Overview of Washington Colleges & Schools

The state of Washington is home to a large number of public and private post-secondary and graduate institutions. Many of the larger institutions are found in urban centers, with smaller colleges and universities located throughout the state. The capital of the state is Olympia. The state’s largest cities are Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma. Washington is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Oregon to the South, Idaho to the east, and British Columbia to the North. It is the 13th largest state by population, and is home to one of the oldest universities on the west coast.

There is no formal state university system in the state of Washington. Eight public colleges and universities are funded by the state with two having branch campuses in other cities in the state. The University of Washington is the largest University in the Pacific Northwest and carries the designation of Public Ivy, which identifies it as being on par in terms of educational quality with private Ivy League schools. The school has two branch campuses with a third one proposed and in consideration.

University of Washington campuses:

Washington State University was founded in 1890 in Pullman, Washington. The school is comprised of four campuses and is known for a variety of programs including chemical engineering, agriculture, and food science. The school is considered among the most active research institutions in the United States, and is ranked in the top ten schools in the country for clean technology. The school is the oldest in the area, having been established five month after Washington became a state.

WSU campuses:

  • Washington State University, Pullman (Pullman)
  • Washington State University, Tri-Cities (Richland)
  • Washington State University, Vancouver (Vancouver)
  • Washington State University, Spokane (Spokane)

In addition to the above two schools, the state funds six more four year institutions. These schools, though not as large nor as renowned as the above, provide quality education to residents of the state as well as out of state and foreign students.

Public four year institutions:

Washington State has a large number of private colleges and universities. A large number of these schools provide a liberal arts education, which in turn provides students with a well rounded curriculum that develops skills for graduate education and/or the workplace. Other schools may provide specialized education, such as an art school or faith based college. Private institutions tend to have higher tuition costs and lower student populations. This in turn results in better student to teacher ratios than public institutions. Additionally, private schools tend to have more educational opportunities, such as research positions, study abroad programs, and internships.

Private institutions in Washington state include:

The State of Washington is also home to a number of community colleges and private career and technical schools. Community colleges are publically funded two year institutions that provide vocational training for entry into the work force upon graduations and transfer opportunities for students wishing to enter a four year institution. Students wishing to transfer will complete their freshman and sophomore years at the community college. Career schools provide short term training programs for high demand fields, often assisting students with job placement upon completion. These schools tend to have a higher cost that community colleges, but are specialized in their areas of study and typically take less than a year to complete.

The most populous city in Washington is Seattle, followed by Spokane, Tacoma, and Vancouver.  While the most populous county in Washington is King County with Pierce County and Snohomish County a distant second and third.   If you are interested in visiting the state of Washington, consider visiting their state page or the state chapter of the Chamber of Commerce.

College Degree Breakdown for the State of Washington

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, NCES, O*NET Online

Doctoral or professional degree69,0802.3
Master's degree52,7301.7
Bachelor's degree752,93024.5
Associate's degree75,7002.5
Postsecondary nondegree award173,5805.7
Some college, no degree89,1902.9
High school diploma or equivalent1,028,68033.5
No formal educational credential825,22026.9

Public Universities & Colleges

Image of Public College Campus

There are twenty-six public 4-year state universities and colleges in Washington. These four-year institutions predominantly offer bachelor's or higher level programs and some may even include research facilities. See a state-wide list of the state universities and colleges in Washington.

Private Universities & Colleges

Image of Private College Campus

In Washington there are nineteen accredited private four-year colleges. Similar to public schools, private colleges and universities offer bachelor's or higher level programs and research opportunities, although they usually have smaller classes and higher tuition. Compare admission requirements and tuition details for private colleges in Washington.

Community Colleges

Community College in Washington

Community colleges are public institutions that offer low cost, high quality education for residents throughout the state. These schools offer 2-year programs that grant associate degrees or offer training courses in specialized trades. Washington" Community colleges also are the number one transfer-out programs available for four-year colleges and universities. Learn more and compare community colleges in Washington.

Bible & Christian Colleges

Christian Colleges

Bible and Christian colleges generally provide specialized undergraduate education with a focus on religious or biblical study. There are approximately ten such colleges in Washington located throughout the state. See a full list of Christian colleges in Washington along with program and tuition information.

Browse Schools by Career in Washington

Follow the links below to get information on accredited schools in our database that offer programs or degrees.

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