Best Public Colleges in Washington 2022

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Washington provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Best Public Colleges in Washington 2022

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

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 32 public universities in Washington. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in Washington, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

How do we determine Washington's best public 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.

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Best Public Colleges in Washington 2022

  1. #1

    University of Washington

    Seattle , WA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is University of Washington known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Washington State University

    Pullman , WA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    What is Washington State University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  4. 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

    REQUEST INFO
  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. #7

    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

  7. 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

  8. 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
  9. #10

    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

  10. #11

    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
  11. #12

    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

  12. #13

    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

  13. #14

    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

  14. #15

    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

  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. #18

    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

  18. #19

    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

  19. #20

    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

  20. #21

    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

  21. #22

    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

  22. #23

    North Seattle College

    Seattle , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    4K

    What is North Seattle College known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Medical
  23. #24

    Whatcom Community College

    Bellingham , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Whatcom Community College known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Social Work
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Business
  24. #25

    Tacoma Community College

    Tacoma , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Graduation

    25%

    Student body

    5K

    What is Tacoma Community College known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

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Washington’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

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. University of Washington
  2. Evergreen State College
  3. Washington State University
  4. Western Washington University
  5. University of Washington Bothell
  6. University of Washington Tacoma
  7. Eastern Washington University
  8. Central Washington University

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