President's Blog

How does Virginia measure up in university research investment?

Virginia ranks 14th but has scarcely moved over the past decade in the National Science Foundation’s research and development expenditures, the latest of which have been released covering FY2015.

Total R&D expenditures in Virginia grew by 40 percent from 2006 to 2015, just above the national growth rate of 38 percent. However, other states such as North Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland spend more on R&D and have grown faster than Virginia since 2006.

All the expenditures at Virginia public institutions total about $1.4 billion, just over the amount spent at the University of Michigan. The four Virginia institutions with the highest research classification from Carnegie (which includes Mason) spent $1.2 billion on R&D in FY2015, an amount just greater than at the University of Washington.

Virginia has been keeping pace but could fall behind as other states grow their R&D expenditures at a faster rate. The table below lists the expenditures on R&D, ranked across all institutions as well as the Carnegie classification for the top five, and all public Virginia institutions.

Johns Hopkins is again at the top of the ranking with over $2 billion in expenditures, which include the activity of the Applied Physics Laboratory. California leads the nation in total R&D expenditures for all institutions in the state with nearly $8.7 billion.  George Mason, which joined the “highest research” tier in the Carnegie classification this year, ranked 142, behind the other Virginia institutions in the top category, all of which have medical schools.


Rank University FY2015 R&D expenditure Carnegie classification
1 Johns Hopkins University $2,305,679,000 Highest research
2 University of Michigan $1,369,278,000 Highest research
3 University of Washington $1,180,563,000 Highest research
4 UC San Francisco $1,126,620,000 Medical school
5 UC San Diego $1,101,466,000 Highest research
Virginia Institutions
44 Virginia Tech $504,282,000 Highest research
62 University of Virginia $373,218,000 Highest research
97 Virginia Commonwealth University $218,925,000 Highest research
142 George Mason University $106,410,000 Highest research
169 Old Dominion University $65,092,000 Higher research
173 College of William & Mary $61,554,000 Higher research
207 Eastern Virginia Medical School $42,296,000 Medical school
348 Virginia State University $7,808,000 Masters: Medium
385 Norfolk State University $5,348,000 Masters: Medium
428 James Madison University $3,712,000 Masters: Large
602 Christopher Newport University $1,208,000 Masters: Small
688 University of Mary Washington $690,000 Masters: Large
745 Radford University $490,000 Masters: Large
821 Virginia Military Institute $307,000 Arts & Sciences