Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, the Evergreen State has 36 public colleges, 18 private non-profit colleges, and five private for-profit colleges.


    According to College Board, the average Washingtonian paid this amount for public four-year college during the 2020-21 school year. In-state tuition has decreased 5.5% since 2015.


    For the 2019-20 school year, the average full-time undergraduate student received this amount of assistance from grants, loans, and work study programs.

Our Research

Our list of the best undergraduate colleges in Washington includes all types of educational settings, from the multi-campus University of Washington system to midsize private colleges and liberal arts schools. For our review, we looked at tuition and fees, credits required to graduate, coursework format (on-campus or online), and accreditation when evaluating colleges.

The majority of colleges on this list are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), a private, non-profit corporation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. NWCCU endorses postsecondary institutions based on performance and integrity to ensure educational quality for prospective students.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 67 hours to write this article
  • 185 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 274 education programs we compared

The Top 37 Colleges in Washington State

Best Colleges In Washington
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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Washington State

Geographic location is an important factor to consider when choosing where to study and begin a career. As of October 2020, the top five industries of employment in the state of Washington were trade, transportation and utilities; government; goods-producing services; education and health services; and professional business services.

With a bachelor’s degree from a Washington college, the job outlook is particularly bright for those pursuing computer technology occupations. Future opportunities are very likely for marketing managers, software developers, computer and information systems managers, information security analysts, and multimedia artists and animators. These high-paying careers are currently the fastest growing in Washington state.

To get an even better sense of your future employment, consider a look at the top 50 employers in the state. At the top of the list are Washington-headquartered Boeing Company, Microsoft Corporation, and Costco Wholesale Corporation. Thousands of Washingtonians are also employed by hospitals, including Swedish Health Systems and University of Washington Medical Center.

What’s Next?

Federal and state assistance can make your four-year college education more affordable. Here is a list of resources to help you understand the different types of financial aid and how to apply:

  • Washington Student Achievement Council (WASC). WASC ensures educational access through needs-based, merit-based, and workforce programs at participating colleges. This includes the generous Washington College Grant (WCG).
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 billion in financial aid to college students every year. Find out if you’re eligible for a grant, scholarship, work-study job, or loan at FAFSA4caster. Then, you can fill out your FAFSA application online.
  • CareerOneStop. This U.S. Department of Labor website lets you search more than 8,000 financial aid opportunities. Use the filters to narrow in on results by level of study and awards specifically for Washington students.