2023 Top Colleges in Washington

Colleges of Distinction: Washington

Published: September 1, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Central Washington University | Eastern Washington University | Gonzaga University | Seattle University | University of Puget Sound | University of Washington | Whitman College | Frequently Asked Questions

Colleges of Distinction has hand-picked a selection of top schools in New York that are well equipped to provide a personalized education catered to students’ interests. Through a rigorous vetting and interview process for the 2022-2023 academic year, we have refreshed and reaffirmed that these institutions strive for excellence in line with the four overarching distinctions—Student Engagement, Teaching, Community, and Outcomes.

These schools vary in size, cost, location, academic offerings, and more, but they are all distinguished by their commitment to the undergraduate experience. The diversity of the college list is intentional, giving students and parents a variety of public and private universities to consider. No matter what, they all exhibit the foundational qualities of a fulfilling undergraduate education.

CWU logo

Central Washington University

Garden City, WA ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Central Washington University is a public, four-year university in Ellensburg, Washington. Its commitment to hands-on learning and discovery and individual attention takes students beyond the limits of the classroom and books. Students get to do what they’re studying in real-world, professional settings, which makes learning exciting and relevant.

Each year, CWU graduates thousands of well-educated citizens who are ready for high-demand careers in the workforce: construction management, accounting, engineering technology, teacher education, wine business, paramedicine, aviation, and more.

Acceptance rate 86%       •       Net price $16,441       •       SAT Range 930-1150       •       Students submitting SAT scores 69%
Total Undergrad Population 11,174       •       Setting Town       •       Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 58%       •       Retention rate 70%       •       Student-to-faculty ratio 20:1

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eastern washington university logo

Eastern Washington University

Garden City, WA ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Eastern Washington University (EWU) is located in Cheney, Washington, a short drive to downtown Spokane, the state’s second-largest city. The geographic area provides shopping, concerts, cultural events and an abundance of outdoor activities throughout the year. EWU is a diverse, friendly, and student-centric university where students know each other and their faculty thanks to a low student-to-faculty ratio. 

Most students participate in internships, volunteer positions, and/or part-time jobs that provide a head start on their career—more than 70% of students have professional experience before graduation. EWU gives students the opportunity to make business connections with its Young Professionals Network, where recent and future graduates network with business leaders in the community. The Career Services staff provides mentoring, résumé workshops, and career development—even after students graduate.

Acceptance rate 79%       •       Net price $12,322       •       SAT Range 880-1090       •       Students submitting SAT scores 76%
Total Undergrad Population 12,349       •       Setting Town       •       Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 51%       •       Retention rate 71%       •       Student-to-faculty ratio 21:1

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Gonzaga University logo

Gonzaga University

Garden City, WA ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

At Gonzaga University students discover a stunning array of opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, experience, and character that lead to a fulfilling life of purpose and principle. Students have the opportunity to actively take on the world of ideas through hands-on learning opportunities like internships, projects, and study abroad programs.

Students in any major who are interested in business can take advantage of Gonzaga’s innovative Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. The program, which includes intensive seminars, lectures, site visits, internships, projects, and mentoring, immerses students in the challenges of starting a new venture in the public or private sector. The program has a strong emphasis on service and ethics. Students in the program receive a $500 per year scholarship as well as other benefits such as the opportunity to participate in a special summer program and potentially receive funding for a business plan. Participants graduate with an Entrepreneurial Leadership Concentration along with their regular major.

Acceptance rate 73%       •       Net price $36,880       •       SAT Range 1160-1350       •       Students submitting SAT scores 71%
Total Undergrad Population 7,295       •       Setting City: Midsize       •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 88%       •       Retention rate 92%       •       Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

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Seattle University

Garden City, WA ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Seattle University is consistently recognized among the top universities in the West with a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Founded in 1891, this is Seattle’s university. Seattle U has more than 7,400 students on its 55-acre, carbon-neutral campus, which is set in the heart of a city of commerce, community, global engagement, and forward-thinking industries. The university has long-standing partnerships with many of the world’s most innovative businesses, medical centers, and nonprofits such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Microsoft, Costco, Amazon, Starbucks, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and PATH. 

Seattle University has an impressively strong record of supporting SU students and alumni in their applications to nationally competitive scholarship and fellowship programs. The Office of Fellowships strives to support students in their search for prestigious awards and opportunities to enrich their education at both the undergraduate and graduate level. SU is among the most elite schools in the country for the number of Truman and Fulbright Scholars it produces. 

Acceptance rate 83%       •       Net price $36,843       •       SAT Range 1130-1330       •       Students submitting SAT scores 75%
Total Undergrad Population 7,050       •       Setting City: Large       •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 73%       •       Retention rate 82%       •       Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

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University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington

University of Puget Sound

Garden City, WA ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Situated in the beautiful woodlands of Tacoma, Washington, University of Puget Sound is a welcoming, academically rigorous institution where students build lives of purpose and impact.

Puget Sound is a leading national liberal arts and sciences university that exposes students to multiple perspectives, engages them in work that makes a difference in the world, and helps them discover who they are and what they have to offer. Its action-oriented liberal arts education is designed to help students make connections between disciplines, discover new knowledge, and apply it in the real world.

Explore where your curiosity takes you, try new experiences, and apply what you learn to solve challenges that are important to you.

Over the course of a four-year program of study, you will complete a core curriculum that requires learning across the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Every student engages off campus in at least one internship, study abroad, independent research, or community-based learning experience. Altogether, students learn about issues of power, disparity, and diversity of experiences and identities through a Knowledge, Identity, and Power graduation requirement.

Acceptance rate 87%       •       Net price $38,127
Total Undergrad Population 2,130       •       Setting City: Midsize       •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 77%       •       Retention rate 76%       •       Student-to-faculty ratio 9:1

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University of Washington logo and wordmark

University of Washington

Seattle, WA ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Experience the Pacific Northwest’s premier public university at the University of Washington. Located in the vibrant city of Seattle, UW is renowned for its academic excellence, innovative research, and commitment to community engagement. With more than 180 majors to choose from, students have the opportunity to explore a wide range of fields, from cutting-edge science and technology to the arts and humanities. UW is home to world-class faculty who are dedicated to mentoring and inspiring students to achieve their full potential.

Beyond the classroom, students can participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including more than 900 student organizations and competitive NCAA Division I sports teams. UW is also a leader in sustainability, with a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and promoting environmental stewardship. Whether you’re looking to make an impact in your field or in your community, UW provides the resources and support you need to succeed. Come discover what it means to be a Husky and join the thriving UW community today.

Acceptance rate 56%       •       Net price $9,661       •       SAT Range 1200-1453       •       Students submitting SAT scores 81%
Total Undergrad Population 32,244       •       Setting City: Large       •       Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 82%       •       Retention rate 93%       •       Student-to-faculty ratio 20:1

Click here for available majors

Whitman College logo

Whitman College

Garden City, WA ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Whitman College is a vibrant, residential learning community widely known for its unique combination of academic excellence, culture, and engaging community. Whitman scholars are characterized as individuals who foster a love of learning, burst with a passion for fun, and embrace the value of working together.

A signature program of Whitman College, the Global Studies Initiative is a solid foundation for students in a variety of career paths, including humanitarian work, education, and business. This program is an exploration of both historical and contemporary issues around the world, analyzing the global impact of national decisions. With an understanding of the way countries all around the world interact with one another, students learn to communicate effectively with people from different cultures.

Acceptance rate 54%       •       Net price $38,989       •       SAT Range 1230-1430       •       Students submitting SAT scores 47%
Total Undergrad Population 1,360       •       Setting City: Small       •       Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 86%       •       Retention rate 72%       •       Student-to-faculty ratio 8:1

Click here for available majors

What it’s like to attend schools in Washington and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in Washington?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in Washington is $5,872 for in-state students at public institutions, $19,377 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $21,610 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest degree program in Washington

University of Washington has an average net price of $9,661, making it the least expensive business degree program in Washington that made our list.

Easiest degree program to get into in Washington

Northwest University has an acceptance rate of 93%, making it the least exclusive college in Washington on our list.

Degree program with lowest student debt in Washington

University of Washington has a median total debt after graduation of $15,000. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

Best Washington Colleges by Award

2023 Best Business Schools in Washington

Best Colleges by State

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