Top 25 Best Colleges in the Far West US | 2021 Rankings

Best far west colleges badgeThe states in the far west US have some of the most diverse landscapes, climates, wildlife, cultures, and cuisines from anywhere else in the country. Likewise, they also have a diverse array of incredible colleges in the far west, too.

For this top 25 list, we’ve included the following states in the far west: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

See the best the west has to offer right here!

Top 25 Best Colleges in the Far West US

Stanford University’s full name is Leland Stanford Junior University and was one of the first universities to open its doors to both men and women. Stanford has one of the largest campuses in America, and houses research facilities, libraries, art museums, and more. With such a variety of resources available, it’s no wonder that 99% of students come back for their sophomore year.
Location Stanford, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,381
As its name suggests, the California Institute of Technology is dedicated primarily to science and engineering. Beyond academics, CalTech is also known for its long-standing love of pranks, it’s rivalry with MIT, and their honor code. Unsurprisingly, the most popular majors at CalTech include Computer Science, Physics, and Electrical Engineering.
Location Pasadena, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,233
Pomona College was founded in 1887 and later on created the Claremont Colleges, a group of five colleges that were all close to each other. Students who attend Pomona have the choice to take up to half their classes at the other four colleges and are free to use the other colleges’ resources. Pomona College is incredibly selective, accepting under 8% of all applicants.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,573
The University of California -- Los Angeles is considered a Public Ivy and for good reason -- with amazing facilities and resources available to students, as well as hundreds of majors and degree programs, it’s no wonder that there are over 44,000 students currently attending. Every year, the university receives over 113,000 applications, though only 14% of them are accepted.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 44,537
The University of California -- Berkeley is the oldest University of California school, having been founded in 1868. Known for its innovation and research, UC Berkeley gets over 89,000 applicants every year. Students attending should expect an average class size of twenty students for every one faculty member.
Location Berkeley, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 42,501
Harvey Mudd College is part of the Claremont Consortium. Many students choose to major in fields such as Engineering, Computer Science, or Mathematics and Computer Science at Harvey Mudd. 70% of the students at Harvey Mudd College receive some institutional financial aid to help cover the cost of college.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 902
Claremont McKenna College was originally a men-only school, before transitioning into a coeducational school in 1976. Today, there’s a near even split of women and men attending the school. Incoming freshmen, on average, scored between 30 to 34 on the ACT and 1,400 to 1,530 on the SAT. Econometrics is the most popular major.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,327
Soka University of America is a unique school -- it offers one degree: Liberal Arts. Students can choose one of four tracks. Students also participate in Learning Clusters and must study a language during their time at Soka University, culminating in a study abroad experience. With such a small student population, it’s no surprise that the average class size is 8:1.
Location Aliso Viejo, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 442
The University of Southern California is classified as a research university and has made multiple scientific and technological advancements since its inception, including creating the first antivirus software and DNA computing. Over 47,000 students attend this university, and 41% of them are from California.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 47,310
Santa Clara University is the oldest university in California, having been established in 1851. Today, over 8,600 students attend and the university receives 16,000 applications every year. Popular majors at Santa Clara include Finance, Psychology, and Speech Communication. The average student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1, and the university boasts a 95% first-year retention rate.
Location Santa Clara, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 8,642
Scripps College, an all-women’s college, is the second-oldest school in the Claremont Colleges. The school is known for its high selectivity, academic resources, and its beautiful campus. In fact, its campus was the first to receive the Getty Campus Heritage Initiative Program. Scripps College only accepts 24% of all applicants and has a 92% first-year retention rate.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,071
The University of California -- San Diego is considered a Public Ivy and is well-known for its research facilities. Undergraduates who attend UCSD will align themselves with one of seven residential colleges, all of which have different philosophies, faculty and administration, core course requirements, and unique degrees, though students are free to choose any major.
Location San Diego, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 37,887
The University of California -- Santa Barbara is widely known for its beautiful beach campus, amazing biking system, and its Public Ivy status. Thus, it’s no surprise that the university gets over 92,000 applicants annually, though only around 30,000 of them are admitted. The average class size at UCSB is 22 students to 1 faculty member. The majority of the student body is from California.
Location Santa Barbara, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 25,976
Despite its relatively young age, the University of California -- Irvine has already had a colorful and interesting history. Founded in 1965, the land for UCI was bought for just one dollar. Along with its status as a Public Ivy and amazing academics, it’s no surprise that the university receives 95,000 applications annually. However, only 29% of those applicants are admitted.
Location Irvine, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 36,032
Students attending the University of Washington -- Seattle have a variety of resources available to them. From having access to one of the world’s largest university library systems to its collaborations and partnerships with major tech companies. Popular majors at the university include Speech Communication, Research and Experimental Psychology, and Biochemistry.
Location Seattle, WA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 47,400
The University of California -- Davis is the third-largest university in the UC system. Every year, the university receives over 78,000 applicants and only accepts 41% of them. The three most popular majors at UC Davis include Research and Experimental Psychology, Economics, and Business/Managerial Economics.
Location Davis, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 38,167
Occidental College is known for its beautiful campus. Students at Occidental have access to multiple academic opportunities and unique student organizations. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Occidental College receives over 7,000 applications every year. However, Occidental is quite selective, only accepting 37% of all applicants.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,930
Originally established in Los Angeles, California, Pepperdine University expanded and ultimately moved its main campus to Malibu in 1972. However, Pepperdine has multiple undergraduate and graduate campuses both domestically and internationally. Popular majors at the university include Business, Psychology, and Kinesiology.
Location Malibu, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,961
Whitman College was founded in 1859 and was the first college in the Pacific Northwest to have a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, as well as the first school in America to require comprehensive exams if students wanted to graduate. Today, almost 1,500 students attend Whitman College, many of whom major in fields such as Biology, Psychology, and Economics.
Location Walla Walla, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,475
California Polytechnic State University opened as a coeducational school before transitioning to an all-men’s college in 1930 and then back to coeducational in 1956. Today, there’s a near even split of men and women attending for both undergraduates and graduates. Class sizes are typically around 21 students to 1 faculty member. Around 94% of all freshmen return for their sophomore year.
Location San Luis Obispo, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 22,013
Incoming students to Gonzaga typically have an ACT score between 25 to 29 and an SAT score between 1,210 to 1,370. Every student attending Gonzaga University receives some form of institutional or grant aid. The student-to-faculty ratio is 11 to 1 and the university boasts an impressive 94% first-year retention rate.
Location Spokane, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,563
Pitzer College is part of the Claremont College consortium. Its motto is “Provida Futuri” or “Mindful of the Future.” Over 4,300 students apply to Pitzer College every year, but only 13% of them are accepted. Incoming students typically have an ACT score between 24 to 29 and an SAT score between 1,190 to 1,370.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,072
Loyola Marymount University has a beautiful campus situated on top of bluffs that overlook Los Angeles. The university receives over 17,800 applications every year, but only accepts 47% of hopeful students. Students who choose to attend Loyola typically score between 26 to 30 on the ACT and 1,250 to 1,410 on the SAT. Around 87% of all students receive some form of grant or institutional aid.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 9,838
Thomas Aquinas College is quite unique. It offers only one major: Liberal Arts. The college also doesn’t accept direct funding from the government -- instead, the college primarily relies on private donations to give students financial aid. Only 407 students attend the college and the student-to-faculty ratio is 11 to 1. Thomas Aquinas College boasts a 91% first-year retention rate.
Location Santa Paula, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 407
Reed College is known for its unique liberal arts education -- beyond core classes, students also must complete a thesis during their last year. Reed College tries not to emphasize grades either. While students still have transcripts and letter grades, no letter grades are given on tests or papers, and students are only notified of their grades if it’s below a C.
Location Portland, OR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,503

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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