Online schools in Washington

Article Sources
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There were 124 campus-based and online schools and colleges in Washington as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and those dozens of institutions provide a wide array of degree plans and other valuable training programs.

Check out more of our guide to attending online and on-campus schools in Washington. It includes:

Snapshot: Higher education in Washington

To start, here's a table that shows how many of each type of Washington schools offers degrees in the four major categories, according to NCES data:

Campus-based schools in Washington
Institution type No. offering bachelor's degrees No. offering associate degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 22 35 40 8
Private nonprofit 19 11 19 22
Private for-profit 7 8 33 5

It's often the case that cities with a higher proportion of students in their population have more readily accessible academic services and other perks for students. Here's some U.S. Census and NCES data on the demographics of various cities where students may choose to live while attending on-campus or online programs in Washington:

City Total estimated population
(U.S. Census, 2015)
No. of enrolled students
(NCES, 2016)
Student presence as a % of permanent resident population % of residents with bachelor's degrees
(U.S. Census, 2015)
Seattle 684,451 80,972 11.83 percent 58.9 percent
Tacoma 207,948 21,017 10.11 percent 26.1 percent
Spokane 213,272 26,268 12.32 percent 22.8 percent
Pullman 32,816 28,686 90.46 percent 66.2 percent
Bellingham 85,146 22,126 25.99 percent 40.7 percent
Lakewood 59,829 9,209 15.39 percent 19.8 percent
Ellensburg 19,001 11,993 63.12 percent 39.6 percent
Olympia 50,302 9,029 17.95 percent 42.2 percent

The College Board reports that the average cost of a year of tuition for students in Washington came to $5,055 in 2015-16, but there was also a considerable range of average tuition expenses at individual Washington schools. Students who had established in-state residency paid less than $4,000 per year at no fewer than three institutions in the state, for example, with the lowest overall expense of $3,619 reported at Bellevue College. The state's highest tuition that same year was reported at Whitman College in Walla Walla, where students were charged an average of $47,862 for the 2015-16 academic year.

Online education in Washington

Washington has thousands of rural residents who are often best served by study plans that give them some flexibility, and online schools and colleges in Washington have a lot to offer in terms of studying on your own time and at your own pace. Here are some NCES numbers on the online programs available in Washington:

Online schools in Washington
Institution type No. offering 4-year degrees No. offering 2-year degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 5 8 14 4
Private nonprofit 5 3 3 7
Private for-profit 1 3 0 1

Ranking information for traditional and online schools in Washington

National agencies that rank educational institutions have given Washington schools their fair share of good press in recent years. Take a look at just a few of the state's ranked institutions for the 2016-17 academic year:

Rankings for campus-based and online Washington schools
School name
Ranking agency
University of Washington No. 27 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
University of Washington No. 16 (tie) Top Public Schools U.S. News & World Report
Gonzaga University No. 4 Regional Universities (West) U.S. News & World Report
Whitman College No. 41 (tie) National Liberal Arts Colleges U.S. News & World Report
Washington State University No. 351 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
Washington State University No. 143 (tie) National Universities U.S. News & World Report

Don't forget to check out our rankings for the best community colleges in Washington.

Top degree programs at online colleges in Washington

The national rankings data also show that online colleges in Washington are home to more than just a few noteworthy degree programs. Here are a few of the especially high-ranked online programs in Washington for 2016-17, according to U.S. News & World Report:

Top-ranked online programs in Washington
School name
Degree program
National rank
Washington State University MBA No. 22 (tie)

Ninety percent of students in this top-25 online MBA program are employed when they enroll, which helps WSU admins and professors understand the needs of busy working students.

City University of Seattle Online bachelor's programs No. 27 (tie) This private institution in Seattle offers all online course material in a recorded and archived format, so students can attend virtual lectures whenever is convenient for them.
Washington State University Graduate engineering No. 37 Eight graduate certificates and one master's degree are offered in this WSU online program, where multimedia conferencing technology can allow easy interaction between students and professors.
Gonzaga University Graduate nursing No. 103 (tie) This online master's program for experienced registered nurses offers three concentrations: nurse practitioner, psychiatric nurse practitioner and health systems leadership.

Industries and degrees to get in Washington

Employment is projected to grow by about 7 percent between 2014 and 2024, according to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but there are several occupations in Washington that expect significantly more growth than that national average. Take a look at this table of hot jobs for graduates of online schools and colleges in Washington:

Hot degrees and top jobs for Washington graduates
Why it's hot
Degrees that can help
Web developer Maintaining an accessible and user-friendly Web presence is essential to today's businesses, nonprofits and other enterprises, and it takes skilled developers to make an organization's online dreams into realities. The Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) projects 51.7 percent growth in Web developer employment between 2014 and 2024, and the BLS reports an average 2015 salary of $85,590 for Web developers in the state. The typical minimum educational requirement for Web developers is an associate degree, although candidates for top jobs may be expected to have a bachelor's degree and several years of experience in the field. Non-degree certifications such as Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) Web Specialist, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) can also be helpful to Web developers seeking positions beyond the entry level.
Film and video editor Multimedia content continues to take on a greater role in our daily lives, and the increased demand for audio/visual material is driving a surge in the need for skilled video editors on the Washington job market. ESD numbers suggest job growth of 41.3 percent in the field by 2024, working out to more than twice the already impressive national average of 18 percent, and the state's top 25 percent of earners in the field took home average salaries of more than $69,550 in 2015. A bachelor's degree is typically necessary for aspiring film and video editors to be considered serious candidates for employment, although those willing to take on the additional responsibilities of freelance work may be able to replace the educational requirement with a standout portfolio of previous work. Common degrees that lend themselves well to the video editing profession include broadcast media, journalism, media technology, photography and digital art.
Computer hardware engineer Job growth on the hardware engineering side of the IT industry is expected to be fairly slow on the national scale, with the BLS predicting just 3 percent growth by 2024, Washington's in-state predictions tell a different story. Not only does the ESD project a statewide employment increase of 37.7 percent for computer hardware engineering jobs — more than 12 times as much growth as the national average — but the average hardware engineer employed in 2015 earned an annual salary of $104,810.

The majority of computer hardware engineers earn their bachelor's degree in computer engineering before seeking work in the field, according to the BLS, but computer science or electrical engineering are also fairly common degrees among entry-level applicants. Specialized or upper-tier positions may prefer candidates with master's degrees in engineering or business administration. Knowledge of software engineering or computer programming can also be helpful, since computer hardware must interact with software once it's complete.

Physical therapist assistant Physical therapy services are expected to occupy a more prominent place in our health care system in the coming years, and salary expectations for assistants are growing right along with demand. Employment projections show an expected 33.8 percent job growth for physical therapist assistants in Washington alone over the next several years, and the reported annual wages of $57,680 for assistant positions are up almost $6,000 per year from the 2011 average of $51,850. Physical therapist assistants often work directly with licensed therapists to deliver treatment or information to patients and their families, and as such they typically need at least a two-year degree in physical therapy assisting to qualify for work. Those interested in physical therapy as a career may also be able to find work in the field while they're still working toward their associate degree — physical therapist aide positions tend to require just a high school diploma and some on-the-job training.

Featured schools in Washington

The wide range of degrees available at online schools and colleges in Washington ensures that the Evergreen State has a program of study for just about everyone. Here's info on top rated on-campus and online programs available in Washington schools:

Campus-based and online programs in Washington
Institution name
Online degrees?
Top programs
University of Washington Yes Primary care medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, nurse practitioner, nursing informatics, audiology, medical research, public health, health care management, genetics, teacher education, special education, computer science, computer engineering, chemistry, psychology, earth sciences, fine arts, library and information studies, social work, math, statistics
Washington State University Yes MBA (on campus and online), veterinary medicine, criminology, nursing, health care management, pharmacy, sociology, engineering (on campus and online), chemistry, physics, psychology, earth sciences, computer science, political science, speech-language pathology, public affairs
Seattle University Yes Nursing, law, legal writing, MBA, teacher education (on campus and online), accounting, finance, public affairs
Seattle Pacific University Yes Psychology, teacher education, graduate nursing, doctoral nursing, business, part-time MBA
City University of Seattle Yes MBA (online), non-MBA graduate business (online), online bachelor's degrees

How to enroll in a Washington school

It's usually a good idea to be in touch with some sort of college adviser or even the school you've got your eye on. It's also easy to browse this page's listings of Washington schools in our network to get started on enrolling in a school ASAP. Choosing a college and degree program is a process — one that requires time and careful research. Our college directory featuring some of the best campus and online schools in Washington is a helpful place to start.
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