Washington and Lee University

Lexington, Virginia

#75 National Colleges

18.57% Admission Rate
Very Selective

1,843 Undergraduates Enrolled

  • Private nonprofit
  • Baccalaureate Colleges: Arts & Sciences Focus
  • Four-year, full-time, more selective, lower transfer-in
  • Four-year, small, highly residential

By Bobak Ha'Eri - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Washington and Lee University (Washington and Lee or W&L) is a private liberal arts university in Lexington, Virginia. Established in 1749 as the Augusta Academy, the university is among the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States.

Washington and Lee's 325-acre campus sits at the edge of Lexington and abuts the campus of the Virginia Military Institute in the Shenandoah Valley region between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains. The campus is approximately 50 miles (80 km) northeast from Roanoke, 140 miles (230 km) west from the state capital of Richmond, and 180 miles (290 km) inland southwest from the national capital at Washington, D.C.

Washington and Lee was originally a small classical school. It was founded as the Augusta Academy (later renamed Liberty Hall Academy) by Scots-Irish Presbyterian pioneers, though the university has never claimed any sectarian affiliation. In 1796, shortly before the end of his second term as U.S. president, George Washington endowed the struggling academy with a gift of stock, one of the largest gifts to an educational institution at that time. In gratitude, the school was renamed for Washington, the commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, president at the 1787 Federal Constitutional Convention, and first President of the United States. In 1865, shortly after his April 9 surrender to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union Armies, former Confederate States Army general-in-chief Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) served as president of the college for five years until his death in 1870, when the college was thereafter renamed the "Washington and Lee University." One of the oldest institutions of higher education in the American South, W&L is the second-oldest in the Commonwealth of Virginia (next to the College of William & Mary, founded in 1693).

The university consists of three academic units: the college itself; the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics; and the School of Law. The university hosts 24 intercollegiate varsity athletic teams which compete as part of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA Division III).

"Washington and Lee University." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 February 2022,

Lexington, Virginia

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Town: Distant (in urban cluster more than 10 miles and up to 35 miles from an urbanized area)

Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)


Predominant Degree Awarded
Predominantly bachelor's-degree granting

Highest Degree Awarded
Graduate degree

Most Popular Fields

Field % Students
Social Sciences 25.5%
Business, Management, Marketing, And Related Support Services 24.6%
Biological And Biomedical Sciences 11.3%
History 5.8%
Communication, Journalism, And Related Programs 5.3%
Physical Sciences 4.8%
Mathematics And Statistics 4.1%
Computer And Information Sciences And Support Services 3.5%
Visual And Performing Arts 3.2%
Engineering 3.2%
Psychology 2.8%
Foreign Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics 1.8%
English Language And Literature/Letters 1.6%
Philosophy And Religious Studies 1.4%
Natural Resources And Conservation 0.9%
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 0.2%



Percentage Students Receiving Aid

Average Net Cost After Aid


SAT Scores

1453 Composite Average
Percentile 75% 50% 25%
Math 770 730 690
Verbal 730 700 670

ACT Scores

33 Cumulative Average
Percentile 75% 50% 25%
Math 33 31 29
English 35 35 34