Top Washington State Colleges

Learn about the Top 11 Colleges and Universities in Washington

Washington State offers a wide range of options for higher education. From large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, Washington is home to a little of everything. The top Washington colleges listed below vary so much in size and mission that I have simply listed them alphabetically rather than force them into any sort of artificial ranking. Any ranked comparison of a small private college to a large public institution will be dubious at best. That said, Whitman College is the most selective school on the list.

Gonzaga University—Foley Center Library
Gonzaga University—Foley Center Library. SCUMATT / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Spokane, Washington
  • Enrollment: 7,567 (5,183 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: Educational philosophy focuses on the whole person -- mind, body and spirit; ranks highly among master's institutions in the West; member of the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference; good grant aid; healthy 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Gonzaga University profile
Anderson University Center at Pacific Lutheran University
Anderson University Center at Pacific Lutheran University. Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Location: Parkland, Washington
  • Enrollment: 3,070 (2,781 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Distinctions: Good grant aid; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; active study abroad programs; strong mix of liberal arts and professional programs for a small university; over 100 clubs and activities
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Pacific Lutheran University profile
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle Pacific University. Westlake78 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Enrollment: 4,061 (3,095 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university affiliated with the Free Methodist Church of North America
  • Distinctions: 14 to 1 student / faculty ratio; most classes have under 30 students; good grant aid; strong Christian identity; member of the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Seattle Pacific University profile
Sullivan Hall at Seattle University
Sullivan Hall at Seattle University. SaintIggy / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Enrollment: 7,487 (4,657 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Jesuit university
  • Distinctions: 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 19 students; students come from all 50 states and 76 other countries; located in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood; competes in the NCAA Division I Western Athletic Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Seattle University profile
University of Puget Sound Residence Hall
University of Puget Sound Residence Hall. The Kevin / Flickr
  • Location: Tacoma, Washington
  • Enrollment: 2,791 (2,508 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: small private university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; good grant aid; easy access to both the city and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges; NCAA Division III athletic programs
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the University of Puget Sound profile
University of Washington Bothell
University of Washington Bothell. Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Location: Bothell, Washington
  • Enrollment: 5,734 (5,112 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: regional public university
  • Distinctions: Young university that opened in 2006; popular majors in technical and professional fields; average class size of 23; located 14 miles from downtown Seattle; high marks for value
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the UW Bothell profile
University of Washington
University of Washington. clpo13 / Flickr
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Enrollment: 45,591 (30,933 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: Flagship campus of the Washington state university system; attractive campus sits on the shores of Portage and Union Bays; member of the Association of American Universities for research strengths; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; member o f the NCAA Division I the Division I Pacific Twelve Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the University of Washington profile
Thompson Hall at Washington State University
Thompson Hall at Washington State University. Candy29c / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Pullman, Washington
  • Enrollment: 30,142 (24,904 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Over 200 areas of study; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; member of the NCAA Division I Pacific 12 Conference; home to one of the country's largest athletic centers
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Washington State University profile
Western Washington University
Western Washington University. Joe Wolf / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Location: Bellingham, Washington
  • Enrollment: 15,574 (14,592 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Highly ranked regional university; close to 75% of classes have fewer than 30 students; higher retention and graduation rates than many comparable universities; member of the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Western Washington University profile
Whitman College, Memorial Hall
Whitman College, Memorial Hall. Chuck Taylor / Flickr
  • Location: Walla Walla, Washington
  • Enrollment: 1,493 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: One of the country's top liberal arts colleges; focus is entirely on undergraduate education; chapter of  Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; impressive 8 to 1 student / faculty ratio; several science and professional programs collaborate with top schools like Caltech, Columbia, Duke and Washington University
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Whitman College profile
Whitworth University
Whitworth University. Brent Soderberg / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Location: Spokane, Washington
  • Enrollment: 2,634 (2,297 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts institution affiliated with the Presbyterian Church
  • Distinctions: 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio, and the great majority of classes have under 30 students; good grant aid; ranks highly among master's institutions in the West; millions of dollars in upgrades in expansions in recent years
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Whitworth University profile