Washington’s Best Research Universities of 2021

Interested in attending a STEM school in Washington? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

Washington’s Best Research 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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What are Washington’s Colleges & Universities?

Washington’s Best Overall

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

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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Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. There are 5 research universities in Washington, all of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best research universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a fully accredited university.
  2. It must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
  3. It must report high levels of research activity based upon the number of research and/or practice doctorates awarded each year.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 60%.

Best Research Universities in Washington

  1. #1

    University of Washington

    #27 institution's historical influence
    #69 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    82%

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Seattle University

    #617 institution's historical influence
    #307 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    73%

    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
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Washington State University

    #284 institution's historical influence
    #844 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    59%

    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
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Seattle Pacific University

    #1359 institution's historical influence
    #432 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    65%

    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
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Gonzaga University

    #1069 institution's historical influence
    #1258 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    88%

    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

    REQUEST INFO

Find the Best Research Universities in Washington for your Major

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