Is Villanova University a Good School? (An IN-DEPTH Analysis)

Pennsylvania is home to many of the most respected universities in the United States and the world. As a matter of fact, this state features all types of colleges for people of any background.

In particular, Villanova University has been growing in popularity for a long time. But is it really that good? Let’s find out:

In short, Villanova meets the criteria to be considered a good university, as it has a solid reputation in fields like Nursing, Finance, and Economics. Despite having lost some positions in the national rankings, the school has maintained good student satisfaction levels over the years..

However, there are many different factors that come into play when choosing a college. In order to determine if Villanova is a good fit for you, it is important to be well informed and evaluate every important variable.

And that’s what we are about to do in this article. We’ll start off by taking a quick overview of this college. After that, we’ll analyze the key factors that may influence your decision, such as reputation, student satisfaction, class size, student expenses, and even the salaries that graduates are likely to earn.

So if that sounds interesting to you, let’s dive right in!

Overview of Villanova University.

Villanova University

With 180 years of existence, Villanova University is a Catholic research institution located in eastern Pennsylvania, just a few miles from Philadelphia. It is widely known for its Nursing program, but it’s also well-regarded in Finance and Communication.

Nowadays, the university offers 66 undergraduate programs and 61 graduate degrees through the following schools and colleges:

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Villanova School of Business.
  • College of Engineering.
  • M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.
  • College of Professional Studies.
  • Charles Widger School of Law.

Villanova University is affiliated with the Order of Saint Augustine. For that reason, all undergraduate students must take the Augustine and Culture Seminar in their first year, which consists of four foundational courses in disciplines like theology, philosophy, and ethics.

When it comes to extracurricular activities, students at Villanova can choose from over 265 clubs and organizations, encompassing student interest groups, academic organizations, as well as fraternities and sororities.

Notable alumni include John L. Hennessy, former President of Stanford University, and astronomer Edward Guinan, who discovered Neptune’s ring system.

Prestige and Rankings.

When it comes to reputation, we can get an idea of how Villanova University has performed by checking out the latest college rankings, which are published on a yearly basis.

Rankings are a useful tool if you want to take a glance at a school’s prestige. And while your choice shouldn’t be based entirely on these numbers, they are still a good starting point in the decision-making process.

In the following table you can see which position Villanova holds in 2022, according to the most reliable publications:

U.S. News49
Times Higher Education128

However, looking at these simple numbers is not really that helpful. They only show you the school’s performance at this moment, causing you to miss the forest for the trees.

Besides, rankings tend to vary depending on the methodology used by the company, meaning that a school that does well in one ranking may have a very different result in another one.

In fact, that’s exacly the problem here. There is a difference of almost 80 spots between both rankings!

So in order to address this issue, we’ll take the average of the last years and visualize the historical trend. The main goal is to evaluate the school from a more unbiased point of view.

Below is a graph with the average rank for Villanova over time:

Villanova University average national rankings
Average rankings calculated with data from US News and Times Higher Education

Now you have a wider view of what’s going on. Every chart tells you a story. And what we can see here is that Villanova University has been struggling to keep its position in the national rankings.

Back in 2017, this university registered an average position of 75. However, it experienced some decline over the next years before starting to level off at around 90.

In summary, it is a fact that Villanova has been losing some positions in recent years. This was especially true between 2017 and 2019, when its average rank went down by 11.5 places.

Nonetheless, this decline seems to be slowing down. Between 2019 and 2022, Villanova’s average position decreased by just 2 spots. So it’s starting to hit a plateau, and it will probably stay there for some years.

By tracking Villanova University’s position in the national rankings we were able to see how it has performed as the years go by. And even though U.S. News and Times Higher Education give very different ratings, we managed to get a more accurate view by plotting the average position and analyzing it.

What we just did is a more effective approach to evaluating a school’s performance over a given period.

In the next part of the post, we’ll use a similar method to assess how satisfied students are at Villanova. So keep reading because this will be important.

Student Satisfaction.

If you’ve been doing your research for a while, chances are you’ve visited other sites to read reviews from other students. And while internet reviews may be useful at first glance, the truth is that they are often contradictory and you might end up more confused after reading many of them.

Besides, there are several disadvantages to this approach. Just to name a few:

  1. There is no way to verify that online reviews were written by actual students.
  2. Fake reviews are a common practice and they are often hard to detect.
  3. Star ratings can be easily manipulated to artificially improve or damage a school’s reputation.

The above mentioned are just some of the reasons why you should take reviews with a big grain of salt.

But don’t worry. If you’re wondering if there is a more reliable way to gauge student satisfaction, the answer is yes. We achieve that by analyzing retention rates, and that’s what we are going to do in this section!

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let me give you some context on retention rates and their importance.

Retention Rates: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

A retention rate is simply the percentage of first-time students who remained at the same school for their sophomore year. It is one of the most accurate parameters to measure student satisfaction because of the following reasons:

  1. It’s calculated with actual data from real students.
  2. The data is reported to the National Center for Education Statistics and it’s hard to manipulate. Any attempt to falsify this information could have serious consequences for the school.

Even if this is the first time you hear about this concept, there are solid arguments why you should pay close attention to it.

A student will be more encouraged to keep studying at the same university if his freshman experience was positive. Accordingly, the higher the retention rate is, the better expectations you can have for your first college year.

On the other hand, a bad first-year experience will induce more students to drop out or transfer to another college, causing the retention rate to decrease. Therefore, this is something to keep in mind before you make your final decision.

There are, of course, other factors that may lead students to drop out, such as personal problems or lack of money. However, colleges that take good care of their freshmen indeed hold high retention rates throughout the years.

Retention Rate at Villanova.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Villanova University has a retention rate of 95.97%.

The following chart illustrates how retention rates have varied over the years at this institution. I want you to take a look at it carefully. What can you notice?

Villanova University graduation rate line graph
Retention rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

First of all, it is a fact that this parameter has remained incredibly high. And maintaining a retention rate above 90% is not an easy task. But besides remaining at such a high level, we can also see that it has increased with respect to some previous years.

In 2013, Villanova had a 94.02% retention rate. A few years later, it reached its highest point at 96.09%. And now it is standing at 95.97%, which is still a very high value.

The data for 2021 has not been released yet, but it is expected to be above 95% once again.

This is a clear and undeniable indicator that new undergraduate students are highly satisfied with their experience at Villanova University. The odds of dropping out after the first year are low, and freshmen find a good environment to keep studying at this university.

Graduation Rates: What You Need to Know.

In the previous section, we analyzed how satisfied students are after their freshman year.

But now it’s time to answer an equally important question: how many undergrads actually finish their studies?

We can find the answer to that question by simply looking at the graduation rate of the school, which is the percentage of students who completed their program.

A high graduation rate is a very positive signal, as it reveals that all the time, effort, and resources you spend at this school will be probably worth it.

On the contrary, low graduation rates may suggest that students don’t get academic support along the way or they just feel disappointed over time. So this is also something that you’ll want to take into account.

Graduation Rate at Villanova .

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Villanova University registered the following graduation rates:

TimeGraduation rate
6 years90.80
4 years87.02
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

In the following plot you’ll visualize the 6-year graduation rate over time. In other words, the proportion of students who completed their program within 6 years after enrolling:

Villanova University graduation rate line graph
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As the graph shows, this parameter has been hovering above 90% in the last years. And maintaining a graduation rate at that level is extremely hard, but Villanova has done a good job in order to achieve that.

Back in 2014, the university registered a graduation rate of 87.94%. This was followed by an increase of more than 2 percentage points, when it rose to 90.08%.

From 2015 onward, the graduation rate started to flatten out at around 90%. But in 2020, it registered a new peak at 90.8%.

In summary, it’s really hard to find a college that is capable of maintaining its graduation rate at such a high level for many years. So this is an undeniable indicator that Villanova University provides the right conditions for students to advance and graduate within a reasonable time.

Outcomes 8 Years After Attending.

We can dive a little bit deeper and find out the proportion of students that dropped out or transferred from Villanova. For this purpose, take a look at the following doughnut chart:

From this chart, you can tell that within 8 years of entry, 91% of the students had already graduated, while 8% transferred to another college. Probably the most interesting fact is that only 1% of the students dropped out, which is an extremely low proportion of the entering class.

Class Size / Student-to-Faculty-Ratio.

Class size is another factor that could define whether or not this school is a good fit for you. If you prioritize being able to interact with your professors regularly and receiving more personal attention, you’ll want to find a college with a low student-to-faculty ratio.

This parameter tells you how many students there are at a college for every faculty member. Thus, a lower value typically indicates that classes are more reduced and personalized.

On the other hand, a higher student-to-faculty ratio isn’t necessarily something negative. It all boils down to the type of experience you are looking for. Some people feel comfortable in larger classes, while some others don’t.

What Is the Student-to-Faculty Ratio at Villanova University?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Villanova University has a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, meaning that there are 11 students for every faculty member.

This number has not changed at all in recent years, as shown in the following table:

CycleStudent-to-faculty Ratio
2020 – 202111:1
2019 – 202011:1
2018 – 201911:1
2017 – 201811:1
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

It is important to point out that you should not take this parameter literally. In other words, a 11:1 ratio doesn’t mean that most classes at Villanova will have 11 students. In many cases it can be way more than that, since not all faculty members are teachers.

Unfortunately, the university doesn’t publish its average class size. But according to U.S. News42.9% of its classes have fewer than 20 students, while 54.3% register between 20 and 49 students.

Keep in mind that class size is not set in stone, and it does vary across different courses and majors.

Estimated Student Expenses.

Paying for college is one of the main concerns that will have an impact on your final choice. So in order to make an informed decision, the first step is to get familiar with the expenses you’ll have to cover.

The following table contains the reported Cost of attendance (COA) for Villanova University. The COA is a quick estimation of the amounts you would spend annually without receiving any kind of aid. This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses:

Tuition and fees$55,280
Room and board$14,444
Books and supplies$1,100
Other expenses$2,300
Total cost of attendance$73,124
Source: College Navigator. National Center for Education Statistics

This cost can be significantly lower if you are awarded financial aid. For that reason, we’ll dedicate this whole section to take an in-depth look into the questions that matter to you.

Is the school getting more expensive? What’s the average amount that students receive in grants or scholarships?

These are some of the key questions that we will respond in the next paragraphs. So stay tuned.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid.

In this part of the post, we will see how the amount of aid compares to the cost of attendance. Ideally, if the cost of attendance is going up, we want the amount of aid to be growing at the same or even at a higher rate.

But before we get in more detail, I want to make something clear:

This section is only intended to provide a general picture of how the cost and the amount of aid have performed.

All of the numbers presented here are estimates reported by the school. However, every person has a different background, and in case you are eligible for financial aid, the amount will strongly vary depending on your circumstances.

If you need a more accurate estimation based on your personal case, please refer to Villanova’s net price calculator.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the chart:

Villanova University cost of attendance and financial aid line graph
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As the graph shows, the cost of attendance is going up steadily. If you take a look carefully, you’ll see that its behavior is very similar to a straight line.

Part of this increase is already expectable, as inflation consistently drives up prices. Nonetheless, there are many factors that define the cost of attendance. Consequently, the change in price from one year to another can easily be above inflation.

During the period we are analyzing, the cost of attendance grew by 20.48%, going from $60,694 to $73,124 in 5 years.

On the other hand, the average amount of grant aid for freshmen increased at a very similar pace. In 2014-2015 it was standing at $28,855, and after five years it reached its highest point at $34,737, which is an increase of 20.38%.

The fact that the amount of aid experienced similar growth is a positive signal. However we still need to know more details before we can draw any conclusion. And that’s the topic of our next section.

Percentage of First-Year Students Receiving Grant or Scholarship Aid.

So far, we know how the annual cost and financial aid have varied over the last years at Villanova University. But now it’s time to find out if there are enough freshmen receiving this benefit.

In the chart below, you’ll see the percentage of new students that have been awarded aid during the last cycles. What can you notice?

Villanova University percent of first-time students receiving grant or scholarship aid
Percentages calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

Even though it had a dip in 2018-19, the percentage of students receiving aid has remained relatively stable over time.

Back in the 2013-2014 cycle, 55.33% of the entering class at Villanova received grant or scholarship aid. Five years later, this parameter saw its most significant variation, when it hit a low point at 51.93.

Nevertheless, all the other years it just kept fluctuating between 54.06% and 55.86%. So there haven’t been any changes of consideration as far as this variable is concerned.

This could indicate that the odds of being awarded aid as a new student will remain almost constant. But remember, if you need an estimation based on your situation, head over to Villanova’s net price calculator.

Bottom Line.

To summarize, in this section we analyzed the environment that students face when it comes to paying for college. Our key findings are listed below:

  • The cost of attendance at Villanova is going up steadily.
  • The average amount of grant or scholarship aid has increased at a similar rate.
  • The percentage of students receiving this type of aid has been between 54% and 56% almost every year.

Expected Salaries.

Now we are getting to the final part of our analysis. And we cannot end this post without talking about about salaries. Even though people usually find it hard to bring up this topic, it is something you are probably interested in.

Hence the next question is, how much can you expect to earn after graduation?

The answer to this question is variable, as it depends on the major you selected, as well as the job offers available when you graduate. But the good news is that the U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of the typical salaries that graduates earn in the third year after graduation.

This piece of information is highly valuable for the following reasons:

  • It is calculated using data from actual Villanova graduates.
  • It corresponds to the early stage of their career. At this point, you probably care more about your starting salary than you do about your late career income.

There are other sites like Payscale or Glassdoor that upload their own estimates. And while that information may be reliable as well, it is not as in-depth as the data that the government provides.

Salary Table.

The table below contains the median annual income for Villanova alumni 3 years within graduation, according to the U.S. Department of Education:

ProgramMedian earnings
Chemical Engineering$78,032
Civil Engineering $73,237
Computer Engineering$85,108
Computer Science$70,440
Electrical Engineering$84,596
International Business$71,580
Liberal Arts$48,633
Mechanical Engineering$82,077
Political Science$58,052
Real Estate$91,484
Median salaries three years after graduation. To see the full list visit: College Scorecard. US Department of Education.

As the table shows, Real Estate and Finance graduates are the top earners during the first stage of their career, with median earnings of $91,484 and $88,419, respectively.

Engineers are also among the highest-payed professionals from Villanova. Their median salaries are $85,108 for Computer Engineering, $84,596 for Electrical Engineering, and $82,077 for Mechanical Engineering.

Other disciplines like Accounting, Nursing, and Economics, have also seen competitive annual earnings.

If your program doesn’t appear on the list, you can visit Villanova’s page on College Scorecard to check if the information is available.


So there you have it. Needless to say, this post was meant to be strongly data-driven. Rather than relying on other people’s opinions, we took a logical approach intended to provide a more accurate picture of the school.

After analyzing the most important variables, a story emerged from the data and we managed to evaluate the school’s performance from different angles.

The following are some of our key takeaways:

  • Villanova University has lost some positions in the national rankings. However, in recent years it has started to show some signs of recovery.
  • First-year students are highly satisfied, as we could tell by tracking the retention rate over time.
  • Villanova’s graduation rate has been above 90% for many years. Meaning that students find the right environment to advance and complete their program.
  • Only 1% of the students dropped out.
  • The cost of attendance and the average amount of aid have increased at the same rate in the last years.
  • The proportion of students reveiving financial has been hovering at around 54%.
  • Overall Villanova satisfied the criteria to be considered a good university. In addition it seems to be capable of maintaining a good level as the years go by.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is Villanova University known for?

Villanova is quite popular for its Nursing program, but it also has a solid reputation in disciplines like Finance, Economics, and Communication. In addition, it is widely known for being affiliated with the Order of Saint Augustine.

Is Villanova University a party school?

Villanova cannot be considered a party school on its own. It does offer a better party scene than most Catholic institutions. However, it is far from being regarded as a top party school in the U.S. Most of the time, students go off campus when they want to have fun.

What are the most popular majors at Villanova University?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the most popular majors by the number of graduates are Finance (236), Nursing (223), Communication (132), Economics (129), Political Science (110), Psychology  (82), and Biology (81)

How many students does Villanova University have?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Villanova University has a population of 11,032 students, out of which 7,037 are undergrads, while 3,995 are pursuing graduate studies.

Is Villanova a D1 school?

Villanova University is part of the Big East Conference in the NCAA Division I. The Villanova Wildcats represent the school in different sports, including baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, and others.