University of Richmond


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 Westhampton Lake.

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.

Information Summary

Ranks 3rd in Virginia and 50th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 97.2
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $67,020
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 33 / 1460
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 9 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 93% / 50%
Enrollment Total (all students) 4,002


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.

Study Abroad

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 every weekend.

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


building :: University of Richmond
chapel :: University of Richmond


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.

Early Decision

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 or denied.

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.

Financial Aid

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, merit-scholarship.

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 four years
  • 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 and qualities:

  • 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 scholarships.

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

Ranks 3835th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Virginia.


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 men.
  • 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.

Greek Life

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.

Local Community

Richmond, Virginia

Students at Richmond enjoy a variety of natural resources and opportunities at their fingertips because of its location in Richmond, Virginia. Though the university is nestled in a safe, suburban, beautiful campus, students need drive only about fifteen minutes to be in the heart of the city. Richmond is home to numerous historic landmarks and neighborhoods, many museums, four professional sports teams, great shopping, and six other colleges and universities. Among students’ favorite Richmond offerings:

  • Carytown, an eclectic, trendy area ten minutes from the university featuring boutiques, specialty stores, and great restaurant options
  • Byrd Theatre, located in Carytown. Students flock to the Byrd Theatre for its $2 movies. The Byrd, which showed its first film in 1928, can be described only as majestic, with its balconies, high ceiling, and red curtains. Before Saturday night showings, an organist rises out of the orchestra pit and plays traditional favorites.
  • Brown’s Island, a huge outdoor venue in the James River. Musicians of all genres give concerts here during warmer months.
  • Cultural Opportunities, such as the Richmond Ballet, Richmond Symphony, Virginia Opera, and various traveling Broadway shows, abound in Richmond and play not only at the Modlin Center for the Arts on campus, but also the Landmark Theatre and National Theater downtown. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Historical Society, and Library of Virginia present standing and traveling exhibits of international acclaim.
  • Byrd and Maymont Parks, are beautiful, huge parks where students go to relax, play Frisbee, or just stroll. Between the two, stands a Nature Center and small zoo. Many students land internships in Richmond and, since it is a government center and home to several large corporations, a variety of jobs and internships are always available during the school year and summer. If students can’t find what they want in Richmond, D.C., Baltimore, Virginia Beach, and the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains are no more than two hours away.


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.

Prominent Grads

  • Leslie M. “Bud” Baker, Jr., ’64, Former President and CEO, Wachovia Corporation
  • 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, Cincinnati Reds
  • 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 Waltons”
  • Virgil H. Goode, Jr., ’69, Congressman (R-5th, Va.)
  • William J. Howell, ’64, Speaker, Virginia House of Delegates (R-28th, Stafford)
  • 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

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