Washington Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016

  1. You are here:
  2. Home
  3. »
  4. Online Colleges »
  5. Washington
search programs
search programs
Select State
Select Degree
Select Subjects

Deans Talk: Inside Washington’s Online Colleges

What makes an excellent online school rise above the pack? To find out, we asked the colleges making the best online college list to describe how their academics, faculties and online delivery methodology contribute to student success. Here’s what they told us.

A Guide to Online Colleges in Washington

Washington had 125 vocational schools, colleges and universities in 2013, offering both undergraduate and graduate education. The state ranked 23rd overall in the country for its number of post-secondary institutions and 19th in number of students. One out of every 52 students in the U.S. chose Washington as the place to attend college in 2013. Diversity in education is prioritized in the state, which features a broad range of educational choices through its vocational schools, religious institutions, public and private 2- and 4-year colleges, universities and distance learning programs. Prospective students considering colleges in Washington have many factors to evaluate before deciding what institution to attend or program to select. Campus, hybrid and online learning are among the options as are small, medium and large schools.

As one of the largest online learning centers in the state, The University of Washington offers bachelor’s completion and master’s degrees online, as well as certificate programs and individual courses. For further research into the educational landscape of Washington, let’s examine the higher education options in Seattle.

Seattle Colleges: Education in the Emerald City

The city of Seattle is a tourist mecca and one of America’s best educated metropolitan areas. The Emerald City is home to 23 colleges, universities and private schools. According to the U.S. Census, 56 percent of all Seattle residents over the age of 25 have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, a figure twice the national average.

Located on the north side of the Seattle on Portage Bay, The University of Washington is ranked the 25th university in the world by the Times of London, and 12th overall in clinical, preclinical and health sciences. U.S. News ranked the UW Medical School first in the nation for primary care studies for 2014. The “U-Dub” consistently earns high rankings for its Michael G. Foster School of Business and College of Engineering as well. The school’s students have included 35 Rhodes Scholars and 136 Fulbright Scholars.

Seattle Pacific University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees along with a specialization in theology. Key arts schools in the city include The Art Institute of Seattle, and the downtown Cornish College of the Arts, which offers bachelor’s degrees in dance, theater, performance production, design, fine art and music.

The Seattle Colleges, formerly known as the Seattle Community College District, has four campuses, bringing 135 academic and career-technical programs to around 50,000 students per year. The school offers transfer associate degrees in business elementary and math education, fine arts and applied science. The Seattle Colleges also grant associate degrees and technical certificates in fields such as aviation technology culinary arts, drafting, health professions and nanotechnology.

Online Learning Options at Seattle Schools

Forbes Magazine stated that Seattle had the most hot spots for wireless access of any city in the country in 2013, making it the perfect hub for distance learning, and many of the schools located in the city limits offer online degrees and technical programs at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate level.

The University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education Program offers an online bachelor’s degree completion option for any student, no matter their location or previous schooling. The university also offers 16 online master’s degrees in fields including public health, aerospace engineering, civil engineering, special education and geographic information systems, and 53 online professional certificate programs.

Tuition & Cost of Living in Washington

Prospective distance learning students in Washington should keep in mind the costs that come with post-secondary education. Tuition accounts for the most significant share, although scholarships or in-state tuition rates can help offset these. Residency status – and whether the college is public or private – can significantly change the cost of tuition. Residents of Washington paid an average $11,065 in tuition in 2012, ranking Washington as the 23rd most-expensive state to attend college.

Students should also budget for books, food, gas, transportation and lodging. The state of Washington has a cost of living (COL) ranking 4 percent higher than the U.S. average. Take a look at the COL in Washington communities as compared with the national average, rated at 100.

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Kennewick-Richland-Pasco -7.4% -14.1% -9.1% -14.9% 6.1% 9.9% -4.8%
Spokane -6.1% -14.3% -7.6% -10.5% 9.1% 10.0% -3.5%
Vancouver -5.2% -17.8% -3.1% -8.2% 6.1% 14.3% 0.1%
Yakima -4.2% -13.1% -0.2% -13.2% 5.5% 17.1% -0.8%
Olympia 4.1% 2.2% 7.4% -17.9% 14.9% 20.5% 6.0%
Tacoma 9.5% 16.6% 11.3% -16.9% 9.0% 15.1% 10.2%
Everett 11.3% 28.1% 12.0% -14.6% 10.4% 29.1% 2.1%
Bellingham 13.0% 35.9% 14.9% -16.2% 13.2% 15.3% 0.8%
Seattle 21.4% 40.3% 15.1% -14.3% 18.8% 19.9% 19.1%

Accreditation Standards in Washington

Whether online or on-campus, students should always verify that all programs of study have been accredited. Colleges must meet standards in education set by a regional accrediting organization before students can qualify for federal student aid. In Washington, accreditation usually is administered through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Programmatic accreditation is also offered for specialized programs. For example, the University of Washington’s Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture and Doctor of Architecture degree programs have all been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Best Online Colleges in Washington for 2015-2016

Private institutions pioneered a lead role in online learning, but public schools in Washington have also embraced distance education. In 2013, 14 4-year schools in Washington offered some form of distance education. The institutions on the Best Online Colleges in Washington for 2015-2016list were chosen for their excellence in providing high quality online degree or certificate programs in a competitive educational landscape. Explore the schools that made the list.

RANK COLLEGE ScoreStudent-Teacher RatioFinancial AidCost MORE INFO
1 Western Washington University 99.8120:173%

An online college in the state of Washington, Western Washington University provides support in the development and delivery of quality online courses. The university offers one Master Degree Program, one Bachelor Degree Program and one Certificate; Masters of Education in Continuing and College Education, Bachelors in Human Services and TESOL Certification.

2 Northwest University 96.2413:199%

Founded in 1934, Northwest University has over 1,000 enrolled students and is a regionally accredited, Christian coeducational institution. Online Degree Programs offered at this university include; Online Certificate in Ministry Leadership, Online BS in Criminal Justice, Online Master in Business Administration (MBA), Online Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL) and Online Master in Ministry.

3 Heritage University 96.078:1100%

Located in Toppenish, Washington, on the Yakama Indian Reservation, Heritage University offers Online Degree; Bachelors in Arts in the following areas of concentration- American Cultural Studies, American Indian Studies, English and English/Language Arts (5-12 teaching credentials), Masters in Educational Administrations and Masters of Arts in English.

4 Washington State University 95.9615:179%

Founded in 1890 and located in the state of Washington, Washington State University is home to the crimson and gray colored cougars. The University offers a variety of Online Degree Programs including; Undergraduates Degrees, Graduate Degrees and Non-degree options. More than 27,000 students attend Washington State University with more than 22,000 undergraduate students and 3,500 postgraduate students.

5 Saint Martin’s University 95.6912:195%

Founded in 1895 and with nearly 2,000 enrolled students, St. Martins University coeducational, Catholic, liberal arts university in the state of Washington. This university offers 10 Master Degree Programs and Major Studies in the following areas; Accounting, Biology, Business administration, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Community Services, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Elementary Education, English, History, Interdisciplinary Studies, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Music, Nursing RN-BSN (Transfer only), Political science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Social Work, Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, Special Education and Theatre Arts.

6 Central Washington University 95.6819:185%

Home to the wildcats and founded in 1891, Central Washington University has more than 11,000 enrolled students. The university encourages you to take the first step towards completing your degree with affordable, convenient and flexible online programs. Online college degree programs include; Masters of Education, Masters of Science in Health and Physical Education, Masters of Education in Special Education, Bachelors of Arts, Bachelors of Science, Bachelors of Applied Science, Bachelors of Arts- Law and Justice and Bachelor of Science- Paramedicine.

7 University of Washington-Seattle Campus 91.1915:155%

Offering a variety of courses, certificate programs and Bachelor and Graduate Degree Programs, the University of Washington- Seattle Campus has over 42,000 enrolled students. The university offers online courses in the following areas of concentration; Art, Writing and Culture, Biotechnology and Biomedical, Building Construction, Design and Real Estate, Business, Communication and Media, Computing and IT, Education, Engineering, Environment and Sustainability, Health, Medicine and Social Work, Humanities and Social Science, Law and Regulation Non-profit and Public Sector and Science and Math.

8 University of Washington-Tacoma Campus 86.6417:183%

University of Washington-Tacoma continues to add to its online course offerings, though it already hosts courses across several subject areas as well as a fully online degree in criminal justice. For their foreign language requirement, students wanting to take courses online can use Rosetta Stone resources as a self-paced, independent-learning language option that is recognized by the school for course credit. The university uses Canvas as the learning management system for its online courses, which keeps faculty and students in constant contact for assignments, grades, discussions, and other course requirements.

Search Accredited Washington Online Colleges

Many students seeking online colleges in Washington are kept from attending campus-based programs by work or family commitments. Finding the right program means matching up a prospective school’s curriculum with educational goals and finding a flexible class schedule. The following custom search tool helps students quickly sort hundreds of potential online colleges and programs by cost, acceptance rate or field of study.

Degree Level:
Student Population:
School Type:
see map

Useful Resources for Online Students in Washington

For new or returning online students, the web is an inexhaustible source for information on education-related topics. Starting with these resources, students can target key information about financial aid for Washington students and veterans, income-based grants, tuition guarantees or college savings plans.