2022 Top Private Colleges and Universities in Washington

Private colleges and universities frequently top the lists of the best schools in the U.S. These institutions offer rigorous academic programs for students looking for a personalized college experience.

Private institutions universities generally cost more than their public counterparts, but students often receive the benefits of smaller class sizes, strong alumni networks, and generous financial aid opportunities.

Unlike public colleges and universities, private institutions do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition. This means students from anywhere can enroll in Washington’s private colleges and universities without paying higher out-of-state rates.

2022 Best Private Colleges and Universities in Washington

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Showing 21 schools

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    Avg Tuition per YearTuition is the price you pay to attend classes. Tuition varies by school, and does not include costs associated with room and board, books, school supplies, meal plans, or transportation.

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    #1

    Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building

    Port Hadlock, WA

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    39

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $16050

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $16050

    A private institution, Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building educates students on its campus in Port Hadlock, Washington. The school's academic and technical programs help learners reach a variety of professional goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing degree- or certificate-specific coursework. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. These policies make it easier to apply. Learners benefit from support services like tutoring and career counseling. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

    #2

    DigiPen Institute of Technology

    Redmond, WA

    Graduation Rate

    56%

    Enrollment

    1,174

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $32600

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $32600

    Located in Redmond, Washington, DigiPen Institute of Technology awards degrees and certificates as a private institution. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for a successful career. The cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The institution reports a 56% graduation rate. The school's admission rate is unavailable. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements. The school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

    #3

    Whitman College

    Walla Walla, WA

    Graduation Rate

    90%

    Enrollment

    1,579

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $53820

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $53820

    From its campus in Walla Walla, Washington, Whitman College enrolls students in 59 programs. The institution's many rigorous academic programs rank among the best in the nation. The average student-to-faculty ratio is unavailable. The average amount of aid awarded to students is unknown. The private institution reports a graduation rate of 90%. Real-world experience helps candidates stand out on the job market. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates.

    #4

    Gonzaga University

    Spokane, WA

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    7,537

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $45140

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $45140

    From its campus in Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga University enrolls students in 69 programs. The institution's top-ranked programs offer a rigorous course of study. The average student-to-teacher ratio is currently unavailable. How much aid students receive on average is not currently known. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 85%. The institution's commitment to experiential learning helps graduates become more competitive in the job market. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

    #5

    Academy of Interactive Entertainment

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    87%

    Enrollment

    163

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $21750

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $21750

    From its campus in Seattle, Washington, Academy of Interactive Entertainment educates college students as a private institution. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing the program's coursework. Applicants may qualify for a test score waiver. A waiver makes it easier to apply. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. The school is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, an independent accrediting body.

    #6

    Seattle Film Institute

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    86%

    Enrollment

    106

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $30240

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $30240

    Seattle Film Institute offers programs from its campus in Seattle, Washington. Students take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for students with a variety of professional goals. Check the program website for specifics on the degree- or certificate-completion timeline. Applicants may qualify for test-optional admissions. The waiver makes it simpler to apply. The admissions department provides additional resources on applying to the school. Learners also use financial aid to pay for their college degree or certificate. Seattle Film Institute is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

    #7

    Walla Walla University

    College Place, WA

    Graduation Rate

    61%

    Enrollment

    1,831

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $28881

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $28881

    Walla Walla University, located in College Place, Washington, welcomes students with 72 program options. Students enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The average student-to-faculty ratio is unavailable. The amount of aid students receive on average is currently unknown. Students earn their degree from the school at a rate of 61%. Experiential learning opportunities help graduates on the job market. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions office for more information about applying.

    #8

    Northwest College of Art & Design

    Tacoma, WA

    Graduation Rate

    52%

    Enrollment

    95

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $18100

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18100

    From its campus in Tacoma, Washington, Northwest College of Art & Design enrolls learners in 1 programs. The institution's programs offer a rigorous course of study. The student-to-teacher ratio is unknown. How much aid students receive on average is not currently known. The school reports a 52% graduation rate. Real-world experience helps candidates stand out on the job market. The school's admission rate is unknown at this time. Some programs no longer require standardized tests for admission. Prospective students can contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements.

    #9

    Seattle University

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    74%

    Enrollment

    7,199

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $46590

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $46590

    From its campus in Seattle, Washington, Seattle University offers programs as a private institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare to contribute to their field by completing courses. Some programs may operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. The waiver makes it simpler to enroll. The school supports learners with academic help and career services. The cost per credit is unknown. The accredited school qualifies for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Seattle University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an independent accrediting body.

    #10

    Northwest University-College of Adult and Professional Studies

    Kirkland, WA

    Graduation Rate

    Not Provided

    Enrollment

    1,130

    Format

    Online

    In-State Tuition

    $15600

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $15600

    From its campus in Kirkland, Washington, Northwest University-College of Adult and Professional Studies enrolls learners in 22 programs. The institution's top-ranked programs offer students a challenging course of study. Information on the student-to-instructor ratio is unavailable. The average amount of aid awarded per student is not available. The percent of students who graduate is unavailable. Job seekers often benefit from hands-on experience, which makes them more competitive job candidates. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates.

    #11

    University of Puget Sound

    Tacoma, WA

    Graduation Rate

    76%

    Enrollment

    2,608

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $51740

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $51740

    Located in Tacoma, Washington, University of Puget Sound grants college degrees as a private institution. The college offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. Students prepare for a successful career by completing degree- or certificate-specific coursework. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit standardized test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The school supports learners with academic help and career services. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an independent accrediting body.

    #12

    Whitworth University

    Spokane, WA

    Graduation Rate

    75%

    Enrollment

    2,814

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $44940

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $44940

    From its campus in Spokane, Washington, Whitworth University enrolls students as a private institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their career goals. Students strengthen their knowledge of the field by completing coursework. Applicants may qualify for a test score waiver. The waiver makes it simpler to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at this accredited school also qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Whitworth University has received accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    #13

    Pacific Lutheran University

    Tacoma, WA

    Graduation Rate

    69%

    Enrollment

    3,062

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $43674

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $43674

    A private institution located in Tacoma, Washington, Pacific Lutheran University offers multiple programs. The school offers programs that prepare graduates for careers and professional advancement. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Several of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the institution. Based on their major, students take essential courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    #14

    Inland Massage Institute

    Spokane, WA

    Graduation Rate

    61%

    Enrollment

    27

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10375

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10375

    A private institution, Inland Massage Institute enrolls students on its campus in Spokane, Washington. The school's academic and technical programs help learners reach a variety of professional goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that allows students to bolster their knowledge. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit test scores. Test-optional policies make it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Learners attending the accredited school also qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution's accreditation is unavailable.

    #15

    Heritage University

    Toppenish, WA

    Graduation Rate

    41%

    Enrollment

    971

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $18029

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18029

    From its campus in Toppenish, Washington, Heritage University awards degrees and certificates as a private institution. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The private school reports a graduation rate of 41%. The institution's admission rate is unknown at this time. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying. Heritage University holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an independent accrediting body.

    #16

    Seattle Pacific University

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    68%

    Enrollment

    3,529

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $45078

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $45078

    Seattle Pacific University ranks as a top school from its campus in Seattle, Washington. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. Academic and technical programs help learners reach their unique professional goals. Enrollees earn their degree or certificate in as little time as a few months or as much time as seven years depending on program type and enrollment status. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. These policies make it easier to enroll. Admission advisors can provide more information on the application process. At the accredited institution, enrollees also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Seattle Pacific University holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    #17

    Saint Martin's University

    Lacey, WA

    Graduation Rate

    67%

    Enrollment

    1,629

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $38560

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $38560

    A private institution, Saint Martin's University grants degrees and certificates from its campus in Lacey, Washington. Experts in diverse disciplines teach at the institution. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for a successful career. The amount students pay per credit on average is currently unknown. At the accredited school, learners qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The school reports a 67% graduation rate. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. Saint Martin's University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    #18

    Cornish College of the Arts

    Seattle, WA

    Graduation Rate

    54%

    Enrollment

    602

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $33360

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $33360

    Located in Seattle, Washington, Cornish College of the Arts educates students as a private institution. The college offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution offers coursework that gives students the chance to build industry-specific knowledge. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The school provides support such as tutoring and career services. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. The accredited school qualifies for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an independent accrediting body.

    #19

    Northwest University

    Kirkland, WA

    Graduation Rate

    58%

    Enrollment

    1,339

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $32960

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $32960

    A private institution located in Kirkland, Washington, Northwest University offers multiple programs. Graduates leave the school prepared for the workforce. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Many of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Degree-seekers attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Depending on their major, learners complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

    #20

    Charter College

    Vancouver, WA

    Graduation Rate

    43%

    Enrollment

    2,474

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $18161

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $18161

    From its campus in Vancouver, Washington, Charter College enrolls learners in 19 programs. The institution's many rigorous academic programs rank among the best in the nation. The student-to-faculty ratio is unknown. The amount of aid students receive on average is not currently known. The school reports a 43% graduation rate. Real-world experience helps candidates stand out on the job market. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. Applicants can reach out to the admissions office to learn more about enrolling.

    #21

    Faith International University

    Tacoma, WA

    Graduation Rate

    40%

    Enrollment

    230

    Format

    Online

    In-State Tuition

    $8550

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8550

    Faith International University grants degrees as a private institution from its location in Tacoma, Washington. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. The school offers academic and technical programs for students planning to enter the workforce or pursue further studies. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, learners qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. Bachelor's students graduate from the school at a rate of 40%. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Contact the admissions department for more details about application requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

    Why Choose a Private College or University in Washington?

    Choosing a college requires students to consider many factors including cost, degree programs offered, and whether the institution is public or private. While public colleges receive most of their funding from the state or federal government, private colleges receive less, relying on tuition, their endowment, and alumni donations to fund the university.

    Washington has 31 private colleges and 43 public colleges, according to 2020 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Many students choose private colleges and universities because they typically offer smaller class sizes and can offer more rigorous academics. However, private colleges and universities are also more expensive than public colleges and may not provide as many degree program options as a state school.

    Washington is part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange reciprocity program along with 16 other states and over 160 public colleges and universities. This program allows out-of-state students to receive discounted tuition at participating schools. Students in the reciprocity program will still pay more tuition than in-state residents.

    Pros and Cons of Attending a Private College or University in Washington

    Pros

    • Private colleges have smaller class sizes, offering more class discussion and one-on-one time with professors.
    • Private colleges offer specialized and highly-regarded degree programs in specific areas.
    • Private colleges and universities have fewer students, which can offer a more tight-knit campus community.
    • Private colleges and universities generally offer more merit- and need-based aid than public institutions.

    Cons

    • Private colleges and universities receive less public funding from the state or federal government, which can lead to smaller campuses and fewer facilities.
    • Smaller private colleges and universities typically do not offer the same amount of degree programs as public colleges.
    • Private colleges may offer fewer extracurricular activities for students than public colleges.
    • Private colleges and universities are generally more expensive than public institutions.

    Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges or Universities in Washington

    A nonprofit institution uses all funds — including tuition — for needs, such as facilities repair and funding research programs. For-profit institutions answer to a corporation or a private owner. The goal of a for-profit colleges or university is to make money for its investors.

    There are nine for-profit colleges and universities and 22 nonprofit private institutions in Washington. Students deciding between for-profit and nonprofit colleges should consider factors such as cost, program options, and institutional reputation. Nonprofit colleges and universities typically cost more, but offer better academics. For-profit colleges can cost less and may offer specialized degree programs. Students should also note that many for-profit colleges and universities offer limited student services and lack accreditation, which can hinder job prospects after graduation.

    How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private College or University in Washington?

    Tuition and fees at a private, four-year, nonprofit school in Washington cost $39,790 during the 2019-2020 academic year, according to NCES data. The average cost of room and board for students attending these schools was $12,540 that year. In comparison, the average cost of tuition and fees for in-state students at a four-year public school in Washington was $7,170.

    With a tuition cost of $8,100 per year, Faith International University is one of the least expensive private institutions in Washington. On the other end of the spectrum is the University of Puget Sound, with an annual tuition of $57,330.

    Though usually more expensive than public institutions, private colleges offer students a lot of financial aid to help them cover the cost of tuition. According to NCES, students at nonprofit private schools received, on average, $24,080 in grants and scholarships during the 2018-2019 school year. Students at public colleges and universities received an average of $8,310.

    Students should also consider hidden costs associated with college, including transportation, textbooks, and school supplies like a laptop. Students can also explore independent scholarships and grants. Before choosing a school, applicants can research tuition-free colleges as well.

    Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

    Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges and Universities in Washington

    How many private colleges and universities are there in Washington?

    There are 31 private 2- and 4-year colleges in Washington, including nine for-profit colleges and 22 nonprofit colleges. In general, these private colleges are smaller than the public institutions, resulting in smaller class sizes and more specialized degree programs. With 43 public institutions, there are more public than private institutions in Washington.

    When choosing a college, learners should consider factors like cost and available programs. While private colleges may offer fewer options, they are typically regarded very highly for academics.

    What is the most expensive private college or university in Washington?

    The most expensive private colleges and universities in Washington cost more than $50,000 per year. The University of Puget Sound charges an annual tuition rate of $57,330. Whitman College has a tuition cost of $55,560.

    The cost of college across the country continues to rise at both public and private institutions. In general, private institutions charge more than public ones.

    What is the least expensive private college or university in Washington?

    Among the least expensive private colleges and universities in Washington is Faith International University. The school has a tuition cost of $8,100. City University of Seattle charges $18,900 per year, which is also on the less expensive end of the spectrum.

    Students may be able to limit tuition costs by applying to online programs at private colleges and universities. Many institutions offer reduced tuition for students in fully online degree programs.

    Is a private college or university right for me?

    There are many private colleges and universities in Washinton to meet the needs of a wide variety of students, but ultimately choosing a college comes down to a particular student’s preferences. Private colleges and universities generally focus on academics, with fewer, more specialized degree programs and smaller class sizes. However, students should consider the higher tuition costs and fewer options for extracurriculars and degree programs.

    Readers should assess their personal needs when choosing a college, such as their budget for tuition, their preferences for large or small classes, the type of college experience they want, and what kind of degree they want to pursue.

    Can I get more scholarship money at a private university?

    While typically more expensive, private schools offer a lot of financial aid — sometimes more than public schools — to defray the cost of tuition. Students can apply for need-based and merit-based scholarships through their school or research independent scholarship and grant options. During the 2018-2019 school year, students at nonprofit private institutions received an average of $24,080 in grants and scholarships.

    Readers should always research their prospective schools’ financial aid options before applying. Applicants can learn more about financial aid policies through a college’s website or by contacting the admissions office.