Washington’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Washington. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

Washington’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Washington

Of the 40 public options, the University of Washington in Seattle is the largest. Roughly 40,000 students attend classes in fields like nursing, education, biology, and computer science. This public research institution is also affordable, charging about $11,000 for tuition. In fact, none of the public schools in Washington exceed $12,000 in price. This includes community colleges, technical colleges, and four-year universities, making Washington a uniquely affordable place to earn your associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Washington also has 24 private institutions. Of those, nine are religious. The most widely known of these, Catholic university Gonzaga enrolls roughly 7,000 students, at a cost of $40,000, in areas such as religious studies, engineering, and law. Central Washington University (CWU) is a smaller public school, serving just over 12,000 students, and has a tuition of $8,000. With 15% of its population being Hispanic, CWU is now recognized as an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution. Washington health professions also have the opportunity to receive funding for loan repayment through Washington’s Health Professional Loan Repayment Program.

Set in the Pacific Northwest, Washington offers ocean beaches and lush forests. In fact, over half the state is covered in forests, earning Washington its nickname as The Evergreen State. Viewers atop the Space Needle in Seattle can take in the sights of Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and both the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges. In addition, prospective students can choose from over 60 higher education institutions in the state.

Check out the top higher education programs and find an affordable degree in Washington.

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Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Washington's best colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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Every fall, more than 2 million high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the United States. Finding the best college for your educational, personal, and professional goals may be challenging. The purpose of this ranking is to help you manage this challenge with an accurate, objective, and up-to-date ranking of the best colleges and universities in Washington for earning a bachelor’s degree.

We’ve identified a total of 46 colleges and universities in Washington, 17 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best schools in the state focuses on those that offer four-year undergraduate degrees, includes both public and private colleges and universities, and also meet the following two conditions:

  1. It must be fully accredited.
  2. It must be a non-profit institution.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

Best Colleges & Universities in Washington

  1. University of Washington
    #1

    University of Washington

    #28 institution's overall influence
    #69 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    Seattle, WA

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    What is University of Washington known for?

    University of Washington's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Whitman College
    #2

    Whitman College

    #724 institution's overall influence
    #1459 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    Walla Walla, WA

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    What is Whitman College known for?

    Whitman College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Evergreen State College
    #3

    Evergreen State College

    #727 institution's overall influence
    #346 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1084/22

    Olympia, WA

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    What is Evergreen State College known for?

    Evergreen State College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. University of Puget Sound
    #4

    University of Puget Sound

    #1170 institution's overall influence
    #776 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Tacoma, WA

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    What is University of Puget Sound known for?

    University of Puget Sound's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Seattle University
    #5

    Seattle University

    #606 institution's overall influence
    #307 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/27

    Seattle, WA

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    What is Seattle University known for?

    Seattle University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Saint Martin's University
    #6

    Saint Martin's University

    #5509 institution's overall influence
    #519 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/20

    Lacey, WA

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    What is Saint Martin's University known for?

    Saint Martin's University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Washington State University
    #7

    Washington State University

    #279 institution's overall influence
    #844 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    Pullman, WA

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    What is Washington State University known for?

    Washington State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Pacific Lutheran University
    #8

    Pacific Lutheran University

    #1786 institution's overall influence
    #659 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/26

    Tacoma, WA

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    What is Pacific Lutheran University known for?

    Pacific Lutheran University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Seattle Pacific University
    #9

    Seattle Pacific University

    #1337 institution's overall influence
    #432 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/22

    Seattle, WA

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    What is Seattle Pacific University known for?

    Seattle Pacific University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Western Washington University
    #10

    Western Washington University

    #831 institution's overall influence
    #944 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    Bellingham, WA

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    What is Western Washington University known for?

    Western Washington University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Walla Walla University
    #13

    Walla Walla University

    #2129 institution's overall influence
    #848 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    College Place, WA

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    What is Walla Walla University known for?

    Walla Walla University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Gonzaga University
    #14

    Gonzaga University

    #1013 institution's overall influence
    #1258 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/27

    Spokane, WA

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    What is Gonzaga University known for?

    Gonzaga University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Whitworth University
    #15

    Whitworth University

    #3254 institution's overall influence
    #437 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    Spokane, WA

    View profile

    What is Whitworth University known for?

    Whitworth University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
  14. Northwest University
    #16

    Northwest University

    #8080 institution's overall influence
    #1358 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    Kirkland, WA

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    What is Northwest University known for?

    Northwest University 's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Central Washington University
    #17

    Central Washington University

    #1492 institution's overall influence
    #769 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/20

    Ellensburg, WA

    View profile

    What is Central Washington University known for?

    Central Washington University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the Best Schools in Washington for your Major

Anthropology

Biology

Business

Chemistry

Communications

Computer Science

Criminal Justice

Earth Sciences

Economics

Education

Engineering

History

Law

Literature

Mathematics

Medical

Nursing

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science

Psychology

Religious Studies

Social Work

Sociology

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