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Best Online Colleges in Washington State

Explore the top colleges in Washington State that offer online programs for graduate and undergraduate students. Find out what programs are available, how much they cost and how to find help paying for them.

Top Online Colleges in Washington State

When deciding what the best colleges in Washington State are for online programs, students should consider things like cost, accreditation, flexibility and program length. The top colleges in Washington State with online programs are listed below.

1. Eastern Washington University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Cheney $7,526 96%

Eastern Washington University, or EWU, is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU) and has more than 3,100 online undergraduate students and 300 online graduate students. The school charges in-state tuition of $327 for undergraduate students and $586 for graduate students, with students living in several western states receiving discounted rates. Undergraduate students can select from multiple degrees and minor programs, such as those in business, psychology, management, gender studies and health science. Graduate students also have several program options including master's degrees in social work, business administration and psychology.

2. Washington State University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Pullman $11,841 89%

Washington State University boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1 and has been providing online programs for almost 30 years. The school offers more than 20 online undergraduate programs, including those in data analytics, accounting, management, marketing and economics. Graduate students have more than a dozen online programs to choose from, such as business administration, agriculture, engineering, communication and education. Undergraduate students have a tuition rate of $518 to $578 per credit hour while graduate students have a tuition rate of $595 per credit; students taking more than 10 credits per semester are eligible to receive flat-rate discounted tuition.

3. Central Washington University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Ellensburg $8,273 90%

Central Washington University has been accredited by the NCCU since 1918, offers several flexible online programs and has a total of 8 locations for instruction so that online students can easily complete any on-campus requirements. Undergraduate students have tuition rates starting at $400 per credit (in-state) and can choose from 13 online programs, including those in business administration, sociology, psychology, information technology and public health. Graduate students can select from programs in psychology, education, administration and more, and have tuition rates as low as $617 per credit hour (in-state).

4. University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Seattle $11,465 57%

Despite a student population of nearly 50,000, the University of Washington maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1; it's also accredited by the NCCU for more than 100 years. Tuition and fees for in-state, part-time undergraduate students come out to around $3,500 a semester, while full-time students pay around $3,800 for up to 18 credits. Full-time, in-state graduate students enjoy flat-rate tuition of $5,712 for any course load that falls between 7 and 18 credits. Online programs at the University of Washington run the gamut -- you'll find them in fields as diverse as engineering, education, library science, and mathematics.

5. Gonzaga University

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Spokane $45,140 99%

Gonzaga University provides online students with a Jesuit-based education and offers in-house financial aid, hands-on experiences and opportunities to study abroad. The school boasts an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and has a 94% retention rate (the percent of first-time students who return for the next academic year). Gonzaga offers a bachelor's degree in nursing as well as several online graduate programs, which have tuition rates of $720 to $1,490 per credit hour. Students can earn master's degrees in communication, theology, education and more as well as doctoral degrees in educational leadership, nursing and leadership studies.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Western Washington University Bellingham $8,343 86%
7 Renton Technical College Renton $5,567 69%
8 Peninsula College Port Angeles $4,126 79%
9 University of Washington-Tacoma Campus Tacoma $11,639 83%
10 Seattle University Seattle $46,590 98%
11 Walla Walla Community College Walla Walla $4,700 81%
12 Heritage University Toppenish $18,029 100%
13 Bellingham Technical College Bellingham $3,834 50%
14 City University of Seattle Seattle $13,120 N/A
15 Grays Harbor College Aberdeen $4,204 88%
16 Spokane Community College Spokane $3,634 61%
17 Clover Park Technical College Lakewood $5,740 69%
18 Spokane Community College Spokane $3,634 76%
19 Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom Lakewood $4,041 52%
20 Northwest University-College of Adult and Professional Studies Kirkland $15,600 85%

All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition represents the undergraduate rate for the 2019-2020 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Programs in Washington State

There are several types of degrees that students can earn online in Washington State, as well as a variety of fields that degrees are available in. The sections below summarize the program levels available as well as some of the most commonly offered online program fields.

Degree Levels

Students can earn certificates and degrees entirely online at the undergraduate and graduate levels, depending on their previous education and overall program goals.

  • Certificates - Certificates are short, highly focused programs that are available to undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of subjects. Some certificates provide students with career-ready knowledge, such as certificates in office administration, and other certificates allow students to add an area of expertise to their repertoire.
  • Associate's Degrees - Associate's degrees are sometimes called 2-year degrees and designed for two purposes: preparing students for immediate careers or transferring into 4-year programs.
  • Bachelor's Degrees - Bachelor's degree programs are the highest undergraduate programs available and are sometimes called 4-year degrees. They are available online in a multitude of fields and can be shortened by transferring previously completed college credits (and/or an associate's degree).
  • Master's Degrees - Master's degree programs provide students with a more advanced understanding of practical and theoretical methods and information relating to their field of study. Most take around 2 years to complete.
  • Doctoral Degrees - Although some of these programs have different titles, doctoral degree programs are often called PhD programs. These are the highest degrees available in any field and require students to dive into research on practice and theory, typically with the goal of becoming a researcher or teacher in the discipline.

Program Level Admissions Requirements Program Length (full-time)
Certificate Undergraduate
Graduate
High school diploma/GED
Bachelor's degree
Varies
Associate's Degree Undergraduate High school diploma/GED 2 years
Bachelor's Degree Undergraduate High school diploma/GED
Associate's degree
4 years
2 years
Master's Degree Graduate Bachelor's degree 2 years
Doctoral Degree Graduate Bachelor's or master's degree 5 or more years

The table above reflects typical admissions requirements and program lengths, but these vary by school.

Common Online Programs in Washington State

Washington State colleges offer a wide variety of online program options for both undergraduate and graduate students. Some programs are more commonly offered across schools that others, many of which are listed below.

  • Business Administration - Business administration programs are offered at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. These programs prepare students for a variety of careers and include courses in leadership, marketing, communication, ethics, finance and accounting.
  • Information Technology - Often available for undergraduate and graduate students, information technology programs provide students with an understanding of information technology practices and can include courses in project management, information security and IT applications.
  • Psychology - Psychology programs are available online for graduate and undergraduate students and often enable students to select specializations within their curriculum, such as school psychology, industrial/organizational psychology and counseling.
  • Social Services/Social Work - These programs are available to college students at both educational levels and prepare students to work in a variety of service and leadership roles. Courses can include those in social welfare and policies, community program development and diversity.
  • Education - There are several online program options in education for graduate and undergraduate students, and they typically offer concentrations such as higher education, special education, early childhood education, curriculum and instruction and adult education.
  • Public Health - Offered at every college level, public health programs provide students with an understanding of public health issues, populations and practices. Courses can include those in ethics, epidemiology, health policies, health promotion and cultural health.
  • Leadership in Education - Primarily offered as a graduate option, this program provides students with the necessary skills to lead within educational systems. Frequently pursued by current educators and administrators, these programs can include coursework in curriculum, instruction and community leadership.
  • Engineering - While engineering programs are offered for undergraduate and graduate students, they are more commonly available as graduate programs with concentrations in civil engineering, construction engineering, aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering.

Washington State Online Program Costs

The cost of online programs in Washington State vary by school, degree level, program and student. Online students have expenses from two main categories: tuition and other fees.

Tuition

Tuition varies by school and can either be charged per credit hour or per semester (for a range of credits, such as 12-18). While every school's tuition is different, the schools discussed above provide a range of around $200 to $1,200 per credit for undergraduate students and $300 to $1,400 for graduate students. The table below provides an estimate of total tuition costs based on the number of credits frequently required for online programs. Please note that these values are estimates only. Students should ask their schools for specific tuition rates and required credit hours.

Program Tuition Per Credit Credits Required Total Program Tuition
Associate's Degree $200 to $1,200 60 $12,000 to $72,000
Bachelor's Degree $200 to $1,200 120 $24,000 to $144,000
Master's Degree $300 to $1,400 40 $12,000 to $56,000
Doctoral Degree $300 to $1,400 60 $18,000 to $84,000

Other Fees

In addition to tuition, online students will have other fees associated with their programs. The specific fees and their values vary by school but can add up to several thousand dollars over the course of a program. Common fees for online programs include distance learning fees, course materials fees and registration fees. Students can obtain a list of applicable fees as well as their estimates from their admissions counselors, student accounts offices and other representatives of their schools.

Financial Aid for Online Programs in Washington State

Students enrolled in online programs in Washington State can often obtain financial aid to assist with their program expenses. The first thing that students should do in their financial aid pursuit is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is free and helps students qualify for more financial aid than they would without it. After completing the FAFSA, students can submit their results to several schools of their choosing if they are still narrowing down their choice for enrollment. Their candidate schools will then be able to let students know what aid, if any, they qualify for through the school. In addition to school aid, students can find other sources of financial aid through a multitude of resources:

  • Local Organizations - Organizations that are local to students may offer private financial aid to those that qualify.
  • StudentAid.gov - Provided by the federal government, this website provides a substantial amount of information about different types of financial aid.
  • CareerOneStop - This site is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor and has a scholarship search tool as well as other resources.
  • WA.gov - The website for Washington State government has an entire section for college students that offers financial aid information and resources.

As students review the different aid resources that are available, they should know the differences between each of the major types of financial aid.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are financial aid awards that don't have to be paid back. Some scholarships and grants that are available to online students in Washington State are listed below.

  • Washington State Opportunity Scholarship - This $22,500 scholarship is offered to students pursuing a bachelor's degree who are residents of Washington.
  • Trinity Scholars Program - This $10,000 scholarship is available to bachelor's degree students enrolled in a Christian college pursuing any field.
  • Horatio Alger Washington Scholarships - 10 scholarships of $10,000 are available to Washington students who have financial need and participate in community activities.

Work-Study

Work-study programs enable students to earn funds for their direct and indirect program expenses by working part-time while in school. Students who participate in work-study are often able to work in positions relating to their field of study (when available) and receive their earnings directly.

Student Loans

Student loans are loans for school and other expenses that students have while pursuing their program. Students typically have to pay these back, unless they are eligible for loan forgiveness programs (most often applicable to teachers and public service employees). Students can obtain student loans from the federal government, Washington State and private organizations. Because student loans will need to be repaid in the future, students should use these as a last resort. In addition, students who do use student loans should first use those that are provided by the government, because they have flexible, long-term repayment options and nationally regulated interest rates.

How to Choose a College in Washington State for an Online Program

When deciding on a school for your online program in Washington State, there are a few things that you should consider.

Programs Available

Once you have an idea of what field you're interested in studying, review the different programs that are applicable to your field to see which program(s) fit your overall goals. If you have more than one contender, that's okay. Some fields of study offer different concentrations/specific degrees but each can still qualify you for the same careers. Check with your school choices to see if they offer the program(s) that you are interested in online.

Admission Requirements

Not all schools have the same admission requirements. For example, some online bachelor's degree programs are open to high school (or equivalent) graduates while other programs are only available to students with an associate's degree. Before completing the application process, make sure that your credentials are sufficient for the schools that you are considering.

Accreditation

Accreditation shows that a school meets specific standards and should indicate that you will receive a quality education. In addition, some financial aid is only available to students who attend accredited schools, so make sure each of your candidate schools are properly accredited. In general, you'll want to look for programs that are regionally accredited. Also, determine if your program needs specialized accreditation (programmatic) and also inquire about it with your schools.

On-Campus Requirements

While many programs can be completed entirely online, some programs/schools require students to come to campus one or more times during their programs for things like orientations, laboratory exercises and learning sessions. Find out what on-campus or practical components are required by your programs and schools.

Flexibility

Many online programs allow you to complete your assignments at your convenience, as long as you submit them by their deadlines. However, some courses might require you to log in at specific times for things like live lectures and discussions. In addition, you should determine if you will need a full-time or part-time program and make sure that your school choices offer the one that meets your needs.