2021 Best Colleges in Washington by Salary Score™
We ranked colleges in Washington using our Salary Score, a measure of future alumni earnings. By comparing alumni outcomes, Salary Score indicates whether alumni from one school tend to have higher salaries than alumni with the same major at other schools. While future earning potential may not be the primary factor in every student's college search, Salary Score provides one meaningful metric that students can use alongside other considerations that are important to them. To calculate this score, we compared alumni earnings in the first year after graduation for each major at one college to alumni earnings for the same majors across all colleges. Those major-specific scores were combined to create an overall bachelor's degree Salary Score for that college. Seattle is home to the two top-ranked schools on our list—the University of Washington and Seattle University.
To be considered for our state rankings, schools must offer and provide data for at least 8 bachelor's programs. This list includes all eligible schools in Washington. You can click on a school's name to view individual program scores. Read our methodology to learn more about how schools were ranked.
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2021 Best Colleges in Washington Highlights
At the University of Washington - Seattle, three undergraduate degrees hold a Salary Score of 100: allied health diagnostic, intervention, and treatment professions, computer engineering, and design and applied arts. Architectural sciences and technology and general social studies follow closely behind, with a Salary Score of 99 and 98, respectively. Along with general social studies, several other UW liberal arts programs have a Salary Score in the 90s, including anthropology, drama/theatre arts and stagecraft, and education. Computer engineering and allied health professions are the highest-earning bachelor’s degrees, with the median salary for computer science at $129,180 and the median salary for allied health professions at $120,850.
Located in the heart of Seattle, Washington, the University of Washington - Seattle is a public university with a large undergraduate student body. The institution has demonstrated a commitment to equity and diversity through a Faculty Diversity Initiative that provides funding for the recruitment and hiring of faculty members who reflect the school's diversity and expands access to diverse pedagogy for UW students. Students interested in international opportunities can take advantage of virtual international internships as well as extensive study abroad programs and scholarships.
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The bachelor’s degree programs in allied health diagnostic, intervention, and treatment professions at Seattle University top the Salary Score chart with a score of 99. Other high-ranking fields include English language and literature (97) and biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology (95). Graduates of Seattle U’s allied health professions degrees also report the highest median salary at $93,740 compared to other undergraduate degree programs at the university. The median salary for computer science majors is the second-highest at $90,860, and the corresponding Salary Score is 88. Approximately 41% of Seattle University’s undergraduate programs hold a Salary Score of 80 or higher.
Seattle University is a medium-sized, private institution affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. It is located in the residential Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle, Washington, near many shops and restaurants. Campus sustainability is a primary focus for the university; SU students can take part in initiatives such as on-campus composting, community service, and sustainability research opportunities. The faculty-to-student ratio is 1:11, and the average class size is 18. Seattle University reports that 92% of undergraduate students in the 2019-2020 school year received financial aid, with an average award of $21,571.
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Northwest University offers two bachelor’s degrees with a Salary Score of 100: criminal justice and corrections and teacher education and professional development. The former is also the highest-earning program, with a median salary of $90,860. The second highest-earning undergraduate field is nursing, which encompasses registered nursing, nursing administration, nursing research, and clinical nursing. A Christian institution, NU’s theological and ministerial studies programs receive a high Salary Score of 74 when measured against similar programs at other institutions.
Located in Kirkland, Washington, Northwest University is a small, private, Christian school with over 70 undergraduate programs for students to select from. The school’s proximity to companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other start-ups allows for myriad networking opportunities, as well as student internships. Classes are taught from a biblical worldview, and the Northwest Partnership Program enables students to earn college credits by interning at their church or partaking in their church’s leadership program. For the 2021-22 school year, Northwest University is freezing tuition for all bachelor’s programs.