The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA), frequently referred to simply as Virginia, is a public–private flagship and research university. Founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, UVA is known for its historic foundations, student-run honor code, and secret societies.
UNESCO designated UVA as America’s first and only collegiate World Heritage Site in 1987, an honor shared with nearby Monticello. The university was established in 1819, and its original governing Board of Visitors included Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Monroe was the sitting President of the United States at the time of its foundation. Former Presidents Jefferson and Madison were UVA’s first two rectors and the Academical Village and Jefferson conceived and designed the original courses of study.
The university’s research endeavors are highly recognized. In 2015, Science honored UVA faculty for discovering two of its top 10 annual scientific breakthroughs; from the fields of Medicine and Psychology. UVA is one of 62 institutions in the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of preeminent North American research universities. It is the only AAU member university in Virginia. UVA is classified as a Research University with Very High Research by the Carnegie Foundation, and is considered Virginia’s flagship university by the College Board. The university was the first non-founding member, and the first university of the American South, to attain AAU membership in 1904. Companies founded by UVA students and alumni, such as Reddit, generate more than $1.6 trillion in annual revenue – equivalent to an economy the size of Canada, 10th-largest in the world.
UVA’s academic strength is broad, with 121 majors across the eight undergraduate and three professional schools. Students compete in 26 collegiate sports and UVA leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in men’s NCAA team national championships with 17. UVA is second in women’s NCAA titles with 7. UVA was awarded the Capital One Cup in 2015 after fielding the top overall men’s athletics programs in the nation.
Students come to attend the university in Charlottesville from all 50 states and 147 countries. The historic 1,682-acre (2.6 sq mi; 680.7 ha) campus is internationally protected by UNESCO and considered one of the most beautiful collegiate grounds in the country. UVA additionally maintains 2,913 acres southeast of the city, at Morven Farm. The university also manages the College at Wise in Southwest Virginia, and until 1972 operated George Mason University and the University of Mary Washington in Northern Virginia.
UVA offers 48 bachelor’s degrees, 94 master’s degrees, 55 doctoral degrees, 6 educational specialist degrees, and 2 first-professional degrees (Medicine and Law) to its students. It has never bestowed an honorary degree to any person.
The Jefferson Scholars Foundation offers four-year full-tuition scholarships based on regional, international, and at-large competitions. Students are nominated by their high schools, interviewed, then invited to weekend-long series of tests of character, aptitude, and general suitability. Approximately 3% of those nominated successfully earn the scholarship. Echols Scholars (College of Arts and Sciences) and Rodman Scholars (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), which include 6-7% of undergraduate students, receive no financial benefits, but are entitled to special advisors, priority course registration, residence in designated dorms and fewer curricular constraints than other students.