Accredited online colleges in Washington offer high-quality education that meets the standards of regional and national accreditation agencies. Virtual schools in Washington also have very affordable tuition rates and are extremely flexible, allowing students to access education no matter what their schedules are like or what obligations they may have.
In this article, we will go through some of the top online colleges in Washington and the five best programs at each institution. You’ll learn about accreditation, tuition fees, and graduation rates to make an informed decision on attending an online school in Washington. Let’s dive in.
Fully Accredited Online Colleges in Washington: Two Types of Accreditation
Online colleges in Washington offer convenient access to education, however, not all online colleges in Washington are accredited. Accreditation is important because it ensures that educational standards will be met by the institution and degrees will be recognized by potential employers. There are two types of accreditation, regional accreditation, and national accreditation.
Regionally Accredited Online Colleges
Regionally accredited online colleges are institutions that have passed the standard educational requirements of designated regional accreditation agencies. Regional accreditation is considered the most prestigious and widely recognized type of accreditation. It has more rigorous standards for quality of education than national accreditation.
Nationally Accredited Online Colleges
National accreditation involves national agencies which typically review institutions of similar types such as career, technical, trade, and vocational institutions. These institutions usually have more specific focuses. Because of this, accreditation requirements are less rigorous for national accreditation than for regional accreditation.
Why Is Accreditation Important for College?
Accreditation is important for college because it determines if an institution meets the minimum educational quality standards to offer training to students. Because of accreditation, students and parents are able to make informed decisions when selecting the best colleges and programs. In addition, accreditation enables institutions to make choices about transfer credits.
How to Find an Accredited Online College in Washington
You can find out whether an online college in Washington is accredited first by checking for accreditation information on the institution’s website. If a college claims to be accredited by a certain agency, visit the agency’s website. This is an easy way to confirm accreditation, as all accredited institutions should be listed in a database on the agency’s website.
Check the US Department of Education’s Database
The US Department of Education Database is another great reference point for college accreditation information. To check the accreditation agencies of an institution, visit the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs home page, input the name of the institution, and click Search. Select the college of choice and a list of all accrediting colleges will be displayed.
Search for Colleges on the Regional Accrediting Agencies Website
Online schools in Washington are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). This is a non-profit membership organization recognized by the US Department of Education as an accreditor of tertiary institutions. It accredits institutions across the western US including Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
Visit the School’s Official Website
Some colleges will have a whole website page dedicated to listing all the accrediting institutions. Others provide accreditation information on every program description page to provide more transparency. If you’re not sure where to start, consider using the website’s search button to find the information you need.
Top 10 Accredited Online Colleges in Washington: Overview
|Ranking||Online College||Accreditation||Graduation Rate|
|1||Gonzaga University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||86%|
|2||University of Washington||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||84%|
|3||Whitworth University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||76%|
|4||Western Washington University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||73%|
|5||Pacific Lutheran University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||69%|
|6||Washington State University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||65%|
|7||Central Washington University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||62%|
|8||Northwest University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||61%|
|9||Eastern Washington University||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||59%|
|10||City University of Seattle||Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (regional)||38%|
How We Ranked the Best Accredited Online Colleges in Washington
We ranked the best accredited online colleges in Washington by looking at the graduation rates of various institutions that offer fully online degree programs. The information in the table above comes from the schools’ official websites, the US Department of Education’s database of accredited schools, and the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard tool.
Best Accredited Online Colleges in Washington: Deep Dive
In the next section we describe each of the previously listed accredited online colleges in Washington. To help make the selection process as easy as possible, we’ll give a brief overview of the relevant statistics. We’ll also go through five of the best online college degrees offered by each school.
What Is the Easiest Online College That Is Accredited in Washington?
The easiest online college that is accredited in Washington is Gonzaga University. This institution has the highest graduation rate in the state which stands at 85 percent. This means most of the students who enroll in programs at this college have the resources and support they need to complete and graduate from these programs.
Besides having a high graduation rate, Gonzaga offers 100 percent of its students some form of financial aid to pay for tuition and attendance costs. This is another factor that encourages students to pursue their online education. Having an appropriate amount of financial support directly from your own institution can make all the difference in an educational experience, relieving a lot of stress and freeing up a lot of time to focus on studies.
What Is the Cheapest Accredited Online College in Washington?
The cheapest accredited online college in Washington is Peninsula College where in-state students only pay $147.55 per credit. The institution also offers financial aid to students based on merit and need. At least 74 percent of all students benefit from some sort of financial aid. Other accredited online colleges in Washington with cheap tuition fees include Eastern Washington University and Central Washington University.
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Are There Free Accredited Online Colleges in Washington?
No, there are no free accredited online colleges in Washington. Most online degree programs are designed to be of the same quality as in-person programs. Therefore the cost of online training is similar to but not quite as expensive as in-person education. Colleges depend on tuition fees to provide high-quality and interactive digital learning experiences.
However, there are ways to ensure that education from one of the best online colleges in Washington is affordable. Many institutions have financial aid programs such as grants, scholarships, and work-study plans that offset the cost of online degrees. Federal funding is also available for accredited online programs for students enrolled at any institution in Washington.
Why Choose an Accredited Online College in Washington?
You should choose an accredited online college in Washington because it improves your chances of securing job opportunities. An accredited online college is guaranteed to have demonstrated quality education standards, which means it will offer good training. Lastly, it is easier to qualify for financial aid if you’re taking an online course from an accredited college.
Most employers look for candidates with degrees from accredited institutions. If you want to improve your chances of securing a job, it is wise to get your online degree from an accredited college.
When you attend a degree program from an accredited institution you are guaranteed to receive high quality education. Accreditation is an ongoing process, meaning the accrediting agency is continually reassessing the university or college to ensure that it is meeting the standards of education.
Financial Aid Opportunities
The cost of a college education is notoriously high. If you are able to access some financial aid to offset these costs, it would be beneficial to you now and especially future. Taking an online degree from an accredited institution gives you access to federal aid from the government.
Most Affordable Accredited Online Colleges in Washington
When looking for an institution to study, you want to consider affordable accredited online colleges in Washington. The most affordable institutions include Pierce College, Tacoma Community College, and Peninsula College. These schools all give students the ability to pursue education in a way that does not impact them financially in a negative way.
- Peninsula College | Tuition: $147/Credit. Peninsula is a public community college in Port Angeles offering a variety of online degree options and certificate courses in fields such as business, criminal justice, cybersecurity, and information technology.
- Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom | Tuition: $226/Credit. Pierce College is a public institution in Washington offering online programs. Some of its most popular courses fall under liberal arts, early education, business, and biological sciences.
- Tacoma Community College | Tuition: $226/Credit. Tacoma Community College is a public institution in Washington offering courses transferable to university. Its most popular online courses are in arts, health, business, and STEM. Online students pay an additional $8 per credit.
- Eastern Washington University | Tuition: $229/Credit. Eastern Washington offers a wide range of online programs from music, education, behavioral health, business administration, and psychology.
- Central Washington University | Tuition: $230/Credit. Central Washington strives to offer affordable online programs to empower students to access education. It offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs online or through hybrid options.
Best Online Accredited Colleges in Washington That Accept Financial Aid
Besides checking for affordable accredited colleges in Washington, you can consider institutions that offer the most comprehensive financial aid programs. For instance, some institutions like Gonzaga University, Whitworth University, and Pacific Lutheran University offer some form of financial aid to 100 percent of their students.
- Gonzaga University | Tuition: $23,780/Year. Gonzaga is an acclaimed university that is regionally respected for its comprehensive education. It is known for its excellent quality of financial aid provided to 100 percent of all students.
- Pacific Lutheran University | Tuition: $49,472/Year. Pacific Lutheran’s tuition is expensive when compared to the national average of $41,281, according to US News & World Report. However, the Office of Student Financial Services allocates some form of financial aid to all students.
- Whitworth University | Tuition: $24,495/Semester. Whitworth University is committed to supporting students from diverse backgrounds. It strives to provide an education that’s meaningful and affordable with 100 percent of its students benefiting from financial aid.
- Northwest University | Tuition: $407/Credit. Northwest has an established financial aid process to eliminate the high costs of college tuition. Online students benefit from financial aid options including grants, military benefits, federal loans, and scholarships.
- Eastern Washington University | Tuition: $229/Credit. Eastern Washington is dedicated to offering affordable tuition to students since 96 percent of its students benefit from scholarships, grants, work-study programs, loans, tuition discounts, and waivers.
Best Online Schools in Washington by Popular Subjects
Some of the best online colleges in Washington are acclaimed for offering high-quality programs in subjects like computer science, psychology, and education. These programs afford great flexibility while studying as well as career mobility after you graduate.
Best Accredited Online Colleges With Associate Degree Programs in Washington
Washington has several accredited online colleges that offer associate degrees for interested students. For instance, City University of Seattle, Northwest University, and Washington State Community colleges offer online associate degree programs with transferable credits.
- City University of Seattle | Associate of Science in Business. City University’s online Associate Degree in Business is designed to provide a comprehensive foundation in core business principles to help students begin or advance their business careers. Another online program offered by the institution is an Associate in General Studies.
- Northwest University | Online Associate in Ministry Leadership. Northwest offers a one-of-a-kind online program for ministry leadership that is designed to offer students a broad foundation of knowledge in theology and Bible and ministry studies. The institution also offers a fully accredited two-year online Associate of Arts degree.
- Washington State Community College | Medical Laboratory Technology Program. Washington State’s MLT program is designed to train students in the behind-the-scenes labs of the healthcare sector. Students work under the supervision of lab managers, technologists, and physicians to earn certification. Other online associate degrees from WSCC include the business management technology program.
Best Online Associate Degrees
Best Accredited Online Colleges With Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Washington
The best accredited online colleges in Washington include the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Western Washington University. These schools offer the best online bachelor’s degree programs in the state to help qualify you for higher-level jobs with strong career growth potential.
- University of Washington | Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences. This course enables students to understand how groups and societies interact, function and change. It also allows for specialization in communication, economics, political science, or sociology.
- Washington State University | Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. This program, which is offered 100 percent online, gives students core knowledge on fundamental anthropological principles and practices. It delivers a wide range of courses specializing in anthropology subfields.
- Western Washington University | Bachelor of Arts in Human Services. If you have a passion for human services, this distance-learning program will educate you in professional identity preparation, systems change theory, citizen participation, and other areas that are crucial for career progression in the human services field.
- City University of Seattle | Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics. This online undergraduate program in data analytics offers students the knowledge and expertise they’ll need to develop solutions and improve decision-making in data-oriented modes of work across different sectors.
- Whitworth University | Bachelor of Arts in Management & Accounting. This AACSB accredited four-year online program is designed to prepare students to take the CPA exam and to be eligible for positions in senior management after they graduate and become certified.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Best Accredited Online Colleges With Master’s Degree Programs in Washington
A good number of accredited online colleges in Washington offer master’s degree programs in various disciplines including business, health, humanities, biological sciences, and engineering. While the courses are delivered online, the quality of college education they provide is at par with in-person training offered at graduate school.
- University of Washington | Master of Pharmaceutical Bioengineering. This master’s program offers interactive high-quality education. It is designed to enable working engineers, scientists, researchers, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical professionals to acquire skills that will give them an edge in their current jobs or will allow them to transition into more highly paying or prestigious positions.
- Washington State University | Master of Arts in Health Communication and Promotion. This program is geared towards health science and communication workers who want to upgrade their professional skills and advance their careers. Other master’s programs offered are in agriculture, business, education science, and technology.
- Gonzaga University | Master of Engineering in Transmission and Distribution Engineering. This program offered by Gonzaga University trains working engineers to tackle real-world challenges, providing education about emerging trends and guidance from industry experts. Other master’s programs include sports and athletic administration, theology and leadership, organizational leadership communication, and leadership studies.
- Eastern Washington University | Master of Education – Career and Technical Education with Administrator Certificate. This program prepares teachers for educational leadership roles and helps them achieve higher impact in work-based learning environments. Similar programs include business, accounting, public health, organizational leadership, and music education.
- Western Governors University | Masters in Information Technology. This online master’s degree prepares IT professionals to lead computer teams, tackle challenges, and flourish in leadership roles. Similar online programs offered fall under business, health science education, and nursing.
Best Online Master’s Degrees
Why You Should Attend an Accredited Online College in Washington
You should attend an accredited online college in Washington because many employers look for degrees from accredited institutions during the hiring process. Having a degree from an accredited institution increases your chances of securing a job and advancing in your career. Online programs offered by accredited online institutions also are guaranteed to have at least met the minimum standard requirements in terms of quality of education.
Accredited Online Colleges in Washington FAQ
Yes, online master’s degrees are recognized. Online master’s degrees offered by institutions with national and regional accreditation have just the same value as programs offered in person. When researching online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, ensure you check for accreditation status and recognition from the US News & World Report’s higher education ranking reports.
Yes, you can get a master’s degree online for free from an institution that provides full grants or scholarships for its master’s programs. However, it is hard to find these kinds of offers because they are rare and highly competitive. You may also be able to get enough financial aid to fully cover the cost of education, but this is also a fairly rare op.
Yes, more and more employers respect online degrees, especially with the dramatic increase in remote learning since 2020. However, for employers, some online degrees are more valued than others. Employers take into consideration the accreditation of the program and the reputation of the school when assessing the strength of the online degree.
Yes, an online degree is cheaper than a traditional degree program. According to a study by the Education Data Initiative Organization, the tuition and cost of attendance for an online degree is $10,776 cheaper than that of an in-person degree. The difference in cost is even greater at private institutions which tend to be more expensive for in-person programs.
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