The importance of a college education cannot be overemphasized, especially in times like these when employers are looking for skilled workers with sound theoretical knowledge. The best colleges offer students a sound education. Internship opportunities, and agave faculty and staff that are understanding. The learning environment, the culture of the college, and its values all have a role to play in how creative and productive a student can be. Finding the right college is a hectic affair and so, we have done all the research to find the 10 best colleges in the state.

2023’s Best Colleges in Washington

  1. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
  2. University of Washington-Bothell Campus
  3. University of Washington-Tacoma Campus
  4. Western Washington University
  5. Centralia College
  6. South Seattle College
  7. Gonzaga University
  8. Whitman College
  9. Eastern Washington University
  10. Northwest Indian College

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

It is a public university that was founded in 1861 and the Seattle campus is a branch of the main university. It is renowned for encouraging students to be innovative and find creative ways to solve the challenges confronting today’s world. It makes the list of best colleges in Washington state and is the best university in Washington. Students, faculty, and staff pursue progress to improve their community and the world as a whole. There are numerous organizations and clubs on campus to help students relax., additionally, each student is encouraged to pursue their passion. They can participate in a range of events that promote communication and community spirit. Additionally, it is among the top universities in Seattle. 

It ranks 59th in national universities, 20th in top public schools, and 21st in best undergraduate engineering programs. Additionally, it is 29th in best colleges for veterans, 40th in most innovative schools, and 152nd in best value schools. 

It has a 52% acceptance rate and an 84% graduation rate. Additionally, it has a test-optional policy and administrators will not see standardized test scores during the review process. 

Tuition and fees for in-state students cost $12,076 while that of out-of-state students costs $39,906 for the 2021/2022 academic year. Approximately 43.3% of first-year students receive financial aid and the average amount is $13,041. Students from low-income families receive average financial aid of $18,399. 

Students at the University of Washington – Seattle can study a range of courses including:

  • Art
  • Biological and life sciences 
  • Computer science and engineering 
  • Design 
  • Landscape architecture 
  • Informatics 
  • Music 
  • Management 
  • Psychology 
  • Oceanography 
  • Public health -Global health 
  • Social welfare 

University of Washington-Bothell Campus

University of Washington-Bothell Campus

It is a part of the University of Washington and was established in 1990. It is renowned for its emphasis on community engagement, hands-on undergraduate research, and experiential learning. It is one of the world’s best public universities and ranks 1st among colleges with the highest return on investment. It is among the top universities in Washington state and for good reason. It instils a spirit of optimism and possibility into every student, promotes teamwork, and encourages participation in projects. UWB gives students access to quality education in a diverse community, and opportunities to learn and practice in high-end industries. It is committed to sustainability and has one of the world’s biggest wetland restoration projects. 

It ranks 27th in regional universities West, 10th in top public schools, and 22nd in top performers on social mobility. 

It has a 74% acceptance rate and an 89% graduation rate. Additionally, it is now a test-optional university starting Fall 2021. So students can decide to send in test scores if they please. 

Washington state residents pay $15,891 while non-Washington residents pay $52,995 for the 2021/2022 academic year. Students can apply for financial aid to fully or partially meet the cost of tuition. They have to complete FAFSA to stand a chance to get federal aid. Deserving students will be awarded merit-based scholarships. 

Over 90% of its students live and work in the state of Washington. This increases the state’s economy and positively contributing to their communities. 

Some programs UWB include:

  • Applied Computing 
  • Conservation and restoration science 
  • Culture, literature, and the arts
  • Educational studies 
  • Global studies 
  • Health studies 
  • Law, economics, and public policy 
  • Physics 

University of Washington-Tacoma Campus

University of Washington-Tacoma Campus

It is one of the 3 campuses of the University of Washington and it was founded in 1990. It is a public institution that is renowned for setting students on the path of success and helping them navigate hurdles. UW Tacoma has a culture that promotes collaboration, communication, and meaningful conversations. It is a diverse community that prompts students to speak up despite having different opinions because it promotes growth and learning. 

It ranks among colleges in WA and ranks 30th in regional universities West. Additionally, it ranks 12th in top public schools and 7th in top performers on social mobility.

It has an 87% acceptance rate and an 82% graduation rate. UW Tacoma currently has a test-optional policy. 

Undergraduate students who are Washington residents pay between $994 to $4,0066 for tuition quarter, depending on the number of credit courses. Undergraduate non-Washington residents pay between $2,846 to $13,346 per quarter, depending on the number of credits. 

69% of students received an average amount of $10,994 in financial aid in the 2018/2019 academic year. Recipients of the Pell Grant received an average amount of $4,359 within the same year, and 43% of UW Tacoma received this aid. 

Below is a list of some undergraduate courses available at UW Tacoma:

  • Accounting 
  • Community development and planning 
  • Environmental science 
  • Global urbanism 
  • Information technology 
  • Healthcare leadership 
  • Marketing 
  • Nursing 
  • Social welfare 

Western Washington University

Western Washington University

It is a public university that was founded in 1893. It has a sustainable campus, maintains great tribal relations, and has gained recognition for adding roughly $972 million to the Washington state per year. It offers sustainability and energy programs meant to foster recycling on the campus and in the US as a whole. WWU purchases only renewable energy and is committed to student critical thought, creativity, sustainability, and overall success. Justice, equity, and respect for all and sundry are also part of its values. WWT instils the spirit of responsibility, excellence, accountability, and integrity in its students. Additionally, students can participate in extracurricular programs such as sports, events, and volunteering. 

It ranks 16th in regional universities West, 4th in top public schools, and 7th in best colleges for veterans. It ranks 13th in best undergraduate teaching and 38th in best value schools. 

It has a 90% acceptance rate and a 69% graduation rate. Students in Western do not need to submit test scores. 

In-state students pay $8,703 for fees and tuition, while out-of-state students pay $25,930 for fees and tuition for the 2021/2022 academic year. However, financial aid is an option for eligible students. Freshmen received average financial aid of $10,269. Students can apply for need-based help in the form of federal loans and work-study to help them with the cost of tuition. 

Some programs include:

  • Accounting 
  • Business administration 
  • Creative writing 
  • Data science 
  • Energy policy and management 
  • English 
  • Financial economics 
  • Industrial design 
  • Manufacturing engineering 

Centralia College

Centralia College

It is a public community college that mostly offers certificate and associate programs. However, it also offers some degree programs. Centralia values stewardship and sustainability, quality education and services, and diverse communities. Equity and inclusion are also part of its values. That’s why it provides a learning environment with non-discriminatory policies. Despite being one of the smallest colleges on this list, it ranks among the best Washington colleges. Furthermore, they are engaged in giving back to the community and being a responsible educational leader. 

Washington school ranking places because it a small college with a few students who have access to teachers and other educational materials. Centralia offers disability services to eligible students. Additionally, students can participate in a host of recreational activities and fun events. 

It has a 100% acceptance rate and a 42% graduation rate. Centralia College now has a test-optional policy for applicants into the 2021/2022 academic year. 

In-state students pay $4,652, while out-of-state students pay $5,113 for tuition and fees in the 2021/2022 academic year. Nonetheless, 40% of the total number of enrolled students in Centralia college have received financial aid. They received an average amount of $6,879 in grants. 

Here are some courses at Centralia college: 

  • Associate of applied science 
  • Bachelor of applied science 
  • Associate in general studies 
  • Associate in liberal arts 
  • Associate in technical arts/Associate in applied science 
  • Associate in Science 

South Seattle College

South Seattle College

It is a small college with a population of 1,902 undergraduate students. It was established in 1969 and is known for its wine production certificate and degree programs. South Seattle is among the best Seattle colleges and it offers students apprenticeship opportunities at the Apprenticeship & Education Center, train for profitable careers, and expand their outlook on life. Students can also learn English as a second language and update their skills to get better job opportunities. Students can participate in workshops and other events to help them navigate campus life and improve their academics. The best part is that students receive personal attention from exceptionally qualified faculty members because of its small size. This is why South Seattle is one of the best colleges in Seattle. Additionally, students learn in a friendly environment that gives honor to the members of the community on which the college is found. 

South Seattle College has a 100% acceptance rate and a 23.1% graduation rate. Students are expected to send in standardized test scores during the application process. 

Full-time students taking 45 credits pay an average tuition of $4,719 for tuition. Students have to apply for financial aid and eligible students receive an average amount of $4,000 as scholarships. 

Here are some of its studies areas: 

  • Arts, design & graphics 
  • Business and accounting 
  • Culinary, hospitality, and wine 
  • Education and human services 
  • Health and medical 
  • STEM
  • Skilled trades and technical training 
  • Social studies, humanities, and languages 

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University is a private university that is based on the teaching and values of the Catholic church. It was founded in September 1887. Students receive an education that is not only centred on improving their academics but also their emotions and souls. It instils Jesuit values into students in a sustainable environment. Gonzaga provides an inclusive community that encourages diversity and equity among all students and faculty members despite age, race, or other dividing factors. 

Gonzaga is one of the top colleges in Washington state and ranks 79th in national universities. It is 13th in best undergraduate teaching, 242nd in top performers on social performers on social mobility, and 142nd in best colleges for veterans. 

It has a 62% acceptance rate and an 84% graduation rate. Gonzaga University does not require to students submit standardized test scores. 

All students except those who are eligible for financial aid are required to pay $48,470 for fees and tuition for the 2021/2022 academic year. Most of its financial aid is in the form of scholarships and grants and up to 56% of students receive some form of financial aid. Freshmen receive an average of $10,360 in financial aid 

Programs include but are not limited to: 

  • Accounting 
  • Catholic studies 
  • Criminology 
  • Education 
  • Film studies 
  • Human physiology 
  • Kinesiology and sport management
  • Modern languages and literature 
  • Psychology 

Whitman College

Whitman College

Whitman College is a private college that emphasizes liberal arts, and it was founded in 1859. Whitman College organizes events and its students participate in various recreational activities, such as sport, clubs, and student-led organizations. It has a community that is both welcoming and supportive that thrives on its vibrant campus. Students learn in an environment that prompts them to think, be creative, explore, and work towards achieving positive change in the world. Being an institution that is concerned about student’s health, all faculty and staff are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Furthermore, Whitman College has a magazine called the Whitman Magazine that publishes inspiring stories. 

It ranks 38th in national liberal arts colleges, 98th in best value schools, and 203rd in top performers on social mobility. 

It has a 56% acceptance rate and an 89% graduation rate. Whitman College has a test-optional policy, but students can submit test scores if they want them to be used in the review process. 

Students are expected to pay $55,982 for tuition and fees annually. High achieving students can get merit-based scholarships worth up to $25,000. Students who received need-based financial aid in the 2019/2020 academic year received an average of $45,185. 

It is one of the good colleges in Washington, and it offers exciting programs. Here are some programs:

  • Astronomy 
  • Biology 
  • Computer science 
  • Environmental humanities 
  • Gender studies 
  • Hispanic studies 
  • Mathematics 
  • Physics 
  • Race and ethnic studies 
  • Theatre and dance 

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University

It is a public university that offers more than 15- areas of study and had a fall 2020 student enrollment of 12,328. EWU supports diversity and it is evident because it has 33% student diversity. Being an institution that focuses on providing a solid college education, students have room to learn and explore in and out of the classroom. Additionally, EWU has 43% of first-generation students meaning they are the pacesetters in their families. Students are encouraged to visit the library often to increase their knowledge and ease their comprehension. They are also encouraged to participate in EWUs numerous events throughout the academic year. 

EWU ranks 60th in regional universities West, 28th in top public schools, and 59th in top performers on social mobility. 

It has a 96% acceptance and a 45% graduation rate. EWU uses a holistic review admission process during admission and that’s why it is test-blind. This means students do not need to submit their test scores. 

Washington residents are expected to pay $7,908 while non-Washington residents are expected to pay $26,328 for fees and tuition for the 2021/2022 academic year. Eligible freshmen receive financial aid and the average package is worth $13,530. 72% of applicants to EWU receive some form of financial aid. 

79% of graduates from EWU are working at jobs that are related to the major they studied as students. 

Outlined below are some of EWU majors: 

  • Addiction studies 
  • Biology 
  • Computer science and electrical engineering 
  • Dental hygiene 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Health and physical education 
  • International affairs 
  • Psychology 
  • Music 

Northwest Indian College

Northwest Indian College

It is a tribal public college in Washington that is deeply rooted in the culture and practices of the people. Additionally, it is the only tribal college that serves Idaho’s, Oregon’s, and Washington’s reservation communities. This makes it very special to the members of the reservation communities. Students can study online, traditionally, or using a hybrid study method. NWIC students are from more than 90 Indian tribes and they form over 75% of its total population of about 1,200 students yearly. It has 6 extended campus locations and its main campus is in Lummi nation. NWIC seeks to promote individual knowledge and self-determination for tribal people. 

It currently has a test-optional policy and students who submit test scores can decide whether or not they want them to be used during the application review process. 

Although NWIC has halved the cost of tuition to increase the number of students who have access to a college education. Residents and non-residents pay different amounts as fees depending on the number of credits they take. Students with demonstrated financial needs can benefit from scholarships and work-study programs. They have to complete FAFSA to be eligible for financial aid. 

Here are some of the programs you will find at NWIC:

  • Associate of arts and sciences degree 
  • Associate of applied science transfer degree 
  • Associate of applied science – transfer degree 
  • Associate of technical arts degree 
  • Bachelor of Science degree 

Why Study in Washington?

Washington is the ideal destination for professionals and international students who seek top-quality education at an affordable price. Students can choose between universities and community colleges based on their preferences. They are proxy to Fortune 500 companies, making it easier to apply for jobs and internships. Washington offers a lively environment with multiple opportunities for exploring the beautiful outdoors. Students can go shopping, experience the nightlife, and visit historical sights within the state. Additionally, they can attend the festivals and enjoy its lively music scene. 


Students can study in some of the top universities in Seattle or Washington as a whole. These schools offer a range of programs in various areas of study to meet the needs of each student. The difference between a college and university in Washington state among those mentioned on this will give you an idea of what to go for. Additionally, this list has colleges that request varying amounts for tuition annually. Choose that which suits your budget and other preferences and run with it!


Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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