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West Coast Universities and Colleges

There are more than 500 colleges and universities on the West Coast. See how four of these schools stack up against each other to find the one for you.

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School Ranking Overview

The West Coast of the United States is replete with postsecondary schools, including universities, community and technical colleges, art institutes, film conservatories and medical colleges. However, this article looks at four of the largest traditional public institutions in this region that offer a variety of educational options. The top three of the four schools are ranked in each of the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

Attending a school with a large number of program offerings may also mean that there are many complementary learning resources available, such as elective course options, research opportunities and student clubs. The following West Coast schools offer the highest number of undergraduate and graduate programs, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

1. University of Washington - Seattle Campus

Students at this Seattle-based university can choose from over 300 different program options. Through 18 colleges and schools, the university offers undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Popular areas of study include communications, political science, biology and economics.

2. University of California - Los Angeles

In close second is this Los Angeles, California, university, which offers more than 280 programs of study through its 11 professional schools and College of Letters and Sciences. Economics, biology, English, psychology, political science and history are some popular program options. In addition, the university's location on the West Coast draws many aspiring film students to its School of Theater, Film and Television.

3. University of Oregon

This university in Eugene, Oregon, offers about 200 undergraduate and graduate programs, including bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees as well as graduate certificates. Some program options include architecture, law, advertising, international studies, environmental studies, sociology, political science and human services.

Net Price

The NCES provides figures on school-specific costs that a full-time bachelor's degree student will be responsible for out of pocket. The prices detailed below are based on the 2012-2013 school year and account for average in-state tuition costs for first-time students and other common fees minus the average amount of financial aid awarded.

1. California State University - Long Beach

The average price of attendance at this Long Beach, California, institution was $8,169 in 2012-2013, landing this university in first place among the compared schools. Around 71% of beginning full-time bachelor's degree seekers secured some sort of financial assistance that same year.

2. University of Washington - Seattle Campus

University of Washington came in as the second most affordable school out of the four. The net price of attendance here was $9,559, and 55% of first-time undergraduates received some sort of financial aid in 2012-2013.

3. University of California - Los Angeles

On average, full-time UCLA undergrads were responsible for costs totaling $13,686. In the 2012-2013 year, 62% of first-time bachelor's degree seekers attending college full time were able to receive some form of financial aid.

Graduation Rate

The NCES also offers data regarding undergraduate graduation and retention rates. The following rankings are based on full-time bachelor's degree students who first began studying in 2007 and earned their 4-year degree in 150% of the normal time (six years or less).

1. University of California - Los Angeles

This university boasted a 90% graduation rate. Even higher was the school's 2012-2013 undergraduate retention rate for first-time full time students, which was 96%.

2. University of Washington - Seattle Campus

The NCES indicated that this university had an 82% graduation rate among bachelor's degree students in 2013. The retention rate for the 2012-2013 year was an impressive 93%.

3. University of Oregon

Sixty-seven percent of bachelor's degree students at this institution earned their degree within six years' time. The university's undergraduate retention rate was 20 percentage points higher, specifically 87%.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Get an idea as to the intimacy of a school's classes by researching the average number of students per faculty member. The following figures were taken from the NCES and are based on the 2013 fall semester.

1. University of Washington - Seattle Campus

On average, there were 15 students for every one faculty member at this institution. There were around 43,700 students and approximately 7,900 full- and part-time faculty members, of which almost 4,900 held instructional positions.

2. University of California - Los Angeles

The average student-to-faculty ratio here was 16:1. There were roughly 4,140 instructors teaching a total of nearly 40,800 undergraduate and graduate students.

3. University of Oregon

This institution just beat out California State University - Long Beach for third place. There was an average of 21 students for every one faculty member. This figure was based on a student population of 24,473 and nearly 1,450 full- and part-time instructional faculty.

West Coast Schools: At a Glance

School NameLocationSchool Type Programs OfferedArea Ranking
California State University - Long BeachLong Beach, CA4-year, publicBachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Degrees#1 Net Price
University of California - Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA4-year, publicBachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Degrees; Graduate Certificates#2 Program Variety,
#3 Net Price,
#1 Graduation Rate,
#2 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of OregonEugene, OR4-year, publicBachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Degrees; Graduate Certificates#3 Program Variety,
#3 Graduation Rate,
#3 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of Washington - SeattleSeattle, WA4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Degrees; Graduate Certificates#1 Program Variety,
#2 Net Price,
#2 Graduation Rate,
#1 Student-to-Faculty Ratio
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