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Online Colleges in Washington

Most Affordable Online Colleges

COLLEGE FINDER

Article Sources

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria, using the weights specified:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 20%
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 30%
  5.  Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources:

  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
  29. WSAC - State Need Grants, Accessed April 2017, http://www.wsac.wa.gov/state-need-grant
  30. WSAC - Financial Aid Overview, Accessed April 2017, http://www.wsac.wa.gov/sfa-overview
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In many circles, Washington is renowned as a mecca of innovation and enterprise. Not only is the Evergreen State the home of Internet giants Amazon.com, Classmates.com, Whitepages.com and Marchex, but it is the origin of a little coffee company you might have heard of called Starbucks. Washingtonians are justifiably proud of their memorable state, and one of the many things they have to be proud of is the quality of their educational system.

If you're thinking of becoming an online student in Washington, you're not alone. This Pacific Northwest state is a big proponent of the benefits of online education. In fact, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges -- a consortium of 34 public community and technical colleges -- offers the eLearning and Open Education program, which provides digital learning options for students. In 2016, over 47,000 students were enrolled in this eLearning program alone, to say nothing of the online students enrolled at the state's many esteemed private institutes.

Best Online Colleges in Washington for 2018

The enormous roster of quality online offerings in Washington is clearly a blessing to the online student, but it can also be overwhelming when deciding where to enroll. To help students find the online college that's right for them, we've created a list of the 10 best online colleges in Washington, using data gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). For a closer look at how we arrived at this list, see our methodology at the bottom of this page; to make your own ranking lists, check out our Top Colleges Tool.

1

City University of Seattle

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$16,500
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
100.00%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
34
School Type
4-year

The City University of Seattle is dedicated to serving the educational needs of working adults and transfer students, and has been ranked in the top 30 online bachelor's degree programs and in the top 20 online programs for veterans, both by U.S. News & World Report. CityU's generous transfer policy allows students to enter with up to 135 credits, and transfer students may also apply for a transfer scholarship to assist with their tuition payments.

The university offers many of their undergraduate, graduate, certificate and endorsement programs completely online, but they also offer certain specific programs in some other interesting formats:

  • Mixed mode, a hybrid format where some courses are taken on-campus and others through distance education.
  • Performance-based, where students are assessed for their experience in the field upon entering the program and earn credits based on their demonstrated knowledge of the subject. Students in these programs are aided by a faculty facilitator and can proceed through the program at their own, self-paced speed.
  • Regional cohort model, a hybrid format using the "flipped classroom" model. Lectures are delivered to students via distance learning before class, and classroom time is used for exercises, projects and discussions.
2

Washington State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$11,967
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
16.67%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30
School Type
4-year

Whether studying online or on-campus, students of Washington State University can always cheer on the school's Division I athletics teams along with their very official-sounding mascot, Butch T. Cougar. However, there's a lot more to cheer for if you attend this prestigious institute.

WSU provides students with personal academic assistance, a network of 30,000 alumni that stretches worldwide, and access to their one-of-a-kind Global Connections program full of extracurricular experiences. Online students also have access to free career counseling and support, internships, resume reviews, interview preparation, mentors, unlimited free tutoring, library services and 24/7 technical support.

This university offers 11 fully online graduate programs ranging from agriculture to software engineering, as well as 12 online undergraduate programs in fields from business to humanities; eight undergraduate certificate programs; four graduate certificate programs; and three special teaching endorsements.

3

Shoreline Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$3,730
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
34.93%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
18
School Type
2-year

Shoreline Community College's Virtual Campus is a recognized leader in online learning, offering over two dozen degree and certificate programs online. Students can earn associate degrees in the fields of accounting, criminal justice, early childhood education and more. Shoreline also offers several Direct Transfer Agreement degree programs that fully transfer to most baccalaureate colleges and universities in Washington state, giving students a huge head start towards a bachelor's degree in the subject they pursued at Shoreline.

For students who are unsure if online learning is right for them, Shoreline provides a survey alongside tips and resources to help prepare them for success. Even if not attending classes on-campus, nearby students may still wish to stop by to enjoy one of the many community theatrical and musical productions staged in Shoreline's theater.

4

Everett Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$3,643
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30.57%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
1
School Type
2-year

Everett Community College offers two degree options for its distance education students. The first option is to earn an Associate in General Studies by taking a variety of courses of the student's choosing. The second is an Associate of Arts & Sciences - Direct Transfer, which is specially designed to easily transfer earned credits to many institutes in Washington and Oregon. Alternatively, students may wish to take both on-campus and online courses towards the completion of one of Everett's other degree programs, or even hybrid courses, where a portion of the work is completed online and there is also a required on-campus meeting each week.

EvCC provides in-depth phone and email support for Canvas, the campus learning management system on which eLearning classes are taken. The school also provides online learners with access to eTutoring and live tutoring via eChat, an online writing lab, the EvCC library and other services. Students can even livestream EvCC athletics to root on their Trojans.

5

Northwest University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$28,087
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
10.84%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
24
School Type
4-year

Founded in 1934 by the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, it's no wonder that Northwest University's online programs feature several master's, bachelor's and associate degrees in theology, ministry studies and ministry leadership. However, they also offer graduate and undergraduate degree programs in fields such as business and education.

The university strives to give transfer students as much credit as possible for previously completed coursework, military training, prior learning via the Prior Learning Assessment, and completion of CLEP, AP, IB, and Dantes exams. Northwest University also accepts the direct transfer Associate of Arts degrees granted by a multitude of public community colleges across Washington and Oregon.

6

Whatcom Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$4,311
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
18.04%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
School Type
2-year

Whatcom takes pride in its location near Bellingham Bay, claiming the orca as their school mascot and naming their student writing and arts anthology The Noisy Water Review. In fact, that is the origin of the name "Whatcom," which comes from the word for "loud water" used by the Lummi tribe.

At Whatcom, students can earn an Associate in Arts and Sciences transfer degree or an associate in liberal studies non-transfer degree, both completely online. The college also offers hybrid programs in healthcare fields, and various business degrees that can be completed mostly online.

Whatcom Community College provides online learners with a student help desk accessible on weekdays by phone and email, as well as an eLearning Office, and an Entry & Advising contact. Online learners also benefit from eTutoring, online responses from the school's Writing Center and support from the Online Math Center.

7

Eastern Washington University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,866
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
16.65%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
4
School Type
4-year

Eastern Washington University offers fully online master's degree programs ranging from dental hygiene to social work, and undergraduate degree completions in children's studies and multiple fields of healthcare. The university also offers a wide range of minors that can be completed almost entirely online.

Online EWU students have access to study groups, eTutoring, a writer's center, the EWU Library and other helpful student resources. For exams that are required to be taken in person, EWU affords students the choice of several proctoring locations across the school's multiple campuses. Select courses even allow for 24/7 at-home proctoring available through ProctorU. Transfer students may be able to transfer up to 90 credits from previous coursework, military experience, workforce training and more.

EWU claims that their very own Swoop the Eagle is "America's Favorite Mascot," and he even won a dance competition against a rival school's mascot before a National Championship Football game in 2010.

8

Central Washington University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,688
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
31.82%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
13
School Type
4-year

Central Washington University is host to a slew of uncommon and intriguing degree programs that you can't find at every school. While old favorites such as law and justice, psychology and business administration are available, the school also offers degree programs for aviation management, professional and creative writing, literacy, higher education and more. Four of the school's distance programs are offered in a hybrid format rather than fully online:

  • B.S. in paramedicine
  • Ed.S. in school psychology
  • M.S. in health and physical education
  • M.S. in athletic administration

Online Wildcat students have access to many student resources, including both general and program-specific advising, and assistance to help students with the full range of technology tools that are necessary to complete an online degree. Transfer students may transfer up to 135 quarter credits, but no more than 105 of them can be from a community college.

9

Big Bend Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$3,846
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
29.13%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
School Type
2-year

Big Bend Community College affords distance learners the same faculty expertise and quality instruction experienced by on-campus students. Though the school does have fully online courses as well as hybrid courses, they do not currently offer any degrees that can be obtained completely online. Some online courses that are available include those in the fields of early childhood education and homeland security emergency management.

To help its students that choose to pursue distance learning, Big Bend ensures online students have the same access to all of the tools of their Student Success Center as on-campus students do. These tools include eTutoring, advisors, library services and other helpful resources to help guide students towards success in their online courses. The school also encourages prospective students to take their Online Learning Tutorial to help them decide if online learning is the right choice for them.

10

Walla Walla Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$4,203
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
19.21%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
School Type
2-year

Walla Walla Community College offers students the options of online courses or fully online programs, many with a specifically agricultural slant. The college is dedicated to the improvement of its community and the world as a whole, inspiring it to offer online programs such as an Associate in Applied Arts & Sciences in turf management or a short certificate for irrigation.

WWCC encourages prospective online students to take a "LOOC" (Local Online Opportunity in Canvas) at what an online class might be like before deciding if it is the right option for them. The college has assembled an eLearning Team to help their online students with any issues that may arise, as well as Completion Coaches, Disability Support Services, and a dedicated help desk for password and account activation assistance. Students also have full access to the Advising and Counseling Center, which can provide degree and career planning support via phone or web.

Affordable Online Colleges in Washington for 2018

The following list features a few of the two-year and four-year schools in Washington that offer online degree programs at the lowest tuition costs. To see schools in Washington ranked on other factors, visit the Top Colleges Tool

Affordable Two-Year Online Colleges in Washington

To help in your college search, here are the five most affordable online schools of Washington.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
School Type
Spokane Community College$3,38823.79%12-year
Spokane Falls Community College$3,38839.96%12-year
Bellingham Technical College$3,38930.59%12-year
Everett Community College$3,64330.57%12-year
Bates Technical College$3,68112.53%12-year

Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in Washington

These colleges are five of the most affordable online four-year institutes in the state of Washington.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
School Type
Clark College$3,456N/A14-year
South Seattle College$3,824N/A14-year
Highline College$3,846N/A14-year
North Seattle College$3,862N/A14-year
Seattle Central College$3,893N/A14-year

College Accreditation in Washington

Students planning to attend school in Washington will want to be sure their chosen college is accredited before making the decision to attend school there. In Washington, the regional accrediting agency is the:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities oversees regional accreditation in seven states total. Students who find that the Washington college of their choice is not accredited by this commission can check with the U.S. Department of Education to determine if their school is accredited through another recognized agency.

School Interviews

Ekaterina Stoops
Online learning is evolving at an increasing pace thanks to newly introduced technologies and new delivery methodologies such as the 'flipped' classroom.

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.

Financial Aid in Washington

Washington Loans

The state of Washington prefers to focus their efforts on State Need Grants through the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) as opposed to offering state-based student loans. Students are strongly encouraged to seek scholarship, grant and work-study opportunities, since those forms of aid do not need to be paid back. However, if you've exhausted those options and are still in need of financial assistance, you can apply for federal or private loans to help defray your tuition costs. To qualify for federal loans, you will need to fill out the FAFSA with details about your family's financial situation.

Find out more about student loans in our Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Washington

  • Financial Aid Overview details all of Washington state's student financial aid programs (collectively known as Washington Opportunity Pathways), including scholarships, grants, work-study and more.

Featured Cities in Washington

While there are many places to live and study in Washington, these three cities offer particular advantages. The data for the charts regarding these locations is sourced from the 2015 American Community Survey (census.gov).

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area

Total Population

3,614,361

Median salary for high school grads

$32,566

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$59,412

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

28.7%

Median rent

$1,158

Fun Facts

Many visitors head down to Seattle's historic Pike Place Market, where the fishmongers 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. 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.

Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA Metro Area

Total Population

537,348

Median salary for high school grads

$26,965

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$44,372

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

30.2%

Median rent

$776

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.

 
Article Sources