life encompasses spaces where students spend their time after class, and activities where they develop new interests, make friends, and learn new skills. From the residence hall to the playing field, from music to community service — students can find hundreds of ways to get involved, enjoy themselves, stay healthy, serve others, confront issues, strengthen values and achieve personal goals. Throughout the experience of living and learning at U.Va., students discover many avenues for carrying classroom learning into the practical, experiential realm. Choices are everywhere, and sometimes learning how to balance all the choices is part of the growth process.

The philosophy of student self-governance lies at the heart of U.Va. student life. Students have freedom to govern themselves. The primary student governing bodies — the Honor Committee, University Judiciary Committee, and Student Council — are run by the students. Faculty and administrators provide support and guidance, but decisions remain the responsibility of student leaders. Jefferson envisioned education as the foundation for developing citizen-leaders. That vision remains true today as students experience living and learning in this unique community, ultimately going on to become leaders in their communities and society at large.

A Defining Value

By Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer

Student life at the University of Virginia is built on six core values:

  • Academic rigor
  • Honor and integrity
  • Student self-governance
  • Public service
  • Diversity
  • Health and wellness

These values guide our work with students. Together they create an environment that is focused on academics but balanced with opportunities for leadership, service, self-discovery, and fulfillment of individual talents. From leadership positions in student organizations to service experiences in the local and global communities, students find opportunities that complement their classroom experiences. Self-governance means that students have significant freedom to develop their talents and make decisions that matter to University life.

With that freedom come high expectations of responsibility. Students are expected to hold themselves and their peers to high standards inside and outside the classroom, and to engage ethically in their local, national and international communities. Preparing students for global citizenship relies on the high expectations and levels of responsibility that come from student self-governance, a combination that makes the U.Va. experience unique. Within the framework
of student self-governance, students have the latitude to be creative, assume ownership, develop leadership, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. At the same time, the University provides support and guidance.  At the broad, systemic level, student self-governance means that students own the Honor System and the University Judiciary Committee. Students derive authority to run these systems directly from the University’s Board of Visitors. Students elect their own leaders, and those student leaders are responsible for operating these governing bodies on a day-to-day basis, for initiating policy revisions and other changes, and for making all decisions about disciplinary actions.