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U.Va. expands its presence into Northern Virginia

The newly-established campus in Fairfax seeks to cater to working professionals and will offer courses from eight University schools

<p>The University hopes the Fairfax campus will function as a “Grounds away from Grounds,” rather than being dedicated to a single school.</p>

The University hopes the Fairfax campus will function as a “Grounds away from Grounds,” rather than being dedicated to a single school.

The University is broadening its reach in the Washington, D.C. suburbs with plans to open a new campus in Fairfax County. The location will host an array of degree programs and classes for students of all ages, with a focus on professional studies and accessibility for part-time or working students. The new campus is slated to open January 2025 in Merrifield, Va., though it will host some programming, including a summer camp, prior to that date. 

The University’s Northern Virginia location is part of the Great and Good strategic plan, a plan announced in 2019 as part of University President Jim Ryan’s overarching 2030 Plan which aims to make the University the best public institution in the country. The overarching goals of the plan are to strengthen the University’s foundation, cultivate the most vibrant community in higher education and enable discoveries that enrich and improve lives.

The University hopes the Fairfax campus will function as a “Grounds away from Grounds,” rather than being dedicated to a single school. According to Leanna Yevak, assistant director of communications at U.Va. Northern Virginia, the new location’s primary purpose is to foster connections between the University’s main campus in Charlottesville and Northern Virginia. 

“The Fairfax campus will not be specific to an individual school, but rather serve as a cross-University hub,” Yevak said. “Our main charge is to connect U.Va. in Charlottesville with Northern Virginia and vice versa.”

Eight out of the 12 individual schools at the University are set to offer courses at the new facility, including the School of Data Science, the McIntire School of Commerce and the Darden School of Business, though a large portion of programs will be offered through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. This includes master's degrees in health and engineering fields, as well as job training courses and certifications in fields such as cybersecurity and healthcare management. 

Some programs are set to be offered only at the Fairfax campus, like the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Accelerated Master’s Program in Systems Engineering. Other programs that will be offered in Fairfax — such as the School of Nursing’s RN to BSN Hybrid Program, a two-year, part-time program with online and in-person classes that allows registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree — are already available at other University locations, including in Charlottesville and Richmond.

Kayla Rosales, third-year College student and veteran who returned to school to complete her degree after serving in the Army, said students in Northern Virginia can benefit from the University catering to a broader demographic than what can be found on Grounds, including those with nontraditional college experiences.

“Most working professionals work nine to five,” Rosales said. “So if there was something in Northern Virginia that catered to those hours, I definitely think they would pull in people with more established professional careers into U.Va.”

Yevak said while the main goal of the Fairfax campus is to bring learning closer to working professionals in Northern Virginia, any type of student can come to the campus to learn something new and beneficial, whether it is a normal undergraduate or a high school student.

Rosales said having more accommodating programs with online and hybrid options is an essential step for the University to remain on par with other universities.

“I think that it's an essential step for U.Va,” Rosales said. “There are so many other universities that have already expanded their program[s] in that regard. And the fact that U.Va. doesn't have stuff like that is really excluding to a large demographic of people.”

Though Yevak said that most programming will focus on working professionals, she added that programming will be available for a wide array of ages. This summer, the “Inspire” program will be hosted at the Fairfax campus. “Inspire” will provide rising 10th-12th graders the opportunity to take one or two-week courses on topics such as coding, forensic science, writing and marketing. 

“At the University, we call our learners first-years and fourth-years for a reason,” reads the official U.Va. Northern Virginia website. “[At the Fairfax campus], we also work with 13th years, 25th years and 40th years. We believe the academic journey never ceases.”

The new campus also plans to host pilot programs that could potentially expand to other campuses. U.Va. Northern Virginia Dean and CEO Gregory Fairchild told the Washington Business Journal that they intend to test and experiment with programs so that what the Northern Virginia Campus offers is eventually comparable to what is offered in Charlottesville.

The new Fairfax campus in Merrifield, Va. builds on the University’s existing Northern Virginia presence, which began with the September 2021 launch of its campus in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington County, Va. The Arlington location houses programs from the University's schools of business, engineering, education, data science and professional studies.

More information on the Merrifield campus can be found on its official website.


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