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Top-Tier Private, Practical Liberal Arts Education at W&L

Washington and Lee University appears in our ranking of the 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the South.

Ranked 70th nationally by The Wall Street Journal, Washington and Lee University is a historic colonial-era, coed ODAC member in the Shenandoah Valley that delivers 48 bachelor’s majors and a Juris Doctor degree plus a four-week Summer Scholars Program for high school seniors at an 8:1 student-teacher ratio. For example, the B.A. in Anthropology builds a 120-credit, four-year curriculum where undergrads can excavate Morven Farm, become James G. Leyburn Scholars, join Lambda Alpha, and intern at the Frontier Culture Museum. Chaired by Dr. Dayo Abah, the B.A. in Journalism has a 120-credit, ACEJMC-accredited plan for publishing The Ring-tum Phi, securing the Reynolds Business Journalism Internship, reporting on WLUR 91.5FM, and using the Multimedia Storytelling Design Lab.

At Parmly Hall, the 120-credit B.S. in Cognitive & Behavioral Science offers opportunities to conduct Gender Development Lab projects, attend the Root Lecture Series, join the Summer Research Scholars Program, exchange to Oxford’s Mansfield College, and pledge Psi Chi. Directed by Dr. Erich Uffelman, the B.S. in Chemistry forms a 120-credit, ACS-certified major where Generals can contribute to the LaRiviere Research Group, access the Telford Science Library, and take advantage of the St. Andrews Partnership atop 13-week courses like Genetic Engineering.

Other W&L degrees include the B.A. in Classics, B.S. in Geology, B.A. in East Asian Studies, B.A. in Environmental Studies, B.S. in Business Administration, B.A. in Studio Art, B.S. in Computer Science, and B.A. in Religion.

About Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University originated in 1749 when Scotch-Irish Presbyterian settlers opened Augusta Academy for classical education in the Allegheny Mountains. In 1776, it was patriotically renamed Liberty Hall during the American Revolution. Relocated to Lexington in 1780, it was chartered by the Virginia Legislature for bachelor’s degrees in 1782. In 1795, Continental Army hero John Chavis became Liberty Hall’s first African-American student. The next year, President George Washington donated $20,000 to keep the academy afloat. In 1813, its name was changed to Washington College in his honor. In 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee assumed its leadership. In 1870, Washington and Lee University was formally established after Lee’s death. In 1905, W&L launched the School of Commerce for business studies. In 1971, WLU was added to the National Register of Historic Places. By 1985, the previously all-male institution started admitting women.

Endowed for $1.6 billion, Washington and Lee University now employs 361 faculty teaching 1,829 undergrad and 394 post-grad Generals from 30 countries on its 325-acre Lexington campus adjacent to the Virginia Military Institute with 150+ clubs like Southern Comfort. In 2018, WLU received the Omicron Delta Kappa Presidential Circle of Excellence Award. In 2003, W&L won the Kappa Alpha Order’s Samuel Zenas Ammen Award for Chapter Excellence. The U.S. News & World Report named Washington and Lee University the 10th best liberal arts school with the 19th top value. On Niche, WLU boasts America’s 15th best communication, 16th top business, and 21st best history degrees. Forbes picked W&L 36th among private institutions. The New York Times positioned Washington and Lee University 64th for low-income students. WalletHub chose W&L 12th for teaching resources and 25th for academic outcomes.

Washington and Lee University Accreditation Details

On July 16, 2019, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accepted the Quality Enhancement Plan from Washington and Lee University to start the Level V accreditation reaffirmation process through 2028-29 under President William C. Dudley, Ph.D., who earned the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. Located 469 miles down Interstate 85 in Decatur, this elite 11-state Appalachia accreditor is recognized by the U.S. Education Department and State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The Strategic Analysis & Institutional Research Office also lists the following approvals:

  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  • Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications
  • American Bar Association Section of Legal Education

Washington and Lee University Application Requirements

Admission to Washington and Lee University is classified “most selective” by Peterson’s since only 1,200 of the 5,455 Fall 2018 applicants were chosen for 22 percent acceptance. First-year Generals must complete a rigorous 16-unit, college-prep high school curriculum. Nearly all freshmen carry over Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credits. The Class of 2022 presented a median 3.94 GPA. The middle 50th percentile had SAT scores of 1380-1480. Mid-range admitted ACT scores were 32-34. The Honors Program requires a minimum major GPA of 3.25. Incoming transfers should have 15-60 accredited college credits with GPAs above 3.0. Foreign learners from non-English nations need at least 550 TOEFL pBT or 6.0 IELTS scores. The Juris Doctor seeks diverse applicants with four-year bachelor’s completion and “B” averages or better. Law School entrants achieve a mean GPA of 3.56 and 160 LSAT score.

Washington and Lee University has freshman deadlines of November 1st for Early Decision and January 1st for Early Decision 2 or Regular Decision. The standardized testing deadline is December 14th. Transfers can apply for Fall enrollment until March 1st. For financial aid funding, the priority date is February 15th. The School of Law closes the Juris Doctor program on March 1st. Accordingly, complete the W&L, Common, or QuestBridge Application online for $60. Forward formal academic records to 204 West Washington Street in Lexington, VA 24450. Submit testing reports through SAT/TOEFL code 5887 or ACT code 4430. Fulfill checklist items, such as the Writing Supplement form, two recommendations, current resume, and interview. Contact (540) 458-8710 or admissions@wlu.edu with questions.

Tuition and Financial Aid

For 2019-20, Washington and Lee University is charging full-time undergrads $53,730 annually. Bachelor’s majors cover the $530 activity, $320 technology, and $250 health services fee each year. Living at the Lexington campus’ dorms like Francis P. Gaines Hall adds $7,820 for yearly room rent. Default meal plans for John Elrod Commons are $7,025 extra. WLU budgets $2,010 for books and $2,215 for miscellaneous expenses. Annual undergrad attendance equals about $73,900. The Law School bills full-time Juris Doctor cohorts $49,075 tuition by year. Post-grads have the $215 Student Bar Association fee and $2,000 loan fees. Estimated living expenses are $15,125 for a yearly cost of $70,515. Note the four-week Summer Scholars Program for high school seniors is priced $2,500 in total.

According to the NCES College Navigator, the Financial Aid Office at 23 University Place connects 64 percent of new full-time W&L Generals to tuition assistance averaging $45,232 each for $11.89 million combined. University funds include the Keelty Honor Scholarship, Edward Mitchell Memorial Honor Scholarship, Max & Sylvia Weinstein Scholarship, J. Edward Lewis Scholarship, Lawson Family Scholarship, Houston Honor Scholarship, Darnall Boyd Jr. Memorial Honor Scholarship, Gail & Joel Bernstein Scholarship, and Albemarle Corporation Honor Scholarship. The Johnson Scholarship covers full tuition plus $7,000 summer stipends for outstanding freshmen applying before December 1st. The Washington and Lee Promise Program fulfills all unmet financial need for undergrads with family income below $100,000. Federal resources, such as the Pell Grant or Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, require FAFSA applications coded 003768. Virginians could also pursue the Commonwealth Award, Guaranteed Assistance Grant, War Orphans Education Grant, Horatio Alger Scholarship, Lee-Jackson Foundation Scholarship, Granville Meade Scholarship, and more.

Search through four SACS-accredited schools for 50+ innovative, value-added programs placed 26th by Money magazine at the Washington and Lee University website.