Colleges, Universities & Online Colleges in Seattle

The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is home to nine nonprofit colleges and universities. Whether on-campus or online, these schools provide academic and career training to help graduates contribute to the city’s bustling, tech-oriented economy. Seattle residents can choose from small, special-focus colleges or gigantic institutions that award thousands of degrees annually.

Colleges in Seattle

Seattle is one of the most educated cities in the United States. According to the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Seattle and King County, more than 54 percent of Seattle’s adult residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher – nearly twice the national average.

The Seattle Colleges comprise the largest community college district in the state, educating more than 50,000 students each year through three community colleges, four specialized training centers and Seattle Vocational Institute. Students can choose from more than 135 academic and career-technical programs, encompassing certificates, associate degrees, professional-technical training, adult basic education and continuing education. And, unlike most community colleges, the Seattle Colleges also award bachelor of applied science degrees.

The University of Washington (UW) is one of the oldest public universities on the West Coast and the state’s flagship university. UW serves more students than any other institution in the Northwest – more than 92,000 – and confers over 12,000 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees each year. The university also features campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. The UW School of Medicine trains students from not only Washington but certain other states in the Northwest region as well.

In terms of private universities, Seattle University is the largest and most diverse independent university in the Pacific Northwest, and is ranked among the top 10 universities in the West. Seattle Pacific University is a Christian university serving undergraduate and graduate students who are committed to changing the world. Antioch University Seattle is notable for its emphasis on empowering students to advance social, economic and environmental justice.

Take a look at some of Seattle’s colleges and universities:

Seattle Central CollegePublic (4-year)Certificates, Associate degrees, BAS degrees, Continuing education
North Seattle CollegePublic (4-year)Certificates, Associate degrees, BAS degrees, Continuing education
South Seattle CollegePublic (4-year)Certificates, Associate degrees, BAS degrees, Continuing education
University of WashingtonPublic (4-year)Undergraduate and graduate degrees, Certificates
Seattle UniversityPrivate NonprofitCertificates, Bachelor’s and graduate degrees
City University of SeattlePrivate NonprofitCertificates, Undergraduate and graduate degrees
Antioch University SeattlePrivate NonprofitCertificates, Bachelor’s and graduate degrees
Cornish College of the ArtsPrivate NonprofitBFA, BMus, Certificates, Lifelong learning
Seattle Pacific UniversityPrivate Nonprofit
Certificates, Bachelor’s and graduate degrees

Online Colleges in Seattle

In 2011-2012, Seattle Community Colleges enrolled 6,976 students in online courses, 2,409 students in hybrid courses and 781 students in video courses. The colleges offer online associate of arts and associate in business degrees as well as individual online courses in biotechnology, health care education, child and family studies, marketing and more.

The University of Washington offers a variety of fully online and blended courses, with programs aimed at certificates, bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees. Online master’s degree programs include construction management, computational linguistics, special education and sustainable transportation, to name a few.

As for private universities, Antioch University has several fully online bachelor’s degree completion programs, and blended programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. Seattle Pacific University features online graduate-credit continuing education courses for K-12 educators in areas such as advanced classroom management, educational assessment and learning disabilities. City University of Seattle offers a wide variety of fully online undergraduate and graduate certificates and degrees; its online bachelor’s degree programs were ranked among the top 50 in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Programs.

Major Industries, Careers and Employers

Seattle is a hotbed of industry, and is known as the birthplace of, Boeing, Expedia, K2 skis, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Paccar, Starbucks, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others. According to the EDC, the city’s most prominent industry clusters include:

  • Aerospace
  • Maritime
  • Clean Tech
  • Financial Services
  • Interactive Media
  • Life Sciences
  • International Trade
  • Technology
  • Fashion

Forbes named Seattle the best city for technology jobs, with a 43 percent increase in tech employment from 2001 through 2011 and an 18 percent expansion in STEM jobs. In addition, according to the EDC, major sources of year-over-year job growth in the Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area in December 2013 came from:

  • Retail activities (9,400 jobs; 6.3 percent growth)
  • Educational and health services (7,000 jobs; 4.0 percent growth)
  • Professional and business services (5,600 jobs; 2.6 percent growth)

Job seekers in Seattle have a variety of career paths from which to choose. According to Puget Sound Business Journal, the 10 largest employers in King County are:

  • Boeing
  • Microsoft
  • University of Washington
  • Providence Health and Services
  • Amazon
  • King County Government
  • United States Postal Service
  • Starbucks
  • City of Seattle
  • Nordstrom

This list reflects the importance of technology, engineering, education, government and health care in the local economy. Additional Seattle area employers include Costco, Swedish Medical Center, Alaska Air, Virginia Mason Medical Center and UPS.

Colleges & Universities in Seattle


Seattle Community College-Central Campus12,493$3,152Public
Seattle Community College-North Campus11,345$3,152Public
Seattle Community College-South Campus9,553$3,152Public

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

See All Posts
Colleges That Don’t Require the SAT or ACT

Colleges That Don’t Require the SAT or ACT

April 15, 2021   |   Staff Writers

A list of test-optional schools that don't use standardized test scores for admission into their bachelor's degree programs.

Finding a College That Doesn’t Require the GED or High School Diploma

Finding a College That Doesn’t Require the GED or High School Diploma

April 26, 2021   |   AccreditedSchoolsOnline Staff

You can still continue your education even if you did not complete high school or a GED certificate. Explore your options, including vocational schools, here.

Advertisement is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.