2021 Best Colleges in Washington Badge

2021 Best Colleges in Washington by Salary Score

By the GradReports team | Updated 3/1/2021

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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Our Salary Score™ is based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Salary Score
#1 #1 University of Washington - Seattle Seattle Seattle $12,242 75.43
#2 #2 Seattle University Seattle Seattle $51,324 70.57
#3 #3 Northwest University Kirkland Kirkland $35,000 70.09
#4 #4 Washington State University Pullman Pullman $12,701 68.12
#5 #5 Seattle Pacific University Seattle Seattle $37,158 68.08
#6 #6 Central Washington University Ellensburg Ellensburg $8,845 63.98
#7 #7 Pacific Lutheran University Tacoma Tacoma $50,928 57.93
#8 #8 Gonzaga University Spokane Spokane $50,735 57.34
#9 #9 Whitworth University Spokane Spokane $48,990 54.78
#10 #10 Saint Martin's University Lacey Lacey $42,220 54.54
#11 #11 Eastern Washington University Cheney Cheney $8,139 50.00
#12 #12 Western Washington University Bellingham Bellingham $8,967 48.13
#13 #13 University of Puget Sound Tacoma Tacoma $57,626 34.20
#14 #14 Whitman College Walla Walla Walla Walla $58,622 31.35

2021 Best Colleges in Washington Highlights

Salary Score 75.43
Annual Tuition $12,242
Graduation Rate 84%

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.

School Overview:
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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Salary Score 70.57
Annual Tuition $51,324
Graduation Rate 74%

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.

School Overview:
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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Salary Score 70.09
Annual Tuition $35,000
Graduation Rate 67%

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.

School Overview:
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.

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