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Online Colleges in Washington

Most Affordable Online Colleges
School Interviews
Ekaterina Stoops
- eLearning Director, Bellevue College
"Since Bellevue College online courses are taught via the CANVAS Learning Management System, we strongly advise students to participate in CANVAS student orientations and complete CANVAS Online Learning Workshops that are taught by experienced online instructors."
See entire interview

Introduction

Data from the Lumina Foundation shows that 42.5 percent of Washington's working adults possess a college degree, yet the organization predicts 67 percent of future jobs in the state will require some form of postsecondary credential by 2018. These include careers in aerospace engineering and computer software development, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fields associated with well-known companies in the state like Boeing and Microsoft.

There are 6.7 million people living in Washington, and of the 4.5 million who are older than 25, more than 11 percent have a graduate or professional degree and 20 percent have a Bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly half have either attended college without earning a diploma or have earned a two-year Associate's degree. Among those between 18 and 24 years old, more than 9 percent have a Bachelor's degree and 44 percent have attended college or earned an Associate's degree.

Washington's nearly 2.9 million workers earn an average of $25.04 per hour, for an average annual wage of $52,090, according to the BLS. Those who are looking to earn a Bachelor's degree can apply to any one of 45 public and private colleges or universities in the state.

Most Affordable Colleges in Washington

The following list ranks the 10 schools in Washington that offer online degrees at the lowest tuition costs. This ranking is based on a number of factors that are important to prospective students such as the actual degree programs that are taught online, and information on tuition fees, accreditation and notable alumni. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (2013-2014) and reflect in-state tuition (when in-state tuition is available) for all students, including online students. See our Methodology section for more details on the ranking methodology.

1

Clark College

Tuition/Year
$3,650
Graduation Rate
24%
# of Online Degrees
1
Accredited
 
School Type
2-Year

About

Clark College's online Associate in Arts degree is a Direct Transfer Agreement program that is designed for students who want to transfer seamlessly to a four-year Bachelor's degree program without having to retake any General Education courses that most students have to take during their first two years.
School Website: 
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2

Olympic College

Tuition/Year
$3,726
Graduation Rate
22%
# of Online Degrees
55
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Olympic is located in Bremerton, Wash., but some of its online degree programs are available to students far from campus. Olympic is closely aligned with Western Governors University, so students at Olympic can get their two-year degrees and move seamlessly into the online Bachelor's and Master's degrees offered through WGU. WGU offers 26 undergraduate programs and 29 Master's programs in a wide variety of subjects, from Business to Teaching.
School Website: 
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3

Bellevue College

Tuition/Year
$3,754
Graduation Rate
22%
# of Online Degrees
4
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Bellevue offers a range of degrees and online degree programs for students who can't make it to the college's Bellevue campus. Its online Associate degree programs include Arts and Sciences; Business; and General Studies. The online Bachelor's degree program is in Healthcare and Technology Management.
School Website: 
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4

Grays Harbor College

Tuition/Year
$3,939
Graduation Rate
37%
# of Online Degrees
1
Accredited
 
School Type
2-Year

About

Gray's Harbor's completely online Associate in Arts degree is another Direct Transfer Agreement program that allows students to complete their General Education courses during their first two years before transferring to a four-year Bachelor's degree program without having to retake those freshman and sophomore general classes. Additionally, Gray's Harbor's online Associate degree can include online courses in Criminal Justice that prepare students for a four-year degree in that field.
School Website: 
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5

Skagit Valley College

Tuition/Year
$4,200
Graduation Rate
18%
# of Online Degrees
2
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Skagit Valley offers Associate degrees in two areas: Arts, which is a Direct Transfer Agreement degree that satisfies most four-year college's requirements for General Education courses, and Multimedia & Interactive Technology, which prepares students for careers in website design and the graphic arts.
School Website: 
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6

Faith Evangelical College & Seminary

Tuition/Year
$7,560
Graduation Rate
83%
# of Online Degrees
7
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Faith Evangelical College & Seminary offers a religion-based education and degree programs that can be taken completely online or through a combination of online and resident courses. The three Bachelor's degree programs are in Religion; Education; and Leadership. The Master's degree programs are in Leadership Ministry; Christian Education; Theological Studies; and Divinity.
School Website: 
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7

Western Washington University

Tuition/Year
$8,863
Graduation Rate
69%
# of Online Degrees
1
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Western Washington University started doing home-study courses more than 100 years ago, so it's no surprise that it's leading the way in offering affordable online courses. In addition to its courses, it offers an undergraduate degree in Human Services as well a certificate program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
School Website: 
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8

Central Washington University

Tuition/Year
$8,976
Graduation Rate
51%
# of Online Degrees
13
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Central Washington in Ellensburg isn't able to accept out-of-state students from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri and New Mexico, but residents of other states are allowed to apply for one of Central's several undergraduate and graduate online degree programs. Bachelor's degrees are offered in English; Information Technology and Administrative Management; Interdisciplinary Studies; Law & Justice; Psychology; Sociology; and Specialized Studies. Its online Master's degree programs include Special Education; Literacy; School Administration; Instructional Leadership; Higher Education; and Information Technology and Administrative Management.
School Website: 
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9

City University of Seattle

Tuition/Year
$14,880
Graduation Rate
NA
# of Online Degrees
31
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

City University of Seattle's online Bachelor's degree program in Business Administration can be completed in as little as three years, but it's just one of several online degree programs offered at the school. Online Associate degree programs include Business and General Studies, and Bachelor's degree programs including Applied Psychology; Human Services; Education; Management; Accounting; Business Administration; Computer Systems; Criminal Justice; General Studies; Healthcare Administration; Information Systems; Information Technology; and Project Management. City University also offers 15 graduate degree programs online, in such areas as Education, Leadership and Counseling.
School Website: 
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10

Heritage University

Tuition/Year
$17,744
Graduation Rate
18%
# of Online Degrees
7
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Heritage University offers Bachelor's degree programs in American Cultural Studies; American Indian Studies; English; and Language Arts. Graduate online degree programs include Educational Administration; Organizational Leadership; and Arts in English.
School Website: 
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School Interviews

Ekaterina Stoops

Ekaterina Stoops, eLearning Director, Bellevue College

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at Bellevue College?

Bellevue College is one of the leading distance education providers and is authorized to provide online courses and degrees to students in many states, in addition to our home state. The number of online enrollments in 2013-2014 included 23,072 students. We offered 901 online courses that year. Students who are interested in taking online degrees and certificates have an array of choices. We offer three associate Degrees and thirteen certificates in fully online modalities. Additionally, Bellevue College has a fully online Bachelor of Applied Science in health care and technology management program.

Q. What advice would you give students interested in an online degree program?

All our online courses are taught by highly qualified and talented faculty. Online classes are delivered through the CANVAS Learning Management System. We encourage all students to take advantage of different student support services that we have available for them, including eTutoring and our Technology Help Desk, with the phone line and a Live Chat feature. It is important for students new to online instruction to understand what to expect in terms of technology and participation requirements.

Since Bellevue College online courses are taught via the CANVAS Learning Management System, we strongly advise students to participate in CANVAS student orientations and complete CANVAS Online Learning Workshops that are taught by experienced online instructors. These workshops are designed to help students better understand the requirements of online learning and CANVAS Learning Management System navigation. Additional information about CANVAS workshops can be obtained through our Bellevue College eLearning Website.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

Online learning is evolving at an increasing pace thanks to newly introduced technologies and new delivery methodologies such as the "flipped" classroom. Virtual face-to-face interactions will become the norm. There is increased importance being placed on accessibility in online classes and the need to embed Universal Design for Learning elements in our classes. Students require flexibility and mobility. The average age of our students is going up. We need to be responsive to, and supportive of, their needs. We are constantly increasing our online offerings and adding new exciting opportunities for our students. Starting this summer, Bellevue College will embark on the first phase of what will become our "Global Classroom" initiative, by developing an all online Direct Transfer Degree (DTA) which will allow students to earn a two-year transfer degree in a cost-effective manner, and then move more seamlessly on to complete a four-year degree.

Top Cities For Students In Washington

Seattle, Washington

Mean Wage

$58,990

Average Cost of a House

$395,000

# of Employed People

1,500,000

Total Population

2,400,000

Avg Salary with a Bachelor's Degree

$56,791

Economics

Seattle's 1.4 million workers earn an average of $28.36 an hour for an average annual wage of $58,990, one of the highest levels in the country and higher than the statewide average. The Cost of Living Index for Seattle is 118.2, and average home prices are $395,000.

Demographics

There are 2.4 million residents of the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and this urban zone provides 1.4 million of the state's 2.8 million workers. Of the more than 600,000 residents of the city of Seattle, nearly 450,000 are over 25 years old, and 23 percent of them have a graduate or professional degree. One in three people in this age group in Seattle has a Bachelor's degree, and one in four have some college credit or an Associate degree.

Fun Facts

Many visitors head down to historic Pike Place Market, where the fish mongers toss around salmon and shoppers get lost in the "Down Under" warren of small shops. The Space Needle, with its revolving restaurant, and Olympic Sculpture Park are also popular destinations.

Spokane, Washington

Mean Wage

$43,190

Average Cost of a House

$274,996

# of Employed People

200,000

Total Population

NA

Avg Salary with a Bachelor's Degree

$41,915

Economics

Spokane, in eastern Washington, is home to 200,000 workers who earn an average of $20.76 per hour, or $43,190 per year. Traditionally, many workers were involved in mining and other natural resource extraction enterprises, but in recent years the Spokane economy has expanded to also embrace high tech, healthcare and biotech. The average cost of a home in the Spokane area is $274,996, and the Cost of Living Index is 95.7.

Demographics

The Spokane metro area provides less than 10 percent of the state's total workforce. Nearly 210,000 people live in the city of Spokane proper, and about 136,500 of them are over 25 years old. In that age group, 11 percent have a graduate or professional degree, 17 percent have a Bachelor's and 37 percent have an Associate degree or have attended college without earning a diploma.

Fun Facts

Spokane is a paradise for those who like outdoor adventure. It offers top-notch skiing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting and kayaking, and golf.

Tacoma, Washington

Mean Wage

$46,710

Average Cost of a House

$273,609

# of Employed People

261,560

Total Population

700,000

Avg Salary with a Bachelor's Degree

$

Economics

Tacoma's metropolitan area has a population of more than 700,000, including 261,560 workers who earn an average of $22.46 an hour, or an average annual wage of $46,710. Tacoma was named one of "America's Most Livable Cities" in 2004, and this distinction has helped fuel a boom in the high-tech industry. The Cost of Living Index is 106.3, and the average cost of a home is $273,609.

Demographics

The Tacoma metro area provides less than 9 percent of the state's workforce. The population of the city itself is 198,397 - a few thousand less than Spokane. Of the 130,000 residents older than 25, nearly 9 percent have a graduate or professional degree, 16 percent have a Bachelor's degree and 34 percent have attended some college or have an Associate degree.

Fun Facts

Tacoma supports both a museum district, with six facilities to take in, and a theater district, which supports three venues. Shopping and dining are also popular activities, and for those who prefer active outdoor pursuits, skiing, golf, camping and hiking are all plentiful in the area.

 
Other Washington Resources

Organizations such as the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Washington Student Achievement Council are continually exploring ways to improve access to higher education, which includes expanding the presence of online colleges in Washington. As part of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), a 15-state commission working to boost access to higher education, Washington hosts distance-learning exchanges to further expand access to online programs.


  1. Bellevue College, http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/elearning/degrees/
  2. Bellevue College Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellevue_College#Notable_alumni
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wa.htm
  4. "C2ER," The Cost of Living Index, http://www.coli.org/
  5. Central Washington University, http://www.cwu.edu/online-learning/
  6. Central Washington University Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Washington_University#Notable_alumni
  7. City University of Seattle Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_University_of_Seattle#Notable_alumni_and_faculty
  8. City University of Seattle, http://www.cityu.edu/programs/som/bsba.aspx
  9. Clark College, http://www.clark.edu/academics/catalog/2014/index.php?id=211
  10. Clark College Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_College_%28Washington%29#Notable_alumni
  11. College Navigator, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=WA&l=93
  12. Diversitydata.org: Profiles by Metro Area, http://diversitydata-archive.org/data/profiles/show.aspx?loc=1157
  13. Ekaterina Stoops, interview with the author, June 2015
  14. Faith Evangelical College & Seminary, http://faithseminary.edu/academics/program-overview/
  15. Fun Things to Do in Spokane, http://www.visitspokane.com/things-to-do/
  16. Fun things to do in Tacoma, http://www.traveltacoma.com/what-to-do/
  17. Gray's Harbor College, http://www.ghc.edu/academia.htm
  18. Gray's Harbor College Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grays_Harbor_County,_Washington#Notable_people
  19. Heritage University, http://www.heritage.edu/AcademicPrograms/OnlineDegrees.aspx
  20. Olympic College, https://www.olympic.edu/Campuses/AboutOC/UniversityPartnerships/
  21. Seattle Top 10 attractions, http://seattletimes.com/html/travel/2020948293_sightseeingsummerguidexml.html
  22. Skagit Valley College, http://www.skagit.edu/news.asp_Q_pagenumber_E_2871
  23. Spokane economy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Spokane,_Washington
  24. Tacoma: Economy, http://www.city-data.com/us-cities/The-West/Tacoma-Economy.html
  25. Tacoma: American Factfinder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF
  26. U.S. Census Bureau: American Factfinder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml
  27. Western Washington University, http://www.wwu.edu/ee/main/programlist.shtml
  28. Western Washington University Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Washington_University