Top 25 Best Colleges in the Northwest | 2020 Rankings

Best Northwest Colleges BadgeThe Northwest region has a beautifully diverse geography filled with national parks and hiking trails. A place known for innovation, nature, unique culture, and hard work, it also has a multitude of great colleges. 

For the purposes of this list, we’ve included the following states as part of the Northwest region: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and northern California (anything north of San Jose). 

If you call the Northwest home, or are looking to it for educational opportunities, check out the list below. 

Best Colleges in the Northwest

Stanford University holds a strong reputation throughout the world. Stanford’s notable alumni include Nobel laureates, Olympic medalists, and billionaires. The school is located right in the middle of Silicon Valley, known as the technology capital of the US. The university has a low acceptance rate of 4%. Out of around 47,450 applicants, just under 1,900 students were accepted.
Location Stanford, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,381
Berkeley has a reputation in activism internationally after Berkeley student involvement in the Free Speech Movement of 1964. The public research university’s most popular majors include General Economics, Computer Science, and Cellular / Molecular Biology. Out of just over 89,600 applicants, just above 13,440 students were admitted.
Location Berkeley, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 42,501
Santa Clara University’s official school colors are red and white. The top three most popular majors are Finance, Speech Communication and Rhetoric, and Psychology. There is a near even split between men and women students on campus---with 51% of the undergrad class being men, and the remaining 49% are women.
Location Santa Clara, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 8,642
The University of Washington’s motto, translated into English, means “Let there be light.” The school colors of purple and gold. Their mascot is called Harry the Husky. Like their mascot, students go by the nickname of the Huskies. Their campus is located not far from Lake Washington.
Location Seattle, WA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 47,400
The University of California -- Davis is more commonly called UC Davis. The university is unique in that even though their mascot is Gunrock the Mustang, students refer to themselves as Aggies, in honor of the school’s agricultural background. Research and Experimental Psychology is the most popular major on campus.
Location Davis, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 38,167
As the highest degree offered is the bachelor’s, you’ll only find undergrad students studying at Whitman College. The school has an acceptance rate of 50%, receiving around 5,225 applications and accepting just over 2,610 of them. Notable alumni include actor Adam West and writer / director Rick Stevenson.
Location Walla Walla, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,475
At Reed College, the top three most popular majors include English, Multi-Interdisciplinary Studies, and Biology. The college also provides students with on-campus housing, with over a dozen residence facilities throughout campus. 98% of the students on campus are undergraduates, with only 20 grads on campus.
Location Portland, OR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,503
Spike the Bulldog is the mascot of Gonzaga University, and their sports teams---the Bulldogs. The class sizes are average sized, with 11 students for every one faculty member. Gonzaga’s campus is located on the Spokane River, right across the water from Washington State University -- Spokane.
Location Spokane, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,563
“The truth will set you free” (Veritas vos Liberabit) is the school motto of the University of Portland. The University of Portland is a part of Division I of the NCAA without football. The university has a total of 272 athletes with an approximately equal number of male and female athletes, with many competing in track.
Location Portland, OR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,280
This college has an acceptance rate of 74%, with around 4,540 students accepted into the college out of about 6,100 applicants. Students admitted into Lewis & Clark usually have ACT and SAT scores ranging between 27--31 and 1,210--1,390 respectively. The college does not possess an application fee for undergraduate apps.
Location Portland, OR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,396
At the University of San Francisco, approximately 83% of students receive institutional grants. Over 60% of this school’s student population, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, is made up of women. Outside of the classroom, the university possesses 15 varsity sports teams.
Location San Francisco, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 10,713
The University of Oregon’s school motto---Mens agitat molem---translates to mean “The Mind Moves Mountains.” An appropriate phrase for a school that also uses a mountain in their official school seal. The classroom size is larger, with approximately 17 students for every 1 faculty member.
Location Eugene, OR
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 22,644
Over 60% of both the undergraduate and graduate class are majority women. Popular majors are varied and include Nursing, Finance, Marketing, and Psychology. The city of Seattle recognizes this school for being extremely sustainable through the university’s energy-saving program and food waste compost facility.
Location Seattle, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,291
Though a beaver features on the seal of Willamette University, their students are known as Bearcats. WU’s mascot is named Blitz, and their school colors are cardinal and old gold. 100% of Willamette students receive grant aid to help fund their education. Believe it or not, more first-year students on campus come from California than Oregon.
Location Salem, OR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,363
The University of Puget Sound’s school motto, originally in Greek, which translates to mean: “To the heights.” The university does indeed aim high, offering 1,200 courses in over 50 disciplines. Puget Sound’s most popular majors include Psychology, Business Administration, and Biology. This university has school colors of maroon and white.
Location Tacoma, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,666
Whitworth University is home of the Pirates---unofficially known as the Bucs. The school has just under 420 student athletes and is a part of the NCAA, including a football team of 110. Students wear crimson and black to cheer on their athletes. 97% of students receive grant aid to help pay for their higher education.
Location Spokane, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,776
The top 5 most popular majors on the UW Bothell campus are Business Administration, Registered Nursing, Computer Science, Mass Communication, and Accounting---in that order. The Bothell branch of the University of Washington system, is one of the younger universities---founded in 1990.
Location Bothell, WA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 5,970
The California State University Maritime Academy is more commonly called Cal Maritime. The academy has a variety of popular majors, including Marine Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Business. Their official seal features two seahorses and the Latin phrase Laborare Pugnare Parati Sumus---“We are prepared to work and fight.”
Location Vallejo, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,046
Oregon State University has quirky colors of Beaver Orange, Paddle Tail Black and Bucktooth White. The school has Beaver as a mascot by the name of Benny. The university is located in a campus town and is a sea-grant, a space-grant, and a sun-grant institution.
Location Corvallis, OR
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 30,986
The University of the Pacific has an acceptance rate of 63%, taking in over 8,500 students out of more than 13,500 applicants. Popular majors include Business Administration, Multi-Interdisciplinary Studies, and Biology. While living on campus isn’t required, over 2,000 students are able to live in the residence halls.
Location Stockton, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 6,493
This university was founded by Norweigan Lutheran pioneers in 1890. The school’s official colors are black and gold. While Pacific Lutheran’s mascot is a Knight, students at the school go by the nickname of the Lutes. The school’s motto is “Educating for Lives of Thoughtful Inquiry, Service, Leadership and Care.”
Location Tacoma, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,207
Mills College was the first women’s college west of the Rocky Mountains when it moved to Oakland in 1871. The undergraduate class is composed entirely of women, though there are male graduate students who study there. The school’s motto---Una destinatio, viae diversae---means “One destination, many paths.”
Location Oakland, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,257
Founded in 1890, this school has three school colors: black, gold, and white. Dominican University of California student’s go by the nickname of ‘the Penguins,” with their mascot being Chilly the Penguin. The school’s motto, originally in Latin, means “Truth is a Flaming Torch.” The university also has 11 varsity athletic teams.
Location San Rafael, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,779
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is highly selective. SFCM offers 7 majors---Voice & Opera, Music Theory & Composition, and then the instruments including Stringed, Brass, Keyboard, Woodwind, and Percussion. The conservatory only has one residence hall, named Panoramic, which houses just over 200 people.
Location San Francisco, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 398
Western Washington University has gone through six different name changes, starting with the Northwest Normal School and landing on its current title. Their campus is located on Bellingham Bay, not far from the Sehome Hill Arboretum. Surrounded by nature, it’s no surprise that Environmental Science is one of the more popular majors.
Location Bellingham, WA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 16,121

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

Methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

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