College enrollment in the U.S. continues to grow as more students from all backgrounds pursue postsecondary credentials to improve their career prospects and advancement opportunities. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that the undergraduate student population will increase by about 400,000 between 2017 and 2028. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bachelor's degree-holders earn an average of almost $25,000 more each year than people with only high school diplomas. They also enjoy substantially lower unemployment rates.
Top 10 Online Colleges in Washington
- University of Washington - Seattle, WA
- Western Washington University - Bellingham, WA
- Washington State University - Pullman, WA
- City University of Seattle - Seattle, WA
- Gonzaga University - Spokane, WA
- Eastern Washington University - Cheney, WA
- Peninsula College - Port Angeles, WA
- Northwest Indian College - Bellingham, WA
- Northwest University - Kirkland, WA
- Central Washington University - Ellensburg, WA
2020 Best Online Colleges in Washington
Due to the mounting costs of a traditional college education, more students are earning their degrees remotely. Distance education comes with perks like distinct scholarships and tuition prices that ignore residency status. Additionally, many online academic programs use asynchronous classes that allow you to access course materials and collaborate with peers at your convenience. This scheduling flexibility makes it easier to accommodate work and family obligations. Alternatively, you can accelerate degree completion to earn a degree in less time.
The sheer number of online degree options can seem overwhelming as you look for the school that best supports your academic interests and career goals. This guide can help with your search. It details the 10 best online colleges in Washington with respect to variables like accreditation, cost, and the quality of student resources. The following profiles provide information on programmatic offerings and general admission criteria. You can find more information by contacting the relevant admissions specialists directly; these workers can also help you apply for scholarships and complete the enrollment process.
In addition to quality colleges and universities, Washington boasts a robust economy. You can look forward to exciting career opportunities in major industries like aerospace and defense, agriculture and food processing, life sciences, and information technology. Alternative and renewable energy represents another key sector, employing over 90,000 scientists, researchers, and technicians in the state.
University of Washington
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
The University of Washington was established in 1861 -- about a decade after Seattle's founding -- to aid with the city's economic development. Today, UW is a renowned public research institution that serves over 47,000 students annually. Learners access online degrees through the Canvas platform, and undergraduate candidates can earn fully remote bachelor's credentials in early care and education and integrated social sciences. The latter track allows students to tailor the curriculum to match their interests and goals.
At the graduate level, online programs cover areas like aerospace engineering, construction management, applied mathematics, and computational linguistics. Distance learners can also enroll in a master of sustainable transportation program. Totaling 43 quarter credits, this degree plan includes classes that cover livable communities and design as well as climate change and energy. Candidates round out their program with a research-focused capstone project.
To enroll in a bachelor's degree completion pathway, applicants need to transfer in 75 quarter credits earned with a 2.0 GPA or higher. Prospective graduate students must display a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Distance learners pay per-credit tuition rates based on their program.
Western Washington University
|Bellingham, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Located in Bellingham, Western Washington University was founded in 1894 as a teacher training school. The institution now oversees comprehensive academic programs, enrolling more than 16,000 students each year. Western facilitates distance education through Canvas, offering individual online classes in synchronous and self-paced formats.
Students who want to earn fully online credentials can choose from three options. Western offers a 30-credit TESOL certificate program that prepares candidates for English language teaching positions at home and abroad. For learners who reside on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, the university delivers a bachelor's degree in multidisciplinary studies. Here, students design their own major with the guidance of a personal advisor.
Western also facilitates a remote bachelor of human services program that helps students critically analyze social justice issues in their communities and abroad. Graduates are well-prepared to work as social services coordinators and nonprofit managers. Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA. As part of their application packet, prospective students must submit three response essays.
Washington State University
|Pullman, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
Washington State University was established in 1890, making it one of the oldest higher education institutions in the state. Over 30,000 students currently attend WSU, many of whom engage in online learning facilitated by Blackboard.
Online baccalaureate offerings include sociology, integrated strategic communication, anthropology, and hospitality business management. Distance learners can also enroll in a fully online bachelor of data analytics program. Through a curriculum that synthesizes statistics and computer science, candidates develop the skills needed to evaluate complex data sets and apply findings to drive business decision-making.
The school's graduate catalog contains online master's programs in software engineering, molecular biosciences, and health communication and promotion. WSU also offers a master of science in agriculture. Here, candidates can pursue a generalist track, delving into plant pathology, horticulture, and crop and soil sciences. Alternatively, they may choose the food science and management concentration, which prepares them for leadership positions in the food processing and distribution sector. Applicants who want to enroll in the agriculture program should possess a bachelor of science earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
City University of Seattle
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
City University of Seattle is a private school that operates within the National University System. Students can access individual asynchronous classes and fully online degrees through Blackboard.
CityU delivers remote bachelor's programs in project management, information technology, and healthcare administration. Distance learners can also obtain a bachelor of science in cybersecurity and information assurance. The curriculum for this program totals 180 quarter credits and covers crucial competencies like applied criminology and enterprise risk assessment.
Graduate students can pick from 12 online master's programs, like computer science, educational leadership, and professional accounting. CityU also facilitates a master of business administration program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. On top of core competencies, MBA candidates complete coursework in one of 10 emphasis areas. They may even design their own specialization to meet distinct career objectives.
CityU does not maintain GPA requirements for incoming first-year students. However, transfer applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA. Graduate admission criteria differ by program, but typically require a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|Spokane, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
Based in Spokane, Gonzaga University enrolls about 7,500 students in its seven colleges. The institution powers distance education through Blackboard, providing seven entirely online master's programs. Options include organizational leadership, nursing, sport and athletic administration, and educational leadership. Learners can also enroll in a communication and leadership studies program, which prepares graduates for careers in public relations, digital marketing, and nonprofit management. Communication candidates can pick from six concentrations and can take their studies abroad to locations like Belgium and Italy.
Additionally, Gonzaga delivers an online master's program in transmission and distribution engineering. Through a 36-credit curriculum, students learn to replace aging energy infrastructure and oversee large-scale solar and wind projects. Candidates typically earn their credentials in 2.5 years. To enroll, applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official school transcripts, two professional references, a current resume, and a 1-2-page letter of intent. Gonzaga charges tuition based on program type.
Eastern Washington University
|Cheney, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Located in Cheney, Eastern Washington University is a public research institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programs across six colleges. Students can access remote learning opportunities through Canvas, including bachelor's degree completion tracks in interdisciplinary studies, dental hygiene, children's studies, and health sciences.
Candidates can also earn bachelor's credentials in addiction studies, preparing for careers as prevention and detox specialists. The curriculum of this program is recognized by NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals; graduates are qualified to pursue professional certification.
EWU offers online graduate programs in fields like education, social work, and business administration. The university also delivers a remote master of public health that teaches students to examine health determinants in relation to external influences (e.g., social and physical environment) and internal factors (e.g., genetic makeup). The 48-credit curriculum contains classes like health policy and law, combating health inequalities, and foundations in epidemiology.
Candidates gain hands-on experience through internships and an applied research project. To enroll in the public health program, applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit a resume or CV, three references, and three essay responses.
|Port Angeles, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Peninsula College is a public community college headquartered in Port Angeles. The school serves about 2,000 students and offers online undergraduate programs through Canvas. Distance learners can prepare for baccalaureate transfer by earning an associate of arts in general studies. The college also delivers career-focused technical degrees in fields like administrative office systems, multimedia communication, and homeland security/emergency management.
Additionally, students can earn an associate of applied science in hospitality and ecotourism. The curriculum features 91-95 quarter credits and includes classes like event planning, accounting principles, and social media marketing. Learners round out their education by completing an internship with a company in their area. In addition to careers in tourism, graduates can pursue occupations related to general customer service and hotel management. Most students earn their degree in six quarters.
PC also offers an online bachelor's degree completion track in applied management that covers foundational topics like legal environments of business and managerial accounting. Students also gain the research competencies needed to pursue graduate-level training. Applicants need an associate degree earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Northwest Indian College
|Bellingham, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 10%||
Founded in 1973, Northwest Indian College is the only accredited tribal higher education institution to serve reservation communities in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Over 2,300 students attend NWIC, many of whom pursue distance education powered by Canvas.
Through telecourses and videoconferencing, distance learners can engage with their peers and instructors in real time at six satellite locations. Canvas also lets students access asynchronous coursework, prioritizing independent learning. Self-paced classes enable candidates to maintain full-time work schedules and take care of their families while pursuing their degree. NWIC students can earn undergraduate degrees through a hybrid program structure.
Associate credentials cover technical fields like information technology and public/tribal administration. The college also offers bachelor's programs in native studies leadership, business management, and native environmental science. In the environmental track, coursework centers on marine sciences, ethnobotany, community education, and environmental policy. Candidates engage in experiential learning by completing place-based research projects and internships. NWIC charges per-credit tuition based on residency status.
|Kirkland, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Northwest University is a private liberal arts institution located in Kirkland. The school supports about 1,700 students annually and facilitates distance education through Moodle. At the undergraduate level, online programs include bachelor's tracks in ministry leadership, organizational management, and psychology. Licensed RNs can enroll in a degree completion pathway to earn their BSN in 18 months. Applicants need an active, unencumbered RN license in Washington. They must also possess at least 18 months of clinical nursing experience related to direct client care.
NU provides fully remote master's degrees in clinical mental health counseling, international community development, and Bible and theology. The university also delivers a master of business administration program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. This 39-credit curriculum allows learners to pick a project management or public safety administration concentration. Prospective MBA candidates who possess a 3.2 GPA or higher do not need to submit GMAT scores.
Central Washington University
|Ellensburg, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Located in Ellensburg, Central Washington University was established as a teacher training school in 1890. Today, the institution serves almost 12,000 students across four colleges. Learners can access remote learning opportunities through Blackboard. Baccalaureate offerings include supply chain management, professional and creative writing, and information technology. CWU also facilitates a bachelor of arts in law and justice that retains the humanistic aspects of a liberal arts curriculum, while also preparing learners for careers in law enforcement and corrections.
Online graduate programs cover fields like athletic administration, special education, and school psychology. Students can enroll in a master's program in information technology and administrative management. Through a 46-credit degree plan, candidates develop skills in managerial communication and global project management. This track lets learners choose one of four specializations, like cybersecurity management or data analytics. Graduate admission requirements differ by program, but usually include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. CWU offers over 320 institutional scholarships.