Online Schools and Colleges in Washington

Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools

More Washington state students are enrolling in four-year college programs than ever before. In fact, more than 52,000 students are enrolled in Private colleges throughout Washington, plus more than 310,000 attending the state's public institutions. Many students are leaning towards earning degrees online as opposed to attending classes on-campus, and major corporations are even partnering with colleges, such as Eastern Washington University’s data analytics partnership with Microsoft, to help them provide specialized, quality curriculum. With dozens of schools to choose from, students often find it difficult to know which online program is right for them-this page takes the guesswork out of the process by providing advice on everything from funding your online college education to finding the best online programs for your interests in Washington state.

Best Online Colleges in Washington 2020

Best Online Schools

Students can choose from dozens of affordable, accredited online schools and colleges in Washington. In-state tuition rates for Washington students are less than the national average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Out-of-state students may qualify for reduced tuition rates through the Western Undergraduate Exchange, a regional tuition reciprocity agreement that ensures that learners pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition at participating colleges.

This guide can help you find the best online schools and colleges in Washington. The following sections include information about financial aid options, earning potential for Washington graduates, and the importance of attending an accredited school.

Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
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1 Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA Tuition $3,328 # of Online Programs 17 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 32% Financial Aid 30% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes
2 Spokane Community College Spokane, WA Tuition $2,688 # of Online Programs 15 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 24% Financial Aid 12% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes
3 Walla Walla Community College Walla Walla, WA Tuition $4,203 # of Online Programs 3 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 40% Financial Aid 44% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes
Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
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1 Washington State University Pullman, WA Tuition $9,324 # of Online Programs 20 Acceptance Rate 72% Graduation Rate 70% Financial Aid 72% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Washington State University, provides distance education students with a number of online resources, including an academic advisor, student services, a web-specific student government, tutoring, a writing lab, 24/7 technical help and opportunities to meet others at parties or for-credit seminars. Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, multiple options exist to receive certificates, undergraduate and graduate-level degrees in accounting, history, engineering and more. Program length, class duration and graduation requirements are different for each degree. Courses are implemented through Blackboard Learn, and the school's Global Campus multimedia team creates animations and games in an effort to engage students in the curriculum.

2 University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA Tuition $9,694 # of Online Programs 12 Acceptance Rate 45% Graduation Rate 86% Financial Aid 38% Credit For Experience No Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Students at the University of Washington, which is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, can choose from over 70 online education options. You can supplement your studies with free classes, take 2-4 years to complete a bachelor's degree, enroll in a 1-3 year graduate program or earn a professional certificate in fields such as education, social sciences, engineering and business. Informational webinars, academic advising and technical assistance are among the resources available to online students at UW.

3 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA Tuition $38,980 # of Online Programs 6 Acceptance Rate 67% Graduation Rate 84% Financial Aid 99% Credit For Experience No Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

For those pursuing a graduate education, Gonzaga University offers fully online programs to earn a master's degree in communication and leadership studies, organizational leadership, sport and athletic administration, theology and leadership, or nursing. There are also study abroad opportunities available for online students. Coursework, which is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, can be completed at your own pace, and the Student Services Team is always available to guide you through your educational experience. Graduates have entered the workforce as journalists, athletic directors and ministers.

4 Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA Tuition $5,907 # of Online Programs 25 Acceptance Rate 80% Graduation Rate 56% Financial Aid 67% Credit For Experience No Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Students enrolling in fully online coursework at Central Washington University pay the same tuition as residents. Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the school offers 12 online bachelor's degree completion programs and 10 graduate degree programs in topics ranging from aviation management to school psychology. The Online Student Resource Center connects you with financial aid and scholarship opportunities, tutoring, academic advising and technical help for the web platform Canvas. Graduation requirements and length of time for completion will differ depending on the program, as well as the amount of prior credits being transferred in.

5 Faith International University Tacoma, WA Tuition $7,425 # of Online Programs 6 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 27% Financial Aid 29% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service No Counseling Services Yes

Accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Faith International University is a higher learning institution rooted in Christian values. Students can customize their programs of choice by taking hybrid or fully online courses to complete 4-year bachelor's degrees in religion, education, leadership or business. These options are also accessible for a master's degree in leadership ministry, Christian counseling, Christian education or theological studies. Some classes are implemented through the online platform Canvas, while others are available on DVD. Residents and online students receive the same tuition rates, and discounts are available for YWAM missionaries.

6 Heritage University Toppenish, WA Tuition $19,032 # of Online Programs 4 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 25% Financial Aid 100% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Heritage University, which is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, offers a fully online program for earning a Bachelor of Arts in English. Students graduate after completing 120 credits, and often enter into fields such as journalism, public relations, education, and grant writing. If you already possess a bachelor's degree, there are online options to work toward a graduate degree or professional certificate in educational administration, English, or ProTeach Portfolio. All courses are self-paced, and online students have access to resources such as the library and virtual bookstore.

7 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA Tuition $16,748 # of Online Programs 27 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Over 20 programs at City University of Seattle are delivered in a number of formats, including hybrid, fully online, and through a regional cohort model, which requires students to view lectures online so that on campus visits are reserved for projects and discussions. You can participate in a 39-credit, 16-week program to earn a Master of Science in Information Security, or transfer credits to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Management, among others. Although prerequisites, program length, and amount of credits for graduation differ per degree, all coursework is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Financial aid and military discounts are available to assist in tuition costs.

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How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I'm Looking for in Washington?

Washington schools offer dozens of online programs for distance learners. Since each student's needs are different, the best school for one learner may not be the ideal option for another student. Click the icon below for details about high-quality, accredited online schools and colleges in Washington.

How Much More Do College Grads in Washington Make?

Higher levels of education typically lead to increased earning potential, in Washington and throughout the nation. A 2015 report by Washington's Education Research & Data Center showed that four-year degrees, apprenticeships, certificate programs, and associate degrees all improve earning potential significantly, especially in the short term.

The table below illustrates the nationwide correlation between educational attainment and salary potential. The data shows that bachelor's degree-holders earn an average salary more than $24,000 higher than that of individuals with only a high school diploma. Earning potential increases further for individuals with a master's or doctoral degree.

Annual Full-Time Wage and Salary by Educational Attainment in the U.S.
Less Than a High School Diploma High School Diploma Associate Degree
$28,756 $37,960 $44,824
Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree Doctoral Degree
$62,296 $74,568 $94,900

Source: BLS

Paying for Online College in Washington: Tuition and Financial Aid

The cost of attending college in Washington depends on the learner's residency status and the type of school. The tables below compare average tuition rates in Washington to the national averages. In-state tuition in Washington costs about $2,000 less than the national average. However, out-of-state learners pay about $2,600 more than the national average. Tuition rates at private schools in the state are also higher than the national average.

Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Public Colleges and Universities
In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition National Average
$6,830 $28,263

$9,037 (In-State)

$25,657 (Out-of-State)
Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Private Colleges and Universities
Tuition Out-of-State Tuition National Average
$36,807 N/A $30,731

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Cost Considerations for Online Students in Washington

The figures above do not include the cost of room and board or additional costs for out-of-state students. Fees and expenses vary by program, so learners should contact their institution for details. Below are some cost considerations for students attending online schools and colleges in Washington.

Required Travel: Some online programs require learners to visit campus for workshops, discussions, or presentations. These requirements may cause students to incur costs associated with airfare, lodging, and meals.
Technology Costs: Although distance learners often save money on housing and transportation costs, online education requires Wi-Fi access, up-to-date technology, and physical or digital textbooks.
Specific Program Costs: Some schools charge higher tuition rates for more popular online programs. Additionally, graduate and professional programs in areas such as engineering and nursing often cost more per credit.
Miscellaneous Fees: Many schools charge fees specific to online learners. Students may need to pay fees related to library services, clinical courses, graduation, criminal background checks, and technology services.
Tuition Agreements for Out-of-State Students: Some Washington schools charge all online students the same tuition rates, regardless of residency. Learners in participating states may receive tuition discounts through the Western Undergraduate Exchange.

Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Washington

To qualify for in-state tuition rates in Washington, prospective students must demonstrate residency. Qualifying students must typically have lived in Washington for at least one year prior to the first day of class -- for a reason other than attending school. Individual schools often set unique residency requirements, so learners should contact their prospective institution to verify their eligibility for in-state tuition rates.

Out-of-state students who participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange save an average of $9,400 per year. Participating learners pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition rates. To take part in the Western Undergraduate Exchange, students must reside in a qualifying state and must attend a participating institution.

Paying for College in Washington: Scholarships and Financial Aid

To reduce student debt, learners should apply for all grants and scholarships for which they meet eligibility requirements. Students attending accredited online schools and colleges in Washington can apply for various types of financial aid. Some opportunities require Washington residency, but many are also available to out-of-state students.

Scholarships for Washington College Students

American Indian Endowed Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports low-income Washington residents with close cultural or social ties to an American Indian community or tribe. Upper-division and graduate students receive priority.

Amount: Varies

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Pipeline for Paraeducators Conditional Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Paraeducators with at least one year of teaching experience can apply for this scholarship. Applicants can also qualify with two years of experience as a Recruiting Washington Teachers participant. Recipients must earn an associate degree within four years and agree to teach for two years in a Washington public school after graduation.

Amount: Up to $4,000 per year

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Educator Retooling Conditional Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship helps Washington educators earn a teaching certificate endorsement in a shortage area. Recipients must earn the endorsement within two years and agree to teach for two years in a Washington public school.

Amount: Up to $3,000

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Washington State Opportunity Baccalaureate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to Washington residents with a high school diploma or GED credential from the state. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and have a minimum 2.75 GPA. Students must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in a STEM or healthcare field at an eligible Washington college.

Amount: Varies

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Washington State Opportunity Career and Technical Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Washington residents with a high school diploma or GED credential can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and must pursue an eligible associate degree, certificate, or apprenticeship program at a Washington community or technical college.

Amount: Up to $1,500 per quarter

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Grants for Washington College Students

Washington College Grant

Who Can Apply: Low-income and middle-income Washington residents attending an approved college or training program can apply for this grant. All eligible students receive funding.

Amount: Up to full tuition

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College Bound Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Washington State Legislature awards these funds to low-income residents. Students must apply by the end of their eighth grade year and must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid.

Amount: Varies

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Passport to College

Who Can Apply: Washington residents experiencing unaccompanied homelessness can apply for this award. Students who were in Washington, federal, or tribal foster care after age 14 can also qualify. Recipients cannot apply funds toward a theology degree.

Amount: Up to $4,500

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Passport to Apprenticeship Opportunities

Who Can Apply: Washington residents who were in Washington, federal, or tribal foster care after age 14 or who are experiencing unaccompanied homelessness can apply for this funding. Recipients must attend an eligible apprenticeship program.

Amount: Varies

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Opportunity Grant

Who Can Apply: This grant supports Washington residents with a minimum 2.0 GPA and whose income falls at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Applicants must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid.

Amount: Varies

Apply For Grant

The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Washington

To ensure they receive a high-quality education, students researching online schools and colleges in Washington should only consider accredited institutions. Accredited schools undergo independent evaluation by a third party. Accreditation demonstrates that faculty, curricula, and academic support services meet minimum standards. Online schools and colleges in Washington may carry multiple types of accreditation, including institutional and programmatic accreditation.

Regional and National Accreditation

The two main types of institutional accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditation generally applies to degree-granting institutions, while vocational and technical colleges often earn national accreditation.

Many types of financial aid are only available to students attending regionally accredited schools. Additionally, many employers and graduate schools only recognize degrees earned from regionally accredited institutions.The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities provides regional accreditation to postsecondary institutions in Washington.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

Individual programs often earn subject-specific accreditation. Licensure for certain professions, such as teaching, counseling, and nursing, require a degree from an accredited program. Field-specific accrediting agencies include the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

To determine whether a school or program holds accreditation, learners can search directories from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. These databases include information on accredited schools and programs, along with recognized accrediting agencies. Additionally, most accredited institutions feature their accreditation status on their website. Schools that do not prominently display credentials may not be reputable options.

Online College and Adult Education in Washington

Not all learners attend college immediately after graduating high school, and some professionals want to advance their career through additional training and skills development. The sections below include information about online and in-person adult education opportunities in Washington State.

By the Numbers: Adult Education in Washington

According to a 2018 report, about 685,000 Washington residents lack basic education or English language skills.

Data from a study conducted between 2007 and 2010 showed that 10% of the adult population in Washington had less than a 12th grade education.

Washington's Integrated Digital English Acceleration program includes hybrid classes that blend online learning with in-person instruction.

Source: Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges

Adult Education Programs for Washington Students

  • Integrated Digital English Acceleration Program: This program helps adults in Washington improve their English language skills while preparing for careers and postsecondary education.
  • High School 21+ Program: This program helps Washington adults earn their high school diploma at minimal or no cost. Many Washington community colleges participate in the program, which includes basic skills classes and more advanced training.
  • Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training: This nationally renowned adult education program helps learners gain both job training and basic skills in areas such as writing, reading, and math. Participants concurrently earn high school and college credits.

Online College Resources for Washington Students

Washington students can access online resources that simplify the process of pursuing higher education. The resources below can help Washington learners prepare for college, apply to schools, and finance their education. The following websites include information about financial aid and career preparation.

  • Ready Set Grad: This resource from the Washington Student Achievement Council helps prospective students plan for college and access continuing education opportunities. The website provides information tailored to each student's age and grade.
  • Washington Career Bridge: This website offers information about education and job training opportunities in Washington. Students can search by program, career, and job trend. The website also provides information about funding options.
  • Washington Application for State Financial Aid: Undocumented students can complete this form to learn whether they qualify for state financial aid.
  • GEAR UP Washington State: This program helps students and their families prepare for college. GEAR UP offers support and services starting in middle school.
  • Scholarships and Financial Aid: Through this website, learners can access financial aid resources, along with information about state scholarships and awards from public and private institutions.

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