Washington’s Best Community Colleges of 2021

The best community colleges provide an effective springboard into higher education, offering students high-quality two-year degree programs in a wide range of disciplines. The top-rated community colleges in Washington offer a broad selection of associate’s degrees, affordable tuition rates, and strong partnerships with public four-year schools so that students can easily transfer their credits into accredited bachelor’s degree programs.

Washington’s Best Community Colleges 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.

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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.


What are Washington’s Colleges & Universities?

Washington’s Best Overall


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How do we determine Washington's best community colleges?

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.


We’ve identified 8 community colleges in Washington. The following list shows the best community colleges in the state.

Best Community Colleges in Washington

  1. #1

    Bates Technical College

    #7847 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    3K

    Tacoma, WA

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    What is Bates Technical College known for?

    Bates Technical College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
  2. #2

    South Puget Sound Community College

    #10760 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    4K

    Olympia, WA

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    What is South Puget Sound Community College known for?

    South Puget Sound Community College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
  3. #3

    Shoreline Community College

    #7303 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    5K

    Shoreline, WA

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    What is Shoreline Community College known for?

    Shoreline Community College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Physics
  4. #4

    Big Bend Community College

    #9058 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    2K

    Moses Lake, WA

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    What is Big Bend Community College known for?

    Big Bend Community College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Engineering
  5. #5

    Everett Community College

    #6770 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    7K

    Everett, WA

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    What is Everett Community College known for?

    Everett Community College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Walla Walla Community College

    #8412 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    3K

    Walla Walla, WA

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    What is Walla Walla Community College known for?

    Walla Walla Community College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Lower Columbia College

    #7262 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    2K

    Longview, WA

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    What is Lower Columbia College known for?

    Lower Columbia College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Northwest Indian College

    #9116 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Graduation

    24%

    Student body

    <1K

    Bellingham, WA

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    What is Northwest Indian College known for?

    Northwest Indian College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Sociology

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