Best Online Colleges in Washington 2022

Best Online Colleges in Washington 2022

Find the best online colleges in Washington ranked by the academic success of faculty and alumni associated with the colleges and universities and their online degree programs.

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

Online education has grown dramatically in quality, credibility, and popularity over the last two decades. Today, more than a quarter of all college students are taking at least one online course. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are more than 5 million college students who are pursuing their undergraduate degree fully online. And the number of online college and graduate students continues to grow as online technology and instructional methods improve.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to remote learning has proven an essential part of the educational ecosystem. Schools that offer primarily online degree programs saw an increase of 7% enrollment just between Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. The number of traditional institutions offering online courses and degrees is growing as well. This all paints a promising picture for the future of online education. But it also produces a dizzying array of options.

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Online Colleges 2022

Asynchronous learning means classes don’t meet at set times. This is the most flexible online learning experience, making when you cover your course material up to you. Most asynchronous online courses will still have deadlines throughout the semester for various assignments and tests. Some asynchronous classes may still ask for an occasional meeting, such as initial meet-and-greets, and in some cases there may be scheduled test times. The idea of asynchronous learning is to allow the student to manage their schedules as needed.

Synchronous learning means you will have scheduled meeting times for your online classes. Synchronous learning gives online students the flexiblity of location while also giving students a chance to engage with each other and their professors. For many online students, the structured class schedules and ability to see and hear from peers in real-time helps create the learning experience they want.

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Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable institutions and less-than-reputable for-profit schools. Accreditation gives you the power to differentiate between the two. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency which indicates that a college or university is meeting standards of quality, credibility, and currency. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.

Attending a college or university which is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. When seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that students opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree.

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As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited, you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer. In many cases, you will be required to navigate a bureaucracy in which some of your credits will be transferred and others will be jettisoned. However, provided that you have attended an online school with the proper regional accreditation, you should have plenty of options for transfer.

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In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript or resume differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.

While some employers may express concern about making the adjustment from online education to in-person workplace collaboration, many other employers will view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st Century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.

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The advantages of online classes are many. First and foremost, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities—educational experiences that you can complete on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.

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Best Online Colleges in Washington
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10 Best Online 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

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BA Integrated Social Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Early Care & Education
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  2. #2

    Washington State University

    Pullman , WA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BS Biology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Social Sciences
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Economics
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Anthropology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Data Analytics
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA English
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of History
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Humanities
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Management Information Systems
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  3. #3

    Western Washington University

    Bellingham , WA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BA Human Services
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Multidisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/20

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BA Addiction Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Children's Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Communication Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Public Relations
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Dental Hygiene
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Health Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Health Science
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  5. #5

    Central Washington University

    Ellensburg , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/20

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BA Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Geography
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Social Services
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Sociology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Aviation Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA English

    Concentrations

    • Professional and Creative Writing
    • English Language and Literature
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Information Technology and Administrative Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BAS Information Technology and Administrative Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Law and Justice
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Liberal Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Paramedicine
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Public Health
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Risk, Insurance, and Safety Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BAS Risk, Insurance, and Safety Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BAS Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  6. #6

    City University of Seattle

    Seattle , WA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Student body

    1K

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BA Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Data Analytics
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Applied Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Cybersecurity
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Data Science
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Information Systems
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Information Technology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Applied Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS General Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Project Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  7. #7

    Peninsula College

    Port Angeles , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    2K

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BA Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Entrepreneurship Foundations
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  8. #8

    Charter College

    Vancouver , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    7K

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    Bachelor of Healthcare
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Healthcare Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Computer Information Systems
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    Bachelor of Business Office Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  9. #9

    Northwest University

    Kirkland , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BA Humanitarian Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Ministry Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BS Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Communication
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
    BA Organizational Management
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
  10. #10

    Clark College

    Vancouver , WA

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    7K

    Online Bachelor's Degrees

    BAS Cybersecurity
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion time: 4-6 years
    • Format: Online
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Online Degree Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require a time of adjustment. Although you’ll typically learn the same material and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, going online will require greater independence and responsibility than going in person. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, for harnessing the online educational technology that you’ll need to use, and for completing the course requirements, such as listening to lectures, learning lessons, reading texts, and handing in assignments. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take the initiative in building relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.

No. The only part of online education that’s easier than campus-based education is ease of access: all you need is a computer and an internet connection for online education. But even this seeming advantage of online education can be misleading: what’s easier, studying online with your computer and internet connection from your home where you need to cook, clean, pay rent, and maintain a job? Or studying on campus in a dorm where all your living needs are handled by the school, and college staff are there to help you every step of the way?

If you take the commute to campus out of the equation, campus-based education is easier. All the support structures available on campus for students, especially with real people to help you in person, are not there online. The demands on you as an online student will largely be the same as for your campus-based counterpart, but without the same helps.

In general, your online courses will present the same material and test you in the same way as traditional in-person courses. In many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning with remote educational technology for the first time, online college may be considerably more challenging than campus-based college. For a few insights on how to manage this new online experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.

Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable non-profit institutions on the one end and less-than-reputable for-profit institutions on the other end. Accreditation gives you the power to identify the more reputable actors in online education. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency indicating that a college or university is meeting standards of quality and credibility. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.

Attending a college or university that is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. For students seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that they opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree. For more on this important topic, check out our What is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter? College & University Accreditation Guide.

As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited (see the previous point), you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer of credits. In many cases, you will encounter some bureaucratic haggling in which some of your credits will be transferred and others may be refused. However, provided that you have attended an online school with recognized regional accreditation, you should be in good shape in transferring your credits earned online.

In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript, or resumé differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.

Some employers may express the concern that because you did your degree online, you may need to transition from an online education experience to in-person workplace experience. But in an age of Covid, that concern seems much diminished. The fact is that much employment these days is remote. And collaboration increasingly happens online over Zoom. Many employers will therefore view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.

If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will be less than ideal for you (though depending on your circumstances, it may also be the only viable option).

While there is much in traditional campus-based education that can be substituted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing that can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual in-person classroom setting. As you transition to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face in getting the most out of your online classes is overcoming this difference between “real reality” and “virtual reality.” Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.

The advantages of online classes are many. Above all, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities—educational experiences that you can complete at your own pace and on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.

Resources for Online College-Bound Students