West Virginia University: Home of the Mountaineers

Woodburn Hall Photo by Carol M. Highsmith – Library of Congress, Public Domain

West Virginia University (WVU) is the state’s flagship land- and space-grant research university. It is affiliated with the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, dedicated to the study of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect the brain. WVU is a leader in biometric technology research and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s lead academic partner in biometrics research. WVU also has a nationally recognized Forensics and Investigative Science program, originally created through a partnership with the FBI.


WVU’s Morgantown campus comprises three sub-campuses. The original main campus, typically called the Downtown Campus, is in the Monongahela River valley on the fringes of Morgantown. This part of campus includes eight academic buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The Downtown Campus comprises several architectural styles predominantly featuring red brick including Victorian Second Empire, Federal, Neoclassical, and Collegiate Gothic among others.

Woodburn Hall (see photo) is one of the oldest buildings at West Virginia University and has long been a symbol of the university. It was built between 1874 and 1876, and is a predominantly red brick Second Empire style building with a mansard roof. It is considered one of the finest examples of Second Empire architecture in the State of West Virginia. As one of the university’s iconic buildings, it has seen the inaugurations of the University presidents and been the setting for the reception of US presidents. Since the turn of the twentieth century it has housed the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Evansdale Campus, a mile and a half to the north-northwest, on a rise above the Monongahela River flood plain, was developed in the 1950s-1960s to accommodate a growing student population, since space for expansion was limited at the Downtown Campus. The Health Sciences Campus, in the same outlying area (but on the other side of a ridge), includes the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, the Erma Byrd Biomedical Research Facility, Ruby Memorial Hospital, Chestnut Ridge Hospital, Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, WVU Healthcare Physicians Office Center, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, WVU Eye Institute, and the WVU Children’s Hospital.


Due to the distance between WVU’s three campuses, the university built a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system to link the Downtown, Evansdale, and Health Sciences campuses and reduce student traffic on local highways. It’s quite an innovative system when you consider it was designed and developed by Boeing in the early 1970s. The unique aspect that makes the system “personal” is that a rider specifies their destination when entering the system, and the PRT can dispatch a car that will travel directly to that station. WVU students, faculty and staff ride for free; they swipe their magnetically encoded ID cards through the turnstiles when entering the stations. Others pay a cash fare of 50 cents.


West Virginia University offers 132 undergraduate majors – everything from accounting to world languages. Scan the list and you may find some options you hadn’t considered. The university is organized into 15 degree-granting colleges or schools and also offers an Honors College.

  • Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Design
  • Eberly College of Arts & Sciences
  • John Chambers College of Business & Economics
  • College of Creative Arts
  • Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering & Mineral Resources
  • College of Education & Human Services
  • Reed College of Media
  • College of Law
  • School of Dentistry
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Pharmacy
  • School of Public Health
  • College of Physical Activity & Sport Sciences
  • University College
  • Honors College


In a state that lacks professional sports franchises, West Virginians passionately support WVU’s athletic teams. The school’s sports teams are called the Mountaineers and compete in the NCAA’s Division I. Or you can get in on the competition yourself by playing intramurals or club sports.

The Mountaineer was adopted in 1890 as the official school mascot and has been appearing at sporting events since 1936. The mascot travels with most sports teams throughout the academic year. Each year, a new Mountaineer receives a scholarship, a tailor-made buckskin suit with coonskin hat, and a period rifle and powder horn. The Firing of the Rifle is a tradition carried out by the Mountaineer Mascot to open several athletic events. He also gets to fire his custom rifle every time the team scores during football games. While not required, male mascots traditionally grow a beard.

The unofficial song of the university is “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. In 1980, John Denver performed his hit song at the dedication of Mountaineer Field, and it has since become a tradition for fans and players to sing the song after every Mountaineer victory. Although the tradition originated during football games, it is also performed at various other athletic events and ceremonies. The song became an official West Virginia state song on March 8, 2014.

Homeschooled Students

West Virginia University has an acceptance rate of 76%, making it a moderately competitive school to get into, with a strong chance of acceptance if you meet the qualifications. Academically, it has challenging requirements for admission test scores, generally admitting students who score in the top 42 percent. Students interested in applying to the school will need to send in an application (WVU accepts the Common App), along with high school transcripts and scores from the SAT or ACT. Click here for instructions on how to apply.

Each year, WVU accepts applications for admission from students who are educated at home or in non-accredited high schools. These applicants must also submit a complete undergraduate application and SAT or ACT test scores. In addition, as a homeschooled student, the strength of your coursework is important in the admission process.

Homeschooled applicants and those attending non-accredited high schools must furnish documentation to validate learning in four of the academic core areas, as listed in Admission Requirements for First-Time Freshmen, unless they were completed at an accredited high school or college. If you completed units at an accredited high school or college, transcripts of the units taken must be provided to WVU.

This documentation should take the form of a typed manuscript or description of your class background and must include the following, at a minimum:

  • The student’s name.
  • A list and description of courses completed.
  • Grades earned for the courses completed.
  • The number of credits earned for each course.

The courses must be broken down by 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade years. The transcripts must bear the signature of the person who administered the curriculum.

Upon completion of an application file with the required documentation, WVU will review the entire application file of an individual who has been home schooled or attended a non-accredited high school. All application materials must be received by the regular admission deadline.

Note for West Virginia residents who are homeschooled: The PROMISE Scholarship and the West Virginia Higher Education Grant require that homeschooled students submit a Home Schooled Grade Report Form and transcript when filing their PROMISE application with West Virginia Student Aid Management (WVSAM). Further questions regarding this should be directed to West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

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