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Online Colleges in Washington

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In an effort to give Washington’s postsecondary students cutting edge online educational opportunities, the state formed the Washington Student Achievement Council, a cabinet-level agency, in July 2012. The council’s mission was to develop a ten-year roadmap proposing goals and resources to strengthen postsecondary education in the state. In its December 2015 progress report, the council announced its vision to see 70% of Washington residents between the ages of 25 and 44 achieve a postsecondary degree by the year 2023. Through research, strategic planning, oversight, and advocacy programs, the nine-member Council works tirelessly to enhance online student success.

But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in WA for 2016, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Washington today.


A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Washington

In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Washington had 87degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 43 public schools, 24 nonprofits and 20 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 24,649 at public schools, 7,293 at private nonprofits and 747 at private for-profits.

Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $10,290, while the out-of-state average was $28,830.

As further evidence of the state’s commitment to higher education, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Washington awarded $354.3 million in need-based grants and only $0.5 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 22.6% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. The percentage of state funds directed to educational incentives is evidence of a state focused on its resident students.


The State of Online Higher Education in Washington

Washington is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which makes it easier for students living in one state to participate in distance learning programs offered by universities in another. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts.

Washington is also part of the SARA regional education compact known as the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). The WICHE Internet Course Exchange (ICE) offers opportunities for Washington state residents, through their local college or university, to access high quality programs offered by member institutions in other states at the lower Washington tuition rates.

But WICHE offers much more than access to online programs in other states. It offers initiatives focused on financial aid, workforce policies, and specific areas of study. For instance, the Consortium for Healthcare Education Online (CHEO) provides funding for online science labs allowing healthcare students to conduct science experiments in a virtual setting. Washington has also been an active participant in the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), a leading force in the development and advocacy of technology in education.

The NCES estimates that at least 6.7% of students enrolled in Washington’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 5.9% were reported to be undergraduates and 32.8% were found to be living in Washington.


Best Online Colleges in Washington

Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Washington. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing our best of Washington, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Washington or our index of popular in-state scholarships.

Want to know what it takes to make our rankings? Check out our distinct approach.

Methodology

To determine the best online colleges in each state, we examined the factors most important to prospective students: Academic quality and reputation, online program strength, and cost and student aid. At the most basic level, we use the following formula to determine the best online colleges: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. Of course, there's more to these calculations than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about the process we use to rank schools.

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University of Washington

1
University of Washington
Seattle
$12,397
$31,971

An Online Education at University of Washington

Online students can expect the same world-class education at the University of Washington as residential students receive. With over 150 years of distinguished research and education history, the University of Washington has one of the most extensive slates of online education, science and engineering master’s programs in the country.

Courses are flexible and convenient, designed with busy professional students in mind. Students will have access to all coursework through the Canvas online learning management system. The university also offers several free online courses through Canvas, Coursera and edX.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood and Family Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Social Sciences

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Executive Master of Public Health
  • Master of Aerospace Engineering
  • Master of Education in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering: Construction Engineering
  • Master of Science in Computational Finance and Risk Management
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
  • Master of Science in Physics
  • Master of Sustainable Transportation

Contact Information

1400 NE Campus Parkway
Seattle, WA 98195-4550
(206) 543-2100


Acclaim for online programs

  • #26Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs (U.S. News & World Report)

Central Washington University

2
Central Washington University
Ellensburg
$8,976
$20,886

An Online Education at Central Washington University

CWU delivers its online courses and degree programs through Canvas, for which the university provides an abundance of tutorials, guides, orientations and 24/7 IT support. This web-based learning platform offers a number of technology tools that serve to enrich the online learning environment, including Collaborate web-conferencing, Respondus Monitor exam proctoring, MediaAmp streaming media, and Panopto lecture recording. Most online courses are asynchronous, allowing students to complete their assigned coursework on their own timeframe. Interaction and communication between instructors and students takes place primarily through discussion forums, email and virtual chat tools.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in English: Professional and Creative Writing
  • Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology and Administrative Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies - Social Sciences
  • Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Social Services
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

CWU offers a dual admission program to help transfer students smoothly transition from their community or technical college to CWU.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Master of Education in Literacy
  • Master of Education in School Administration
  • Master of Education Higher Education
  • Master of Science in Information Technology and Administrative Management

Several hybrid programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level are offered by CWU as well. Any prospective students residing outside the state of Washington should refer to the Qualifying States Disclaimer prior to applying to ensure CWU is authorized to deliver distance education in their state.

Contact Information

400 East University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7501
(509) 963-1111


Acclaim for online programs

  • #194on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #168on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Programs

Washington State University

3
Washington State University
Pullman
$12,327
$25,409

An Online Education at Washington State University

WSU currently uses the Blackboard-owned learning management system ANGEL and is in the process of migrating fully to Blackboard Learn. Many technology aids are available 24/7 for both students and instructors, including a demo course and P.E.T.E. - a helpful Personal eLearning Tool Expert. Through the web-based classroom students can experience events live-streamed by the Media Center, such as webinars, web-conferencing and other virtual “live” features. Additionally, students and professors chat online, post questions and thoughts in threaded discussion forums, and collaborate on group projects.

Online tutoring, writing lab access, textbook purchases, and academic mentoring are just a few of the resources available to eLearners.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Business in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Management and Operations
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Aside from these degrees, non-degree and teaching endorsement options may also be earned totally online through WSU.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Sport Management
  • Master of Engineering and Technology Management
  • Master of Science in Agriculture
  • Master of Science in Food Science and Management
  • Master of Science in Agriculture - Plant Health Management

Unlike many online programs that follow a fast track or offer accelerated degrees, WSU’s Global Campus follows the semester system, keeping online students more connected to the WSU community. Distance learners are even invited to social gatherings, lectures and other on-campus events.

Contact Information

French Administration Building
Pullman, WA 99164-5910
(509) 335-3564


Acclaim for online programs

  • #20on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #21on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs
  • #29on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs

Western Washington University

4
Western Washington University
Bellingham
$8,863
$19,752

An Online Education at Western Washington University

Consistently ranked highly for affordability and quality of education, Western Washington University’s distance education encompasses several online classes and degree formats. Students can choose term-based courses that follow the regular quarterly schedule, self-paced courses designed for independent study and various degree and certificate programs.

Western recently switched learning management systems, from Blackboard to Canvas. Courses usually begin in the fall, and the BA program in human services requires 76 credits to be taken over six quarters. Applicants for distance education are encouraged to have some transferrable credits completed before enrolling.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • BA in Human Services

Contact Information

516 High Street
Bellingham, WA 98225-9008
(360) 650-3000

Eastern Washington University

5
Eastern Washington University
Cheney
$7,961
$19,612

An Online Education at Eastern Washington University

EWU’s Eastern Online division conducts virtual courses through the Canvas Learning Management System, for which an immense amount of personal, 24/7 IT support is provided to students. Each course is carefully constructed by a team of faculty members and Eastern Online staff to provide a rich, engaging online learning experience that fulfills the objectives of each program. Interactive elements such as informative graphics, lectures with audio or visual components, electronic documents and interactive media are just a few of the forward-thinking features the Canvas platform offers.

Some of the online courses involve proctored exams, requiring students to fill out a proctor request form well in advance of the test.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Children’s Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (Degree Completion)

The children’s studies program is notably the first of its kind in the U.S.

Beyond those degrees, EWU offers an Education Specialist in School Psychology endorsement and an online graduate certificate in addiction studies for those looking to further enhance their professional credentials, not to mention an abundance of individual online courses.

Contact Information

526 5th Street
Cheney, WA 99004-2496
(509) 359-6200

University of Washington - Tacoma

6
University of Washington - Tacoma
Tacoma
$11,902
$31,476

An Online Education at University of Washington - Tacoma

UW Tacoma currently has one fully online degree completion program in criminal justice. The program requires 65 credits and can be completed online through the Canvas online learning management system. Transfer applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA, must have completed 90 University of Washington or transfer credits and have taken certain prerequisites. A personal statement is also required as part of your application.

The school offers an online learning readiness self-assessment for students determining whether online education suits their professional ambitions. A unique online language-learning curriculum enables students to complete their language requirement (if they have one) online anytime with interactive web-based tools, including Rosetta Stone. Students wishing to transfer credits can also submit their College Level Examination Program results for consideration.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • BA in Criminal Justice

Contact Information

1900 Commerce St
Tacoma, WA 98402-3100
(253) 692-4000

Northwest University

7
Northwest University
Kirkland
$25,934

An Online Education at Northwest University

For 80 years, Northwest University has supplied students with a well-rounded education grounded in Christian teachings. Recently, the school expanded its program offerings to include several online options. Like residential students, distance learners benefit from the school's generous transfer policy, enabling them to complete their degree faster.

Northwest pays special attention to the needs of its students, and enrollees find that the school's promise to “listen, work and respond” helps personalize their college experience. Students can access their records, email, library, textbooks, videos and the help desk through the online campus student portal and Canvas learning management system.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Management
  • Bachelor or Science in Public Safety Administration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Arts in International Community Development
  • Master in Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Contact Information

5520 108th Ave NE
Kirkland, WA 98083-0579
(425) 822-8266

Antioch University - Seattle

8
Antioch University - Seattle
Seattle
$20,595

An Online Education at Antioch University - Seattle

Online and hybrid courses at Antioch can be completed through the Sakai learning management tool. Working professionals and traditional undergraduates alike enjoy the school's generous transfer policy and asynchronous courses. Online students receive personal attention from a student services coordinator, who works with them to ensure a smooth transition through their degree program.

New students must participate in an online orientation, and should be prepared to spend 15 to 20 hours per week per course on their studies. For remote students, there are a number of convenient online resources available including access to the library system, online bookstore, virtual writing center, myCareer planner and the student accounts page. Some degree programs require previous coursework, while the master's program requires a residential colloquium. Students should consult the degree program page to determine if any additional on-site work is required for their field of interest.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • BA in Human Services Administration
  • BA in Liberal Studies: Individualized Concentration
  • BA in Liberal Studies: Literature and Creative Writing Concentration
  • BA in Management

Online Graduate Degrees

  • MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Contact Information

2326 6th Ave
Seattle, WA 98121-1814
(206) 441-5352

Saint Martin's University

9
Saint Martin's University
Lacey
$30,284

An Online Education at Saint Martin's University

Online courses at Saint Martin's are delivered through Moodle's learning management system. Online courses can help students fulfill degree requirements, transfer credits to another institution or function as a tryout period before committing to a full time program. Saint Martin’s also allows traveling military families to remain enrolled in online courses even if they move out of state. Currently, Saint Martin's offers over 150 online courses across a variety of disciplines. Students may also pursue a bachelor's in psychology entirely online. Resources for online students include access to textbooks, the library, grades and a host of financial aid resources.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • BA in Psychology

Contact Information

5000 Abbey Way SE
Lacey, WA 98503-7500
(360) 491-4700

City University of Seattle

10
City University of Seattle
Seattle
$14,880

An Online Education at City University of Seattle

Through the web-based interface known as Blackboard, CityU online students log in to the virtual classroom and actively participate in group projects, post on discussion boards, receive and submit assignments, view grades and email their instructors. All faculty members have professional and leadership experience in their fields, allowing them to bring first-hand knowledge to the learning environment and incorporate real-world understanding into the curriculum. Beneficial student services allow eLearners to chat live with an academic advisor, access the library 24/7, connect with the career and counseling center and peruse the bookstore.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Services
  • Bachelor of Arts in Education: Elementary Education
  • Bachelor of Arts in Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in General Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration

Most of these degrees can be finished within three years, with many graduates continuing on to earn an advanced degree in a related field. Incoming students have the option to complete a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) that translates previous life and work experience into college credit, potentially saving large amounts of time and money.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Arts in Leadership
  • Master of Education in Adult Learning
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Computer Systems
  • Master of Science in Project Management
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Doctor of Education in Leadership

Beyond these degrees, numerous undergraduate, graduate and professional certificates/endorsements can be earned entirely online.

Contact Information

521 Wall Street, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98121
(800) 426-5596


Acclaim for online programs

  • #27on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #117on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs
  • #68on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA)
  • #154on U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs

Peninsula College

11
Peninsula College
Port Angeles
$4,246
$4,687

An Online Education at Peninsula College

PC currently offers one online program designed especially for associate degree holders looking to earn an MBA. By logging in to Canvas, PC’s online course management system, students gain access to all of their coursework, including syllabi and grades. A Canvas Student Quick Start class teaches those new to the web-based platform how to navigate it.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Management

One unique aspect of this program is the internship requirement, which students may complete in their locale. An internship instructor works with students to orchestrate a successful experience.

A wealth of online resources are made available to students, including eTutoring, an online library, disability services, learning centers and labs. Non-residents of Washington state seeking to apply should note that Peninsula may need to receive authorization to deliver distance education in their home state prior to the start of the course or program.

Contact Information

1502 E Lauridsen Blvd
Port Angeles, WA 98362
(360) 452-9277

Bellevue College

12
Bellevue College
Bellevue
$3,754
$8,944

An Online Education at Bellevue College

Bellevue College offers degree and certificate programs in a hybrid format. Designed with the working professional in mind, courses are asynchronous. The bachelor of applied science in healthcare and technology management is a hybrid program requiring some on-site, but mostly online coursework.

Bellevue also offers online programs in partnership with three other schools, enlarging the scope and reach of their online platform. Its arrangement with Capella University allows for up to 60 semester transfer credits towards various BS majors, while a partnership with Washington State University Online allows students to take classes towards business, criminal justice and humanities degrees. Bellevue uses Canvas to facilitate instruction: the program allows students to access lectures, readings, assignments and discussion forums where they can engage with classmates and professors.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Healthcare and Technology Management

Contact Information

3000 Landerholm Cir SE
Bellevue, WA 98007-6484
(425) 564-1000

Heritage University

13
Heritage University
Toppenish
$17,744

An Online Education at Heritage University

This Yakama Indian Reservation-based university uses the popular learning management system Blackboard to deliver its online courses. Through this peer-supportive network, students are able to share ideas, contribute feedback and participate in collaborative discussions on a regular basis.

HU follows the semester schedule system; full-time students can take up to 4 courses (or 12 credits) per semester, while part-time students take half that amount. Full-time graduate students take 6 credits per semester. Regardless of the level or intensity of study, online students should plan on logging in to their online courses three times per week.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in English and Humanities
  • Bachelor of Arts in American Cultural Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in English/Language Arts (5-12)

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Arts in English
  • Master of Education in Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration

A ProTeach Portfolio program is available for teachers with a residency teacher certificate who wish to fulfill the secondary-level Washington certificate. Although HU welcomes transfer students, those who do not hold an associate of arts degree or who happen to have 60 or fewer semester credit hours will most likely have to take an assessment test to confirm their earned credits.

Contact Information

3240 Fort Rd
Toppenish, WA 98948
(509) 865-8500


Most Affordable Online Colleges in Washington

Below, you’ll find the most affordable online colleges in WA (Washington), sorted by annual tuition rates.

Want to know what it takes to make our rankings? Check out our distinct approach.

Methodology

Our list of the most affordable online colleges is based on in-state yearly tuition, or annual tuition rates if a school does not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. Tuition rates are based on a full course load each semester or term. All colleges on the list offer at least one bachelor's degree completion program available entirely online. Those institutions with the lowest tuition are ranked highest, providing prospective students with a true list of the most affordable online colleges in their state.

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Peninsula College

1
Peninsula College
Port Angeles
$4,246
$4,687

Faith Evangelical College & Seminary

2
Faith Evangelical College & Seminary
Tacoma
$165
$7,425

Eastern Washington University

3
Eastern Washington University
Cheney
$7,961
$19,612

Central Washington University

4
Central Washington University
Ellensburg
$8,976
$20,886

Washington State University

5
Washington State University
Pullman
$12,327
$25,409

City University of Seattle

6
City University of Seattle
Seattle
$14,880

Heritage University

7
Heritage University
Toppenish
$17,744


Scholarships and Financial Aid in Washington

Alumni Board Scholarship

Deadline: April 7, 2016
Scholarship Amount $1,000 See Scholarship

Western Washington University’s Alumni Associate offers this scholarship to full-time WWU students and to transfer students entering WWU. Applicants must be undergraduate students with a GPA of 3.10+. Preference will be given to students with financial need, and to those who are active in serving their community.

Central Investment Fund Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount Amount varies See Scholarship

Central Washington University provides this merit-based scholarship to incoming freshmen or transfer students. Applicants must be Washington state residents, have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and demonstrate leadership and academic potential. Applicants must also have completed a college prep curriculum.

Chancellor’s Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $16,000 See Scholarship

The Chancellor’s Scholarship is available to freshmen entering Saint Martin’s University. Recipients are selected based on high school GPA, class rank, SAT/ACT scores, and leadership or community service. Students receiving this award have an average GPA of 3.86 and SAT score of 1796. The award is $16,000 per year for 4 years.

Dean’s Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $14,000 See Scholarship

The Dean’s Scholarship is open to freshmen entering Saint Martin’s University. Recipients are selected based on high school GPA, class rank, SAT/ACT scores, and leadership or community service. Students receiving this award have an average GPA of 3.33 and SAT score of 1504. The award is $14,000 per year for 4 years.

President’s Scholarship

Deadline: March 1, 2016
Scholarship Amount $15,000 See Scholarship

The President’s Scholarship is available to freshmen entering Saint Martin’s University. Recipients are chosen based on high school GPA, class rank, SAT/ACT scores, and leadership or community service. Students receiving this award have an average GPA of 3.62 and SAT score of 1590. The award is $15,000 per year for 4 years.

President’s Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $6,500 See Scholarship

Western Washington University’s Presidential Scholarship is available to incoming freshmen. Recipients are selected based on academic performance (measured by GPA and SAT/ACT scores). The maximum award is $6,500.

State Need Grant

Deadline: open
Scholarship Amount $10,868 See Scholarship

Provided by the Washington Student Achievement Council, the State Need Grant is available to Washington residents pursuing a bachelor’s, certificate, or associate degree at an approved institution within the state. The award amount varies based on the institution the recipient attends; the maximum award is $10,868 per year.


Higher Education Resources in Washington