Updated at: 27-03-2023 - By: Eden Wise


Prospective students can choose from a wide variety of liberal arts colleges and larger research universities in the Pacific Northwest states of the United States.

There is a suitable educational institution in each of the states in this area, which includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and the northern part of California.

The Northwest region now also includes the northern half of California (above San Jose) for the purposes of this list. Below is a list of the top universities in the Pacific Northwest.

Best Colleges In The Northwest

Best colleges in the northwest

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle Pacific University is a small liberal arts institution that is part of the Christian College Consortium. Among the most sought-after degrees are those in business, nursing, psychology, public speaking, and English. Christian values are emphasized throughout the institution, from the faculty to the student body to the surrounding neighborhood.

Mills College

Mills College is a women-only institution for its undergraduate program but welcomes both sexes to its graduate school. It pioneered the admission of transgender students at a college that served only one sex. In a recent “tuition reset,” the university offered a 36% discount on tuition. They have a very respectable 87% acceptance rate despite receiving 961 applications.

Pacific University

There is more to college life than just studying at Pacific University. They get about 2,590 applications per admissions cycle, with an average of about 84% acceptance rate. Fifty percent of the student body chose business administration and management as their major.

University of Puget Sound

University of Puget Sound

The University of Puget Sound receives close to 6,000 applications annually, but only about 5,000 can be accepted. The first-year retention rate is 86%, and the student-to-teacher ratio is 11:1. Only 18.70% of the student body hails from Washington, while 33.1% calls California home.

Lewis & Clark College

This institution, which bears the names of the well-known explorers, has adopted as its motto the Latin phrase “Explorare, Discere, Sociare,” which translates to “To explore, to learn, and to work together.” Since its inception, it has been open to both sexes, though currently, 61.4% of the undergraduate student body consists of female students.

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

San Francisco, a city rich in culture, spirit, and passion, is home to a school dedicated to the visual and performing arts. Each year, there are a little more than 400 applicants, but only about 42% of those are accepted. There will be 33 new conservatory students this fall. The ratio of students to teachers is thus reduced to 6:1. While voice and opera are the most common majors, students can also choose from keyboard performance and music theory.

Seattle University

Nursing is by far the most popular major at Seattle University, which dates back to the 1890s. Finance and psychology are also popular. The university has a respectable acceptance rate of 74%, with only slightly under 17% of applicants ultimately enrolling there. Track and field, basketball, and baseball are all big draws at this Western Athletic Conference school.

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University

After a very high 92% retention rate in the first year, Gonzaga University students will graduate within 4 years 73% of the time. The university has a 12:1 student-to-professor ratio and provides opportunities for students to participate in ROTC (Army) and study abroad. The majority of Gonzaga University freshmen choose to study business.

University of Washington–Seattle Campus

One of the oldest universities on the West Coast, this Washington state behemoth overlooks the majestic Cascade Mountains. The most common choices for college majors are communication studies, psychology, and biology. In the past five years, the university’s CoMotion initiative has helped to launch eighty-one new businesses, increasing the region’s economic and social impact.

University of Portland

The financial aid process at University of Portland, a private institution, gives students a range of options to help them save for and pay for their education.

There are many different types of financial aid available, including athletic scholarships, international student scholarships, music scholarships, theater scholarships, and Providence scholarships.

They provide student loans to those who qualify.

Linfield College

Linfield College

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees are available through Online and Continuing Education at Linfield College, a private university offering three undergraduate degrees in total.

Students enrolled in an online R.N. to B.S.N. program can also earn a B.S.N. in nursing.

Financial aid is available to those who need it.

George Fox University

Undergraduate Majors (a four-year bachelor’s degree program for high school seniors) are available at George Fox University, a private institution.

Along with that, they have Adult Bachelor’s Degree Completion (Fast-track B.A. programs for people already in the workforce).

Similarly, they provide post-bachelor’s education (including master’s and doctoral degrees).

Financial aid is available to those who need it.

Oregon State University

More than two-hundred different undergraduate programs (majors, options, double degrees, etc.) are available to students at Oregon State University, a public research institution.

In addition, each year, they give out over $20 million in merit-based scholarships to incoming freshmen.

They provide student loans to those who qualify.

Western Washington University

If you want to explore your options before committing to a major, Western Washington University is the place to do it.

They have over 40 graduate programs and offer nearly 200 degrees at the undergraduate level.

They provide student loans to those who qualify.

Willamette University

The historic campus of Willamette University can be found to the south of the Oregon State Capitol. Willamette University’s campus has the atmosphere of a rural retreat despite being located in a major city. Lots of the sidewalks are shaded by trees. There is a botanical garden on campus for students to enjoy. The stream even forms a W. The campus features a wide variety of impressive buildings. In 1909, the Late Gothic Revival style was used to construct Eaton Hall. Waller Hall was first used in 1867. It’s the longest continuously used school building west of the Mississippi. In the year 1920, Lausanne Hall was erected. The university’s Women’s College originally stood there.

Whitman College

Walla Walla, Washington is a fun place to say because that’s where Whitman College is located. The stunning landscape of the Pacific Northwest inspired the design of the campus. Outdoor sculptures and trails can be found all over Whitman’s campus. The Victorian architectural style was widely used on campus. Several recently built modern structures supplement this. One of the most popular places to congregate on campus is Ankeny Field. The Johnston Wilderness Campus is a local nature preserve located on the premises. This is great for parties, studying, and unwinding.

Reed College

Reed College took its architectural cues for its own campus from St. John’s College at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Modernist-style structures coexist with brick Tudor-Gothic structures like Eliot Hall. The Psychology Building is one such instance. To get away from the hustle and bustle of campus life, students can hike through The Reed College Canyon. There is a wildlife sanctuary between the residence halls and the classrooms.

The University of Montana-Western

One of the best online schools in the Pacific Northwest is the University of Montana Western. Physical education and health, special education, and teacher librarian endorsements are all available to K-12 teachers at UMW through online study. Online schools offer a wide variety of degree and certification options for students interested in teaching young children.

UMW also provides several secondary education certificates (in art, music, English, and biology) for students who are interested in teaching at the high school level.

Online students at UMW have the option of enrolling in a single course at a time. The school boasts the state of Montana’s lowest tuition and fees of any four-year institution.

University of Providence

There are a total of 14 online degree options available at the University of Providence (7 for undergraduates and 7 for postgraduates). Studies in law, medicine, and the healthcare industry are also very popular. The majority of the university’s online courses are delivered asynchronously and do not necessitate attendance at any campus locations.

Founded in 1932, UP is dedicated to helping individuals realize their full potential by strengthening their relationships with themselves, their peers, and their local communities. Numerous opportunities to volunteer are made available to students at the university.

With only 480 first-year students, UP has a low student-to-teacher ratio of 12 to 1. Nearly all students (around 95%) receive some form of scholarship or grant money.

Montana State University

A baccalaureate in liberal studies, eleven master’s degrees, a doctorate in nursing practice, and a number of certificates are among the twenty online offerings at Montana State University.

MSU has more than 16,000 students, making it the largest university in Montana. Students at MSU typically have a 3.57 GPA and an ACT score of 25. Although the majority of MSU’s students come from the Pacific Northwest, the university’s online offerings attract learners from all over the country.

Both the research and undergraduate research activity at MSU are considered to be among the highest in the country. When compared to other universities, this one spends more money on research than all but three others combined.

Idaho State University

There are more than 60 online degree programs available at Idaho State University. These range from certificates to bachelor’s to master’s to doctoral. Synchronous and asynchronous components are typically found in the university’s online programs.

About 12,400 students are enrolled at ISU, with 58% of those being full-time. A student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1 is maintained in an effort to give each student individualized attention.

In July of 2021, construction on a new ISU alumni center began. The multi-purpose facility, which will be ready by spring of 2023, will feature several meeting rooms.

The Evergreen State College

Let it all hang out (Latin: Omnia Extares) is the motto of Evergreen State University. This nonconformist approach to liberal arts education is to be expected at a public university. It opened in 1967 as a sort of “playground” for higher education. About 4,000 people call Evergreen their school home right now. Evergreen only offers a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and a Bachelor of Science, rather than a wide variety of majors and minors, to promote a well-rounded education. Students are given a written critique of their work rather than a numerical grade.

Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon University is one of seven public, four-year institutions in Oregon. It was founded in 1929. The university’s location in the foothills of the Blue Mountains has contributed to its prominence in the study of the natural world. Outdoor leadership, agricultural science, and military science are just a few examples. About 3,500 undergraduates out of a total enrollment of 3,700 attend Eastern Oregon University.

Southern Oregon University

Southern Oregon University is a great option for those in the Pacific Northwest who are looking for a public liberal arts institution. The university was established in 1926, and its academic offerings span from business to criminology to environmental science to theater arts to Shakespearean studies. U.S. News & World Report has placed the university in its list of the top 100 Western universities.

Washington State University

Washington State University, with an annual enrollment of around 30,600 students, is the state’s second-largest educational institution. All undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students at the main campus, the five regional campuses, and the online Global Campus are included. There are more than two hundred different academic disciplines available, including business, teaching, journalism, agriculture, engineering, and veterinary medicine. Washington State University is the 70th best public university in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report.


What is local tuition?

Students from the state (and sometimes the neighboring states) in which the university is located pay these costs.

What is domestic tuition?

Students from other states who are citizens at the time of enrollment pay these fees (though some schools may consider students from nearby states to be “local students”).

Is the Student-Faculty Ratio Important?  

The ratio of students to teachers is not everything, but it can make a difference. The size of the classes should be the primary concern. A lower ratio results in a smaller average class size, which may be preferable to some students.

If there are fewer students than teachers, you have a better chance of becoming close to your teachers. You’ll need letters of recommendation from them if you want to continue your education past the undergraduate level.

Even with a larger student-teacher ratio, it is still possible to form meaningful relationships. You may need to make a little more of an effort to introduce yourself and speak up in class, but that’s all it means.

What School Has the Best Beaches in the Pacific Northwest? 

Although not all of these institutions are located on the beach itself, many are within easy driving distance. Newport, Oregon is an hour’s drive from Corvallis, Oregon, home to Oregon State University.

The distance between Eugene and Florence, which is home to both stunning beaches and the world-famous Oregon sand dunes, is roughly the same. The University of Oregon is located in Eugene.

It takes about an hour and twenty minutes to drive to Rockaway Beach from Forest Grove, Oregon. You can get lost in the beauty of this beach town.


You should attend one of the top schools in the Pacific Northwest if you feel the pull of the west coast. You can find the perfect school for you among the many options, which range from large, rigorous research universities to small, personable private institutions.

The key idea is that you need to take charge of your education. It’s important to find a college that complements your individual goals, interests, and character because you’ll be spending an average of four to six years there.