If cost, flexibility, and quality matter, consider looking at online colleges in Washington state. The benefits of earning a degree include preparation for a wider range of financially successful jobs. Washington residents enrolling in an in-state online school benefit from affordable tuition and the chance to make local professional connections. This guide details the best online colleges in Washington state.
Higher Learning Initiatives in Washington
In 2011, Washington's legislature approved the state's first nonprofit online university. WGU Washington offers more than 50 bachelor's and master's programs, illustrating just how much the state embraces and celebrates distance education. This university makes Washington a top innovator when it comes to online education. As with other online education programs, the school's courses and programs are designed to be rigorous yet flexible.
Up and running since 1996, the Internet Academy is for K-12 students in Washington. The state's very first online school, it offers students the chance to enroll in placement testing and academic courses online. This program saves students and parents time, money, and headaches, as they can complete their studies at their leisure. Washington residents benefit from free tuition at IA.
Popular Degree Programs in Washington
Washington's economy relies on many different industries, including agriculture, information and communication technology, life sciences and global health, and agriculture. Boasting thousands of miles of shoreline, the state's maritime industry also plays a key role in job creation. Learners pursue degrees that tend to reflect Washington's major industries, so students here disproportionately major in oceanography. Washington's most popular major, business management and administration, ranks as the top degree in the majority of states.
- Oceanography: Oceanography explores biological and physical components of the marine environment. The interdisciplinary field incorporates biology, geology, chemistry, zoology, botany, and physics. A variety of the state's colleges and universities offer excellent oceanography and other marine programs with hands-on learning experiences and internships.
- Business Management and Administration: The most common major in 35 states, business management and administration deals with all aspects running an efficient and effective business. Graduates can find work and competitive compensation in nearly every industry.
Paying for College in Washington
Washington residents who attend public institutions face tuition rates on par with the national average. And, when they graduate and work in the state, their annual mean salary significantly exceeds the national average. Washington online college courses present a convenient and affordable option for earning a degree.
The average price for in-state tuition in Washington closely mirrors the national average for both public two- and four-year colleges. Students considering online community colleges in Washington state will find the price very comparable to what most other states charge resident students. The table below does not factor in other costs, like transportation, room and board, and textbooks.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in Washington
Students who graduate from online colleges in Washington state find many exciting and lucrative employment opportunities. The unemployment rate in the state, 4.3%, is higher than teh national average. Employers want to hire skilled and educated employees, and applicants with a college degree often get a leg up on the competition. Compensation in Washington also outpaces the national average, with an annual mean wage of $57,480, almost $7,000 above the national average.
Accreditation for Colleges in Washington
Attending an accredited school benefits students in many ways. It means that the school went through a formal process of evaluation coordinated by an independent accrediting agency. In the accreditation process, accrediting agencies evaluate schools on a variety of criteria, including faculty qualifications, library resources, and the quality of its educational programs. An accredited school assures students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for success in their future careers.
Schools can hold two types of accreditation: regional or national. Nonprofit schools which tend to focus primarily on academics often hold regional accreditation, whilst nationally accredited schools concentrate on trade skills or religious degrees and tend to be for-profit. Keep in mind that most regionally accredited schools do not accept transfer credit from schools without regional accreditation.
A variety of accredited online colleges exist in Washington. The accreditation process for online programs does not differ significantly from the process for brick-and-mortar schools. The regional accrediting agency for online schools in Washington is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Scholarships for Washington Online College Students
Most people receive financial aid to help pay for college, including student loans, grants, and scholarships. Thousands of scholarships help learners pay for school each year, including many specifically for college students in Washington.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be Washington residents who earned a high school diploma or GED from a Washington school. They must demonstrate financial need, hold a minimum 2.75 GPA, and plan to enroll in a STEM or healthcare program at an eligible Washington school.
Amount: Up to $22,500
Who Can Apply: High school seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA who demonstrate community involvement, leadership, and academic performance can apply for this scholarship. They must submit ACT/SAT scores, two letters of recommendation, high school transcripts, and a college acceptance letter.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be HIV-positive or academically focused on treating and eradicating HIV. They also must identify as LGBTQ+, an ally, or questioning and live in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, or Idaho.
Who Can Apply: Talented artists and seniors in a Washington public high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrated financial need should apply for this two year scholarship. They must also show proof of acceptance into an art program at an accredited four-year institution.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students must be entering their third, fourth, or fifth year of college and be a full-time student who maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply for this scholarship.
Who Can Apply: Low-income Washington residents who hold cultural and social ties to a Washington state American Indian tribe or community can apply. Award winners must commit to serving the American Indian community in the state and demonstrate academic achievement. Upper-division and graduate students hold priority for this scholarship.
Who Can Apply: Lesbian Washington residents who demonstrate significant financial need should apply. Applicants must also demonstrate leadership potential and face barriers to higher education.
Who Can Apply: Residents of Washington and other Northwestern states primarily receive these scholarships. Applicants must be in their second, third, or fourth year of studying osteopathic medicine and commit to practicing in the Northwest region.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must reside within the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane and be high school seniors who demonstrate academic excellence and potential leadership. They do not need to be a member of the Episcopalian church.
Who Can Apply: Washington residents age 25 and under with one or more LGBTQ+ parents can apply for this scholarship. They must also demonstrate financial need and leadership abilities.
Resources for Students in Washington
- Washington Student Achievement Council: The WSAC's mission includes advancing educational opportunities for Washington residents. WSAC facilitates research, protects consumers, promotes quality education, and assesses unmet educational needs throughout the state.
- Washington Education Association: The WEA represents public school educators in Washington. The largest group of its kind in the state, it works to make public schools better for students, teachers, and other school employees.
- Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges: Led by a governor-appointed board, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges coordinates and advocates for the 34 public technical and community colleges in the state. Its three mission areas include basic education for adults, workforce education, and academic transfers.
- Independent Colleges of Washington: ICW promotes opportunities for Washington's independent/private colleges. The colleges it represents commit to high-quality academics, with an emphasis on critical thinking, leadership, community service, lifelong learning, and ethics.
- Higher Education Institutions in Washington: Washington's Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib maintains this website, which includes a list and links to all higher education institutions in the state.
Online Schools in Washington
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: $9,813
Central Washington University
- Graduation Rate: 53%
- Average Net Price: $14,368
Eastern Washington University
- Graduation Rate: 46%
- Average Net Price: $13,523
Faith International University
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: $21804
- Graduation Rate: 16%
- Average Net Price: $10,829
- Graduation Rate: 48%
- Average Net Price: $19,372
Port Angeles, WA
- Graduation Rate: 40%
- Average Net Price: $7,966
Renton Technical College
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: $9,299
Saint Martin's University
- Graduation Rate: 54%
- Average Net Price: $18,488
University of Washington-Seattle Campus
- Graduation Rate: 81%
- Average Net Price: $14,195
Washington State University
- Graduation Rate: 67%
- Average Net Price: $17,663
Western Washington University
- Graduation Rate: 67%
- Average Net Price: $15,675