When the characters of the television show, Dawson’s Creek, began their college
search with a campus visit, the producers of the show wanted a location that typified
“college.” It was no surprise they chose the University of Richmond, a campus that is so picturesque
it could pass for a 350-acre movie set. Any camera angle would reveal a place thick
with towering Virginia pines and oaks, benches, a huge green lawn where student study, lay
out, throw Frisbees, and even attend class al fresco around the centerpiece, ten-acre
We have the best of both worlds here at Richmond. I always have the
comfort of a beautiful, safe, close-knit, and intellectually stimulating community
when I’m on campus, but at the same time, I’m only about a ten- or fifteenminute
drive away from the amenities and opportunities present in a thriving
state capital: Richmond. —Rebecca Sadock, Class of 2005, Business Major, Communications Minor
Founded in 1830, Richmond is the second-oldest private university in Virginia and
located only six miles from downtown Richmond. Despite its close proximity to the city, the
campus is a world of its own, surrounded by trees and excellent-for-jogging suburban neighborhoods.
Richmond began as a Baptist seminary but after about ten years, it added literary
studies to the curriculum and began to take the form of a college. Women were first
admitted in 1914 and, initially, men and women attended separate colleges under the
University of Richmond name: Westhampton College, for women, and Richmond College for
men. Today, the University is completely co-educational except that men and women still
have separate student governments, enabling more leadership opportunities, and they
maintain their own sets of unique traditions.
In addition to a law school and various masters programs, Richmond has three
schools of undergraduate study: the School of Arts and Sciences, the Robins School of
Business, and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies. All students, regardless of their
field of study or scholar status, are required to take the freshman-year CORE course, a twosemester
class aimed at providing a foundation for their education to follow. During CORE,
students read challenging texts by authors ranging from Rousseau to Freud to Toni
Morrison. Unless they place out, students also must take a required curriculum touching all
the major subjects. The required courses aren’t restrictive and usually turn Richmond students
into jacks of all trades and masters of one or two—their major and minors. Double
majors are commonplace at Richmond, as are minors and concentrations. It’s not that the
course load isn’t rigorous—rare is a night when the library isn’t crowded— it’s just that the
students, for the most part, are ambitious.
When students aren’t studying or going to class, there are activities, groups and
opportunities for every interest. Even after the first week of school, it’s easy to find oneself
overwhelmed with activities, from the Film and Photography Society to the debate team to
virtually every intramural sport. There are six fraternities and eight sororities, a weekly campus newspaper, an on-campus FM radio station, four resident a cappella groups, and
organizations for almost every religious affiliation, to name only a few. Richmond is also an
NCAA Division I, Atlantic 10 Conference school in eighteen varsity sports.
Richmond is the only college in the United States with a spider as its mascot. And,
“spider” quickly becomes part of students’ everyday lingo: Spidercard, the convenient
debit card for all campus purchases, Spiderbytes (the e-mail bulletin of campus activities),
the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, Spider athletics (the intercollegiate
teams), and, most important, Spider pride, which most students exhibit on a daily basis.
Like any place of higher learning, the University of Richmond is not for everyone. For
people who embrace opportunities, people who feel satisfied by working hard for a cause,
academic or otherwise, and people who want a traditional college experience on a beautiful
campus—Richmond is the perfect place.
I have a theory that we’ll never know if things worked out for the best,
so we might as well assume they did. My choice to come to Richmond doesn’t
force me to make that assumption; it was the perfect place to spend what I consider
my most formative four years.
Five schools comprise the University of Richmond: the School of Arts and Sciences,
the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the Robins School of Business, the School of Law,
and the School of Continuing Studies. Richmond also offers a number of graduate programs
through its schools of arts and sciences, business, and continuing studies. Among all the
schools, there are over 100 majors, minors, and concentrations.
On any given school night, you can scroll down your buddy list on
Instant Messenger, and eight out of ten people’s away messages will say something
like ‘library’ or ‘Boatwright’ or ‘music library’ or a variety of other affectionate
nicknames for one of Richmond’s three libraries. There is always a
sufficient amount of work to be done, and the libraries—with comfortable
chairs, study rooms, flat screen computers, quiet nooks, social areas, and a
Starbucks—are the place to do it.
Academics at Richmond are not for slackers. No matter the school or major, students’
work loads are, for the most part, consistently rigorous. But, for all the hard work, there is
just as much reward and satisfaction. The average class size is seventeen people, and the
student-faculty ratio is 9:1. As a result, the professors are very accessible, always willing to
answer questions after class, and many times even sharing their home phone numbers.
Small class sizes are conducive to dynamic classroom discussion, so if you prefer anonymity,
Richmond is not the place.
General Education Program
To further reinforce a solid liberal arts foundation,
all students must complete a general education
program in the School of Arts and Sciences. This program
includes the Core course, expository writing,
demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language, plus
one course each in math, literary studies, natural science,
social analysis, history, and visual or performing
arts. Students may place out of some of those requirements
with high AP scores, but Core is mandatory.
Jepson School of Leadership Studies
The University of Richmond is home to the first
school in the nation devoted entirely
to leadership studies. The mission of the Jepson
School of Leadership Studies is to develop people
who understand the moral responsibility of leadership.
Students apply to enter the school, founded in
1992, in their sophomore year, and admission is
highly selective. The curriculum is highly diversified
and interdisciplinary, though the focus remains
ethics, moral reasoning, group interaction, and compatibility,
with an experiential service learning component.
After graduation, leadership majors pursue
careers in a wide range of fields from healthcare to business to the Peace Corps, and
twenty-two percent go on to law school or graduate school.
Because of my time at Jepson, I feel amply prepared to go out and
change the world. My professors were invaluable in helping me get an internship
at the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, last summer. —Kate Lowell, Class of 2005, Leadership
Studies and Political Science
Examples of courses offered at the Jepson School are Justice and Civil Society,
Conflict Resolution, Communicating and Leading, Critical Thinking, Ethics in Leadership,
and Ethics of the Novel.
Almost half of Richmond undergraduates take advantage of one or more of seventy-five
study-abroad programs worldwide. Students may opt for a summer, a semester, or an
entire year in places ranging from Mongolia to Madagascar. The Office of International
Education helps students every step of the way, from finding the best-fitting programs, to
making sure students are successfully acclimated, to providing an outlet for them to share
their experiences upon returning to Richmond. International Education also offers extensive
orientation programs, as well as various activities upon return in order to make the
transitions as smooth as possible.
Studying abroad in Valencia, Spain, was one of the best things I could
have done for myself during college. Richmond was instrumental in helping
me choose a program and making my transitions perfect. Also, because
Richmond encourages studying abroad so much and so many students take
advantage of the opportunity, I had friends all over Europe that I could visit
The Honor Code
I pledge that I have neither received
nor given unauthorized assistance
during the completion of this work.
—University of Richmond
Honor Code Pledge
Academic integrity is first and foremost at
Richmond, and the implementation of its
age-old honor code reflects it. During orientation,
students learn the honor code
pledge, and they must write it on every
assignment, quiz, and test thereafter. The
university’s forty-member Honor Council
ensures that the system is carried out by
educating students about the honor code
and the consequences of violating it.
When students are accused of a violation,
they must appear before the Honor
Council, where the circumstances of the
reported violation are examined and the
appropriate discipline decided.
Because of professors’ and students’
high regard for the honor code, professors
are usually lenient with how and where
students complete assignments, often
allowing them to take tests or quizzes outside
or at home.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Richmond students do not fit a mold, nor do their academic backgrounds. That said,
no formula guarantees admission to the University of Richmond, although, as with most
schools of its caliber, a solid transcript, above-average standardized test scores, a record of
community involvement, and overall well-roundedness can improve an applicant’s chances.
Many of its applicants possess such traits in abundance, so Richmond also looks for applicants
who display character, eclectic interests, independence, integrity, and diversity, as
evidenced by the application essay or recommendations. How have you spent your free
time? When have you displayed leadership? What sets you apart from other students of
equal academic talent?
For the 2008–2009 school year, Richmond received 7,970 applicants; 2,525 were
accepted. Of those accepted, 744 enrolled and fifty-eight percent ranked in the top ten percent
of their graduating class of these who reported rank. Sixty-one percent of the class of
2008 went to a public high school.
Applicants have the option of taking the SAT or taking the ACT. Last year, most
accepted students’ SAT scores ranged between 1260 and 1400 (based on 1600; 620–690
Verbal and 630–700 Math) and ACT scores between 26 and 30. The recommended, though
not required, high school program goes as follows:
- four years of a foreign language
- four years of English
- four years of mathematics
- four years of laboratory science
- four years of social science
Richmond offers student-led tours every day, and prospective students have the
option of staying overnight and going to classes, meals, and meetings with current students
to get a true feel for campus life.
Applicants who know Richmond is the place for them should consider applying for Early
Decision. Two Early Decision plans are available; fall Early Decision applications must
be postmarked by November 15, and winter Early Decision applications by January 15.
Early Decision applicants not granted admission will either be deferred to Regular admission
The application statistics of admitted Early and Regular Decision students are similar,
so applying Early Decision might be beneficial to those who feel they are on the
borderline for admission. For a recent year, 375 Early Decision applications were received,
and 213 of those students enrolled.
Sixty-eight percent of Richmond students receive some form of financial assistance,
whether need-based or merit-based. Richmond prides itself on practicing a need-blind, fullaid
admission policy. Qualified students will never be denied admission to Richmond based
on ability to pay, and the university promises the financial aid necessary to attend, including
grants, loans, and scholarships. Loan burden is capped at $4,000 a year. Richmond is one of
fewer than forty schools in the country to meet one hundred percent of undergraduates’
demonstrated financial need. Tuition for the 2008–2009 school year comes to $38,850, and
with room, board, and fees included, the total cost of attendance is $47,050.
Scholarships and Jobs
Richmond wants the brightest students and doesn’t want them to be discouraged from
applying because of the sticker price. Hence, there are fifty full tuition merit-based
scholarships available to each entering class through the Richmond Scholars Program.
Richmond Scholars Program
One out of every fifteen incoming students at the University of Richmond will receive a fulltuition,
Through the generous Richmond Scholars program, the university awards these
scholarships to fifty members of every incoming class, each consisting of approximately 750
students. Recipients have demonstrated extraordinary academic achievement, exceptional
personal qualities, and potential for ongoing contributions to society.
All domestic and international first-year admission applicants are eligible for consideration.
Students must submit their applications by December 15 to be considered.
Richmond Scholars Program Benefits
- Full-tuition scholarship, renewable annually, valued at approximately $160,000 over
- Eligibility for a one-time $3,000 grant to support a student-selected activity that
enhances the academic experience
- Priority course registration
- Priority housing selection
- Specialty faculty mentors to guide students and help them fulfill their potential
- Complimentary tickets to selected cultural event in the Modlin Center for the Arts
Distinctive Designations Within the Richmond Scholars Program
Some students are selected for the following distinctive scholar designations that exist
within this program and may afford additional benefits:
- Oldham Scholar
- Up to seven Richmond Scholars will be designated as Oldham Scholars, and their
award will equal the value of a full tuition plus room and board. Over four years, the
value of the scholarship for a student designated as an Oldham Scholar will exceed
$188,000. Since 1983, the generosity of alumnus Mr. W. Dortch Oldham and his wife,
Sis, has enabled the university to award such scholarships to those incoming students
who exemplify the highest scholarship, personal integrity, and potential for leadership.
- Science Scholar
- Up to twelve Richmond Scholars demonstrating passion and excellence in scientific
discovery in the sciences, mathematics, and computer science are selected for early
involvement in undergraduate research.
- Boatwright Scholar
- Up to 35 Richmond Scholars will be designated as Boatwright Scholars and receive full
tuition. This award is open to students interested in any field of study and is based on
a combination of academic achievement and personal qualities.
- Artist Scholar
- Up to two Richmond Scholars with extraordinary talent and a clear passion for visual
or performing arts are paired with arts faculty mentors to maximize opportunities to
develop students’ talents.
Richmond Scholar Qualities
Successful candidates demonstrate one or more from the following list of accomplishments
- Outstanding and engaged scholarship
- Desire to be at the forefront in the creation and discovery of new knowledge
- Leadership skills
- Desire to be a leader in service to society
- Broad worldview
- Excitement about learning from people who are different from themselves in a diverse
community of scholars.
- Recognition of the importance of personal integrity and ethical decision making
- Enthusiastic pursuit of self-improvement
- Desire to make the most of opportunities presented
- Exceptional talent in artistic expression
In addition to the Richmond Scholars programs, Richmond awards numerous other
scholarships, for example, to international students, theater and dance students, Virginia
residents, and ROTC students, to name only a few. The University awards merit-based
Presidential Scholarships of up to $15,000 annually to students who have achieved outstanding
high school records in a highly vigorous curriculum and superior standardized test
scores. Furthermore, many individual academic departments award need- and merit-based
While on campus, students have the option of on-campus jobs. Those not receiving
financial aid are still eligible for campus employment and work-study. Jobs range from working
in campus catering to the libraries to the front desk at the campus recreational facilities.
Students working on campus during the academic year are exempt from Social Security taxes.
Student Financial Aid Details
Having abundant on- and off-campus activities, rare is the time when Richmond
students find themselves with nothing to do. There are more than 275 on-campus clubs and
organizations to choose from, so students can easily find their time thoroughly occupied by activities ranging from cultural to social to recreational.
The only problem, it seems, is deciding in
which activities to partake and figuring out how to
divide your time among them.
Fast Facts About Student Life
- Around eighty-three percent of undergraduates
are from out of state.
- Forty-seven states and more than
seventy countries are represented in
the student population.
- Fifty-one percent women, 49 percent
- Approximately ninety-two percent of
students live on-campus all four
years of college.
The Coordinate System
The University of Richmond is composed of two coordinate colleges: Richmond College,
for men, and Westhampton College, for women. Although all degrees say “University of
Richmond” and all students eat, attend classes, and participate in clubs and organizations
together, men and women each have their own student government, dean’s office, residence
life staff, and longstanding traditions. Because of the coordinate system, multiple
leadership positions are available to students, and the residence life staffs and deans’
offices tailor programs to the unique needs of the men and women they serve. Three traditions,
each sponsored by one of the coordinate colleges, include
- Proclamation Night, when Westhampton first-years sign the honor pledge and write
themselves letters about what they hope to achieve during the next four years. At the
same time, amid laughter and tears, Westhampton seniors read the letters they wrote to
themselves three years earlier.
- First-year men participate in Investiture, during which they take a class picture, sign the
honor pledge, and hear reflections by selected senior men.
- Ring Dance is a celebration sponsored by Westhampton College for its junior women.
Participants’ families and friends are invited to attend the event held at the sumptuous,
five-star Jefferson Hotel. During Ring Dance, fathers escort their daughters down the
enormous, 100-foot stairway, while deans announce their majors and minors to the crowd.
Participation in a fraternity or sorority at Richmond is common. Twenty-nine percent of
men and forty-nine percent of women belong to a Greek organization. There are six
fraternities and eight sororities, all nationally affiliated. Richmond is unique in that no
housing is designated strictly for specific fraternities or sororities. Fraternities, however,
each have a lodge along Fraternity Row, where they host parties about once a weekend.
Students who think joining a sorority or fraternity is not for them should not worry about
feeling excluded. Dozens of other groups, such as club sports, publications, campus radio, student
government, and a cappella singing, enhance students’ social lives. Plus, since students
don’t rush until second semester, they have time to decide if Greek life is right for them and
solidify friendships with people who end up in different fraternities or sororities, or neither.
The lack of Greek housing meshes all students together, regardless of their affiliations.
Before I came to college, I was sure I would never involve myself with a
sorority. I had stereotypes of ‘sorority girls’ and I had seen too many Lifetime
movies about awful pledging practices. After a few weeks at Richmond, I knew
nothing could be further from the truth here. Joining a sorority second semester
of my freshman year introduced me to a ton of people I’m confident I wouldn’t
have otherwise met—or at least gotten so close to—and has also proven itself as
an invaluable networking tool, as there are members of my sorority all over the
country. Plus, since there isn’t Greek housing at Richmond, my joining a sorority
hasn’t excluded me from anyone, as many of my best friends, roommates, and
neighbors are in different sororities or unaffiliated.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
Richmond is the only university that hails the
Spider as a mascot, and Spider pride runs rampant,
especially where athletics are concerned.
Richmond is an NCAA Division I and Atlantic 10
Conference member in eighteen varsity sports plus the Colonial Athletic Association for
football and women’s golf. One of the most active—and certainly visible—groups on campus,
the Richmond Rowdies, comes together for the sole purpose of supporting intercollegiate
teams, usually in “rowdy” fashion.
When I go to a Richmond basketball game, I feel like I go to a big school,
especially when we’re playing teams like Arizona or Pittsburgh and the game is
being broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2. The players are local celebs, and tons of students
and fans from all over the community come to support them for every
home game. Richmond basketball—both men’s and women’s—is one of the greatest
things about this school.
If Division I isn’t your desired competition level, there are twenty-four club teams,
from soccer to equestrian to Ultimate Frisbee. In recent years, some club teams traveled as
far as Arizona, Michigan, and California to participate in tournaments.
Richmond’s athletic facilities include a 9,000-seat basketball arena, football stadium,
soccer-track complex, lighted intramural fields, intramural gym, newly renovated fitness
center, indoor swimming pool, tennis, racquetball, and squash courts. The Weinstein Center
for Recreation and Wellness (It is beautiful.) has treadmills, elliptical machines, weights,
stair-climbing machines, and various other workout machines. Many students prefer to get their workout via the scenic route—at any time, people walk or run on the path around
scenic Westhampton Lake in the center of campus.
The University of Richmond’s Career Development Center (CDC) does everything in its
power to ensure postgraduation job satisfaction, as well as resume-building summer employment
or research for those who want it. The CDC has a massive database of employers looking
for students to fill internships or entry-level positions, from ranch hand in Wyoming to
investment banking in New York. Almost forty percent of Richmond graduates pursue graduate school within five years. Academic, prelaw,
premed, and preengineering advisors are all specially
trained to help students achieve their goals.
The CDC offers walk-in hours every weekday,
when current students or young alumni can get
resume or cover letter critiques, interview tips, or
any kind of career or major advice. The counselors
will tell you that over eighty-five percent of jobs are
acquired through networking, but they also will be
the first to help you establish those networks using a
vast online directory of University of Richmond grads
in every field all over the world.
“The Real World”
The CDC hosts an annual event where dozens of
Richmond graduates, all well-established in
their careers, come back to the campus for a weekend
to dispense “real world” advice. During The Real
World, which markets itself as a networking opportunity,
approximately forty graduates from a variety of
backgrounds and fields discuss their career paths,
how they have gotten where they are, things they
wish they had done differently, and anything else students
could want to know. Every year, students listen
to a keynote speaker and then break out into careerspecific
groups ranging from entertainment and the
arts, to nonprofit organizations, to science-related
fields. The Real World always coincides with a
Richmond Spider’s men’s basketball game, so that
many students attend the game with the alumni. The
Real World often leads to jobs and internships for students,
but always results in the advantage of forging
a relationship with a knowledgeable expert in a field of your choice.
- Leslie M. “Bud” Baker, Jr., ’64,
Former President and CEO, Wachovia
- Theresa Pollak, ’21, Artist
- Desiree Stuart-Alexander, ’52, Lunar
Geologist and Expert
- Robert S. Jepson, Jr. ’64, Chairman
and CEO, Jepson Associates
- E. Claiborne Robins, ’31, Former
Chairman of A.H. Robins Company
- Shawn Barber, ’98, Linebacker,
Kansas City Chiefs
- Sean Casey, ’96, First Baseman,
- Jane Belk Moncure, ’48, Author of
300 Children’s Books
- Paul W. Duke, ’47, Retired Senior
Correspondent, National Public Radio
- Earl H. Hamner, Jr., ’44, Author and
Creator of the Television Show “The
- Virgil H. Goode, Jr., ’69,
Congressman (R-5th, Va.)
- William J. Howell, ’64, Speaker,
Virginia House of Delegates (R-28th,
- Robert R. Merhige, ’42, Former
Senior Judge, U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of Virginia
- Leland Melvin, ’86, NASA Astronaut
- Gina Sgro Farrisee, ’78, Adjutant
General, U.S. Army
- Mary Sue Terry, ’69, First Woman
Attorney General of Virginia
- Jennifer Hyde ’92, Director of
Development, CNN Productions