Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, the Evergreen State has 37 public colleges, 19 private non-profit colleges, and four private for-profit colleges.


    According to College Board, the average Washingtonian paid this amount to attend a public in-state college during the 2021-22 school year.


    For the 2020-21 school year, the average full-time undergraduate student received this amount of assistance from grants, loans, and work study programs.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar schools in Washington. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), a reputable organization that examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of education programs in the northern United States.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for on-campus students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 50 Colleges in Washington State

Best Colleges In Washington
Intelligent Pick
University of Washington
Best Private School
Gonzaga University
Best for DEI
Seattle University
Best Research University
Washington State University
Best for Study Abroad
Seattle Pacific University
Best Experiential Learning
University of Puget Sound
Best Faith-based Institution
Whitworth University
Best for Veterans
Pacific Lutheran University
Best Faculty
Whitman College
Most Affordable
Western Washington University

Walla Walla University

Central Washington University


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 2021, the top five industries in the state of Washington were trade, transportation, and utilities; government; goods-producing; education and health services; and professional and business services.

With a bachelor’s degree from a Washington college, the job outlook is particularly bright for those pursuing computer technology occupations. The fastest-growing jobs for workers at this education level are information security analysts, special effects artists, market research analysts, film and video editors, and web developers.

To get an even better sense of your future employment, consider a look at the top 150 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.