2022 Top Private Colleges and Universities in Washington

Private colleges and universities frequently top the lists of the best schools in the U.S. These institutions offer rigorous academic programs for students looking for a personalized college experience.

Private institutions universities generally cost more than their public counterparts, but students often receive the benefits of smaller class sizes, strong alumni networks, and generous financial aid opportunities.

Unlike public colleges and universities, private institutions do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition. This means students from anywhere can enroll in Washington's private colleges and universities without paying higher out-of-state rates.

2022 Best Private Colleges and Universities in Washington

  1. #1

    Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building

    Port Hadlock, WA

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    39

    Format

    In person

    From its Port Hadlock, Washington campus, Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building enrolls learners in 1 programs. Students enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The school boasts a 7-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. A total of 57% of the students at this institution offest some of their education-related expenses with financial aid. Students in the school's programs graduate at a rate of 100%. Job seekers often benefit from hands-on experience, which makes them more competitive job candidates. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

  2. #2

    DigiPen Institute of Technology

    Redmond, WA

    Graduation Rate

    56%

    Enrollment

    1,174

    Format

    In person

    A top-ranked school, DigiPen Institute of Technology enrolls learners in programs from its campus in Redmond, WashingtonDegree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help students reach a variety of career goals. Depending on the program, students can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years earning their degree or certificate. Some programs may let applicants apply without submitting test scores. Applicants may find it easier to enroll without a test score requirement. The admissions department can provide additional resources on applying. Learners also use financial aid to pay for their college degree or certificate. The school holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

  3. #3

    Whitman College

    Walla Walla, WA

    Graduation Rate

    90%

    Enrollment

    1,579

    Format

    In person

    A private institution located in Walla Walla, Washington, Whitman College offers multiple programs. The school's programs help graduates launch or advance professional careers. The institution's affordable programs provide a rigorous course of study. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Learners at the institution choose from academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Whitman College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an independent accrediting body.

  4. #4

    Northwest University-College of Adult and Professional Studies

    Kirkland, WA

    Graduation Rate

    Not Provided

    Enrollment

    1,130

    Format

    Online

    Located in Kirkland, Washington, Northwest University-College of Adult and Professional Studies grants degrees as a private institution. With both academic and technical programs, this school can help learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare to contribute to their field by completing courses. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. At the accredited school, learners qualify for federal student aid programs such as the Pell Grant. The school holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  5. #5

    Academy of Interactive Entertainment

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    87%

    Enrollment

    163

    Format

    In person

    Offering 3 certificate programs, Academy of Interactive Entertainment ranks among the top schools in Washington. Programs emphasize theoretical and practical knowledge through rigorous curriculum. Degree-seekers prepare to launch their career or pursue promotions. Enrollees apply their knowledge in real-world contexts. The institution undergoes regular evaluations to maintain its accreditation status. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. As an accredited institution, learners enrolled in the school qualify for federal financial aid. The college's website provides information about each program's residency and practical experience requirements. The institution holds national accreditation from Council on Occupational Education.

  6. #6

    Divers Institute of Technology

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    87%

    Enrollment

    231

    Format

    In person

    A private institution based in Washington, Divers Institute of Technology ranks among the top schools in the state. The school offers students seeking a quicker course of study 1 certificate programs. Students learn core topics and get specialized training. The programs deliver rigorous curricula. After completing a certificate, graduates pursue careers in related fields. About 70% of learners receive financial aid to pay for college. Students can receive federal financial aid at this accredited school. For more information about the application process, prospective students should contact the school's admissions department. The school has been accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

  7. #7

    Seattle Film Institute

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    86%

    Enrollment

    106

    Format

    Online, In person

    Seattle Film Institute, which is often listed among the best schools, operates from its main campus in Seattle, Washington. The institution's faculty brings expertise in multiple fields. The school's academic and technical tracks help learners meet diverse career goals. Academic programs can take as little as a few months or as many as seven years to complete, depending on the degree or certificate type and the student's enrollment status. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to enroll. The admissions staff can provide more information on the process. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. Seattle Film Institute is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

  8. #8

    Gonzaga University

    Spokane, WA

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    7,537

    Format

    Online, In person

    From its campus in Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga University enrolls learners in 69 programs. The institution's top-ranked programs offer a rigorous course of study. The school reports a student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1. At the institution, 99% of the students receive some form of financial aid. Bachelor's students graduate from the school at a rate of 85%. Students should explore how workplace experience makes them more competitive employee candidates. Enrollees benefit from internships, research opportunities, and other forms of service learning. The admission rate for applicants is 62%. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores.

  9. #9

    City University of Seattle

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    33%

    Enrollment

    1,960

    Format

    Online, In person

    City University of Seattle, located in Seattle, Washington, offers 52 programs for degree-seekers. The institution offers top-ranked programs that provide a rigorous course of study. The school reports a student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1. How much aid students receive on average is currently unknown. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 33%. The institution understands that real-world experience helps job seekers enter the workforce. Degree-seekers participate in internships, research projects, and other forms of experiential learning. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions.

  10. #10

    Fosbre Academy of Hair Design

    Olympia, WA

    Graduation Rate

    81%

    Enrollment

    113

    Format

    In person

    One of Washington's top schools, Fosbre Academy of Hair Design offers 4 certificate programs. Students often complete a program in weeks or months, rather than years. Short-term credential programs such as the ones at this school build specialized professional skills that enable students to find a job quickly. The program develops specialized skills that can make students more marketable for new jobs. The school holds accreditation from the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences. Fosbre Academy of Hair Design's admissions department is available to answer questions about the application process. After finishing a program, graduates pursue careers in their field.

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Why Choose a Private College or University in Washington?

Choosing a college requires students to consider many factors including cost, degree programs offered, and whether the institution is public or private. While public colleges receive most of their funding from the state or federal government, private colleges receive less, relying on tuition, their endowment, and alumni donations to fund the university.

Washington has 31 private colleges and 43 public colleges, according to 2020 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Many students choose private colleges and universities because they typically offer smaller class sizes and can offer more rigorous academics. However, private colleges and universities are also more expensive than public colleges and may not provide as many degree program options as a state school.

Washington is part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange reciprocity program along with 16 other states and over 160 public colleges and universities. This program allows out-of-state students to receive discounted tuition at participating schools. Students in the reciprocity program will still pay more tuition than in-state residents.

Pros and Cons of Attending a Private College or University in Washington

Pros

Private colleges have smaller class sizes, offering more class discussion and one-on-one time with professors.Private colleges offer specialized and highly-regarded degree programs in specific areas.Private colleges and universities have fewer students, which can offer a more tight-knit campus community.Private colleges and universities generally offer more merit- and need-based aid than public institutions.

Cons

Private colleges and universities receive less public funding from the state or federal government, which can lead to smaller campuses and fewer facilities.Smaller private colleges and universities typically do not offer the same amount of degree programs as public colleges.Private colleges may offer fewer extracurricular activities for students than public colleges.Private colleges and universities are generally more expensive than public institutions.

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges or Universities in Washington

A nonprofit institution uses all funds — including tuition — for needs, such as facilities repair and funding research programs. For-profit institutions answer to a corporation or a private owner. The goal of a for-profit colleges or university is to make money for its investors.

There are nine for-profit colleges and universities and 22 nonprofit private institutions in Washington. Students deciding between for-profit and nonprofit colleges should consider factors such as cost, program options, and institutional reputation. Nonprofit colleges and universities typically cost more, but offer better academics. For-profit colleges can cost less and may offer specialized degree programs. Students should also note that many for-profit colleges and universities offer limited student services and lack accreditation, which can hinder job prospects after graduation.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private College or University in Washington?

Tuition and fees at a private, four-year, nonprofit school in Washington cost $39,790 during the 2019-2020 academic year, according to NCES data. The average cost of room and board for students attending these schools was $12,540 that year. In comparison, the average cost of tuition and fees for in-state students at a four-year public school in Washington was $7,170.

With a tuition cost of $8,100 per year, Faith International University is one of the least expensive private institutions in Washington. On the other end of the spectrum is the University of Puget Sound, with an annual tuition of $57,330.

Though usually more expensive than public institutions, private colleges offer students a lot of financial aid to help them cover the cost of tuition. According to NCES, students at nonprofit private schools received, on average, $24,080 in grants and scholarships during the 2018-2019 school year. Students at public colleges and universities received an average of $8,310.

Students should also consider hidden costs associated with college, including transportation, textbooks, and school supplies like a laptop. Students can also explore independent scholarships and grants. Before choosing a school, applicants can research tuition-free colleges as well.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges and Universities in Washington

How many private colleges and universities are there in Washington?

There are 31 private 2- and 4-year colleges in Washington, including nine for-profit colleges and 22 nonprofit colleges. In general, these private colleges are smaller than the public institutions, resulting in smaller class sizes and more specialized degree programs. With 43 public institutions, there are more public than private institutions in Washington.

When choosing a college, learners should consider factors like cost and available programs. While private colleges may offer fewer options, they are typically regarded very highly for academics.

What is the most expensive private college or university in Washington?

The most expensive private colleges and universities in Washington cost more than $50,000 per year. The University of Puget Sound charges an annual tuition rate of $57,330. Whitman College has a tuition cost of $55,560.

The cost of college across the country continues to rise at both public and private institutions. In general, private institutions charge more than public ones.

What is the least expensive private college or university in Washington?

Among the least expensive private colleges and universities in Washington is Faith International University. The school has a tuition cost of $8,100. City University of Seattle charges $18,900 per year, which is also on the less expensive end of the spectrum.

Students may be able to limit tuition costs by applying to online programs at private colleges and universities. Many institutions offer reduced tuition for students in fully online degree programs.

Is a private college or university right for me?

There are many private colleges and universities in Washinton to meet the needs of a wide variety of students, but ultimately choosing a college comes down to a particular student's preferences. Private colleges and universities generally focus on academics, with fewer, more specialized degree programs and smaller class sizes. However, students should consider the higher tuition costs and fewer options for extracurriculars and degree programs.

Readers should assess their personal needs when choosing a college, such as their budget for tuition, their preferences for large or small classes, the type of college experience they want, and what kind of degree they want to pursue.

Can I get more scholarship money at a private university?

While typically more expensive, private schools offer a lot of financial aid — sometimes more than public schools — to defray the cost of tuition. Students can apply for need-based and merit-based scholarships through their school or research independent scholarship and grant options. During the 2018-2019 school year, students at nonprofit private institutions received an average of $24,080 in grants and scholarships.

Readers should always research their prospective schools' financial aid options before applying. Applicants can learn more about financial aid policies through a college's website or by contacting the admissions office.