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10 Popular Colleges in Washington
We've highlighted a handful of colleges in Washington we think you should consider based on factors such as prestige, selectivity, and enrollment size.
All school data below comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Tuition and fees are from 2022-2023, while acceptance rates, enrollment statistics, net prices, and number of applicants are from 2021.
1. University of Washington
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $12,242 (in-state) | $40,740 (out-of-state)
- Acceptance Rate: 53%
- Total Student Enrollment: 52,434
UW is a public research university with campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell. UW's main campus in Seattle is 700 acres and renowned for its beauty, offering views of Lake Washington and stunning cherry tree blossoms every spring.
Established in 1861, UW is among the country's top public universities and is a leader in engineering, medical, and scientific research. UW also has close ties to local tech giants such as Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon, boosting graduates' career opportunities.
2. Washington State University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $12,701 (in-state) | $28,385 (out-of-state)
- Acceptance Rate: 86%
- Total Student Enrollment: 29,843
WSU is a public research university with a main campus in Pullman, a tight-knit college town. The 620-acre campus sits atop one of the many rolling hills of the Palouse in eastern Washington and is easily recognizable by its red brick buildings.
WSU offers robust academic options, with over 200 undergraduate fields of study and nearly 150 graduate and professional degree programs. The school's most popular majors include communication, psychology, and the social sciences.
3. Gonzaga University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $8,853
- Acceptance Rate: 76%
- Total Student Enrollment: 7,381
Founded in 1887, Gonzaga is a private Jesuit university. The 152-acre campus lies alongside the Spokane River near downtown Spokane, home of the world's largest basketball tournament.
Speaking of basketball, Gonzaga might be best known for its men's basketball program, which frequently vies for national titles. Academically, Gonzaga takes a holistic approach by educating the mind, body, and spirit based on Ignatian traditions.
4. Whitman College
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $58,622
- Acceptance Rate: 59%
- Total Student Enrollment: 1,559
A small liberal arts college in the wine country of Walla Walla, Whitman is an undergraduate-only school where students can choose from among 48 majors and 34 minors.
The most popular majors include biological and biomedical sciences, research and experimental psychology, and economics. Whitman offers over $42 million in financial aid and scholarships annually — 91% of students receive financial aid, and 62% graduate without any student debt.
5. Western Washington University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $8,967 (in-state) | $26,873 (out-of-state)
- Acceptance Rate: 96%
- Total Student Enrollment: 15,125
Western is a public university in Bellingham, just 20 miles south of the Canada border. The 215-acre campus overlooks Bellingham Bay, a popular spot for kayakers and paddleboarders.
Western is home to the country's oldest environmental college and one of the best vehicle research programs. The university offers over 200 academic programs and even allows students to design their own degrees through an interdisciplinary program.
6. Seattle University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $51,324
- Acceptance Rate: 82%
- Total Student Enrollment: 7,268
SeattleU is a private, mid-sized Jesuit university. Founded in 1891 and located east of downtown, the university leverages its Jesuit values to educate students in the humanities and encourage exploration outside their majors.
SeattleU has garnered praise from the city for its sustainability efforts, from boasting pesticide-free grounds to using a food waste compost facility. SeattleU students also volunteer in their communities at rates three times higher than the national average.
7. Central Washington University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $8,845 (in-state) | $25,910 (out-of-state)
- Acceptance Rate: 88%
- Total Student Enrollment: 10,176
A public university and Hispanic-serving institution in Ellensburg, CWU offers more than 135 majors. The school is also nationally ranked in fields like music, geology, business, physics, education, and STEM.
CWU has over 125 student clubs, organizations, and associations. More than 30% of students participate in intramural sports, and about 500 students compete in 23 sports clubs, such as soccer, wrestling, and tennis.
8. Eastern Washington University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $8,139 (in-state) | $26,529 (out-of-state)
- Acceptance Rate: 97%
- Total Student Enrollment: 10,892
Located in a rural college town, EWU is a public university known throughout the sporting world for its bright red football field. Golden rolling hills and basalt outcroppings surround EWU's 300-acre campus.
Here, you can access one of just a few research facilities in a national wildlife refuge. EWU's campus is also known for being one of the safest in the state and has been ranked among the top 100 in the U.S.
9. University of Puget Sound
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $57,626
- Acceptance Rate: 88%
- Total Student Enrollment: 2,173
Puget Sound is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1888, the school is located in the port city of Tacoma and in the traditional homeland of the Puyallup Tribe.
Puget Sound offers more than 50 fields of study and is home to advanced undergraduate research labs. The private school's 97-acre campus is known for its Tudor-Gothic architectural style, mostly arranged into quads.
10. Whitworth University
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $48,990
- Acceptance Rate: 91%
- Total Student Enrollment: 2,681
Located in Spokane, Whitworth is a private Christian university with ties to the Presbyterian Church. The school offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Some of the most popular majors include education, psychology, biology, and physical sciences.
Tall pines and red brick buildings define the character of Whitworth's 200-acre campus. Around 1 in 3 undergraduates identify as people of color, and 100% of all incoming students receive financial aid.
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List of All Washington Colleges and Universities
The following table contains a list of all four-year nonprofit colleges in Washington. Also included is each school's average net cost, acceptance rate, enrollment size, and number of applicants based on the latest NCES data.
|School||Total Student Enrollment||Avg. Annual Net Price||Acceptance Rate||Number of Applicants|
|Bellingham Technical College||1,915||$3,799||N/A||N/A|
|Big Bend Community College||1,778||$7,791||N/A||N/A|
|Central Washington University||10,176||$17,645||88%||10,767|
|City University of Seattle||1,996||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Clover Park Technical College||2,846||$8,701||N/A||N/A|
|Columbia Basin College||6,089||$10,151||N/A||N/A|
|Cornish College of the Arts||455||$38,109||64%||666|
|Eastern Washington University||10,892||$13,650||97%||4,232|
|Faith International University||291||$20,232||N/A||N/A|
|Grays Harbor College||1,469||$11,629||N/A||N/A|
|Great Northern University||25||$27,310||100%||4|
|Green River College||6,559||$9,324||N/A||N/A|
|Lake Washington Institute of Technology||3,240||$10,854||N/A||N/A|
|Lower Columbia College||2,164||$8,171||N/A||N/A|
|North Seattle College||4,887||$6,220||N/A||N/A|
|Northwest Indian College||622||$5,250||N/A||N/A|
|Northwest University-Center for Online and Extended Education||1,323||$22,863||N/A||N/A|
|Pacific Lutheran University||2,706||$23,568||88%||3,220|
|Pierce College District||7,363||$7,370||N/A||N/A|
|Renton Technical College||3,097||$6,875||N/A||N/A|
|Saint Martin's University||1,616||$23,964||72%||2,653|
|Seattle Central College||4,698||$7,433||N/A||N/A|
|Seattle Pacific University||3,443||$26,153||92%||4,359|
|Skagit Valley College||3,891||$9,200||N/A||N/A|
|South Seattle College||4,893||$7,547||N/A||N/A|
|Spokane Community College||6,890||$5,198||N/A||N/A|
|Spokane Falls Community College||3,805||$8,753||N/A||N/A|
|Tacoma Community College||5,359||$8,606||N/A||N/A|
|The Evergreen State College||2,116||$16,155||99%||1,111|
|University of Puget Sound||2,173||$28,221||88%||5,025|
|University of Washington-Bothell Campus||6,052||$7,577||83%||4,423|
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||52,434||$8,701||53%||48,840|
|University of Washington-Tacoma Campus||5,027||$10,310||83%||2,233|
|Walla Walla Community College||3,084||$9,301||N/A||N/A|
|Walla Walla University||1,584||$25,421||N/A||N/A|
|Washington State University||29,843||$11,877||86%||18,197|
|Wenatchee Valley College||2,661||$8,226||N/A||N/A|
|Western Washington University||15,125||$11,388||96%||10,580|
|Whatcom Community College||3,850||$9,450||N/A||N/A|
|Whitworth University-Adult Degree Programs||227||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Yakima Valley College||3,643||$9,475||N/A||N/A|
Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Washington
Are there any good colleges in Washington?
Washington has several nationally ranked institutions, including the University of Washington, Whitman College, and Gonzaga University. All three consistently rank among the top 200 schools in the country and among the top 25 in the Far West.
UW is a large public research university known for its STEM programs, whereas Whitman is a private liberal arts school in Walla Walla with rigorous academics. Gonzaga is a private Jesuit university in Spokane known for its holistic liberal arts education.
How many Washington state colleges are there?
There are nearly 60 colleges in Washington that award at least a bachelor's degree. There are six public four-year colleges and universities, 18 private nonprofit schools, four private for-profit schools, and 30 junior and public colleges in Washington, according to NCES data.
What is the prettiest college in Washington state?
Many would agree that the University of Washington has one of the prettiest campuses in the state. You're unlikely to find a campus rankings list that doesn't include UW's flagship campus in Seattle.
Suzzallo Library is one of UW's most recognizable buildings, built in the Collegiate Gothic style. The library features hand-carved friezes and 35-foot stained glass window panels.
Arguably the most iconic location on campus, however, is the Liberal Arts Quadrangle — known colloquially as the Quad — where 30 Yoshino cherry trees bloom each spring, drawing thousands of visitors from across the region.
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