The northwestern region of the United States is known for its scenic beauty. There are a number of hidden gem-worthy colleges in the region as well. We’ve highlighted the top three hidden gem schools per state.

For the purposes of this list, we’ve included the following states in the northwest: AK, Northern CA, ID, MT, OR, WY, WA.

To qualify as a College Raptor Hidden Gem, a school must have the following requirements:

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications a year
  • OR  less than 40th percentile of applications received by all schools in that state
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled

 

Note: If there are fewer than three in a state, it means no other schools in the state met our qualifications.

ALASKA

University of Alaska Southeast

  • Flickr user MeRyan

    Location: Juneau, AK

  • Student Enrollment: 2,800
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Rank: 1551

Situated on Auke Bay, UAS has a scenic campus. The university has a 9:1 student to faculty ratio, and nine residence halls–most of which are named after elements of nature native to Alaska. Though UAS no longer has an intercollegiate sports program, students can participate in a wide array of intramural sports. Spike the Humpback Whale is the school’s mascot.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Saint Mary’s College of California

  • Flickr user Franco Folini

    Location: Moraga, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 4,030
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 333

Offering up to Doctorates, Saint Mary’s College of California currently has nearly 3,000 undergraduate students, with a vast majority deciding to major in business and commerce. After their first year at the college, approximately 86% will stay to continue their education. Although most students are from California, many are also from Washington, Texas, Illinois, and Oregon.

Dominican University of California

  • Wikimedia Commons user DominicanUniversityofCalifornia

    Location: San Rafael, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 1863
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 411

“Veritas Fax Ardens”–meaning Truth is a flaming torch–is the motto of this small university. Dominican has a unique tradition that accompanies their Convocation ceremony. Seniors present the freshman class with a shield, emblazoned with an inspirational motto to guide them through their collegiate years.

California State University Maritime Academy

  • Flickr user US Embassy

    Location: Vallejo, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 1075
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 433

Cal Maritime students are known as the Keelhaulers, though informally the female sports teams are called the Sea Hags. The campus is situated on San Pablo Bay, where they have a their practice ship, the T.S. Golden Bear III, anchored. They have a first year retention rate of 85% and a majority of the students are from California.

IDAHO

Northwest Nazarene University

  • Flickr user Jasperdo (Note: Photo is of Nampa, not NNU)

    Location: Nampa, ID

  • Student Enrollment: 2,207
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 825

The three most popular majors at Northwest Nazarene are Business Administration, Elementary Education, and Registered Nursing. They have a 95% acceptance rate and more than double the number of undergraduate than graduate students. Their sports teams are known as the Crusaders.

The College of Idaho

  • Flickr user Jimmy Emerson, DVM

    Location: Caldwell, ID

  • Student Enrollment: 1065
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 862

A large majority of the student on this campus are undergraduates–97%, in fact. There is a 50/50 split between the percentage of male and female students that attend the college. A small 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio gives the college a close feeling. Their sports team mascot is a Coyote.

Lewis-Clark State College

  • Flickr user J. Stephen Conn

    Location: Lewiston, ID

  • Student Enrollment: 3633
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 1498

Named for the famous explorers, the Lewis-Clark State College has a high acceptance rate of 97%. Among the most popular majors on campus are Business, Elementary Education, Social Work, Management Science, and Criminal Justice. They have three school colors: navy, white, and red.

MONTANA

Carroll College

  • Flickr user Cromley

    Location: Helena, MT

  • Student Enrollment: 1469
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 558

Carroll College’s sports teams are known as the Fighting Saints, though their speech and debate teams are known as the Talking Saints. Carroll has an acceptance rate of 71%. They are known for their nursing and health programs, so it’s no surprise that their three most popular majors on campus are Health Services, Biology, and Registered Nursing.

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

  • Wikimedia Commons user Lyumars

    Location: Butte, MT

  • Student Enrollment: 2130
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 940

Montana Tech was originally developed as a mining school, that offered only two degrees–mining and electrical engineering. Now, even though the school offers a multitude of majors and minors–that original mining connection still shines through. Their mascot is Charlie Oredigger, and their school colors are copper and green.

University of Great Falls

  • Flickr user Jimmy Emerson, DVM (Note: Image is of Great Falls, not UGF)

    Location: Great Falls, MT

  • Student Enrollment: 1134
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 1428

The University of Great Falls has an acceptance rate of 56.9%. They have a student to faculty ratio of 12:1. Their sports teams play as the Argonauts, named after the Greek heroes aboard the legendary ship, the Argo. A unique and popular sport on the campus, for both male and female students, is rodeo.

OREGON

Linfield College–McMinnville Campus

  • Flickr user Derek Severson

    Location: McMinnville, OR

  • Student Enrollment: 1,700
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 391

All students attending the Linfield College–McMinnville Campus are undergraduates, with about 464 freshman. A majority are from the West Coast, though some do come from Ohio, Colorado, and Texas.  With a student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1, approximately 82% of students will stay at the college after their first year.

George Fox University

  • Wikimedia Commons user George Fox University

    Location: Newberg, OR

  • Student Enrollment: 3925
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 514

George Fox University is a member of the NCAA, and is a Division III school with football. 64% of applicants are accepted (generally about 1,990 out of 3,120). Most students had test scores between 21 and 27 on the ACT, or 980 and 1,210 on the SAT. The school was originally founded for Quakers in 1885, and is now a school for liberal arts and sciences and professional studies.

Pacific University

  • Flickr user Tom Brandt

    Location: Forest Grove, OR

  • Student Enrollment: 3810
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 515

Favored majors at Pacific University are Business Administration and Management, Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and Biology/Biological Sciences. Though independent of the United Church of Christ (its founders), the school maintains a close working relationship with the UCC. Around 2,840 hopefuls apply each year, with 2,200 (79%) being accepted.

 WASHINGTON

Whitman College

  • Flickr user Chuck Taylor

    Location: Walla Walla, WA

  • Student Enrollment: 1,470
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 88

Whitman’s inspirational school motto of “Per ardua sergo” translates to: Through adversities I rise. The most popular majors on this campus are Biology, Psychology, Biochemistry / Molecular Biology, and Political Science. Almost 4,000 applications are sent to this private liberal arts school each year.

Whitworth University

  • Flickr user Ian Sane (Note: image is of Spokane courthouse, not Whitworth)

    Location: Spokane, WA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,650
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 305

Whitworth University has a very high acceptance rate, with 89% of applying students being accepted to the school. Although only 20% of students will go on to attend the university, 85% of freshman will stay at the campus after their first year. The school offers a variety of varsity sports including baseball, football, soccer, golf, and volleyball.

Seattle Pacific University

  • Flickr user Curtis Cronn

    Location: Seattle, WA

  • Student Enrollment: 4,024
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 341

Located right in the famous city of Seattle, even outside of studies, students will never find a shortage of activities, both off campus and on. With great culture and personality, the University’s motto is “Engaging the Culture, Changing the World™.” The campus is home to some of the oldest trees in Seattle and a wilderness field dedicated to biology at the school.

WYOMING

University of Wyoming

  • Flickr user MDV

    Location: Laramie, WY

  • Student Enrollment: 12648
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above
  • College Raptor Ranking: 663

The University of Wyoming is both a flagship school and a land grant college. They have a NCAA Division I-FBS athletic classification. UWyo has two mascots–Cowboy Joe and Pistol Pete, with Cowboy Joe being a live pony, and Pistol Pete a costumed student.  Their school colors are brown and and gold.

About our 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.

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