Best Colleges in Washington

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Washington state is home to top colleges and universities that have been nationally ranked. Both in-state and out-of-state residents can find affordable options for a bachelor's degree or a master's. In this blog, I'll shed light on many of the best Washington state colleges (public, private, and community colleges) that can cater to your academic and career needs and provide you with the well-rounded, successful higher education experience you're looking for.

Whether you're a student applying to college for the first time, looking for a master's or bachelor's degree, or looking to enhance your current career, Washington not only provides great academic opportunities but also allows you to enjoy your educational journey while exploring the museums, lush forestry and parks, and exciting city life.

Start your journey to affordable education in the state of Washington—set up your free profile and apply for scholarships designed just for students like you.

public colleges in washington

Best Public Colleges in Washington

Washington State University (WSU)

With campuses in Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities, and Vancouver, WSU offers a comprehensive academic experience across a range of disciplines. Known for its robust research programs and commitment to student success, WSU prepares students for successful careers and leadership roles in various fields.

At WSU, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, world-class faculty, and a vibrant campus community. Whether pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies, students benefit from hands-on learning experiences, internships, and research opportunities that enhance their academic journey.

With a focus on innovation, diversity, and excellence, WSU continues to be a leading institution in Washington State's higher education landscape. From engineering and business to agriculture and healthcare, WSU provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in today's competitive job market.

Central Washington University (CWU)

Central Washington University (CWU), a school nestled in the scenic town of Ellensburg, provides students with a comprehensive range of academic programs and extracurricular activities. Through its commitment to excellence in teaching and learning, CWU prepares students for successful careers in a variety of fields while also instilling in them a passion for lifelong learning and personal growth.

Western Washington University (WWU)

Located in the picturesque city of Bellingham (WWU), offers students a vibrant campus community and a wide range of academic programs. With its focus on environmental sustainability and social responsibility, WWU empowers students to become engaged citizens and global leaders who are committed to making a positive impact on the world around them.

Eastern Washington University (EWU)

Eastern Washington University (EWU), a public institution situated in Cheney, provides students with a supportive and inclusive learning environment where they can pursue their academic and professional goals. With its focus on innovation and hands-on learning experiences, EWU prepares students for success in their chosen fields and equips them with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in today's competitive job market.

Whether you're interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or specific major, Washington State offers a wealth of opportunities for students to thrive. From private universities to public institutions, the colleges and universities in Washington provide a supportive environment for students to pursue their passions and achieve their goals.

So, whether you're a local resident or an international student, consider exploring the diverse educational landscape of Washington State for your current career or future aspirations. While you're here, check out these Washington scholarships to help you reduce the costs of college!

private colleges in washington

Best Private Colleges in Washington

When it comes to higher education in Washington State, private colleges stand out for their commitment to academic excellence, personalized attention, and vibrant campus communities.

Let's explore some of the top colleges and the best private colleges in Washington State, each offering unique opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to thrive.

Pacific Lutheran University (PLU)

Located in Tacoma, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) is renowned for its dedication to holistic education and service to others. With a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, PLU prepares students for successful careers while instilling values of social responsibility and global citizenship.

Seattle University

Situated in the heart of Seattle, Seattle University is a dynamic and inclusive institution known for its commitment to social justice and community engagement. Offering a diverse array of programs in business, law, nursing, and more, Seattle U empowers students to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.

Gonzaga University

Nestled in Spokane, Gonzaga University combines academic excellence with a strong foundation in Jesuit values. With renowned programs in business, engineering, and the liberal arts, Gonzaga prepares students to lead purposeful lives and make meaningful contributions to society.

Seattle Pacific University (SPU)

With a focus on academic rigor and Christian values, Seattle Pacific University (SPU) offers a welcoming and supportive environment for students to pursue their academic and personal goals. Located in Seattle, SPU provides a diverse array of programs and opportunities for students to thrive in a vibrant urban setting.

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Whitworth University

Located in Spokane, Whitworth University is committed to providing a rigorous liberal arts education rooted in the Christian faith. With a focus on intellectual inquiry, critical thinking, and service to others, Whitworth prepares students to lead lives of purpose, compassion, and integrity.

University of Puget Sound (UPS)

Situated in Tacoma, the University of Puget Sound (UPS) offers a transformative educational experience characterized by small class sizes, personalized attention, and a strong sense of community. With a wide range of liberal arts and professional programs, UPS prepares students for success in a rapidly changing world.

Whitman College

Located in the charming town of Walla Walla, Whitman College is known for its rigorous academic programs, intimate class sizes, and vibrant campus culture. With a focus on critical thinking, communication skills, and interdisciplinary learning, Whitman equips students to thrive in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Whether you're interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or specific major, Washington State's private colleges offer unparalleled opportunities for academic and personal growth. From small, liberal arts institutions to dynamic urban campuses, these colleges provide the resources, support, and guidance needed to unlock your full potential and achieve your goals.

community college in washington

Best Community Colleges in Washington

While private and four-year institutions often steal the spotlight, community colleges play a crucial role in Washington State's higher education landscape.

These institutions provide accessible, affordable, and high-quality education to students from diverse backgrounds, preparing them for successful careers or further academic pursuits. Let's explore some of the best schools and the top community colleges in Washington State, each offering unique opportunities for students to thrive.

Bellevue College

Located in Bellevue, Bellevue College is a leading institution for career-focused education and workforce development. With a wide range of programs in areas such as business, technology, healthcare, and the arts, Bellevue College prepares students for success in today's competitive job market.

North Seattle College

Located in the vibrant city of Seattle, North Seattle College provides a supportive and inclusive learning environment for students pursuing their educational and career goals. With programs in areas such as healthcare, business, and technology, North Seattle College equips students with the knowledge and skills needed for in-demand careers or further academic pursuits.

Seattle Central College

Situated in the heart of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle Central College offers a diverse array of programs and services to meet the needs of its diverse student body. From workforce training programs to academic transfer pathways, Seattle Central College provides flexible and affordable options for students to achieve their educational and career aspirations.

Highline College

Located in Des Moines, Highline College is known for its strong commitment to student success and community engagement. With programs in areas such as aviation, hospitality, and STEM fields, Highline College prepares students for rewarding careers or seamless transfer to four-year institutions.

Centralia College

Nestled in the picturesque town of Centralia, Centralia College offers a supportive and personalized learning environment for students of all ages and backgrounds. With small class sizes and dedicated faculty, Centralia College provides opportunities for academic and personal growth, helping students reach their full potential.

Edmonds College

Located in Lynnwood, Edmonds College is recognized for its innovative programs and commitment to student equity and inclusion. With a focus on hands-on learning and real-world experience, Edmonds College prepares students for success in today's rapidly changing job market or further academic pursuits.

Pierce College

With campuses in Puyallup and Lakewood, Pierce College provides accessible and affordable education to students throughout the South Puget Sound region. With programs in areas such as healthcare, business, and the liberal arts, Pierce College prepares students for meaningful careers and lifelong learning.

Green River College

Situated in Auburn, Green River College offers a supportive and inclusive learning environment for students pursuing their educational and career goals. With programs in areas such as engineering, computer science, and the arts, Green River College provides pathways to success for students of all backgrounds.

Tacoma Community College

Located in Tacoma, Tacoma Community College is committed to providing accessible and affordable education to students in the South Puget Sound region. With programs in areas such as healthcare, manufacturing, and education, Tacoma Community College prepares students for success in today's competitive job market.

Shoreline Community College

Situated in Shoreline, Shoreline Community College offers a diverse array of programs and resources to support student success. From academic transfer pathways to workforce training programs, Shoreline Community College provides opportunities for students to achieve their educational and career goals.

Community colleges in Washington State play a vital role in preparing students for successful careers, further academic pursuits, and lifelong learning. With their commitment to accessibility, affordability, and student success, these institutions provide valuable pathways to success for students from all walks of life.

studying in washington

Benefits: Studying in Washington State

Embark on an academic adventure filled with enriching experiences by choosing to study in Washington State, a region renowned for its exceptional educational opportunities. Whether you're pursuing a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or an associate degree, Washington boasts some of the best colleges and universities on the West Coast.

Washington's institutions offer a diverse range of programs tailored to meet the needs of undergraduate and graduate students alike. With a plethora of options spanning from public schools to private institutions, students can find the perfect fit for their educational aspirations. The state's colleges and universities pride themselves on fostering a dynamic learning environment that encourages intellectual curiosity and personal growth.

One of the standout features of studying in Washington is the access to top-tier academic resources and faculty members renowned in their respective fields. Whether you're delving into research projects, engaging in hands-on learning experiences, or participating in internships, Washington's educational institutions provide ample opportunities for students to excel academically and professionally.

Moreover, Washington's vibrant campus life adds another layer of enrichment to the student experience. From bustling student organizations to lively cultural events, there's always something happening on campus to complement your academic pursuits. The state's diverse communities offer a welcoming atmosphere for students from all walks of life, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie.

washington student studying

Beyond the classroom, Washington's breathtaking natural beauty serves as an inspiring backdrop for learning and exploration. From the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest to the majestic peaks of the Cascade Range, students have access to unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities. Whether you're hiking in Olympic National Park or exploring the San Juan Islands, Washington's natural wonders provide a perfect balance to the rigors of academic life.

For those seeking flexibility in their education, many of Washington's colleges and universities offer online programs and distance learning options. This allows students to pursue their degrees on their own terms, whether they're balancing work and family responsibilities or seeking to study from afar.

In terms of accessibility, Washington's colleges and universities boast competitive acceptance rates, ensuring that motivated students have the opportunity to pursue their academic goals. Whether you're a local resident or hailing from across the country, Washington welcomes students with open arms, offering a supportive and inclusive environment for learning and growth.

Studying in Washington State offers a wealth of benefits for undergraduate and graduate students alike. With its esteemed institutions, vibrant campus life, stunning natural surroundings, and commitment to academic excellence, Washington provides the perfect setting for a fulfilling academic journey. Whether you're embarking on your bachelor's degree or pursuing advanced studies, Washington's colleges and universities stand ready to help you achieve your educational aspirations.

Academic Excellence

Washington boasts top-ranked colleges and universities celebrated for their academic rigor and innovative programs. Institutions such as the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Seattle University consistently rank among the nation's best, affording students access to esteemed faculty, groundbreaking research opportunities, and a challenging academic curriculum.

Diverse Learning Environments

Whether drawn to the dynamic energy of urban campuses like Seattle University or the tranquil allure of colleges nestled in scenic towns like Whitman College, Washington State offers diverse learning environments catering to every student body's preferences. From vibrant cities to idyllic landscapes, students can find their ideal setting to pursue academic and personal goals.

Robust Career Opportunities

With a thriving economy fueled by technology, healthcare, aerospace, and other sectors, Washington State presents abundant career pathways for graduates. Major corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, and Starbucks call the region home, providing internships, job placements, and networking avenues for students eager to embark on their professional journeys.

outdoor recreation and studying

Outdoor Recreation

Washington's natural splendor is unmatched by other schools, boasting majestic mountains, verdant forests, and picturesque coastlines. Students can immerse themselves in iconic national parks like Olympic and Mount Rainier, embark on hiking adventures in the Cascade Mountains, or indulge in water sports along the Puget Sound. The state's wealth of outdoor recreational activities promotes physical well-being, mental health, and a harmonious lifestyle.

Cultural Diversity and Innovation

Washington State embraces diversity and innovation, nurturing a vibrant cultural scene and entrepreneurial spirit. Cities like Seattle epitomize cultural richness with thriving arts communities, eclectic culinary scenes, and a progressive mindset. Students gain access to cultural events, festivals, and museums celebrating the region's heritage and creativity.

Access to Internship and Networking Opportunities

Home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, startups, research institutions, and nonprofits, Washington State offers students abundant opportunities for internships, co-op programs, and networking engagements. Whether in the realms of technology, healthcare, or environmental sustainability, students can garner real-world experience and forge professional connections, augmenting their career trajectories.

Quality of Life

Washington consistently garners accolades as one of the nation's premier places to reside, attributed to its superior quality of life, exceptional healthcare, low crime rates, and progressive policies. Students relish a safe and nurturing environment conducive to learning and personal growth while also benefiting from the state's dedication to sustainability and social equity.

diverse college campuses

Unlocking Opportunities and Diverse Colleges in Washington

When it comes to embarking on your journey in higher education, the decision of selecting the right college is undeniably crucial, as it sets the foundation for shaping your future endeavors.

Washington State's educational landscape is as diverse as its breathtaking natural scenery. From the bustling urban campuses to the serene collegiate atmospheres nestled among lush forests and mountains, the state offers a rich tapestry of opportunities for students seeking exceptional higher education experiences.

Amidst the dynamic and diverse landscape of Washington State, an array of esteemed institutions beckon, each presenting exceptional opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to flourish and thrive.

Let's delve into the realm of higher learning in Washington, where we'll uncover the standout colleges and universities that adorn the state's educational landscape, each boasting its own distinctive offerings and contributions to the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence.

Resources Available for Students: Empowering Your Educational Journey

Navigating the world of higher education can be daunting, especially when it comes to financing your academic pursuits. With rising tuition costs and the burden of student loans, many students find themselves facing financial obstacles that can hinder their ability to achieve their educational goals. However, there's hope on the horizon, thanks to organizations like is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students overcome financial barriers and achieve their dreams of higher education. Through our platform, connects students with a wide range of scholarship opportunities, financial aid programs, and resources to support their academic journey.

One of the key features of is its extensive database of scholarships, which are updated regularly to ensure that students have access to the latest opportunities. Whether you're a high school senior, a college undergraduate, or a graduate student, offers scholarships tailored to your specific needs and interests. From merit-based awards to need-based grants, there's something for everyone on

In addition to scholarships, provides students with valuable resources and tips to help them succeed in college and beyond. From advice on managing finances and avoiding student loan debt to tips for academic success and career development, equips students with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive in today's competitive job market.

At, we understand the importance of staying updated with all the available scholarships, financial aid programs, and tips for success as a college student. That's why we're committed to continuously expanding our database and providing students with the resources they need to achieve their educational goals without accumulating unnecessary debt.

So, whether you're searching for scholarships to help fund your education or seeking advice on how to succeed as a college student, is here to support you every step of the way.


Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Colleges in Washington

Is community college in Washington free?

Not all community colleges are free in Washington. The average tuition rate for public college for residents is $4,058 per year, and the in-state tuition rate is $7,211 for out-of-state students. However, the College Bound Scholarship offers low-income, middle school-aged applicants the opportunity to attend college by covering average tuition and other fees and providing a book allowance at over 65 colleges, technical schools, and universities in Washington state.

Another initiative is the Seattle Promise program, which gives students free tuition at North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, or South Seattle College for up to two years or 9o credits. All graduating seniors who have attended Seattle public high schools are eligible for the program.

What financial aid options are available for students attending community college in Washington?

In addition to federal financial aid programs like Pell Grants and student loans, students attending community college in Washington may be eligible for state-specific financial aid programs.

The Washington College Grant, formerly known as the State Need Grant, provides need-based financial aid to low and middle-income students pursuing higher education in the state. Additionally, community colleges often offer scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities to help students cover the cost of tuition, fees, and other educational expenses.

Can international students attend community college in Washington?

Yes, international students are welcome to attend community college in Washington. However, they must meet specific admissions requirements and obtain the necessary visa documentation to study in the United States.

International students may also be required to demonstrate English proficiency through standardized tests like the TOEFL or IELTS. Additionally, international students should be prepared to provide proof of financial support to cover tuition, fees, and living expenses while studying in Washington.

How do community colleges in Washington support transfer students?

Community colleges in Washington have articulation agreements with four-year institutions, making it easier for transfer students to continue their education and earn a bachelor's degree. These agreements outline specific transfer pathways, guaranteeing that credits earned at the community college will transfer to the four-year institution.

Additionally, community colleges often have dedicated transfer advisors who assist students with course selection, academic planning, and navigating the transfer process. This support ensures a seamless transition for transfer students as they pursue their educational goals.

How to establish residency in Washington state

Establishing residency for college is an important indicator during the college search, especially when it comes to determining how much you'll be expected to pay for school.

In order to establish residency in Washington state, students can obtain a Washington state driver's license, register to vote, or buy property and/or maintain a residence in their name. In addition to the above, the Department of Revenue presumes an individual is a resident if they receive benefits under one of the state's public assistance programs, use a Washington address for federal or state taxes, or have claimed Washington as a residence for obtaining a hunting or fishing license.

Create a free profile on, unlock access to a plethora of exclusive scholarships, and find the resources and tips needed to afford your education.