Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute

Address: 319 Letcher Avenuem, Lexington, VA 24450

Grades: Undergraduate

Teacher Ratio: 1 to 11

Students: 1600

Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute, or VMI, was the first state supported military college in the United States. Today it continues to produce cadets who possess a strong academic background along with military training. Located on 134 acres, of which 12 are designated as a National Historic District, in Lexington, Virginia, VMI is steeped in history as it continues its dual mission of military training and education in the twenty-first century. Graduates leave VMI for careers in both the civilian and military world.

Nestled within the historic town of Lexington, Virginia, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) stands as an illustrious emblem of military discipline, academic excellence, and unwavering honor. Founded in 1839, VMI isn’t merely a military college; it’s a crucible that transforms young men and women into leaders of character, ready to serve both in the battlefield and in the boardroom.

Upon approaching VMI, one is instantly greeted by its grand Gothic and neoclassical architectures, standing as silent witnesses to the countless cadets who have marched through its storied grounds. These structures, made of weathered limestone and brick, resonate with the echoes of history, recalling tales of valor, perseverance, and commitment.

VMI’s honor code, “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do,” isn’t just a set of rules; it’s a way of life. It underscores every aspect of a cadet’s journey, ensuring that when they step out into the world, they do so with a moral compass that never wavers.

Beyond its rigorous military training, VMI is a hallowed ground of academia. The Institute’s esteemed faculty, hailing from the world’s premier institutions, are dedicated to nurturing the minds of cadets, ensuring they are well-equipped to face global challenges. Whether it’s in the realms of engineering, arts, or the sciences, VMI’s educational experience is unparalleled, blending theoretical knowledge with practical leadership skills.

Tradition plays a pivotal role in the VMI experience. The Rat Line, a challenging initiation for new cadets, symbolizes the trials and tribulations one must overcome to be part of this prestigious institution. And then there’s the Ring Figure, where juniors receive their class rings in a grand ceremony, connecting them to generations of VMI alumni who have donned similar symbols of honor.

The Institute’s legacy is further enriched by its notable alumni, who have left indelible marks in various fields. From the battle-hardened General George S. Patton to the Nobel laureate John C. Stennis, VMI’s influence is palpable in every corner of American history and society.

In essence, the Virginia Military Institute isn’t just a college; it’s a revered institution where traditions meet the future, where honor is more than a word, and where leadership is carved into the very souls of its cadets. It’s a place where legends are born, ready to shape the world.

History of VMI

Founded in 1839 on the site of an arsenal, VMI is forever linked with General Thomas Jackson, better known as Stonewall Jackson, who is buried in Lexington. He joined the faculty in 1851 as an instructor in natural philosophy, or physics, and remained at VMI until April 1861 when he joined the army of the Confederate States of America. He remains a large presence on campus with the cadets passing his statute on a daily basis.


VMI consists of 508 cadets. A total of 2,146 individuals applied to be part of that class. Of those 2,146, VMI accepted 968 applicants with 52% of those enrolling. The class includes 462 males and 46 females. Just over 52% of the class is from Virginia.

Academics and Education

Academics at VMI are focused on a limited number of majors with emphasis on math, science and engineering. The 14 majors offered include applied mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering and computer and information science. Other majors available to cadets are economics and business, English and fine arts, psychology, history, modern languages and cultures and international studies and political science.

VMI is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its engineering program is recognized by ABET, its chemistry department by ACS and its school of economics and business by AACSB. All majors lead to either a B.A. or B.S. undergraduate degree. Approximately 90% of cadets graduate in four years.

Athletics & Sports

Athletics are a big part of VMI. The school sponsors 18 intercollegiate sports including football, men’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, rifle, cross country and swimming. The school is a member of the Big South Conference. The athletic teams at VMI are known as Keydets although the actual mascot is a Kangaroo.

ROTC Programs

VMI offers cadets the opportunity to be part of Air Force, Navy and Army ROTC. These programs lead to commissioning as an officer in the United States Armed Forces.

Cost of Education

The fee structure at VMI covers everything but books. It includes living in the barracks with 21 meals per week provided along with clothing, laundry, medical services, athletics and haircuts. Tuition and fees at VMI vary depending on whether a student is a resident of Virginia or is from out-of-state, as is common with many state-funded institutions.

Here’s a general overview of costs associated with enrolling at VMI:

Tuition and Fees: Virginia Residents: Approximately $9,500 per year Non-Virginia Residents: Approximately $36,000 per year

Room and Board: Roughly $10,000 per year, though this can vary slightly based on specific meal plan choices and other factors.

Books and Supplies: Costs can vary greatly depending on the courses taken, but an estimate might be around $1,200 to $1,500 per year.

Cadet Uniforms and Equipment: First-year cadets (or “Rats” as they are traditionally called) can expect a one-time cost of approximately $2,500 to $3,000 for uniforms, shoes, and other necessary items.

Miscellaneous Fees: There might be additional costs for health insurance (if not already covered), transportation, personal expenses, and other miscellaneous fees.

Potential for Financial Aid: Many students qualify for financial aid, scholarships, or military benefits, which can significantly reduce the overall cost of attending VMI.

Remember that these are approximate figures based on data available as of January 2022. Costs can vary from year to year due to inflation, institutional decisions, state funding changes, and other factors. For the most current and detailed information on costs, financial aid, scholarships, and other financial considerations, prospective students and their families should consult VMI’s official website or contact the VMI Financial Aid Office directly.

Virginia Military Institute

319 Letcher Avenuem, Lexington, VA 24450


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