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?
|2||University of Washington||Seattle||84%|
|5||University of Puget Sound||Tacoma||74%|
|6||Pacific Lutheran University||Tacoma||69%|
|7||Western Washington University||Bellingham||68%|
|8||Seattle Pacific University||Seattle||66%|
|9||Saint Martin’s University||Lacey||61%|
|10||Washington State University||Pullman||60%|
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.
Gonzaga University is a private liberal arts institution located in Spokane. It opened in 1887 as a Catholic and humanistic university. This university offers 16 undergraduate degree programs, 24 master's degree programs, and five doctoral degree programs. There are seven colleges and schools and 450 full-time faculty members.
Gonzaga University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Spokane
- Student Population: 7,295
- Acceptance Rate: 76%
- Graduation Rate: 85%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $69,468
- US News National Ranking: #79
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #192 (US)
Best Gonzaga University Programs
- Business Administration. The Bachelor of Business Administration offers 10 concentrations in areas like economics, finance, and interdisciplinary studies. Additionally, students must complete three to six credits in a broadening course, an international course, and an experiential course.
- Sociology. A Bachelor of Arts in Sociology is an excellent foundation for advanced study in business, law, government service, and teaching. This program also offers students the opportunity to join the one-year research program. Courses in this degree include sociology of literature and sociology of race and ethnicity.
- Biology. The biology program leads to a Bachelor of Arts or Science with an optional concentration in biology research. This program teaches scientific inquiry and problem-solving skills for careers in medicine, teaching, and research. Students can participate in the study-abroad program, outdoor program, and summer research.
- Mechanical Engineering. You can choose from computer, mechanical, and engineering management programs offered at this school. The ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering prepares you for careers in manufacturing, biotechnology, and power generation. This 138-credit program includes lab work and design projects.
- Computer Science. The computer science bachelor's program is built on mathematics, science, software engineering, and advanced computing topics. This program also includes lab work and design projects. Students are encouraged to pursue internships and summer research programs as part of the requirement for this 128-credit degree.
The University of Washington is a top public institution with a strong focus on research headquartered in Seattle. It has two other campuses in Tacoma and Bothell and a current student population of 59,817. It started offering classes in 1861. Currently, it offers 469 academic programs across all three campuses at the bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral levels.
University of Washington Overview
- Campus Location(s): Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma
- Student Population: 59,817
- Acceptance Rate: 53%
- Graduation Rate: 84%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $68,925
- US News National Ranking: #59
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #29 (World)
Best University of Washington (UW) Programs
- Social Work. This is a top program at UW. At the bachelor's level, this degree is known as social welfare. A Master of Science in Social Work gives you three degree pathways, including an extended degree and advanced standing degree programs. Enrolled students can look forward to traineeships and field experience.
- Biostatistics. This well-ranked Master of Science in Biostatistics offers students two academic tracks: a Master of Science capstone or a Master of Science thesis. The capstone track spans 18 months and includes research collaboration and specialized pathways. This track requires an independent research paper and a theory exam.
- Engineering. This program offers engineering degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Each degree level has opportunities for internships, research programs, laboratory work, and capstone projects. The 180-credit Bachelor of Science program covers core courses such as structural vibrations and aerospace laboratory.
- Computer Science. Computer science is one of the most popular majors at UW. An undergraduate degree in computer science offers more flexibility and diverse course curricula. Students may participate in undergraduate research, teaching assistant programs, study abroad programs, internships, and capstone projects.
- Nursing. There are 15 undergraduate and graduate programs offered at the School of Nursing at UW. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing spans two years and prepares students for careers as registered nurses. The degree requires 60 semester credits and 1000 hours of hands-on experience in patient care at any of the 700 partner locations.
Seattle University is a private research university in Seattle. It was established in 1891 as a Jesuit Catholic institution. Its eight schools and colleges offer over 120 academic degrees and certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Three of four of its undergraduate students engage in community service, averaging over 200,000 hours of service each year.
Seattle University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Seattle
- Student Population: 7,050
- Acceptance Rate: 82%
- Graduation Rate: 75%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $69,303
- US News National Ranking: #127
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #122 (US)
Best Seattle University Programs
- Nursing. Seattle University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The doctoral program spans four years but can be shortened to three if you have a BS degree. Bachelor’s students must complete a minimum of 180 credits. The program prepares students for the NCLEX-RN exam.
- Finance. This Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance allows you to major or minor in finance. Students need to complete 180 credits in core courses. You’ll build technical knowledge and practical experience by managing investment as a portfolio analyst or manager and competing in the CFA research challenge.
- Mechanical Engineering. Seattle University offers mechanical engineering degrees at the bachelor's and master’s levels. The Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering is a 180-credit program that can be completed in four years. You’ll participate in industry-sponsored projects, professional mentorships, and undergraduate research.
- Psychology. You can earn a Bachelor of Science or Arts in Psychology. The 180-credit program offers opportunities to engage in clinical work, quantitative and qualitative research, volunteering, and internships. You can even focus on often-neglected areas such as gender, forgiveness, politics, multicultural counseling, and health.
- Computer Science. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science offers specializations in mathematics and business. You can also earn a Bachelor of Arts or complete a fast-track master’s program in five years. This 180-credit program offers students the opportunity to complete a one-year software development final project.
Whitworth University started in 1890 with a mission to educate both the mind and the heart. This private Christian school is based in Spokane. It offers its student body of over 2,000 access to over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Working professionals can also look forward to flexible and affordable online and in-person classes and degree programs.
Whitworth University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Spokane
- Student Population: 2,756
- Acceptance Rate: 91%
- Graduation Rate: 75%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $55,248
- US News Regional Ranking: #4
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #501-600 (US)
Best Whitworth University Programs
- Business Management. The Bachelor of Business Administration allows you to concentrate on areas such as business management, accounting, and marketing. You can also minor in accounting, leadership, and general business. This program offers opportunities for internships, consulting projects, mock interviews, and job fairs.
- Psychology. The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology will help you become a psychologist through experiential learning opportunities, including practicum placements and research projects. You’ll even collaborate with professors on research. Students participate in teaching assistantships to build skills in education.
- Education. The Bachelor of Arts in Education is an opportunity to build experience in K-12 settings. You’ll work with amazing staff and faculty members during your schooling. Some of the courses you’ll encounter include children’s literature and social studies, refugee and immigrant experiences, and early speech, language, and literacy.
- Nursing. Whitworth offers a joint nursing program with Washington State University. Courses include international healthcare and community health nursing theory. The nursing department offers an international health care program in Peru. Other available external classroom opportunities can boost your education experience.
- Theater. The Bachelor of Arts in Theater offers a flexible curriculum, so you can easily minor in another academic discipline to boost your skills and career opportunities. Students participate in internships and performance programs within and outside the state. These students learn through personalized studies and production activities.
The University of Puget Sound is a national liberal arts college in Tacoma. A Methodist Episcopal Church founded this prestigious independent institution in 1888. There are 50 areas of study for students to choose from at this Christian college. It holds institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
University of Puget Sound Overview
- Campus Location(s): Tacoma
- Student Population: 2,130
- Acceptance Rate: 88%
- Graduation Rate: 74%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $61,842
- US News Liberal Arts Ranking: #85
- Times Higher Education Ranking: N/A
Best University of Puget Sound (UPS) Programs
- Business Administration. Both the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and in Business Leadership include a research seminar. The business leadership major includes field trips, guest lecturers, and a professional internship. Some concentrations in this program include finance, international business, sustainability, and legal studies.
- Psychology. The undergraduate major in psychology combines critical analysis of psychological theories and research. Courses include psychological disorders, physiological psychology, psychotherapy and behavior change, and developmental psychology. Students have access to research and observation labs.
- Biology. In this undergraduate major, you'll learn how to conduct research and apply your findings to real-world problems. Students will conduct collaborative, hands-on research projects. The final year courses include directed research, a thesis, independent study, and an internship seminar.
- Economics. Both the Bachelor of Science and Arts in Economics help students build a strong foundation in economic theory and applied analysis. Both pathways involve an empirical economic research project. To pursue a graduate program, you need competence in econometrics, mathematics, and mathematical economics.
- Computer Science. This major prepares you for a career as a data analyst, research scientist, full stack developer, and software engineer. Some courses include algorithms and data structures, introduction to artificial intelligence, and software engineering. You can study abroad, complete internships, and do a capstone project.
Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) is a private university founded in 1890 by Scandinavian immigrants. Its 156-acre campus is in south Tacoma. To achieve its mission of promoting thoughtful inquiry and leadership, it offers over 40 academic majors and 50 minors. PLU has an average class size of 20 students and considers itself a test-optional institution.
Pacific Lutheran University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Tacoma
- Student Population: 2,907
- Acceptance Rate: 88%
- Graduation Rate: 69%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $57,049
- US News Regional Ranking: #14
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #333 (US)
Best Pacific Lutheran University Programs
- Business. PLU offers business certificates, an undergraduate degree, and a Master of Business Administration for students interested in this major. Students can choose from any of the four concentrations or design their own. The Bachelor of Business Administration offers several opportunities to participate in internships.
- Nursing. PLU offers three programs in nursing at undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is ideal for professionals with a bachelor's or master's degree. You can specialize in family nursing and psychiatric mental health. The curriculum offers real-world experience and meets the requirements for national certification.
- Kinesiology. The Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology offers pathways in health and fitness education and health and fitness with a teaching certificate. The Bachelor of Science offers concentrations in exercise science and pre-physical therapy. You also have the option of pursuing a Master of Science in Kinesiology.
- Psychology. You can complete this program as a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Psychology. The BS offers more scientific training and a strong focus on research. Students can also take advantage of public service programs. School graduates can go on to law school, medical school, social work, and business.
- Global Studies. A Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies prepares you for work in the global community. You can choose between three concentrations, including international affairs, development and social justice, and transnationalism and its consequences.
Western Washington University (WWU) started in 1893 as a teacher training school. This public university is located in Bellingham. WWU has over 200 academic programs and an average case size of 26. Experienced and compassionate professors teach 99 percent of its classes across the seven academic colleges.
Western Washington University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Bellingham
- Student Population: 15,197
- Acceptance Rate: 96%
- Graduation Rate: 68%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $54,976
- US News Regional Ranking: #16
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #601-800 (World)
Best Western Washington University Programs
- Business Administration. The Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration offers seven concentrations in general business, international business, and marketing. You can also pursue seven minors. Students can explore internship programs, study abroad opportunities, professional clubs and organizations, and scholarships.
- Communication Sciences and Disorders. This undergraduate major prepares students for graduate studies in a master's degree in speech-language pathology and a clinical doctorate in audiology. You'll be taught both normal and abnormal communication processes. You'll also participate in assessing and treating clients.
- Multidisciplinary Studies. The Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies allows you to explore courses across departments. You'll cover courses in liberal arts, humanities, business, and science. However, you'll need to complete 60 upper-level credits. A maximum of 10 credits may be applied to an internship or field experience.
- Environmental Studies. WWU offers 12 degrees in this discipline, some of which include concentrations in economics, geographic information science, environmental policy, and environmental journalism. There are also 13 minors for students who don't want to major in this field.
- Music. The only prerequisite for being accepted into the music program is an entrance audition. Once admitted, you can specialize in music history and literature, music performance, and music composition. You need 60 credits to complete this major. You can also minor in jazz studies to complete the undergraduate degree requirement.
The Free Methodist Church of North America founded Seattle Pacific University in 1891. This private Christian University offers 72 undergraduate majors and 58 minors. There are also 28 master's degree programs, five doctoral degree programs, and 15 graduate certificates.
Seattle Pacific University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Seattle
- Student Population: 3,601
- Acceptance Rate: 92%
- Graduation Rate: 66%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $57,097
- US News National Ranking: #227
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #352 (US)
Best Seattle Pacific University Programs
- Data Analytics in Business. You can pursue a Master of Science in Data Analytics in Business online or in a hybrid format. Undergraduate students start with a bachelor's degree program in business, government, or economics. This 45-credit program also includes practical training with an enterprise under the sponsorship of a faculty member.
- General Engineering. There are six engineering undergraduate degree programs in this department, including mechanical engineering, computer engineering, and general engineering. The Bachelor of Science in General Engineering offers a blend of computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering.
- Psychology. You can choose between a Bachelor of Arts, Science, or a minor in psychology. The BA offers nine tracks, including animal behavior, psychological science, and developmental psychology. The BS requires a minimum of 88 credits and offers three tracks, including behavioral and cognitive neuroscience.
- Applied Human Biology. The Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Biology prepares you for a doctoral degree in physical therapy. This degree gives you a unique understanding of the biological and behavioral nature of humans. You are required to complete 108 credits to satisfy the degree requirements for physical therapy.
- Nursing. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing prepares you for leadership roles or practice in acute care and community settings. You don't need a Certified Nursing Assistant certification to be enrolled, but you need to have completed prerequisites in anatomy, physiology, developmental psychology, biological chemistry, and more.
Saint Martin’s University was founded in 1895 on Benedictine values. This private Christian school is located in Lacey, Washington. There are 29 academic majors. Prospective students can look forward to research-based curricula that go beyond job outcomes and study-abroad opportunities in over 20 countries.
Saint Martin’s University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Lacey
- Student Population: 1,638
- Acceptance Rate: 72%
- Graduation Rate: 61%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $55,283
- US News Regional Ranking: #35
- Times Higher Education Ranking: N/A
Best Saint Martin’s University Programs
- Business Administration. Those interested in the business administration major must complete 60 of 120 credit hours to qualify. There are seven areas of concentration, and popular courses in this discipline invite career management, consumer behavior, and project management. You can also apply for the 4+1 dual degree program.
- Psychology. Saint Martin’s offers majors and minors in this discipline. The major includes 30 credit hours in upper-level courses and 12 credit hours in lower-division courses. Popular courses in this major include health psychology, trauma and recovery, psychology and law, and psychology of religion and spirituality.
- Computer Science. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science or a Master's in Computer Science. The computer science major includes the completion of up to 87 credits in courses such as cyber forensics, game development with HCI, mobile application development, user-centered design, and introduction to artificial intelligence.
- Biology. The Bachelor of Science in Biology combines classroom and field experience to train students for careers in biotech companies and healthcare organizations. Students must complete 93 credit hours in courses like marine biology, evolution, and invertebrate zoology. You can also access career mentorship, internship, and study abroad opportunities.
- Mechanical Engineering. Students can complete this program through the 4+1 BS/MS program. Students must complete 100 credit hours and choose from five concentrations, including bioengineering, numerical analysis, design and entrepreneurship, intelligent and dynamic systems and analysis, and fluid mechanics and energy systems.
Washington State University spent $345 million on research and development in 2019 and made impacts in areas such as health, food production, clean energy, and security. This land-grant university is headquartered in Pullman. It has 11 colleges, 101 majors, 76 master's degree programs, 65 doctoral degree programs, and three professional degree programs.
Washington State University Overview
- Campus Location(s): Pullman, Spokane, Richland, Vancouver, Everett
- Student Population: 31,159
- Acceptance Rate: 86%
- Graduation Rate: 60%
- Post-Grad Median Salary: $61,080
- US News National Ranking: #179
- Times Higher Education Ranking: #351-400 (World); #238 (US)
Best Washington State University Programs
- Neuroscience. Admittance into the neuroscience program requires the completion of 24 credits and a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Some of the major courses include biochemistry, neuroanatomy, and cellular neurobiology. Outstanding students can complete a BS/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in seven years rather than eight.
- Data Analytics. WSU is one of the few research institutions in Washington that offers this degree at its Everett campus. You'll need a minimum of 120 credits to complete this degree. You need core courses in computer science, statistics, mathematics, and philosophy. You'll be allowed to choose between the business and bacterial tracks.
- Social Sciences. WSU offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences. This online degree program allows you to customize your curriculum to suit your learning needs. You can choose from 12 concentrations in anthropology, administrative studies, communication, criminal justice, psychology, political science, and human development.
- Journalism and Media Production. The Edward R. Murrow College of Education offers two majors in communication. Students can choose between journalism and media production, and strategic communication. The journalism and media communication degree program offers concentrations in multimedia journalism and broadcast news.
- Bioengineering. The Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering offers a specialization in pre-medicine. First-year students can enroll in the bioengineering major if they have met the grade requirements for mathematics and chemistry courses.
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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.
- Western Washington University. In addition to optimal academic programs, WWU offers academic advising, a tutoring center, basic needs assistance, a career services center, veteran services, a disability access center, a scholarship center, a student employment center, and a counseling and wellness center.
- Washington State University. WSU offers a wide range of facilities and resources to students. Aside from lower tuition rates and financial aid assistance, enrolled students can look forward to online academic programs, a WSU writing program, a math learning center, several student organizations, and an employment resource site.
- The Evergreen State College. The Evergreen State College is a four-year liberal arts college in Olympia. It began providing academic services in 1971. It offers flexible programs, a recreation center, several types of financial aid, and 45 fields of study.
- University of Washington. UW is a large, multi-campus university. As a cutting-edge research institution, it ensures its academic programs meet the standards of international bodies each year. It awards over 12,000 degrees annually through its 18 schools and colleges and offers 1,800 courses to undergraduates each year.
- Western Washington University. Each year, WWU makes an economic impact worth $972 million through its capital expenditures, stint expenditures, payroll, tourism, and recent graduates. It has a strategic goal of offering transformational education through innovative scholarship, research, and creative activity.
- Washington State University. This public research institution offers rigorous programs online and on campus. It is also one of the most affordable academic institutions in the country. Its students have access to internships, research programs, and 565 study abroad programs in over 70 countries.
- Gonzaga University. Gonzaga is a national research institution that is ranked as one of the best value colleges in the nation. This private institution is committed to promoting the welfare of its students through adequate financial aid support and an innovative academic curriculum.
- University of Puget Sound. The University of Puget Sound is committed to helping students learn, grow, and achieve greatness. It offers both faculty and peer advising programs, a physical bookstore for school supplies, career and employment services, and a center for learning and writing.
- Whitworth University. At Whitworth University, you have all the resources you need to succeed. Enrolled students can seek advice from academic advisors, student success coaches, academic tutoring, career services, writing consultations, intervention centers for mental health, and a library.
- University of Washington. UW offers 40 online certificate programs through the UW professional and continuing education center. There are also single courses and degree programs for students to choose from. Each of the 19 degrees is flexible, allowing the student to organize their classes around their schedule.
- Washington State University. WSU has a global campus specially designed to accommodate the needs of online students. This campus serves veterans, active-duty military, and first-generation students. There are 21 undergraduate programs, 13 certificate programs, 13 graduate programs, and one teaching endorsement. It also offers career advising.
- Central Washington University. Its learning center offers online and hybrid programs to students. It offers 11 graduate degrees, 18 undergraduate degrees, 29 minors, hybrid programs, and certificates and endorsements. Student resources such as career services, testing services, library, and tutoring are also available.
- Gonzaga University. This private institution has 200 international students enrolled in its academic programs. These diverse students have access to scholarship awards and student employment opportunities. If you're interested in schooling in Washington, Gonzaga offers an inclusive educational system and a friendly community on campus.
- Whitworth University. Three percent of Whitworth University's student population is made up of international students from 32 countries around the world. This university offers a closely-knit community and a variety of student services to its international students, including a broad range of academic offerings and financial support.
- Seattle University. Its international community is made up of 850 students. These students come from diverse backgrounds and more than 60 countries. Aside from having access to rigorous academics, as an international student, you'll have access to mentorships, internships, financial aid, and on-campus housing assistance.
Best Bachelor’s Degrees
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.
- University of Washington. UW has five computer science degree programs, including a Bachelor of Science, a combined bachelor’s/master's, a professional master's, and a doctoral program. UW’s computer science school is among the top-ranked in the country. You can look forward to innovative research projects and fieldwork.
- Washington State University. The ABET-accredited computer science program can be completed as a Bachelor of Art or a Bachelor of Science. Students can look forward to an accomplished and supportive alumni network, workstations and labs, and state-of-the-art computer facilities.
- Gonzaga University. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science introduces students to advanced topics in artificial intelligence, natural language processing, computer interaction, and machine learning. This ABET-accredited program ensures you participate in lab work and design projects.
- University of Washington. UW's school of nursing offers 15 degree programs, including undergraduate and graduate programs and 11 graduate certificates. There are also courses for non-nursing majors who want to build knowledge of the discipline. Elected fellows of the American Academy of Nursing teach these well-funded programs.
- Washington State University. The nursing school at WSU is one of the top-ranked nursing colleges in the United States. It has an impressive research portfolio targeted to promote innovative health care systems, smart health, and health risk reduction. WSU has two undergraduate programs, one master's program, and one doctoral program.
- Gonzaga University. The nursing school at Gonzaga offers an on-campus Bachelor of Science, an online Master of Science, and an online doctoral degree in nursing practice to prospective students. Students will explore health care trends, policies, and challenges.
- University of Washington. The college of engineering at UW offers dedicated scholarships and career services to its engineering students. It engages students and faculty in high-value projects using its $125 million external research funds. It has hundreds of engineering awards and is the number one source of UW startups.
- Washington State University. The college of engineering at WSU offers seven degree programs in engineering, including mechanical, electrical, computer, and bioengineering. You'll take part in senior design projects based on real-world experience. There are over 20 engineering clubs for students to choose from. It also has a creative student body.
- Gonzaga University. There are seven engineering programs in its college of engineering. Prospective students can choose from bachelor's degree programs in civil, computer, mechanical, computer engineering, and engineering management. There are academic clubs, study abroad opportunities, and project centers available to students.
- Central Washington University (CWU). The college of business at CWU offers five specializations, six minors, and one certificate in supply chain management. The college is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Students engage in focused programs with faculty and have access to internships.
- Eastern Washington University. Eastern Washington University’s school of business offers 20 undergraduate programs and eight graduate programs to interested students. You'll find degrees in business analytics, entrepreneurship, and international business at this school. There are also scholarship and fellowship opportunities for students.
- Gonzaga University. Gonzaga offers two undergraduate programs in business. Students can major in business administration or accounting and can also pursue a degree in economics. There are five graduate programs to choose from, including dual degree options. Students have access to scholarships and leadership programs.
- University of Washington. The department of psychology at UW is research-focused. Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees, seminars, fieldwork, research projects, and study abroad opportunities.
- Gonzaga University. The psychology department at Gonzaga University offers students a Bachelor of Arts degree with an optional research concentration or a minor in the discipline. Those who choose research will be offered opportunities and lab facilities to explore their scientific inquiry.
- Seattle University. The extensive internship placement in this department allows students to build field experience in private practices, community settings, clinics, and hospitals. You can choose between a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Science, and a minor in psychology.
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.
How to Pay for Your Chosen School Path
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.
A medical and health services manager oversees the daily administration of health services in a clinical or medical setting. Their job includes managing the work facility, department, or practice. A degree in health services from Whitworth University will give you a practical understanding of human health and well-being so you can infuse efficiency and empathy into your work tasks.
A computer and information research scientist studies the various compositions of computer hardware and software, and designs ways to improve their processes. A Master's in Computer Science from Washington State University enables you to conduct and effectively communicate the result of your finding in such a way that it solves a complex problem.
A marketing manager is responsible for identifying, developing, and implementing marketing strategies to help achieve sales, branding, and promotion goals. A marketing manager also coordinates the company's marketing operations and interactions with the target market. A degree in marketing from Seattle University will give you the necessary skills for this role.
An electrical engineer analyzes electrical engineering needs, and designs, tests, implements, and manages the deployment and use of electrical equipment, systems, and devices. A degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington prepares you to design and develop hardware and software for a wide range of devices and systems.
A natural sciences manager coordinates the research and development efforts of scientists. They also evaluate the work processes of scientists and technicians. A degree in ESRM from the University of Washington will enable you to understand biological, chemical, and physical processes.
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.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.