Continuing our series of best online college by state rankings, we have examined all online colleges in Washington State and chosen to showcase the top 20 schools, based on the methodology stated below.
Each online college is ranked based on their score out of a possible 200 points. This rating scale was determined by adding the two percentages we use to rank the schools; each rate had a maximum of 100%, which we then added together to find the final score for a particular school. In this ranking, 200 is a perfect score, and 2 is the lowest possible score; 2 is the lowest possible score due to the fact that schools which may have scored less than 1% for either (or both) of the rates were ineligible to be ranked.
We have ranked Washington state-located schools offering online programs based on the following ranking criteria:
- 50%: Freshmen Retention Rates and;
- 50%: Graduation Rates
To gather the information needed to rank each school based on this particular methodology, we have utilized each school’s website whenever possible. In instances that this information was unavailable or incomplete directly from the school’s website, we utilized the databases of both U.S. News and World Report and of National Center for Education Statistics. In cases where two or more schools were tied in this article, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names as our designated tie-breaking criteria.
We also consulted our own top 100 ranking of the best online colleges when ranking these schools.
Best Online Schools in Washington
20: Big Bend Community College
Big Bend Community College is a two-year state-sponsored community college located in Moses Lake, Washington. Big Bend Community College was originally established in 1961 by an act of the Washington State Board of Education. Big Bend Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Big Bend Community College is also one of the very few two-year community colleges in the nation that provides on-campus student housing; the on-campus dormitories are available for rent on a quarterly basis. Big Bend offers more than 5,000 enrolled students a selection of 43 different Associate’s degrees and 16 certification programs from which to choose. Many of these classes are available to distance-learning students in an online and asynchronous format to provide an added amount of flexibility to the education that is provided by Big Bend. Some of the available fully online for-credit classes include the following course titles: Agriculture Sales and Marketing, Art Appreciation, Intro Criminal Justice, Introduction to Economics and Survey of Biology among many others that span across numerous areas-of-study (Big Bend Community College offers 47 credit courses online in total). Big Bend Community College’s athletics teams (known as the Vikings) compete in the Northwest Athletic Conference, which is the sports association for community colleges that are located in Oregon, Washington, and the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC).
School’s Website: http://www.bigbend.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 64.0%
Graduation Rate: 36.0%
Final Score: 100.0/200
19: City University of Seattle
Commonly referred to simply as CityU, the City University of Seattle is a private and not-for-profit liberal arts university in Seattle, Washington. CityU has 27 global campuses, which are located in: Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, and Calgary, Canada; in Beijing and Shenzhen, China; Prague, The Czech Republic; Athens, Greece; Mexicali, Tijuana, Ensenada, Monterrey, Puebla, and San Luis PotosÌ, Mexico; in both Bratislava and TrencÌn, Slovakia; Lucerne, Switzerland; and a campus located in Hanoi, Vietnam. CityU maintains partnerships with more than 25 Washington state-based and internationally-based universities and colleges. Two of the more well-known connections being the Beijing University of Technology (a Project 211 University; a project of national key universities and colleges with the intent of raising the research standards of high-level institutions) which is located in Beijing, China; and the Liverpool John Moores University (which is the third-oldest university in England and the 33rd-largest university in the United Kingdom based on student enrollment; with more than 21,000 students) which is located Liverpool, England. World Executive Weekly–a leading Chinese management periodical–has called the partnership between CityU and the Beijing University of Technology the catalyst that led to the creation of one of “the Top Ten Most Influential Sino-Foreign Joint MBA Programs” in the entirety of the People’s Republic of China.
School’s Website: http://www.cityu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 80.0%
Graduation Rate: 20.0%
Final Score: 100.0/200
18: Central Washington University
Central Washington University is a public comprehensive research university which is located in Ellensburg, Washington. CWU, as Central Washington University is commonly referred, was originally established in 1891 as the Washington State Normal School. Later it operated under the following titles: Central Washington College of Education and Central Washington State College) and was created by an act of the State of Washington Legislature. The university initially served as a school for training teachers to help the local communities. In addition to the Ellensburg campus, CWU maintains satellite locations in the following areas: CWU-Des Moines, at Highline Community College; CWU-Everett, at Everett Community College; CWU-Lynnwood, at Edmonds Community College; CWU-Pierce County, at Pierce College; CWU-Moses Lake, at Big Bend Community College; CWU-Wenatchee, at Wenatchee Valley College; and CWU-Yakima, at Yakima Valley Community College. CWU also operates the Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array (PANGA), the Wine Quality Research Initiative, and the Science Honors Research Program. Those are the institutes that the university conducts various research topics at, such as using real-time GPS measurements in studying and measuring crustal deformation to mitigate natural hazards throughout the Pacific Northwest (undertaken through PANGA) among other important avenues of research.
School’s Website: http://www.cwu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 77.0%
Graduation Rate: 24.0%
Final Score: 101.0/200
17: Walla Walla University
Walla Walla University is a private, not-for-profit and Seventh-Day Adventist Church-affiliated liberal arts university located in the Walla Walla County town of College Place, Washington. It is less than 3 miles southwest of the City of Walla Walla. Walla Walla University was originally established in 1892 by members of the local Seventh-Day Adventist Church and was created from the very beginning of its history to act as a collegiate institution. This makes it a relatively unique case, as many of the nation’s Adventist-created colleges and universities were established as academies and seminaries that would later evolve into collegiate institutions due to varying circumstances. In addition to Walla Walla University’s main campus in College Place, the university also operates satellite campuses and centers: Walla Walla’s School of Nursing maintains a campus in Portland, Oregon; the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory is located in Anacortes, Washington and; the School of Social Work and Sociology operates locations in the cities of Missoula and Billings, Montana. WWU, as the university is commonly referred to, offers pre-professional programs, Associate’s degree programs, Bachelor’s degree programs and Master’s degree programs in three areas of study–Humanities, Sciences & Mathematics, and Professional–through the various schools into which the university is organized. Many of the degree programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format.
School’s Website: https://wallawalla.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 80.0%
Graduation Rate: 21.0%
Final Score: 101.0/200
16: Bates Technical College
Bates Technical College is a state-sponsored two-year technical college located in Tacoma, Washington. Bates TC, to which the college is often referred, was originally established as a technical education program in 1940 and was taught in the basement of Hawthorne Elementary School. A year later, the program would be officially named the Tacoma Vocational School (later names for the school would be Tacoma Vocational-Technical Institute and the L. H. Bates Vocational Technical Institute) and would not become an independent entity until 1991. Today, the college’s student body and academic staff are heavily involved in public events hosted at the Bates Technical College and throughout the surrounding communities, with social, historical, and philanthropic events including an annual Global Heritage Celebration, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, and a Disability Awareness Day, and more. Academic staff working in Bates’ Diversity Center strive to develop new and more efficient outreach strategies with a focus on specific communities, organizations, and various relevant groups. More than 800 students graduate from Bates Technical College each year, either earning an Associate’s degree or a trade or professional certificate. There are more than 50 different academic programs available through Bates TC, spanning many areas-of-study. Highlights include their on-campus Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Denturism program (the only such training program available in the entire state) or their online Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Accounting program (which is one of the more popular and noteworthy degree programs available).
School’s Website: http://www.bates.ctc.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 67.0%
Graduation Rate: 45.0%
Final Score: 112.0/200
15: University of Washington–Tacoma Campus
The University of Washington–Tacoma, which is commonly referred to simply as UW Tacoma, is a public research university based in downtown Tacoma, Washington. UW Tacoma is one of three campuses that compose the University of Washington system. The oldest school in the system is in the University District of Seattle, and the remaining campus is located in Bothell, Washington. The University of Washington’s Tacoma campus originally opened in leased space in 1990 and would not open its permanent campus in Tacoma until the 1997-1998 academic year. UW Tacoma was opened due to a suggestion by the Higher Education Coordination Board that both the University of Washington and Washington State University should open branch extension locations. Due to this proposal, Tacoma and Bothell were chosen as the new UW campus sites, and three sites were selected for the new Washington State University campuses; Vancouver, Richland (the Tri-Cities campus) and Spokane. The initial goal of each of these extension campuses was to increase the service area by institutions of higher education. UW Tacoma initially only served undergraduate transfer students, but would later admit its first freshmen class in 2006; 16 years after commencing its operation and nine years after opening its permanent campus. This long-awaited event has given UW Tacoma cause to expect a continuing increase in student enrollment rates, prompting the school to start work on renovating and expanding the campus. UW Tacoma currently has more than 5,000 enrolled students.
School’s Website: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 71.0%
Graduation Rate: 41.1%
Final Score: 112.1/200
14: Saint Martin’s University
Located in Lacey, Washington, Saint Martin’s University is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliated liberal arts university. Saint Martin’s University was originally established in 1895 by monks of the Benedictine Order and was initially operated as an all boy’s boarding school. Saint Martin’s began offering students college-level courses (at the time, these courses did not ultimately lead to a degree upon successful program completion) five years later in 1900. Saint Martin’s University would, however, go on to become a degree-granting institution in 1940. In 1965, Saint Martin’s changed from an all boy’s school into a coeducational college. Saint Martin’s University is organized into four academic divisions–two schools and two colleges–through which the university’s nearly 2,000 students are enrolled in one of the 21 undergraduate degree programs or 7 graduate degree programs which are available, either on-campus or online. The academic divisions that Saint Martin’s is organized into are the Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering; the School of Business; the College of Arts and Sciences and; the College of Education and Professional Psychology. Additionally, Saint Martin’s University offers programs and courses at both Joint Base Lewis-McChord (a joint United States Army and United States Air Force military base which is located near Tacoma) and Centralia College (a community college which is located in Centralia). Saint Martin’s consistently strives to become a more environmentally-friendly campus through various green initiatives, such as having the school cafeteria collect biodegradable refuse for composting and upgrading buildings on-campus to meet or exceed LEED certification standards.
School’s Website: https://www.stmartin.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 79.0%
Graduation Rate: 38.0%
Final Score: 117.0/200
13: Washington State University
Washington State University, which is commonly referred to simply as WSU, is a public land-grant research university which is located in Pullman, Washington. Washington State University was originally established in 1890 as the Agricultural College, Experiment Station and School of Science of the State of Washington. The Agricultural College, Experiment Station and School of Science of the State of Washington were created by an act of the State of Washington Legislature, less than five months after Washington achieved statehood. The college would later have its name changed to State College of Washington in 1905 (and later to its present-day name in 1959). In addition to the main campus in Pullman, WSU operates a location in Vancouver, Richland, and Spokane; known as WSU Vancouver, WSU Tri-Cities and WSU Spokane respectively. 2012 saw the launch of WSU’s Internet-based Global Campus which is known as WSU Online. WSU is organized into 11 colleges and 1 school: the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Carson College of Business; the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication; the College of Education; the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture; the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; the College of Nursing; the College of Pharmacy; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the Honors College; and the Graduate School. Through these colleges and schools and their collective 65 departments, WSU provides nearly 30,000 total students with a selection of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and certifications that span more than 200 different areas-of-study.
School’s Website: https://wsu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 80.0%
Graduation Rate: 38.0%
Final Score: 118.0/200
12: Northwest University
Located in Kirkland, Washington, Northwest University is a private, not-for-profit and Christian-affiliated liberal arts university which was originally established in 1934. Northwest University was started and operated as a Bible Institute by the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God USA–the United States branch of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. That particular fellowship is the world’s largest organization of the Pentecostal congregational body–and is still operated under the control of the Assemblies of God of the districts of Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and the Wyoming. Northwest University is organized into the following schools and colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Ministry; the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; the College of Music Business and Audio-Tech; the School of Business and Management; the School of Education and; the Mark and Huldah Buntain School of Nursing. Through these four colleges and three schools, Northwest provides more than 1,700 students with a choice of various undergraduate degrees (50 programs), graduate degrees (6 programs), and a myriad of certification programs. Some of the programs that are offered to Northwest University’s on-campus students are also available to the university’s distance-learning students in an online and asynchronous format, such as their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, their Master of Arts (MA) in Bible and Theology degree program and their Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program among others.
School’s Website: https://www.northwestu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 79.0%
Graduation Rate: 41.0%
Final Score: 120.0/200
11: Eastern Washington University
Commonly referred to simply as EWU and located in Cheney, Washington, the Eastern Washington University is a comprehensive public university. Eastern Washington University was originally established in 1882 from a grant of $10,000 USD made by Benjamin Pierce Cheney, a businessman and the founder of the firm that would later become American Express. The institution was initially known as the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy, and would undergo a handful of name changes spanning across its more than 130-year long history. State Normal School at Cheney was the second title bestowed upon it, and Eastern Washington College of Education was the third. The fourth name was Eastern Washington State College. Eastern Washington State College was the last name given to the institution before finally the name was changed to its present-day name. Today the university is academically organized into five colleges: the College of Arts, Letters, and Education; the College of Business and Public Administration; the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; the College of Social Science, Behavioral Sciences and Social Work and; the College of Health Science and Public Health. Through these divisions, EWU provides its more than 13,000 total enrolled students with a myriad of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certificate-granting programs from which to choose; many of which are also available online in an asynchronous format, allowing EWU to cater to distance-learning students.
School’s Website: https://www.ewu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 76.0%
Graduation Rate: 45.8%
Final Score: 121.8/200
10: Western Washington University
Western Washington University is one of the six public universities in operation in the state of Washington and is the northernmost located school in operation in the contiguous United States. WWU–as the university is commonly referred–is based in Bellingham and was originally established in 1893 as the state-funded New Whatcom Normal School, succeeding a private and women’s only school of teaching (which itself was known as Northwest Normal School). Other historical names for what is now WWU are State Normal School at Whatcom, Washington State Normal School at Bellingham, Western Washington College of Education and Western Washington State College. WWU was bestowed with its present-day name in 1977, 84 years after it was first established. Today, Western Washington University has a student body that consists of more than 14,000 total students. Based on student enrollment, WWU is the third largest university located in Washington, only being beaten out by Washington State University (the second-largest university with approximately 26,000 total students) and the University of Washington (counting both undergraduate and graduate students, the total student enrollment exceeds more than 43,000 students, making the University of Washington the largest in the state). WWU’s 14,000 students all had a generous selection of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and certificates to choose from, which are all offered through one or more of the university’s eight colleges and schools. These eight are the College of Business and Economics; the College of Fine and Performing Arts; the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Science and Engineering; the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies; the Huxley College of the Environment; the Woodring College of Education and; the Graduate School. Many of the available academic programs are also available online, such as the university’s Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Human Services degree program, among others.
School’s Website: https://www.wwu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 83.0%
Graduation Rate: 40.0%
Final Score: 123.0/200
9: Pacific Lutheran University
Pacific Lutheran University–which is commonly referred to simply as PLU–is a private, not-for-profit Lutheran-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Parkland, Washington. PLU was originally established in 1890 by a group of Norwegian Lutheran pioneers. Today, PLU offers its students (with enrollment exceeding 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students in total) a selection of 44 different majors and 54 minors, all of which span a wide variety of different areas-of-study. This provides a significant amount of academic flexibility. In addition to the myriad of offered majors and minors, Pacific Lutheran University also offers the following graduate and professional degrees: a Master of Arts degree in Education; a Master of Arts degree in Education; a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy; a Master of Business Administration (MBA); a Master of Science degree in Finance; a Master of Science degree in Marketing Research; a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing; a Master of Science degree in Nursing and; a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Many of Pacific Lutheran University’s courses are available in an online format to cater to distance-learning students. PLU students can participate in a study abroad program. Nearly 50% of all of PLU’s students participate in a study abroad program during their time enrolled at the university. PLU also holds the distinction of being the first school in the United States to have students studying abroad on all seven of the continents at the same time. Additionally, in 2009, PLU became the first university in the state of Washington–and the first privately-ran university located on the west coast–to receive the prestigious Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.
School’s Website: http://www.plu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 83.0%
Graduation Rate: 52.0%
Final Score: 135.0/200
8: Seattle Pacific University
Seattle Pacific University is a private, not-for-profit and Methodist-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Seattle, Washington. Seattle Pacific University, which is commonly referred to as SPU, was originally established in 1891 by the Oregon and Washington Conference of the Free Methodist Church as the Seattle Seminary. Seattle Seminary would later be renamed to the Seattle Seminary and College in 1913, to the Seattle Pacific Christian College in 1915 and finally to its present-day name in 1977; 40 years ago and 85 years after it was initially established. SPU’s more than 4,100 enrolled students were able to choose between one of the university’s 69 undergraduate majors, 53 undergraduate minors, 51 undergraduate concentrations, 24 Master’s degrees, 24 Master’s concentrations, 5 Doctoral degrees, and 12 graduate certification program which are all available to on-campus students. In addition to the more than 225 academic programs that are available on-campus, distance-learning students that wish to obtain a degree from Seattle Pacific University will have a variety of programs to choose from as well. Highlights include a Master of Arts in Teaching degree program which includes an integrated Residency Teacher Certification program. There is also many for-credit and noncredit courses which are available entirely online to distance-learning students and that spanning across a multitude of areas-of-study.
School’s Website: http://spu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 85.0%
Graduation Rate: 53.0%
Final Score: 138.0/200
7: Faith International University and Seminary
Faith International University and Seminary is a private, not-for-profit Lutheran-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Tacoma, Washington. Faith International University and Seminary was originally founded in 1969 by Lutherans Alert-National (LAN), an organization committed to Biblical Inerrancy–the held belief that the Protestant Bible “is without error or fault in all of its teaching.” Faith International University and Seminary was originally known as the Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, and in 2005, the name of the institution was changed to Faith Evangelical Seminary to reflect the current interdenominational profile that was now present. “College” was added to the name of Faith Evangelical Seminary in 2010 to properly communicate the fact that the institution was now capable of bestowing undergraduate degrees upon students after successful program completion. Finally, in 2016, the name was changed a final time to Faith International University and Seminary, this time to highlight the institution’s ever-growing international student population and to express their ability to grant graduate degrees to eligible students. Faith Seminary provides its enrolled students with a selection of liberal arts academic programs and with theological academic programs to choose from, both of which are available at the undergraduate degree, graduate degree and certification levels. The institution also has a selection of programs available online for distance learning students to choose from, such as their Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Religion degree program, their Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Education degree program or their Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business degree program, among others.
School’s Website: http://faithseminary.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 67.0%
Graduation Rate: 80.0%
Final Score: 147.0/200
6: Seattle University
Located in Seattle, Washington, Seattle University is a private, not-for-profit Jesuit Catholic-affiliated liberal arts university and which is commonly referred to simply as SU. Seattle University was originally established in 1891 by Adrian Sweere, S.J. and was named the Immaculate Conception Parish School. The Immaculate Conception Parish School did not offer a higher education until 1898. The same year, Immaculate Conception Parish School was renamed to Seattle College. For a large part of Seattle College’s early history, the institution served the local communities as both a college and as a high school. In 1931, Seattle College started holding night classes for women, even though admitting women to an institution of higher learning was highly controversial at the time. Then, in 1948, Seattle College underwent one final name change to its present-day name of Seattle University. SU is the largest independently-ran university in the Northwest region of the United States based on the combined undergraduate and graduate student enrollment size, with more than 7,500 students being enrolled in an academic program offered through one of university’s nine academic schools and colleges into which SU is divided. SU is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). In 2014, U.S. News and World Report ranked SU’s legal writing program as the best in the nation for the sixth consecutive time. Additionally, in their “Best Colleges” ranking for 2015, U.S. News and World Report ranked Seattle University as the 5th best Regional University in the West region. Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Seattle University in 2013 as having the best macroeconomics program in the nation. Seattle University has been showered with many more accolades over the years from multiple reputable publications.
School’s Website: https://www.seattleu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86.0%
Graduation Rate: 64.0%
Final Score: 150.0
5: University of Washington–Bothell Campus
The University of Washington–Bothell Campus (which is commonly referred to simply as UW Bothell) is a public research university which is located in Bothell, Washington and which is one of the three campuses that make up the University of Washington system. UW Bothell was originally established in 1990 at the same time as the other University of Washington Extension Campus; UW Tacoma. UW Bothell is the largest branch campus in the state of Washington and is home to one of the most extensive wetland restoration projects on the West Coast. The wetland restoration project covers an area of more than 58-acres of land which–before the start of the restoration project–was used for cattle grazing. UW Bothell currently offers to its more than 6,000 enrolled students a selection of 40 Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs through the university’s five schools. The five schools that UW Bothell is organized into are: the School of Business; the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); the School of Educational Studies and; the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Many of the for-credit courses that are taught on-campus are also available in Hybrid formats and fully online formats. A course list of online courses is readily available for prospective distance learning students to browse through. Money Magazine, a magazine published by Time Inc., ranked UW Bothell as the best university in Washington state regarding both value and quality in their 2014 and 2015 rankings. In the same rankings, UW Bothell was ranked as the 10th best nationally among public universities and as the 36th best overall.
School’s Website: https://www.uwb.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 83.0%
Graduation Rate: 67.4%
Final Score: 150.4/200
4: Whitworth University
Whitworth University is a private, not-for-profit and Presbyterian-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Spokane, Washington. In 1883 George F. Whitworth–a Presbyterian missionary–established the Sumner Academy in Sumner, Washington. The institution that would later become Whitworth University would later become incorporated in 1890 and would move to a plot of land in Tacoma, Washington in 1899. The institution made one final move to Spokane when, in 1914 (just before World War I), a Spokane developer offered a plot of land for the institution to relocate. In 1942, Whitworth merged with Spokane Junior College when the junior college shut down due to financial difficulties that arose due to the ongoing World War II. The college’s name was changed to Whitworth University in 2007. The university offers to its approximately 3,000 enrolled students a choice of more than 100 undergraduate and graduate academic programs; many of which are available online for distance learning students. In 2016, U.S. News and World Report ranked Whitworth University as the third best regional university in the western region based on overall university values. Additionally, for the 16th consecutive year, the university was also ranked one of the top 10 best universities out of 118 total masters level universities in the western region that were ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Forbes ranked Whitworth as the 47th best regional university in their 2016 America’s Top Colleges ranking.
School’s Website: http://www.whitworth.edu/cms/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86.0%
Graduation Rate: 65.0%
Final Score: 151.0/200
3: University of Washington
The University of Washington (which is commonly referred to simply as UW) is a public flagship research university which is located in Seattle, Washington. The University of Washington was originally established in 1861 as the Territorial University of Washington, making it one of the oldest universities on the West Coast of United States. The Seattle campus of the University of Washington is the oldest and largest campus of the three-campus University of Washington system. The University of Washington is a member of the Association of American Universities and is consistently ranked as being among the top 15 universities in the world by a variety of highly reputable national and international publications, such as Washington Monthly, Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and U.S. News and World Report among others. The Center for Measuring University Performance, an Arizona State University operated research center, ranked the University of Washington as the 11th best research university in the nation in their 2010 publication that ranked the top 50 research universities in the nation. UW is organized into 18 schools and colleges through which more than 46,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students that are enrolled at UW have a choice of a myriad of available undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and certifications. These offered academic programs span across many areas-of-study, and many are even interdisciplinary programs. Many of UW’s academic programs are also available in an online format. The university is an elected member of the Association of American Universities, and the university’s library system is the 18th largest library in the United States. The university’s library system is home to more than 7.5 million literary-related works across all three libraries (the individual libraries of UW, UW Bothell, and UW Tacoma).
School’s Website: https://www.washington.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 94.0%
Graduation Rate: 63.0%
Final Score: 157.0/200
2: Gonzaga University
Gonzaga University is a private, not-for-profit Jesuit Catholic-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga University was originally established in 1887 by Joseph Mary Cataldo–an Italian-American Jesuit priest and pioneer missionary–and with the assistance of members of the Society of Jesus, which is a men’s only Jesuit Catholic congregation. The university is named in honor of the young Jesuit saint, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga; the patron saint of Jesuit scholastics and young students who was Canonized in 1726. The university offers a wide selection of Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees and Doctoral degrees to the more than 7,000 enrolled students. The academic programs that are offered are provided through the seven academic schools and colleges that Gonzaga University is organized into the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Business Administration; the School of Education; the School of Engineering and Applied Science; the School of Law; the School of Nursing and Human Physiology and; the School of Professional Studies. Many of the academic programs that are available through these schools and colleges are also offered in an online and fully asynchronous format to serve the university’s distance learning students. Some examples of the academic programs that are available online are the university’s RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program, their Master of Arts (MA) in Theology and Leadership degree program and their Master of Arts (MA) in Organizational Leadership degree program, among many others. U.S. News and World Report ranked Gonzaga University as the 4th best university in the western United States region in their 2016 rankings. U.S. News and World Report also ranks the university as being the 4th-best value school in the west region in their 2015 ranking of schools that provide students with a desirable return-on-investment (ROI).
School’s Website: https://www.gonzaga.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 94.0%
Graduation Rate: 73.0%
Final Score: 167.0/200
1: Whitman College
Whitman College has been ranked in first place in our Top 20 Best Online Schools in Washington ranking due to having the highest combined total score (173 points out of a total 200 possible points). This can be owed to having an excellent freshman retention rate (at 94% of all freshmen returning for their sophomore year) and a healthy graduation rate (with 79% of students obtaining a degree within a reasonable time-frame). We believe these respectable rates are due to numerous different reasons that all ultimately culminate and meld together to enact a positive and life-defining impact on each attending student’s academic careers. Learning more about the history of Whitman College and the institution as a whole might help to show us what these dynamic reasons are and to what extent they might shape a student’s future career. Whitman College is a private, not-for-profit liberal arts college which is located in Walla Walla, Washington and which was originally established in 1859 by Cushing Eell–a Congregational Church missionary–and was initially known as the Whitman Seminary and operated as a pre-collegiate seminary school for young boys and girls of the local communities. Whitman Seminary commenced operation as the area’s only college in 1883 after receiving its collegiate charter. The school lost its Congregational-affiliation in 1907 and has not held any religious connections since then. Whitman College offers numerous undergraduate degree-granting programs and certification programs to its nearly 2,000 attending students; many of which are available online. Whitman also offers several joint degree programs through partnerships with various institutions throughout the nation, with institutions such as the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Duke University, the University of Washington, Washington University and the Bank Street College of Education in New York City all maintaining a partnership with Whitman to provide students with joint degree options in several areas-of-study.
School’s Website: https://www.whitman.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 94.0%
Graduation Rate: 79.0%
Final Score: 173.0/200