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2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington

50 Colleges
$42,952 Avg Salary*
60% Avg Grad Rate*

Fortunately, colleges have stepped up their offerings to non-traditional students. However, that can mean decision-fatigue for the typical busy student. College Factual has developed its Top Washington Schools for Returning Adults ranking as a crucial tool you can use to help make the decision.

We analyzed 50 colleges and universities across Washington to determine which were the best for non-traditional students. To come up with this ranking, we look at more than 20 factors that are all objective measurements. These factors include degree completion, post-graduate earnings, and distance-learning options, among other things.

For our ranking, we define a non-traditional student as anyone who is part-time or returning, or an adult learner (over the age of 24).

Learn more about our ranking methodology.

Custom Rankings

Filtering this list by location or field of study and then explore our other rankings that feature schools great for different groups of students such as veterans or international students.

We've created a tool called College Combat that lets you create your own customized comparisons based on the factors that matter the most to you. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Gonzaga University

Spokane, Washington

Our 2021 rankings named Gonzaga University the best school in Washington for non-traditional students working on their bachelor’s degree. Located in Spokane, Washington, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school awarded 1,441 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The school has an excellent part-time retention rate of 100%, which means part-time students like the school well enough to return for a second year. The school charges $1,210 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. During the early years of their career, graduates from Gonzaga make an average of $56,100 a year.

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#2

Washington State University

Pullman, Washington

Out of the 50 schools in Washington that were part of this year’s ranking of the best schools for adult learners and non-traditional students, Washington State University landed the #2 spot on the list. Wazzu is a large public school situated in Pullman, Washington. It awarded 5,827 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.1%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The school charges $526 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Wazzu is $50,600 during the early years of their career.

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#3

Central Washington University

Ellensburg, Washington

Adult learners and other non-traditional students will be in good company if they decide to attend Central Washington University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Ellensburg, Washington is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,789 students in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $211. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from CWU make an average of $46,500 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Central Washington University Report

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#4

City University of Seattle

Seattle, Washington

One of the best schools for adult learners and other non-traditional students is City University of Seattle. The school came in at #4 in Washington in this year’s ranking. Seattle, Washington is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 186 students in 2018-2019.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $430 per credit hour. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from CityU make an average of $46,500 per year during the early years of their career.

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One of the best schools for adult learners and other non-traditional students is University of Washington - Seattle Campus. The school came in at #5 in Washington in this year’s ranking. Located in Seattle, Washington, the large public school handed out 9,269 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school boasts a 6-year graduation rate of 84%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 62%. The school charges $345 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UW Seattle is $57,700 during the early years of their career.

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#6

Eastern Washington University

Cheney, Washington

Eastern Washington University came in at #6 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking. Located in Cheney, Washington, the fairly large public school handed out 2,439 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $218. During the early years of their career, graduates from EWU make an average of $43,100 a year.

Full Eastern Washington University Report

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#7

Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington

Western Washington University ranked #7 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Located in Bellingham, Washington, the fairly large public school awarded 3,785 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $240. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from WWU make an average of $45,800 per year during the early years of their career.

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#8

Saint Martin's University

Lacey, Washington

Saint Martin’s University landed the #8 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Lacey, Washington, and it awarded 307 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

As an adult learner you’ll be in good company. 39% of the school is older than 24. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $1,272. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Saint Martin’s is $47,800 during the early years of their career.

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#9

Pacific Lutheran University

Tacoma, Washington

With a ranking of #9, Pacific Lutheran University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Located in Tacoma, Washington, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 728 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.4%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $1,352 per credit hour. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from PLU make an average of $49,400 per year during the early years of their career.

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#10

Seattle University

Seattle, Washington

Seattle University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking, coming in at #10. This medium-sized private not-for-profit school is located in Seattle, Washington, and it awarded 1,341 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school boasts a 6-year graduation rate of 79%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 62%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $1,017 per credit hour. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Seattle U go into careers with an average salary of $56,500 during the early years of their career.

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#11

Shoreline Community College

Shoreline, Washington

Shoreline Community College did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking, coming in at #11.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $105 per credit hour. During the early years of their career, graduates from Shoreline Community College make an average of $40,800 a year.

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#12

Bellevue College

Bellevue, Washington

Bellevue College ranked #12 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Located in Bellevue, Washington, the fairly large public school handed out 243 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $110 per credit hour. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $43,500 a year.

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#13

Northwest University

Kirkland, Washington

Northwest University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking, coming in at #13. Northwest University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Kirkland, Washington that handed out 250 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $1,350. During the early years of their career, graduates from Northwest University make an average of $41,300 a year.

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#14

Bellingham Technical College

Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham Technical College did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking, coming in at #14. Located in Bellingham, Washington, the small public school awarded 11 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $75 per credit hour. During the early years of their career, graduates from Bellingham Vocational Technical Institute make an average of $43,600 a year.

Full Bellingham Technical College Report

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#15

The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

The Evergreen State College ranked #15 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Evergreen is a public institution located in Olympia, Washington. The school has a small population, and it awarded 881 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school charges $234 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen go into careers with an average salary of $33,200 during the early years of their career.

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#16

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, Washington

Seattle Pacific University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking, coming in at #16. SPU is a private not-for-profit institution located in Seattle, Washington. The school has a small population, and it awarded 723 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The low student loan default rate of 1.9% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $1,239 per credit hour. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from SPU make an average of $49,100 per year during the early years of their career.

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#17

Walla Walla Community College

Walla Walla, Washington

Walla Walla Community College came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking.

The school charges $127 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Walla Walla Community College go into careers with an average salary of $34,300 during the early years of their career.

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Lake Washington Institute of Technology landed the #18 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking. Located in Kirkland, Washington, the small public school handed out 76 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $123. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from LWTech make an average of $41,400 per year during the early years of their career.

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#19

Olympic College

Bremerton, Washington

Olympic College ranked #19 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Located in Bremerton, Washington, the medium-sized public school handed out 71 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $110 per credit hour. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from OC go into careers with an average salary of $33,200 during the early years of their career.

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#20

Peninsula College

Port Angeles, Washington

With a ranking of #20, Peninsula College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Peninsula College is a small public school located in Port Angeles, Washington that handed out 16 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school charges $110 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Peninsula College make an average of $30,100 per year during the early years of their career.

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#21

Clark College

Vancouver, Washington

Clark College came in at #21 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking. Located in Vancouver, Washington, the medium-sized public school awarded 56 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $117. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Clark College make an average of $34,100 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Clark College Report

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#22

Heritage University

Toppenish, Washington

Heritage University landed the #22 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Toppenish, Washington, and it awarded 198 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $750. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Heritage University is $35,900 during the early years of their career.

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#23

Edmonds Community College

Lynnwood, Washington

Edmonds Community College landed the #23 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking. Located in Lynnwood, Washington, the medium-sized public school handed out 13 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school charges $101 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Edmonds Community College make an average of $37,600 per year during the early years of their career.

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#24

Renton Technical College

Renton, Washington

Renton Technical College did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington ranking, coming in at #24. Renton Technical College is located in Renton, Washington and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 7 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $99 per credit hour. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $38,800 a year.

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#25

Highline College

Des Moines, Washington

With a ranking of #25, Highline College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in Washington list. Highline is a public institution located in Des Moines, Washington. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 45 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $87 per credit hour. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Highline is $36,900 during the early years of their career.

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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