Randolph-Macon College: Developing the Minds and Character of its Students

Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) is a private liberal arts college located in the scenic town of Ashland, Virginia, near the capital city of Richmond. R-MC was founded in 1830 by the Virginia Methodists, “born of a need that the United Methodist Church had for educated ministers to spread their faith in the new republic” (ChristianPost, 2005).

Randolph-Macon is the world’s oldest Methodist college still in continuous operation. The college was named after two American political leaders of the day, Virginia statesman John Randolph of Roanoke and North Carolina statesman Nathaniel Macon.

Randolph-Macon College is a member of the Annapolis Group of colleges and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. U.S. News & World Report lists R-MC among 150 best national liberal arts colleges. One of the many ways its curriculum prepares students is with a culminating or “capstone” experience, in which the knowledge and skills they’ve gained in their program or major contributes to a significant senior-year project.

Ashland, named the best river town in America by Outside magazine, has an active outdoor community of cyclists, paddlers, and more. Randolph-Macon athletes play in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), and as members of Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The college also has an eSports program for fans of Overwatch, Hearthstone, and League of Legends.


The Randolph-Macon campus is situated in the heart of a region rich in the history of our nation. Famous locations such as Richmond, Jamestown, Monticello, Williamsburg, and Washington, D.C. are all within a two-hour drive. The main north-south railroad line for the East Coast runs through the 116-acre campus with an Amtrak station nearby. The oldest brick building in Ashland can be found on the R-MC campus. Built in 1872 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Washington-Franklin Hall now houses the history department.

Randolph-Macon was the first college south of the Mason-Dixon Line to require physical education coursework for graduation. The old gym, built in 1887, was the first structure in the South to be constructed solely for instruction in physical education. Randolph-Macon is also considered to be the first college in the South to offer English as a full discipline and to develop biology as a distinct course of study. Its computer science department, established in the 1960s, is one of the oldest in the country associated with a liberal arts school. (At that time, most academics considered computer science to be more appropriate for a trade/secretarial school than a traditional four-year college.)


Randolph-Macon College enrolls over 1,400 undergraduate students, who pursue their academic paths in 54 areas of study (including majors, minors, pre-professional programs, and others). R-MC offers bachelor’s degrees in 38 liberal arts majors: Accounting, Archaeology, Art History, Arts Management, Asian studies, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Classical Studies, Communication Studies, Computer Science, Drama, Economics, Engineering Physics, English, Environmental Studies, French, German, Greek, History, International studies, Latin, Mathematics, Music, Nursing, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Pre-Engineering, Pre-law, Pre-med, Pre-ministry, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology, Spanish, Studio Art, and Women’s studies. The college also offers 34 minors, including education. The student-faculty ratio is 12:1 with an average class size of 16. Terminal degrees such as Ph.D.’s are held by 97% of R-MC faculty.


Randolph-Macon operates on a 4-1-4 academic calendar. This allows for two four-month semesters (fall and spring) with a one-month term in January to split up the semesters. During the January Term (colloquially called “J-Term”), students are afforded the opportunity to take intensive study courses on campus, travel the globe as part of a study-abroad course, perform research, or participate in professional internships in their field(s) of interest. Students can also participate in volunteer and community service projects.

Four-Year Degree Guarantee

Because Randolph-Macon is fully committed to the success of each student, the college offers a Four-Year Degree Guarantee. This guarantees that entering freshmen will be able to graduate in four calendar years and, if qualifying students are not able to meet that requirement, then R-MC will waive tuition costs for the courses that the student needs to complete their degree. A program on campus called The Edge provides a wealth of services and support to give you a competitive advantage—whether your goal is career preparation or graduate studies.

Homeschool Applicants

Randolph-Macron is a selective college that seeks prepared, successful students beyond those with just a high school diploma. Annie Keith, senior associate director of admissions, said that when considering homeschool students, R-MC looks at a student’s curriculum and sometimes asks for a syllabus. The college also considers whether classes were taught at home, through an outside program, or in conjunction with dual-enrollment at a college. “We’re always being asked to look at different types of courses and curricula, so it’s not totally different from everyone else,” she said. “It’s just that rather than looking at a school district, we’re looking at a family.” The idea, Keith said, is “to get a bigger picture of the student” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2016).

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