Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Washington 2022

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Washington 2022

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Washington offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

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

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! 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 in their fields of study.

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

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 42 liberal arts colleges in Washington. To be ranked among the 30 best liberal arts colleges in Washington, schools must fully accredited institutions.

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Washington 2022

  1. #1

    Western Washington University

    Bellingham , WA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    What is Western Washington University known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Whitman College

    Walla Walla , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is Whitman College known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/20

    What is Eastern Washington University known for?

    Eastern Washington University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #5

    University of Puget Sound

    Tacoma , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    3K

    What is University of Puget Sound known for?

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

    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    Central Washington University

    Ellensburg , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/20

    What is Central Washington University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/26

    What is Pacific Lutheran University known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1264/27

    What is DigiPen Institute of Technology known for?

    DigiPen Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    City University of Seattle

    Seattle , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Student body

    1K

    What is City University of Seattle known for?

    City University of Seattle’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    Walla Walla University

    College Place , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Walla Walla University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    Bellevue College

    Bellevue , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    10K

    What is Bellevue College known for?

    Bellevue College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    Whitworth University

    Spokane , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    What is Whitworth University known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/20

    What is University of Washington Tacoma known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/23

    What is University of Washington Bothell known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
  14. #15

    Saint Martin's University

    Lacey , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/20

    What is Saint Martin's University known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #16

    Columbia Basin College

    Pasco , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Graduation

    33%

    Student body

    6K

    What is Columbia Basin College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #17

    Peninsula College

    Port Angeles , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Peninsula College known for?

    Peninsula College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Medical
  17. #18

    Seattle Central College

    Seattle , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    27%

    Student body

    6K

    What is Seattle Central College known for?

    Seattle Central College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #19

    Wenatchee Valley College

    Wenatchee , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Wenatchee Valley College known for?

    Wenatchee Valley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #20

    Highline College

    Des Moines , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    5K

    What is Highline College known for?

    Highline College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #21

    Spokane Community College

    Spokane , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    6K

    What is Spokane Community College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Lake Washington Institute of Technology known for?

    Lake Washington Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Education
  22. #23

    Antioch University Seattle

    Seattle , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Antioch University Seattle known for?

    Antioch University Seattle’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #24

    Northwest University

    Kirkland , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    What is Northwest University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Spokane Falls Community College known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Physics
  25. #26

    Skagit Valley College

    Mount Vernon , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    31%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Skagit Valley College known for?

    Skagit Valley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  26. #27

    Olympic College

    Bremerton , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    5K

    What is Olympic College known for?

    Olympic College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  27. #28

    Charter College

    Vancouver , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    7K

    What is Charter College known for?

    Charter College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
  28. #29

    Centralia College

    Centralia , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Centralia College known for?

    Centralia College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  29. #30

    Green River College

    Auburn , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    8K

    What is Green River College known for?

    Green River College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  30. #31

    Edmonds College

    Lynnwood , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    6K

    What is Edmonds College known for?

    Edmonds College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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Washington’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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Resources for College-Bound Students

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Whitman College
  2. Evergreen State College
  3. University of Puget Sound
  4. Saint Martin's University
  5. Pacific Lutheran University
  6. DigiPen Institute of Technology
  7. Western Washington University
  8. University of Washington Bothell
  9. University of Washington Tacoma
  10. Walla Walla University
  11. Whitworth University
  12. Eastern Washington University
  13. Northwest University
  14. Central Washington University