Western Washington University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Western Washington University
Western Washington University is a public, four-year university located in Bellingham, Washington. Western is...

Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington

Western Washington University is a public, four-year university located in Bellingham, Washington. Western is known for having the best of both worlds: the faculty access and student focus of a smaller institution, while giving the students the resources, choice, and diversity found at larger research universities.

Student Profile

Fall 2014 Enrollment
14,152 undergraduate students
92% of undergrad students are full time
45% male — 55% female
12% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2014-2015 Academic Year
570 full-time faculty
328 part-time faculty
19 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

92 percent of freshmen live on campus

School Location

Western Washington University is located in Bellingham, Washington, a city of 80,000.

Retention Fall 2014

83% of students began in Fall 2013 and returned in Fall 2014 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate 2014

72% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 1%
Hispanic/Latino 7%
Black or African American 2%
White 74%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 7%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 8%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 1%


Western Washington is a member of the NCAA Division II. 13 competitive teams including men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and track and field; women’s softball, rowing and volleyball.

Academic Programs

Accounting, American Cultural Studies, Anthropology, Anthropology/Biology, Anthropology/Social Studies, Anthropology—Archaeology Concentration, Anthropology—Biocultural Concentration, Anthropology—Elementary, Applied Mathematics, Art, Art Education—Elementary, Art Education—Specialist P-12, Art History, Art, Behavioral Neuroscience, Biochemistry, Biology – Molecular and Cell Emphasis, Biology — Secondary Teaching Emphasis, Biology, Biology/Anthropology, Biology/Mathematics, Biology—Cell Emphasis, Biology—Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology (EEO) Emphasis, Biology—General Emphasis, Biology—Marine Emphasis, Business Administration, Business Administration-General Concentration, Business Administration—Finance Concentration, Business Administration—International Business Concentration, Business Administration—Management Concentration, Business Administration—Management Information Systems, Business Administration—Marketing Concentration, Business Administration—Operations Management, Canadian-American Studies, Chemistry, Chemistry, Chemistry/Biology-Secondary, Chemistry/Mathematics—Secondary Education, Chemistry/Physics-Secondary, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Communication, Communication—Elementary Education, Community Health, Computer Science, Dance with a Teaching Endorsement, Dance, Dance, Design, Design, Early Childhood Education (P-3), Early Childhood Special Education P-3, Earth Science/General Science-Secondary, Earth Science—Elementary Education, Earth Science—Secondary Education, East Asian Studies, Economics, Economics/Accounting, Economics/Environmental Studies, Economics/Mathematics, Economics/Political Science, Economics/Social Studies, Electronics Engineering Technology, Elementary Education Professional Program, English—Creative Writing Emphasis, English—Literature Emphasis, Environmental Education, Environmental Policy, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Studies—Elementary Education, Financial Economics, French with a Teaching Endorsement, French, French/German, French/Spanish, French—Elementary Education, General Science—Elementary Education, General Science—Middle Level, General Science—Secondary Education, General Studies, Geography, Geography/Social Studies, Geography—Elementary Education, Geology, Geology-Geology Concentration, Geology—Environmental Geology Concentration, Geology—Environmental Geology Concentration: Thesis Option, Geology—Geophysics Concentration, Geology—Geophysics Concentration, Thesis Option, Geophysics, German with a Teaching Endorsement, German, German/Spanish, German—Elementary Education, History, History/Social Studies, History—Elementary Education, Human Services, Humanities – History of Culture Concentration, Humanities-Religion and Culture Concentration, Industrial Design, Industrial Technology—Vehicle Design Specialization, Japanese with a Teaching Endorsement, Japanese, Journalism, Journalism—Public Relations, Journalism—Visual Journalism, Kinesiology – Health and Fitness Specialist Specialization, Kinesiology – Movement Studies Specialization, Kinesiology – Pre-Healthcare Professions Specialization, Kinesiology – Pre-Physical Therapy Specialization, Kinesiology – Sport Psychology Specialization, Language, Literacy, and Cultural Studies, Linguistics, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technology—Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing, Mathematics BA, Mathematics BS, Mathematics/Computer Science, Mathematics—Elementary Education, Mathematics—Secondary Education, Music Education P-12, Music, Music-Composition Concentration, Music-History and Literature Concentration, Music-Performance Concentration, Philosophy, Physical Education and Health P-12, Physics, Physics/Mathematics—Secondary Education, Plastics Engineering Technology, Plastics Engineering Technology—Vehicle Engineering, Political Science, Political Science/Social Studies, Politics/Philosophy/Economics, Psychology, Psychology: Human Development—Elementary, Recreation, Secondary Education Professional Program, Social Studies—Elementary Education, Sociology, Sociology/Social Studies, Sociology—Elementary Education, Spanish with a Teaching Endorsement, Spanish, Spanish—Elementary Education, Special Education P-12 and Elementary Education (Dual Endorsement), Student/Faculty Designed, Theatre, and Urban Planning and Sustainable Development.

First Year Interest Groups (FIGs)

Incoming freshman are highly encouraged to begin their academic career in a First Year Interest Group (FIG). A FIG is a combination of three courses—2 Gen Eds and 1 seminar. The seminar is highly beneficial because it is much smaller in class size than the Gen Ed courses. Smaller classes typically lead to more in-depth class discussion, peer interaction, and increased comprehension of the material. In general, FIGs make the transition into college easier. The university believes that students benefit greatly from participation and gain the following:

  1. Lock in popular classes early
  2. Meet some of the best professors
  3. Have access to advisers
  4. Learn new technologies
  5. Make new friends

Seminar 101

The seminar portion of the FIG is not a study course. It is its own class with course material, expectations, and assignments. What sets seminars apart from other courses is the structure. Seminars are capped at 25 students in order to maintain an intimate learning environment. Because seminars are small, students are given plenty of opportunity to engage with both the course material and peers.

First Year Experience Courses

Aside from FIG options, WWU also offers first year experience courses (FYE). FYE classes are strictly open to freshman and are designed to introduce students to college-level academics. FYEs are very small in class size, and this is to ensure that students participate in class discussion, learn how to ask questions, and have the chance interact with faculty.

GUR Strands

GUR Strands are highly involved learning communities that span over the course of a year. Strands take 2-3 Gen Ed courses and link them together. By joining classes, freshman can build upon skills throughout the year, which greatly enhances the educational experience. GUR Strands take an interconnected approach to academics, where students can draw from what they have learned and link it to new ideas. Currently, there are two Strand options available:

  1. Understanding Human-Environment Interactions
  2. Biology Scholars

Education Abroad

Any form of abroad education is considered highly beneficial. WWU offers plenty of options to choose from, and highly encourages all students to get involved in some way. In general, students that study abroad gain valuable skills in global citizenship and tolerance, independence, and cross-cultural communication. Below are the different programs available:

  1. Global Learning Programs: In Global Learning Programs, faculty from various disciplines lead students on study abroad trips. GLPs are typically offered during the summer term, however there are a handful offered during the academic year. A few examples of GLPs are: China—Culture, Community, and Citizenship; India and Nepal—Global Health in the Himalayas; and Summer in Germany—Contemporary Art in Berlin.
  2. Exchange: Exchange programs are more appropriate for independent students with advanced language skills. In an exchange agreement, students from WWU study at a partner institution abroad, where they are expected to meet all the requirements set up by that university. In general, exchange programs are cheaper than traditional study abroad.
  3. Study Abroad: Study abroad programs place less emphasis on language skills and total immersion, and instead, focus on culture. Housing arrangements and educational structure varies by program, so students should conduct the appropriate research before selecting a destination.
  4. International Internship: Students have the opportunity to complete an internship while abroad. Internships range in duration and workload, but each student that chooses this path must work closely with a faculty member.
  5. Independent Study Abroad: WWU allows students to pursue independent study abroad when the established programs fail to meet an individual’s academic or personal goals. Students that opt to do independent study are required to work closely with the respective WWU department and faculty advisors.

Undergraduate Research

WWU students have amazing access to research opportunities, the topics of which span across several disciplines. Students that engage in undergraduate research gain a plethora of valuable skills, and faculty mentors provide the right amount of assistance in developing those skills. Because Western Washington is highly dedicated to sustainability and environmental education, there are a lot of Green-focused research projects.

Marine Science Scholars Program

The Marine Science Scholars Program (MSSP) is a unique, 2-year program offered to a select group of incoming freshman. Invited students join a competitive, academic community designed to engage students with the sciences and prepare them for fruitful careers. Participants are given incredible benefits like working with faculty and marine scientists from the Shannon Pointe Marine Center, as well as internship and research opportunities.

Honors Program

The Honors Program is perfect for self-motivated individuals that are passionate about pushing themselves and love to overcome challenges. Participants have the benefit of learning from award-winning faculty in small, discussion-based courses. The Honors curriculum puts a heavy emphasis on reading, writing, and critical thinking. And upon completion of the program, each student will have had enough practice with these skills to be masters. The Honors program is made up of the following components:

  1. First Year Sequence
  2. Lower Division Colloquia
  3. Upper Division Seminars
  4. Capstone Senior Project

Campus 2 Compass

Campus 2 Compass is a mentoring program that connects Western Washington students to local schools. The initiative addresses the needs of underrepresented and underprivileged students, with the intent of pushing those students toward opportunities in higher education. WWU students provide various services to the local schools including one-on-one mentoring, group discussion, and teacher support. WWU also works with students during recess, after school, during lunch, and any time in between. The ultimate goal of the program is to ignite educational goals and show how they can be attained.


Western Washington students truly have the world at their fingertips. For those students that enjoy time outdoors, Bellingham offers everything from water to mountains. And for students that like to explore music and recreational activities, the city has concerts, theatre productions, and more! Students are highly encouraged to step outside of campus and enjoy all the Bellingham has to offer.


Admissions Fall 2014

9,285 Total Applicants
7,852 Total Admissions
2,786 Total Freshmen Enrollment

84.57% of applicants admitted

Freshmen Profile Fall 2014

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 500 610
SAT Math 500 600
SAT Writing 470 580
ACT Composite 22 27
ACT Math 21 27
ACT English 21 27



  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $8,088 $19,530
Fees $877 $877
Total $8,965 $20,407
Room and Board (on campus) $10,042 $10,042
Room Only $6,366 $6,366
Board Only $3,676 $3,676
Estimated Total On Campus $19,007 $30,449


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

74% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving any financial aid
50% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving student loan aid

$7,156 Average amount of federal state local or institutional grant aid received
$5,741 Average amount of student loan aid received by full-time first-time undergraduates

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