Our Research

This list features some of the best online 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.

Nearly every listed institution is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the agency that holds regional colleges and universities to high standards regarding performance, integrity, and quality of merit. One of our listed institutions is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), which holds religious educational institutions in the United States and abroad to stringent educational standards.

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

The Top 11 Online Colleges in Washington State

Best Online Colleges in Washington Badge
01
Intelligent Pick
Washington State University
01
Most Customizable Program
Western Washington University
01
Best Certificate Programs
UW Professional & Continuing Education
01
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
City University of Seattle
01
Most Affordable
Eastern Washington University
01
Best Experiential Learning
Gonzaga University
01
Best Student Supports
Central Washington University
01
Best Christian Institution
Northwest University
01
Most Diverse
Heritage University
01
Best Master's Degrees
Seattle University
01

Faith International University

Frequently Asked Questions: Online Colleges in Washington State

Does Washington State have good online colleges and universities?

Absolutely. The state offers some of the top online programs in the country, such as the University of Washington’s Hybrid MBA program and Washington State University’s Online Bachelor’s in Business program. If you do graduate from a business program, you should strongly consider staying in Washington, as the state offers many lucrative opportunities in the business management, operations, and finance industries. Washington also offers many other types of online degrees and growing industries to choose from as well.

Do online college credits in Washington State cost more than in-person classes?

The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some colleges offer discounted rates for online courses, while others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. For example, if you’d like to take online classes at Bellevue College, you’ll need to pay a “Distance Education Fee” of $10.50 per credit.

Why should you choose Washington State for online higher education?

From affordable community colleges to private religious institutions to top public research universities, Washington has something to offer for every type of online college student. One option stands out as a particularly appealing choice for out-of-state students — with Central Washington University’s non-resident waivers, out-of-state students enrolled in online undergraduate programs can access the same tuition rates as in-state students.

The Cost of Online College in Washington State

How much does an online degree in Washington State cost?

The cost of an online degree in Washington depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree you decide to pursue. For example, undergraduate degrees are usually much more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you’ll probably find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.

Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save a lot of money on indirect expenses, such as transportation and housing, by earning your college degree online.

To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the lowest and highest rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in Washington below:

  • Most affordable online college in Washington State: Central Washington University, $222 per credit
  • Most expensive online college in Washington State: Washington State University, $542 per credit

Average College Tuition Cost

Source: Education Data Initiative

How long do you have to live in Washington State to get in-state tuition rates?

In most cases, you will be eligible for in-state tuition rates after you’ve lived in Washington for one year. Some groups, such as military veterans, tribal members, and students who live just on the other side of the Oregon border, may be able to access in-state tuition rates without meeting this one-year requirement.

Who qualifies for reduced tuition costs in Washington State?

In 2019, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Workforce Education Investment Act into law. This piece of legislation created the Washington College Grant. Depending on your income, the size of your family, and which institution you attend, you may be able to cover the entire cost of going to college through this state-wide program.

The eligibility rules for the Washington College Grant change every year. To understand how this program works, it helps to look at a specific example: In the 2021-22 academic year, a student with a family size of one who earns less than $30,500 annually and attends Washington State University would be eligible for the maximum award of $11,009. It’s also worth noting that you should submit your FAFSA application to see if you are eligible for Federal Pell Grants and other financial aid awards.

College Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grant Programs in Washington State

In addition to the Washington College Grant, there are many other programs available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are also based on financial need, while others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent financial aid options for you below:

College Bound Scholarship

Like the Washington College Grant, this program is also managed by the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC). The scholarship provides financial support for tuition and fees, as well as a book allowance, at more than 65 colleges, universities, and technical schools in Washington.

Who’s eligible? Low-income seventh and eighth grade students who pledge to graduate high school with at least a 2.0 GPA and no felony convictions.

Contact information: [email protected] | 888-535-0747

Learn more

American Indian Endowed Scholarship

Yet another WSAC program, this scholarship is for students who both qualify for financial aid and have close social or cultural ties to an American Indian community in the state of Washington. About 15 applicants are chosen each year to receive this award, which ranges from $500 to $2,000.

Who’s eligible? Financially needy students who have close ties to an American Indian community and are not pursuing a degree in theology.

Contact information: [email protected] | 360-485-1311

Learn more

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

This scholarship program is designed for students pursuing high-demand careers in Washington state. Overall, three awards are available — the Baccalaureate Scholarship (maximum benefit of $22,500), Graduate Scholarship (maximum benefit of $25,000), and Career and Technical Scholarship (maximum benefit of $1,500 per quarter for the duration of your associate degree, certification, or apprenticeship program).

Who’s eligible? Students majoring in a STEM or healthcare field who have a total family income that does not exceed 125% of the Washington state family median income. For the Baccalaureate Scholarship and Career and Technical Scholarship, you must have also graduated high school with at least a 2.75 GPA or passed the GED.

Contact information: [email protected] | 877-899-5002

Learn more

Opportunity Grants

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges administers this grant program, which provides qualifying students with funding for up to 45 college credits, up to $1,000 for books and supplies, and access to resources such as tutoring, career advising, emergency child care, and emergency transportation.

Who’s eligible? Students enrolled in a community or technical college who have an income that does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level and maintain a GPA of at least 2.0.

Contact information: [email protected] | 888-535-0747

Learn more

5 Fastest Growing Industries in Washington State

If you still don’t know where you’ll attend college, there’s a decent chance you don’t yet know what you’ll major in, either. In that case, one of the most important factors you should consider is which industries are growing the fastest in Washington. This will make it easier to find a job, and more demand should also help you earn a higher salary.

By comparing the two most recent sets of state-level occupational employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020 and 2019), we’ve determined that the following five industries have the highest growth rates in Washington state:

Computer and Mathematical Occupations

Washington State is the home of top tech companies such as Amazon and Microsoft, so it’s no surprise this industry is one of the strongest in the state. Within this sector, the most common occupations are software developer and software quality assurance tester — these jobs have an average salary of $131,870 in Washington. Other occupations include web developer, information security analyst, database administrator, and data scientist.

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

With over 3,000 miles of shoreline and 22 million acres of forest, Washington truly offers an abundance of natural resources. This has made occupations in the farming, fishing, and forestry sectors quite popular in the state. While many of these jobs don’t require a college degree, one is often needed for research and management roles.

  • Growth: 9.2%
  • Degree options: Associate in Natural Resource Management, Bachelor’s in Agricultural Science, Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, Bachelor’s in Animal Science, Master’s in Agricultural Science, Master’s in Environmental Science, Master’s in Animal Science

Community and Social Service

There are many job openings in Washington for substance use disorder, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. The other top occupations within this industry include social worker, guidance counselor, and community health worker.

Management

Earning a management degree is one of the quickest ways to access high-paying job opportunities. Most of the occupations within this industry have an annual mean wage that’s in the six figures.

Business and Financial Operations

Similar to the management sector, you should consider this industry if you’re especially concerned about increasing your earning potential. Several business and financial operations jobs earn an average salary over six figures as well, including personal financial advisor ($111,890) and financial examiner ($101,660).