Top 25 Best Far West Colleges in the US | 2022 Rankings

The far west US has some of the most diverse wildlife, landscapes, cultures, and foods from anywhere else in the country. Maybe that’s not surprising as the region spans from the northernmost to the southernmost points in the US. Likewise, they also have a diverse array of spectacular colleges, 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 far west colleges right here!

Top 25 Best Far West Colleges

Also known as Caltech, the California Institute of Technology’s motto is, “The truth shall make you free.” Science and Engineering are top choices among students and there have been 76 Nobel laureates that have been associated with Caltech (including 40 alumni and faculty members). Just over 2,200 students attend the school today.
Location Pasadena, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,237
Stanford University has a 4% acceptance rate and a 99% first year retention rate. Their student to faculty ratio is only 5 to 1. Herbert Hoover was a graduate of Stanford and other alumni have included Fulbright Scholars, members of Congress, astronauts, and billionaires. Known as the Stanford Cardinals, their colors are cardinal and white.
Location Stanford, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,249
A smaller school, Pomona College has about 1,640 students. The school receives around 10,400 applications and accepts 7.4% of them. The four commonly chosen majors are Econometrics, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Neuroscience. The school was created when the founders wanted to recreate a “college of the New England type.” Their mascot is Cecil the Sagehen.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,637
The University of California in Los Angeles is a very large school with over 44,000 students. A public land-grant research university, it’s the second-oldest branch of the school system. Its motto is Fiat lux, or “Let there be Light.” Famous alumni have included Sean Astin, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Morhaime, Jim Morrison, and Troy Aikman. It has an acceptance rate of 12%.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 44,371
The University of California – Berkeley has over 43,000 students, with over 31,000 undergraduates and just under 12,000 graduates. It was the state’s first land-grant university and the first campus in the school system. The California Golden Bears, competing in the Pac-12 conference, have won over 100 national championships.
Location Berkeley, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 43,185
Harvey Mudd College has under 1,000 students and offers programs only in science and engineering. It has a 14% acceptance rate, 97% first year graduation rate, and an 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Part of the Claremont Colleges, their colors are black and gold. The men’s teams are known as the Stags and the women are known as the Athenas.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 904
With around 400 students, Soka University of America is an extremely small school. It has an acceptance rate of about 40%. A fairly new school (founded in 2001), the private university focuses on pacifism, human rights, and the creative coexistence of nature and humanity. It was founded by the founder of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist movement, Daisaku Ikeda.
Location Aliso Viejo, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 419
Around 1,350 students attend Claremont McKenna College, which has a 10% acceptance rate and 84% four-year graduation rate. The most commonly chosen major is econometrics and quantitative economics. With an 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio, 96% of students will stay after their freshman year.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,346
The University of Southern California is an extremely large school. It has over 48,000 students, including around 20,350 undergraduates and 27,970 graduates. The most popular major by far for undergraduates at the school is business administration and management. Some notable alumni include LeVar Burton, Neil Armstrong, Will Ferrell, and George Lucas.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 48,321
Originally opening in 1851, it is actually the oldest operating institution of higher learning in the state. Athletes at Santa Clara are known as the Broncos where they compete in the West Coast Conference. Former Broncos have gone on to play in the NBA, NFL, and MLB and have won at least 13 Olympic gold medals.
Location Santa Clara, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 8,669
The southernmost campus of the University of California system, it is located close to the Pacific Ocean. The school covers over 200 undergraduate programs, 19 organized research units, and boasts the region’s only academic Health System. The school has a 93% first year retention rate. Some alumni of the San Diego school include Angela Davis, Mike Judge, and David J. Peterson.
Location San Diego, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 38,736
Also known as UCI or UC Irvine, this public land-grant research university offers 87 undergraduate degrees and 129 graduate and professional degrees. The UC Irvine Anteaters are part of the Big West Conference. 53 alumni have gone on to compete in the Olympics. Biology is the most commonly chosen major at the school.
Location Irvine, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 36,908
Part of the University of California system, the Santa Barbara campus is located on the Campus Point State Marine Conservation Area. Econometrics and Quantitative Economics and Sociology are by far the most commonly chosen majors, but Experimental Psychology, Communication, and Biology are also top choices.
Location Santa Barbara, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 26,314
A member of the Claremont Colleges, Scripps College is a private liberal arts women’s school. It’s known for its historic campus as well as its extensive curriculum. The campus is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places and often gets mentioned for its beautiful grounds. Biology, Psychology, and Political Science and Government are common majors.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,109
A large school, the University of Washington – Seattle has over 47,000 students and a 20 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Many freshmen come from Washington, but others come from Oregon, California, Texas, and Colorado. About 95% will stay on after their first year. Speech Communication and Rhetoric is the most popular major.
Location Seattle, WA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 47,576
Occidental College is extremely close to Hollywood, so a number of movies and television shows have been filmed on its campus. Some examples include: Clueless, Arrested Development, the Good Place, and Star Trek III: the Search for Spock. Also known as Oxy, the school accepts 41% of out of just under 7,000 applications annually.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,985
The University of California – Davis is the seventh campus within the University of California system. It was originally an agricultural branch when founded in 1905, when it was known as University Farm. Famous alumni have included the CEO of Chevron, John S. Watson, the mayor of Sacramento, Darrel Steinberg, and actor / comedian Hasan Minhaj.
Location Davis, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 38,634
Pepperdine University has more graduates than undergraduates with 1 undergraduate school and four graduate schools. The main campus can be found in Malibu, but other campuses can be found all over the world from Washington D.C. to Florence, Italy, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pepperdine University has a 91% first year retention rate and an 80% four year graduation rate.
Location Malibu, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 8,824
Thomas Aquinas College is an extremely small liberal arts college in California. The only major the school offers is Liberal Arts and Sciences. The college has a 94% first year retention rate, 80% four year graduation rate, and an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Thomas Aquinas College’s motto is “Fides Quaerens Intellectum” or “Faith Seeking Understanding.”
Location Santa Paula, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 439
Some who have attended Whitman College in the past include Adam West, Shane Johnson, Nate Cohn, and NASA astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger. Biology, Experimental Psychology, and Political Science are popular majors among students. The school has a cozy 9:1 student to faculty ratio and a 4 year graduation rate of 79%.
Location Walla Walla, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,579
Reed College accepts around 42% of students who apply. The school features Tudor-Gothic style architecture and a forested canyon nature preserve. Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Biology/Biological Sciences, History, English Language and Literature, and Psychology are commonly chosen majors among its students.
Location Portland, OR
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,471
Gonzaga University’s campus is on 152 acres right alongside the Spokane River. A Catholic University, the school is named after the Jesuit saint Aloysius Gonzaga. The university accepts 73% of applicants and has a 94% first year retention rate. 88% of students will go on to graduate within six years. Part of the West Coast Conference, varsity sports include track, baseball, basketball, golf, rowing, soccer, tennis, and volleyball.
Location Spokane, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,537
Loyola Marymount University is home to the LMU Lions, who wear crimson and blue. Their mascot is named Iggy. Speech Communications, Marketing, and Psychology are the three most popular majors among students. 83% of students are expected to graduate within six years. 56% of the first year class calls California home, though students come from all over the US.
Location Los Angeles, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 9,822
Also known as Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo is one of two polytechnics within the school system. The university’s motto is “Discere Faciendo or” Latin for “Learn by Doing.” Cal Poly participates in the Big West Conference and the Big Sky Conference in the NCAA Division I. Known as the Mustangs, they wear green and gold.
Location San Luis Obispo, CA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 21,426
Pitzer College accepts only 17% of applicants, making it a highly selective school. A majority of these students come from California, Washington, and Oregon. It is one of the Claremont Colleges and focuses on media studies, behavioral studies, social sciences, and international programs. Environmental Science, Psychology, and Economics are popular majors.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,086

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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