Being deemed a Tier 1 school is regarded as a prestigious ranking among U.S. universities. However the term Tier 1 is actually quite vague, as there is no universal definition or grading system used to distinguish a Tier 1 college. The most common source for classifying a university's tier grading is "U.S. News and World Report" ("U.S. News").
Others also reference the Center for Measuring University Performance, among other companies, even though many of these organizations are now doing a simple ranking system instead of the tier method. Since there is no formally established ranking system, there has yet to be a universally accepted list of Tier 1 schools in the United States.
However, among the several universities in the state of Virginia, there are six schools that have been given a Tier 1 status by "U.S. News," one of the few publications that still issues tier rankings.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia (UVA) is a public university of around 15,000 undergraduate students. It is considered one of the most selective universities in the country and has been considered a Tier 1 university by several sources. "U.S. News" lists the university at number 25 in the country and gives it a Tier 1 grading as well.
William and Mary
The public institution William and Mary is another school that ranks high upon the "U.S. News" list of top universities and also receives a Tier 1 ranking. Founded in 1693, William and Mary is one of the oldest universities on the list, and hosts nearly 6,000 undergraduate students.
University of Richmond
Making the ranks of the "U.S. News" list of top liberal arts colleges is the University of Richmond. This school has been deemed a Tier 1 university, even in lieu of its small size. This private university is home to less than 3,000 undergraduate students but still manages to receive a prestigious top tier ranking.
George Mason University
George Mason University receives a Tier 1 approval by "U.S. News." Started in the 1970s, George Mason University is a relatively new school in the state of Virginia, and has over 19,000 undergraduate students attending this public institution.
Virginia Tech is another public university located within the state of Virginia that receives a Tier 1 ranking by "U.S. News." Virginia Tech is one of the largest schools on the list, with over 23,000 undergraduate students.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Although it doesn't rank as high as some of its fellow Virginia schools, "U.S. News" gives Virginia Commonwealth University a Tier 1 stamp of approval. Virginia Commonwealth is a private university settled in the urban setting of Richmond, Virginia. There are approximately 23,000 undergraduate students who attend the university, making it similar in size to Virginia Tech.