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Discover excellence at VCU that you won’t find anywhere else

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About 5 ways VCU is uncommon: In this series, we explore how VCU students learn, grow and challenge the status quo at one of the nation’s premier urban universities.

Virginia Commonwealth University is a hub of creativity, research and innovation. We encourage you to try new things, look at solutions in new ways and take your ideas to new heights. Research and creativity are two of our greatest strengths, and they will be part of your VCU education, no matter what field you pursue.

Many graduate programs at VCU are ranked among the nation’s best. Our fine arts programs are ranked No. 4 in the country overall, and we hold the No. 1 ranking in sculpture. Our high rankings extend beyond the arts and include nine graduate programs in the top 5 and more than 25 programs in the top 50 across arts, business, education, engineering, government and public affairs, health professions, humanities and sciences, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work.

Of our 240-plus programs of study, 41 are unique in Virginia. If your interest changes while you’re here, you have numerous majors to pivot to – or you can create your own through our Interdisciplinary Studies program.

Our newly redesigned general education courses through ConnectED are designed to challenge you, pique your interest and offer you meaningful insights you’ll take forward in your career and in your everyday life.

We’re top-ranked in research – a top-50 public research institution and one of only 64 public R1 universities to receive the highest designation for community-engaged research universities. VCU was the first in Virginia to earn the Adobe Creative Campus designation for incorporating problem-solving into courses and fostering 21st-century methods of teaching.

VCU is ranked a Top 50 public research university by the National Science Foundation. This ranking recognizes VCU for its research expenditures in all fields, including STEM, health, arts and humanities.

But what does all this mean for you?

You’ll have graduate and undergraduate research opportunities that translate to real-world experience. The faculty who teach your classes are leaders in their fields – both in research and in real working environments – so you’re gaining skills you can apply in the workplace and learning about the latest discoveries from the leaders making those discoveries.

Our courses are on the cutting edge, including classes that teach you how to use improv to spark creativity, pitch a compelling business plan and lobby elected officials to push for change. Students say they’ve felt the impact of courses on how to adapt art education for K-12 students with disabilities, improve cities through a social justice-informed perspective and stand out in applications, interviews and networking.

Bet on yourself – from incubation to innovation. Our da Vinci Center for Innovation’s Shift Retail Lab, recognized in 2022 by Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards, is a first-of-its-kind storefront that lets students, past and present, test their products, services and ideas with real-world customers. It’s one of many opportunities available to aspiring entrepreneurs, including our skill-building workshops that prepare you to build your own business, and our network of 150-plus community partnerships locally – and even more globally – to support, mentor and partner with you.

A person walks past the outside of a storefront on an urban street with a large brightly-lit marquee that says \"Welcome to Shift Retail Lab\"
Fast Company named Shift Retail Lab at VCU as an honorable mention in the Urban Design category of the magazine’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

VCU Health, a world-class health system, offers students, residents and health professionals opportunities to engage with our community. Patients from across Virginia and around the country come to our health system and health sciences campus – home to the Richmond region’s No. 1 hospital VCU Medical Center, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center and our health sciences schools, including Virginia’s only dental school – for emergency, routine and specialized medical and dental care. Our dentistry, health professions, medicine, nursing and pharmacy students hit the ground running by working together as students just like they will in careers in health care. Our discoveries are revolutionizing care and treatment locally and globally for diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, liver disease, mental health conditions, substance use disorders and traumatic brain injury.

An aerial image of a city skyline, including VCU Health's campus and its surroundings in downtown Richmond.
Patients from across Virginia and around the country come to our VCU Health and health sciences campus for care, just around the corner from the Virginia State Capitol. (Allen Jones, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Our VCU Health connection also gives students in all majors ways to get involved. Our collaborative work in medicine and engineering is working to drive down the cost of medications. Students serve communities in Richmond’s East End neighborhood at the VCU Health Hub @ 25th health education and wellness activity center. Our Arts in Healthcare program brings joy to patients’ daily lives.

Speaking of connections, read the next part in our 5 Ways VCU is Uncommon series to learn about the welcoming and inclusive community that makes us who we are.