Why This Matters


    In Washington State, there are 41 community colleges with associate degree programs, which gives prospective students plenty of options when choosing a school.


    The average tuition and fees for in-district WA students during the 2022-2023 school year was $4,925.


    An estimated 80.6% of students enrolled in a 2-year community college associate’s program received financial aid for the 2019-2020 school year.

Our Research

This list features some of the best community colleges in Washington State. 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 small, midsize, and large colleges as well as trade, technical, and vocational programs. 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 objectives, quality and overall effectiveness of education programs in the Pacific Northwest region of the 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 students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 50 Community Colleges in Washington State

Best Community Colleges In Washington Badge 2023
Intelligent Pick
Big Bend Community College
Highest Graduation Rate
Walla Walla Community College
Best for Transitional Studies
Everett Community College
Most Unique Learning Opportunities
South Puget Sound Community College
Best for STEM Students
Shoreline Community College
Most Affordable
Bellevue College
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Edmonds College
Best for Dual Enrollment
Clark College
Best Student Resources
Bates Technical College
Best for Financial Aid
Centralia College

Pierce College

Spokane Community College

Renton Technical College

What You Should Know About Graduating From Community College in Washington State

If you’re unsure which two-year community college program to choose, consider career fields with the highest earning potential. Based on data from 2021, the best-paying careers in Washington that require only an associate degree are air traffic controllers, aerospace engineering technicians, and radiation therapists. Dental hygienists and nuclear medicine technologists are close behind.

When it comes to career fields with the most job openings in Washington that require an associate degree, there are a variety of industries from which to choose. Preschool teachers, paralegals, dental hygienists, and computer network support specialists rank as the professions with the largest number of available jobs.

But by that same line of thinking, it’s also helpful to know which occupations have the highest rate of decline. The most rapidly declining careers in Washington state for associate program graduates are avionics technicians, electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists, aerospace engineering technicians, and industrial engineering technologists.

What’s Next?

If you’re seriously considering an associate degree in Washington state, it’s smart to start looking into financial aid now. Check out these state and federal resources for associate degree students, which will direct you to scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial assistance.

  • Washington State Higher Education Agency. This agency directs prospective students to financial aid opportunities in the state of Washington, which include need-based and merit-based programs.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Billions in student aid are provided each year by the U.S. Department of Education through the office of Federal Student Aid. This assistance comes in the form of various types of loans, grants and scholarships. You can check eligibility at the official website, which is also where you can complete your FAFSA application.
  • CareerOneStop. Find information about loans, grants, and scholarships at this site, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. The data can be filtered to only show financial programs and resources for associate degree students in Washington, so you can narrow down your options.