2021 Best Online Colleges in the Pacific Northwest

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Published on July 30, 2021

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Students looking to earn a degree through distance learning can attend one of the best online colleges in the Pacific Northwest. The region houses many of the nation’s top public research institutions, along with a variety of smaller, private schools that offer unique programs and learning opportunities.

Many graduates from universities in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho go on to join large tech companies and other employers based in the region, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel. The strong relationships between companies and colleges in the Pacific Northwest can benefit on-campus and distance learners alike, helping students find internship opportunities and employment.

Read on to see our ranking of the best online colleges in the Pacific Northwest.

What Are the 2021 Best Online Colleges in the Pacific Northwest? Here Are Our Top 10:

Ranking compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA
#2 University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK
#3 Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
#4 Washington State University Pullman, WA
#5 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
#6 Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls, OR
#7 Multnomah University Portland, OR
#8 Portland State University Portland, OR
#9 Bushnell University Eugene, OR
#10 Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA
How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Colleges in the Pacific Northwest

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University of Washington-Seattle Campus View School Profile Seattle, WA

UW tops the list of the best online colleges in the Pacific Northwest. The school offers 17 online degrees: two bachelor's degrees and 15 master's degrees. Most of UW's online programs offer flexible timelines to suit each student's needs. Program options include sustainable transportation and aerospace engineering.

In addition to its distance learning options, UW serves more than 54,000 students on three campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell. The school awards more than 12,000 degrees to its students each year.

Additionally, through its climate action plan, UW outlines its strategies to reach carbon neutrality. The plan was adopted in 2009 and updated in 2020 to include a new greenhouse gas reduction target. The school hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030.

University of Alaska Southeast View School Profile Juneau, AK

UAS offers 30 online programs to students who live within the state of Alaska. Out-of-state learners can enroll in 16 of those programs. Offerings for out-of-state learners include an associate degree in health information management, a bachelor's degree in social science, and a master of public administration. Non-resident online students also pay an additional surcharge fee.

Each program varies in terms of delivery method and on-campus and in-person requirements. Most UAS online programs use both synchronous and asynchronous learning. UAS offers programs from the associate level to the graduate level, including degrees and certificates. The university educates about 2,200 learners annually.

Oregon State University View School Profile Corvallis, OR

Oregon State offers over 80 online programs and degrees, including 40 bachelor's degrees and 27 master's degrees. Students can pursue online degrees in a variety of fields, including public health, liberal arts, business, and computer science.

Oregon State operates as the largest university in the state and serves more than 30,000 students from around the world. The university also enrolls more than 8,000 online students annually. Delivery methods for distance programs vary, with some offering asynchronous coursework and others requiring significant on-campus work.

In 2019, Oregon State received almost $440 million in research grants and contracts. The university's researchers delve into topics like the Earth's ecosystems, health and wellness, and innovation and prosperity.

Washington State University View School Profile Pullman, WA

The university offers 50 online programs through WSU Global Campus, including 21 undergraduate and 13 graduate degrees. Certificate and teaching endorsement programs also are offered online. The university oversees online programs in fields like business, education, communications, and agriculture.

WSU Global Campus degrees are offered entirely online.Additionally, the university reports that the Global Campus is made up of a diverse group of learners: 31% are students of color, 29% are first-generation students, 6% are veterans, and 3% are active-duty military.

WSU offers over 100 undergraduate majors, with opportunities for students to participate in research and internships. The school spent $345 million on research and development in 2019.

University of Alaska Fairbanks View School Profile Fairbanks, AK

UAF offers over 60 online programs, including seven associate degrees, 13 bachelor's degrees, and six graduate degrees. Minors, certificates, and occupational endorsements are also options for online learners. Specific programs include a master's in Arctic and Northern studies, an MBA in fisheries or ocean science, and an associate degree in paralegal studies.

All of UAF's online learners pay in-state tuition, no matter where they live.

Serving over 8,500 students from all over the country and around the world, UAF is based in Fairbanks on land that was formerly inhabited by the Dena people of the lower Tanana River. UAF maintains an active alumni network of about 35,000 people.

Oregon Institute of Technology View School Profile Klamath Falls, OR

Oregon Tech offers over 20 online programs. Online students can choose from two associate programs, 14 bachelor's programs (including seven degree completion options), three master's programs, four certificate programs, and four minors.

Oregon Tech is the only polytechnic university in the state. The school specializes in applied sciences and technical programs in fields like environmental science, healthcare, technology, and engineering. Oregon Tech also offers many experiential education opportunities, including externships, internships, and field experiences.

Oregon Tech reports that 96% of its alumni are working or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. Also, recent graduates earn a median income of $60,000 per year. The school serves over 5,000 students and is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Multnomah University View School Profile Portland, OR

Multnomah — located in Portland, Oregon — is a Christian university that offers 13 online programs, including three online bachelor's degrees and 10 online master's degrees. Seminary students can choose between an MA in biblical studies, an MA in Christian leadership, a master of divinity, and an MA in theological studies.

The university embraces eight core values, including scriptural centrality, institutional integrity, Christ-like spirituality, church partnership, and community nurture.

Multnomah encourages students to pursue academic excellence and commit to global ministry. The university seeks to prepare students for a lifetime of service to their communities and through their work.

Multnomah has been regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities since 2005. Several of the school's programs are also accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

Portland State University View School Profile Portland, OR

PSU offers more than 200 online certificates and degrees. Online students can choose from 23 undergraduate programs and almost 90 master's programs. PSU offers these programs in fields like accounting, business, education, and criminal justice.

The university delivers most online coursework asynchronously, but delivery methods vary by program. Distance learners gain access to many resources, including academic advising, online tutoring, and technology support.

PSU serves over 26,000 students annually, almost 21,000 of whom are undergraduates. Approximately 78% of the school's students hail from Oregon. PSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Bushnell University View School Profile Eugene, OR

Bushnell University offers 20 online degrees in the arts and sciences, business and management, education, and nursing. The university uses an eight-week format, and new students can choose from six start dates throughout the year.

All online programs, except the teacher education programs, take place completely online. Incoming students can transfer up to 75% of their required credits. They may also be able to earn credit for military, work, and life experience.

A Christian college in Eugene, Oregon, Bushnell University serves about 800 students annually. The average class size is 14 pupils, and the university maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1. The university also reports that nearly 85% of its graduates gain employment in their field of study within six months of graduation.

Central Washington University View School Profile Ellensburg, WA

CWU offers over 300 academic programs, 22 of which are available online. CWU students can choose from 12 online bachelor's degree completion programs and 10 online graduate degrees. Popular options include a BS in business administration and an M.Ed. in higher education. Out-of-state students who enroll online pay in-state tuition rates.

CWU serves over 15,000 learners annually and graduates about 2,000 students each year. Approximately 93% of the school's students hail from Washington, and 35% are students of color. CWU maintains an average class size of 20 pupils and a student-to-faculty ratio of 18-to-1.

Top Degree Programs in the Pacific Northwest

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