The University of Mary Washington

The University of Mary Washington

The University of Mary Washington (UMW) in Virginia is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts and sciences universities, highly respected for its commitment to academic excellence and dedication to lifelong learning. This public university was originally founded in 1908 and named after the mother of George Washington, America’s first president. The University of Mary Washington has three colleges (arts and sciences, business, and education) and three campuses.

The University of Mary Washington’s main campus in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, is located directly between two important cities. It’s an hour south of Washington, D.C. and an hour north of Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. These two cities provide a rich array of resources for undergraduate student internships, research, and volunteer opportunities, as well as a promising job market for graduates.

About ten miles northeast of Fredericksburg, at the Stafford campus, adult learners can take weekend and evening classes to complete several bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The Stafford campus is also the home of UMW’s new BSN Completion Program. The University of Mary Washington has another nearby campus in Dahlgren, Virginia, which offers continuing education and professional development courses for engineers, scientists, and administrative professionals. It also serves as a center for research partnerships between the Navy, higher education institutions, and the region’s employers.


An education at The University of Mary Washington, with multiple opportunities for student research and service learning, uniquely prepares graduates for interesting careers or for advanced study. At the core of UMW’s curriculum is the College of Arts and Sciences, which offers bachelor’s degrees in science, arts, and liberal studies. In 2010, the College of Education and College of Business joined the College of Arts and Sciences in offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 2014, UMW began a BSN completion program for AS-prepared nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The University of Mary Washington offers one of the nation’s leading historic preservation programs, a concentration in creative writing, and one of the top debate programs in the country. Popular majors include political science and international affairs, English, biology, psychology, earth and environmental science, history, visual and performing arts, economics and business. UMW students can also learn from speakers at the Fredericksburg Forum, which has hosted influential people such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actor James Earl Jones, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.


The University of Mary Washington is committed to academic excellence. UMW has as one of its strongest foundations a firmly entrenched honor system, which creates a campus-wide environment of trust and integrity. A University Center for Honor, Leadership, and Service helps instill leadership qualities in students and guides them toward positions of responsibility and influence. UMW students have ample opportunity to engage in research and work collaboratively in small, interactive classes with innovative and accessible master teachers including Fulbright scholars, who motivate them to think critically, engage meaningfully, and communicate effectively.

Service Learning

Service learning is a hallmark of The University of Mary Washington experience, with students volunteering in unprecedented numbers for community events and environmental stewardship initiatives. The University of Mary Washington routinely shows up on the Peace Corps ranking of the nation’s top producers of volunteers, and many graduates have served in Teach for America and similar organizations.


UMW’s Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT) works with faculty and departments to meaningfully integrate technology into their classroom curriculum, practices and programs in order to ensure that students are gaining varied and valuable digital experiences during their time at the university. UMW opened the state-of-the-art Information and Technology Convergence Center in 2014. Among its heralded programs is one called Domain of One’s Own. This pioneering project provides free, personal domain names and web hosting to help students take responsibility for their online identities, as well as manage their own portfolios. In addition, UMW Blogs, based on the open-source WordPress system, allows any faculty member, student, or staff employee to create a blog, a course or project site, or a professional website.


In recent years, The University of Mary Washington has placed increasing attention on environmental sustainability. The first LEED-certified building, CGPS North Building, was built in 2007. From 2005-2007 the university installed water saving devices which reduced campus water consumption by 50%. Through an Energy Performance Contract with the energy service company NORESCO, UMW also installed low energy light fixtures and other energy saving measures. The University of Mary Washington Recycling Program collects corrugated cardboard, printer ink cartridges, mixed paper, newsprint, plastic, glass, and aluminum. Each residence hall recycling program is led by a recycling coordinator and Recycling Chairperson. The University of Mary Washington Ecology Group is a student-run organization dedicated to sustainability on campus.

Campus Life

The University of Mary Washington’s total enrollment is more than 5,000, while its main 176-acre campus has approximately 4,000 mostly residential students. At the heart of the Fredericksburg campus is the newly constructed 104,000-square-foot University Center, which houses a retail bookstore, a large ballroom, and numerous student offices and meeting spaces. In addition, a premium residential and retail complex, centrally located student services, and 2,000-seat convocation center provide students with superb facilities.

Many UMW students listen to bands and play trivia games at The Underground in Lee Hall, and some relax by playing video games and air hockey at the Wash Room in the campus center. Nearby historic downtown Fredericksburg bustles with distinctive stores, great restaurants, quaint bookstores and coffee shops, all within easy walking distance of campus. Fredericksburg’s Central Park is the East Coast’s largest shopping center, with hundreds of retailers and restaurants just a few miles away.

More than 100 student organizations and clubs provide opportunities for friendship and leadership. The University of Mary Washington campus offers fitness facilities, inter-mural and recreational sporting activities, and regular tournaments in everything from flag football to inner-tube water polo. Student athletes can try out for the UMW Eagles varsity teams, which consist of more than 20 sports. The Eagles regularly compete at the championship level in NCAA Division III.


Most of The University of Mary Washington’s Fredericksburg campus is located on Marye’s Heights, a steep hill which, like Sunken Road (the campus’ northeastern boundary), played an important role in the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg. Brompton, the president’s official residence, served as a field hospital during the battle. Most of the architecture on campus is neoclassical, Georgian, or Jeffersonian and situated among beautifully manicured grounds for an unparalleled American college experience. Several UMW buildings are named for notable women in American history.

Students can also explore the surrounding area which is rich in historical sites, museums, and Civil War battlefields. The University of Mary Washington campus is only a short distance from Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Students can also visit the many educational and historical attractions in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. by driving for an hour, or using the train station and the Washington Metro.

Homeschool Admissions

During the 2014-2015 school year, the Fredericksburg region had 3,816 homeschoolers living in the area. The University of Mary Washington tracks homeschoolers in the freshman class, and UMW admitted 11 homeschoolers among its 972 freshmen last fall. Timothy O’Donnell, associate provost at The University of Mary Washington, said that their research shows homeschoolers fare well in college. In fact, he said “there is every reason to believe that homeschooled students are well-prepared to succeed in college” (Dyson). Here is the UMW admissions checklist: Homeschooled applicants should also provide documentation of their educational experiences.

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