Washington offers online learning through dozens of higher-education institutions to students looking for a flexible program that's still based in the state. Prospective students can find plenty of more budget-friendly options, and the state offers one of the most generous tuition reduction programs nationwide.
With hundreds of schools and industry-specific training programs, there is something for everyone. The fastest-growing industries in Washington all center around technology, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects will grow at a faster-than-average pace nationwide in the coming decade. The state is home to major tech employers like Microsoft and Amazon, and Seattle, its largest city, is a major tech hub.
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Top Online Degree Programs in Washington
Washington Employment Outlook
In-demand jobs in Washington include a variety of positions in the tech industry, many of which pay upwards of $100,000. You may be able to get a high-paying tech job with just a bachelor's degree, though advanced degrees, additional professional certifications, and the right experience will make you a more competitive candidate. Other job growth sectors include education, health services, retail, and tourism.
Additionally, you can explore seasonal job opportunities in Washington in crop production, scenic transportation, and forestry, though these jobs are heavily dependent on outside factors like weather.
Washington's average household income, as of May 2020, was $66,870 according to the BLS.
5 Washington Jobs in Demand
Medical & Health Service Managers
Annual Average Salary (2018): $130,030
Job Outlook (2017-2027): 2.3%
The career involves overseeing hospitals and other medical facilities. A bachelor's degree is usually necessary for this occupation, though you may need additional education and experience.
Annual Average Salary (2018): $106,650
Job Outlook (2017-2027): 2.5%
This job involves conducting research, designing systems, and implementing procedures for businesses to operate more efficiently.
Information Security Analysts
Annual Average Salary (2018): $128,150
Job Outlook (2017-2027): 3.3%
This occupation involves knowledge of computer networks and information. Candidates should have a strong understanding of digital technology and know how to prevent and deal with digital security breaches. Candidates should also be willing to stay on top of evolving technology.
Annual Average Salary (2018): $131,130
Job Outlook (2017-2027): 2.1%
Database administrators store, organize, and manage data and databases for companies. They may also help keep these databases secure.
Annual Average Salary (2018): $101,980
Job Outlook (2017-2027): 3.5%
Software developers are in high demand in Washington and nationwide. These developers are responsible for designing, coding, and maintaining software programs and applications for companies and organizations.
Popular Career Paths in Washington
Best Accredited Online Colleges in Washington
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Best Online Colleges in Washington
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges in Washington
The Washington State Legislature encourages all higher learning facilities to have online options. The majority of colleges and universities in the state offer online learning options, aside from a few of the specialized private schools. With 74 colleges and universities in the state as of 2020 according to the National Center for Education Statistics, you have plenty of options.
From as little as $6,700 to as much as $56,000, Washington's wide variety of higher education options has something to fit every budget. Even if you live out of state, you could qualify for lower tuition through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education if you live in one of 16 states that participate in this program. Some schools may offer in-state or set tuition rates for online students, as well. When comparing the costs of online vs. in-person education options in Washington, make sure you factor in possible savings on transportation, lodging, and campus-based fees.
The Washington College Grant program features a tiered system where prospective students can get discounted or free college based on income. Some colleges use grants to help fund tuition or a portion of the tuition for students. For example, Washington State Community College uses the grant to help people whose education was sidetracked by the pandemic. You should ask prospective schools about any available financial aid programs that you may qualify for.