Due to Southern Virginia's promotion of LDS standards and ideals, 96% of students are Church members. The University is accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education, and the campus consists of more than .
The school was founded as a for-profit institution in 1867 as the Home School for Girls by Alice Scott Chandler.
The financial health of the college began to decline in the 1980s, and by 1996 the school was at the point of closing. Late name changes were to Southern Virginia College for Women in 1993 and simply Southern Virginia College when the school began accepting male students in 1994.