University of Washington
#42 Overall Influence#69 Desirability Rank

University of Washington

Public research university in Seattle, Washington, United States

By James Barham, PhD

In the 1850s, the Governor of Washington Territory and some of his Seattle-based friends and business associates, including a prominent Methodist minister, put their heads together to figure out a way to advance two causes close to their hearts: the prospect of statehood for the territory and the economic welfare of the city of Seattle.

At first, the Seattle city fathers argued in favor of moving the territorial capital from Olympia to their own city. However, a better plan was eventually decided upon: they would build a university in Seattle. The idea was that an institution of higher education would function both as evidence of Washington Territory’s readiness for statehood and as a stimulus to Seattle’s economic development.

This explains why the Territorial University of Washington, occupying a valuable plot of land in downtown Seattle, opened its doors in 1861—long before statehood was finally achieved in 1889.

After the latter date, both the new State of Washington and the City of Seattle began to grow rapidly. It was soon found that the needs of the students and faculty of the former territorial university—now called simply the University of Washington (UW)—had outgrown the school’s original downtown campus, where there was little room for expansion. Accordingly, in 1895 UW was moved to a more spacious location in the Union Bay neighborhood of what is now Northeast Seattle.

Today, UW—together with its two additional campuses in Bothell and Tacoma (north and south of Seattle, respectively)—boasts some 56,000 students, and a nearly $3 billion endowment. Such numbers have enabled UW to build a faculty and offer a curriculum that are second-to-none among state university systems in the US.

Seven UW-affiliated persons have won the Nobel Prize, including:

  • Hans Georg Dehmelt & David Thouless—physics
  • Edmond Fischer, Leland Hartwell, & Linda Buck—physiology or medicine

Among other notable UW-connected folks, we may mention:

  • Pioneering photographer, Imogen Cunningham
  • Television journalist, Chet Huntley
  • Actors Jim Caviezel, Dyan Cannon & Kyle MacLachlan
  • Martial arts adept, film actor, and director, Bruce Lee
  • Painter and photographer, Chuck Close
  • Glass artist, Dale Chihuly
  • Architect, Minoru Yamasaki
  • Novelist and essayist, Marilynne Robinson


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle WA 98195-4550

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

15 per 100k

Violent Crime

0 per 100k

What is University of Washington known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#17 World Rank #14 USA Rank
#27 World Rank #18 USA Rank
#25 World Rank #19 USA Rank
Computer Science
#35 World Rank #20 USA Rank
#29 World Rank #20 USA Rank
#27 World Rank #21 USA Rank
Political Science
#24 World Rank #21 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#38 World Rank #23 USA Rank
#64 World Rank #23 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#31 World Rank #26 USA Rank
Social Work
#36 World Rank #27 USA Rank
#76 World Rank #28 USA Rank
#37 World Rank #30 USA Rank
#78 World Rank #30 USA Rank
#61 World Rank #30 USA Rank
#37 World Rank #31 USA Rank
#60 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#61 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#96 World Rank #36 USA Rank
#43 World Rank #38 USA Rank
#96 World Rank #47 USA Rank
#87 World Rank #47 USA Rank
#120 World Rank #55 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#157 World Rank #59 USA Rank

Influential People

Who are University of Washington's Most influential alumni?

University of Washington's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Nursing, Criminal Justice, and Computer Science. University of Washington’s most academically influential people include Frank Herbert, George Stigler, and Robert Mundell.

Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert

American writer

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George Stigler
George Stigler

American economist

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Robert Mundell
Robert Mundell

Canadian economist

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PZ Myers
PZ Myers

American scientist and associate professor of biology

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Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee

Hong Kong-American actor, martial artist

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Robert W. McChesney
Robert W. McChesney

American journalist

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Harold Hotelling
Harold Hotelling

American economist and statistician

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Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson

American novelist and essayist

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William J. Dreyer

American immunologist

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Wael Hallaq
Wael Hallaq

Islamic scholar

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Dale Chihuly
Dale Chihuly

Glass sculptor

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Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin

American aerospace engineer

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