Washington State may be home to endless evergreen forests, pioneer cities, and the multi-billion dollar Starbucks franchise, but it is also home to some of the best global and national universities. If you’re admitted to the best universities in Washington, you can look forward to rigorous curricula, experiential learning, and hands-on projects.
This article offers a thorough analysis of the best colleges in Washington. Prospective students will find our review of the best academic programs in the top 10 universities in Washington useful when deciding what school to attend. We’ve also included the types of financial aid available at these schools and the occupations Washington university grads ranked high for.
What Are the Best Universities in Washington?
The best universities in Washington include Gonzaga University, University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, and Whitworth University. These universities are the best in Washington because they have high graduation rates, accessible student resources, and experiential learning programs that can optimize the student’s learning experience.
Some other top universities in Washington include Seattle University, Pacific Lutheran University, and Washington State University. These schools also offer quality education and career opportunities. Most of the universities ranked offer advanced, research-oriented degree programs and are among the top-ranked colleges according to US News & World Report.
How Many Universities Are in Washington?
There are 63 four-year institutions in Washington, and at least 12 universities conduct research at the doctoral level. Of this total, 37 are public four-year universities and 20 are private non-profit four-year institutions. Six of these schools are private for-profit universities, and all of these schools hold institutional accreditations from globally-recognized accrediting bodies.
What Are the Biggest Universities in Washington?
The biggest universities in Washington are the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, Gonzaga University, and Central Washington University. These universities offer more than just a large campus and a bigger social circle. Bigger universities also have academic and career benefits.
Some advantages of attending a large university in Washington include larger class sizes, bustling campus life, a multitude of student organizations and campus clubs, a balanced student-faculty ratio, a wider range of programs, lower tuition rates, a wide variety of athletic teams, and more opportunities to network.
Largest Washington Universities by Enrollment
- University of Washington | 59,817
- Washington State University | 31,159
- Western Washington University | 15,197
- Gonzaga University | 12,349
- Central Washington University | 11,174
Washington University Rankings: What Are the Top 10 Universities in Washington?
|University of Washington
|University of Puget Sound
|Pacific Lutheran University
|Western Washington University
|Seattle Pacific University
|Saint Martin’s University
|Washington State University
How We Defined Washington University Rankings
Our ranking of the 10 best Washington universities is based on the graduation rates of top schools in the state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). In coming up with our list of 10 Washington universities, we also consulted rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education, which you can reference in the expanded list below.
The Best Colleges and Universities in Washington, Explained
Our curated list of ideal academic programs at the best colleges and universities in Washington is loosely based on the US News & World Report ranking of the most popular academic programs for the top schools in Washington. We’ve structured this section to include significant highlights of each school and program so prospective students can know what to expect.
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Washington University Admission Requirements
The admission requirements for a university in Washington are specific to the school you’re applying to. However, the common requirements include completing an online application, submitting an official transcript, attaching supplemental documents to your application, and paying the required application fee. A more detailed list is provided below.
Admission Requirements for Universities in Washington
- Complete the Common Application
- Pay the application fee or ask for a waiver
- Attach supplemental documents, including an essay
- Have a 3.0 GPA or higher
- SAT or ACT test scores are optional for some universities. Other test scores to consider submitting include AP, IB, CLEP, and Cambridge
- Submit official high school or college transcript or completed coursework from an accredited US school or an equivalent
- Transcripts should indicate credits in college preparatory math, English, laboratory science, and foreign language from an accredited high school or college
- Provide two to three recommendation letters and an evaluation report from your school counselor
- International students must submit TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English proficiency test scores
- Homeschooled applicants with less than 30 semester credits or 45 quarter college credits must submit test scores
- Applicants with up to five years gap in education may be asked to establish a new academic record at another school before applying
- Obtain a passing score on the program’s entrance examination if applicable
How to Apply to Washington Universities
While the application process for most schools differs, it usually starts with the applicant filling out an online application form. This form comes with note boxes and an uploads section so the student can include personal information and supplemental documents.
Your application may also include writing an essay or an interview with the admissions team. You should know that the requirements vary for professional programs, so you should request information from the admissions office when you need to.
Washington Universities Admissions Process
- Complete an online application form on the school’s website or the Common App service before the stated deadline.
- Submit supplemental documents to complete your application. Schools in Washington usually require an essay, a school counselor evaluation, and letters of recommendation from non-relations.
- Pay an application fee or request a fee waiver.
- Standardized test scores are optional for most schools. However, if you wish to submit them, most schools prefer the SAT score to be above 1150 and the ACT score to be above 23 for undergraduate applicants. GMAT and GRE scores are usually requested for graduate applications.
- You should request an official high school diploma or college transcript from an accredited US institution or an equivalent.
- Your GPA should not be less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. You need credits in college preparatory math, English, lab science, and foreign languages.
- International students are usually required to provide English proficiency test scores, usually TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, or the Cambridge English Test.
- Apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA form.
- Track your admissions status.
- You may be asked to write an assessment or attend an interview for your specific program.
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Why Study in Washington?
You should study in Washington because it offers visitors and residents an array of features. According to US News & World Report, Washington ranks high in education, infrastructure, economy, fiscal stability, and healthcare. If you’re wondering how these factors can affect your education, read on.
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According to Statista, many residents in Washington have a bachelor’s degree. This shows that the state knows the value and quality of education. The universities in Washington ensure students experience a balance of classroom and field learning.
Besides providing students with a thorough curriculum and knowledgeable professors, it ensures students can implement their knowledge through real-stakes research and industry applications.
This state houses some of the biggest industrial companies and their owners. As such, you can expect that it generates adequate gross domestic product, which leads to increased circulation of income, labor engagement, and state development.
The high production activities of industrial companies ensure that unemployment is low and inflation is controlled. As a student looking for career development, you’ll benefit from the economic opportunities available.
High economic activities lead to high revenue generation, which leads to infrastructural development. Studying in Washington allows you to enjoy all the benefits of an industrial state, including good transport systems, stable energy supply, good drainage systems, ventilation, good housing, adequate education, and good healthcare facilities.
More Washington University Rankings: What Other Universities Are the Best in Washington?
Below are essential Washington university rankings that will provide you with more insight when making decisions about your career and college future.
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Top Washington Universities by Major
Some schools offer better programs than others. As a prospective student, you shouldn’t apply to every school. A huge part of college decision-making is finding schools that offer your ideal program and understanding in what capacity they do. Below are the best schools in Washington for the most popular college majors.
Tuition Costs for Washington Universities
According to the 2019-20 undergraduate tuition data report by the National Center for Education Statistics, Washington residents enrolled in four-year public institutions pay an average tuition rate of $7,168. Out-of-state students enrolled in public four-year institutions pay an average tuition of $30,155, and those attending private four-year universities pay $39,791.
Most Affordable Universities in Washington
- Eastern Washington University | Tuition: $229.87/Credit (Resident ); $824/Credit (Non-Resident). This rate does not include fees. The graduate tuition per credit for residents is $411.77 and $931.29 for non-residents. This rate is for the 2021-2022 academic year.
- Western Washington University | Tuition: $262/Credit (Resident); $837/Credit (Non-Resident). These rates are subject to change following a directive from the board of trustees or the State Legislature. If you’re paying for more than 18 credits, the tuition per credit is $230 for residents and $804 for non-residents.
- University of Washington | Tuition: $889/Two Credits (Resident); $2,788/Two Credits (Non-resident). These costs comprise various campus fees alongside tuition costs. This is for fall 2021 to winter 2022.
- Central Washington University | Tuition: $421.90/Credit (Resident); $1,522/80/Credit (Non-resident). These rates do not include mandatory fees. Additional fees may be charged for late registration ($25-$75), late tuition payment ($75-$125), and late graduation application ($35-$70).
- Washington State University | Tuition: $563.30/Credit (Resident); $1,347.50/Credit (Non-resident). This is the tuition rate for one to 10 credits for the 2022-2023 academic year. Admitted students may pay $710 in mandatory fees. Other fees include room and board, books, miscellaneous living expenses, and transportation.
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Financial Aid Options for the Best Universities in Washington
Financial aid options for the best universities in Washington include federal loans, waivers, and grants. There are many ways to pay for college for students that come from the state of Washington but for out-of-state students too. Graduate students may have to rely on work-study, research assistantships, and scholarships. Below is a detailed description of the various types of financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students.
Financial Aid for Washington Universities: A Summary
- Scholarships. Scholarship opportunities come from your school or external sources. The school, an individual, or an organization usually funds these awards. Students are awarded based on several factors, but the most common are financial need, academic achievement, leadership skills, and community involvement.
- Grant. You can secure grant funding from your school or the government. Grants don’t have to be repaid. Only students with financial needs can receive grants. You apply for a grant award when you submit a FAFSA or a Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA). Some schools give grants to students for research purposes.
- Work-study. College students can apply for employment while still schooling. The federal work-study programs allow students to work part-time while in school. You can also secure several jobs entirely funded or subsidized by your school. This helps you balance your working hours and study hours.
- Loan. While you don’t have to pay back the previous options, you do have to pay back loans. College students can secure low-interest loans from the government by completing the FAFSA form. You can also secure loans from private loan providers. Some popular options are Ascent and Sallie Mae.
Washington University Eligibility Requirements: Who Qualifies for Financial Aid at Washington Universities?
- US citizens and eligible non-citizens
- Graduate of a recognized high school with a high school diploma or an equivalent
- Students admitted to and enrolled in a college degree program
- Students with valid social security numbers
- Non-defaulters of federal loans or grants
- Students with campus housing status
- Students with financial needs
- Students with excellent academic achievement
Private Washington Universities With Good Financial Aid
- Gonzaga University. Gonzaga University offers a wide range of aid options to students. Students can get grants, loans, scholarships, student employment, and flexible payment plans. Also, two-thirds of its students qualify for financial aid and 98 percent of undergraduate students receive financial aid.
- Whitworth University. Whitworth University is a leader in financial aid. One hundred percent of its students receive financial aid. Its average scholarship and grant award was $35,758 for first-year students in the 2021-2022 academic year.
- Seattle University. Seattle University is one of the many schools in Washington that prioritizes undergraduate student aid. Students can get grants, scholarships, and employment on campus. According to its latest report, 92 percent of undergraduate students and 68 percent of graduate students receive financial aid.
Universities in Washington That Provide Financial Aid to Out-of-State Students
- Gonzaga University. The financial aid available to out-of-state students includes scholarships and on-campus employment opportunities. At Gonzaga University, international students can look forward to scholarships specifically for them as well as all school-sponsored scholarships.
- Whitworth University. While some Washington universities don’t offer need-based financial aid to international students, Whitworth does through the CSS Profile website. There are also scholarships, on-campus employment, and housing grants available for international students.
- Pacific Lutheran University. While state funds are restricted to residents and federal funds are restricted to citizens and eligible non-citizens, international students, will find the scholarship and grants available at PLU sufficient to cover some of their tuition. However, aid is based on the student’s academic performance.
How to Apply For Financial Aid and Scholarships for Washington State Universities
- To secure financial aid and scholarships, you need to first secure admission into a degree program.
- Sign up for a Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID). You may also be asked to reveal the income status of your parents and family. So, they may need an FSA ID too.
- During your school admission process, submit a FAFSA application. FAFSA limits the number of schools you can request aid from to 10.
- Ensure your application is submitted before the deadline.
- You won’t receive aid until you’ve been admitted and enrolled in your school.
- Review the Student Aid Report sent via mail or email, and send it back as directed.
- Award notification will be sent to your school account through email. It shows your award type and amount.
- You can accept or decline at this stage.
- If you’re contacted afterward for more documentation, ensure you follow up immediately.
Demographics of Universities in Washington
Based on the demographic data report from NCES, white students make up more than half of the students in Washington universities. Hispanic and Asian students occupy a moderate portion of the minority half. Interracial students are the fourth most common category in the overall group, followed by African American students.
Diversity Statistics for Universities in Washington
- White: 58.6%
- Black: 5.0%
- Hispanic: 15.3%
- Asian: 10.9%
- Pacific Islander: 0.7%
- American Indian: 1.1%
- Two or More Races: 8.6%
Washington Employment Outlook for University Students
The latest reports on Washington’s economy show that the majority of its workforce is employed. According to data from the US Census Bureau, its total employment increased by 2.1 percent between 2019 and 2020.
Judging by the fact that Washington has a population of 7,738,692 people and almost half of its residents make up its labor force, it is an ideal place to go to school or work. There is a high level of industrialization in the state, and students looking for employment opportunities will most likely benefit from studying here.
5 In-Demand Washington Jobs
According to 2022 data from the Employment Security Department in Washington, there are 39 occupations listed as in-demand jobs in Washington. We have detailed some of the most popular occupations on the list below. Each job type contains supporting data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Is a University in Washington Right for You?
Yes, a university in Washington is right for you if you’re looking for a state with active student life and adequate college funding. All the universities listed on our curated table ensure students have experiential learning opportunities. There is a high emphasis on real-world experience for students, regardless of their major.
However, universities in Washington aren’t for everyone. They still require you to spend two to eight years getting a degree, and the degree curricula, especially for technology disciplines, are usually too broad. Therefore, coding bootcamps are an excellent option for students who wish to learn in-demand skills for the current job market and break into the industry quickly.
How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities
Best Universities in Washington FAQ
The most prestigious college in Washington is the University of Washington. This public school holds several national and international awards. Its research efforts have a significant impact on the global economy. The programs offered have rigorous content and offer experiential learning opportunities.
You need at least a 3.5 grade point average or higher to get into the University of Washington. This university has a competitive admissions process. Most freshmen must have a good GPA for college, so they come with grade point averages of 3.73 to 3.96 on a 4.0 scale. However, their admission process is not solely based on grade point average.
No, Washington is not expensive to live in. While the cost of living in Washington is significantly higher than those of some states, visitors and residents can still manage their resources in this state. If you’re looking to study in this state, you can reduce costs by living on campus rather than off campus. The state offers a wide range of student aid to supplement your income.
Washington is a good place to study because it houses some of the best universities in the nation. It also offers students a wholesome college experience and adequate funding for their education. International students will benefit from the financial aid, inclusive student body, and job opportunities available to students in this area.
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