At a Glance

students gathered together smiling

NOVA At a Glance

NOVA is one of 23 colleges within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), which is governed by the State Board for Community Colleges. On this page, learn more about our mission, accreditation, affiliations and history.

Northern Virginia Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award the associate degree. Northern Virginia Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree level.

Questions about the accreditation of Northern Virginia Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website.

For other information about the College, please contact NOVA’s Administrative Offices, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Road, Annandale, Virginia 22003 (703-323-3000). Curricula of the College are approved by the College Board and by the State Board. The two-year associate degree programs are also approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Our Mission

Northern Virginia Community College provides equitable access to affordable and exceptional higher education and workforce programs, transforming the lives of our students and advancing opportunity in our community.

Our Vision

To be a learning-centered organization that promotes student success.

Our Core Values

Care is demonstrated at NOVA through a culture of compassion where success and well-being are prioritized in our commitment to developing authentic relationships and providing resources to foster a supportive and thriving community.

Excellence is demonstrated at NOVA through our high quality and cutting-edge programs; innovative, talented and experienced faculty and staff; and strong and effective relationships with employer and university partners—all to ensure our students are ready for graduation, transfer and high-demand careers.

Inclusion is demonstrated at NOVA through our intentional commitment to welcoming, supporting and engaging diverse people and perspectives so that a sense of belonging is cultivated throughout our college community.

Integrity is demonstrated at NOVA through adherence to principles and actions that foster accountability, honesty and trustworthiness; commitment to truth and fairness is ensured by ethical, equitable and professional behavior, and prioritizing the needs of students and the community we serve.

Respect is demonstrated at NOVA through treating each other with courtesy and dignity, acknowledging and valuing differing ideas and perspectives, affirming the uniqueness of every individual and being mindful of personal boundaries.

Strategic Plan 2023-2026

Inspiring Excellence: A Bold Blue Print for Student Success

This document describes the strategic planning process and its context and purposes. It also outlines the priorities NOVA is focused on and describes the goals, objectives and activities through which the College will achieve these priorities.


Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is dedicated to providing students of all ages and goals with a solid education at an affordable price.

Northern Virginia Community College was established in 1964 under the name Northern Virginia Technical College. In the fall of 1965, the College opened with 761 students in a single building in Bailey's Crossroads under President Robert W. McKee. To accommodate an ever-growing student body, the college purchased 78 acres in Annandale in 1966 to create the first of six permanent campus sites. That same year, the College was renamed Northern Virginia Community College when the Statewide General Assembly changed the name of the technical college system to the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

In 1967, NOVA opened the new building on the Annandale Campus and continued to expand with the purchase of 100 acres for new campus sites in Sterling, Manassas and Woodbridge. This air of growth and change continued with the introduction of Dr. Richard J. Ernst as president in the fall of 1968 and the purchase of an additional campus site in Alexandria in 1969.

Expanding the goal to serve students of all types, NOVA opened the Extended Learning Institute in 1975 to accommodate individuals who wanted an education but could not accommodate a traditional program into their schedule. On the heels of the start of Dr. Belle S. Wheelan as president in 1998, NOVA purchased a site that would become the Medical Campus in 2000 and opened educational centers in Arlington and Reston. In 2010, a new center was added to NOVA, Innovation Park.

Today NOVA offers more than 160 associate degree and certificate programs to more than 75,000 students from 150 countries.


College History

1964 – Northern Virginia Technical College was established.

1965 – First classes were held with 761 students and 46 faculty and staff members in a single building in Baileys Crossroads. Robert W. McKee was the first president.

1966 – The College was renamed Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). The college purchased 78 acres in Annandale in 1966 for construction of the first of six NOVA campuses.

1967 – NOVA opened its first campus, the Annandale Campus.

1968 – Dr. Richard J. Ernst became NOVA’s second president.

1969 – The original plan of establishing one central campus and four satellite centers was changed to a concept of five campuses supported by a central administration.

1971 – Construction began on the Eastern Campus, later know as the Alexandria Campus.

1972 – Originally known as the Western Campus, the Manassas Campus first offered classes in the fall of 1972.

1972 – Originally known as the Southern Campus, the Woodbridge Campus first offered classes in the fall of 1972.

1973 – The Alexandria Campus opened.

1974 – The Loudoun Campus opened.

1975 – NOVA offered its first distance learning courses in 1975.

1979 – The NVCC Educational Foundation was created.

1983 – The Alumni Federation was chartered.

1988 – The semester system began at NOVA.

1998 – Dr. Richard J. Ernst retired and Dr. Belle Wheelan became NOVA’s third president.

2002 – Dr. Belle Wheelan left NOVA to become the Secretary of Education for Virginia. Dr. Charles L. Downs served as interim president from January to August. Dr. Robert G. Templin, Jr. became the College’s fourth president in August 2002.

2003 – The Medical Education Campus (MEC) opened in Springfield in Fall 2003.

2006 – The Arlington Center and Reston Center opened for classes.

2007 – NOVA became an Achieving the Dream College.

2008 – The Innovation Park Center in Manassas opened for classes.

2009 – Signal Hill in Sterling opened for classes.

2010 – NOVA was distinguished as an Achieving the Dream Leader College.

2014 – Dr. Robert G. Templin Jr., announced his intention to retire in February 2015.

2015 – Dr. Scott R. Ralls became the fifth president of the College in September 2015.

2018 – The Extended Learning Institute (ELI) was renamed to NOVA Online.

2019 – Dr. Melvyn Schiavelli became interim president in 2019.

2020 – Dr. Anne M. Kress became the sixth president of the College in January 2020.

State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)

Certain activities of the College come under the supervision of SCHEV, a body that plays a prominent role in planning for higher education in the Commonwealth.

Virginia Community College System (VCCS)

NOVA is one of 23 colleges within the VCCS, which is governed by the State Board for Community Colleges.

College Board

NOVA has a local advisory board of 11 members.

Shared Governance

NOVA's representative bodies include the College Senate, Forum Standing Committees and Forum Councils.