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50 best colleges on the West Coast

Using Niche's 2023 Best Colleges in America list, Stacker found the best 50 schools on the West Coast.  
Using Niche's 2023 Best Colleges in America list, Stacker found the best 50 schools on the West Coast.   - Canva
Using Niche's 2023 Best Colleges in America list, Stacker found the best 50 schools on the West Coast.   - Canva
Madison Troyer

With thousands of colleges and universities in the United States, narrowing down the field can seem impossible for prospective students. The West Coast alone has a bevy of top-rated state schools and excellent private universities, ranging in student-body size from a few hundred to tens of thousands.

Using Niche’s 2023 Best Colleges in America list, Stacker found the best 50 schools on the West Coast. Niche’s rankings use data from the Department of Education on academics, admissions, and student life, along with reviews from current students and alumni. Four-year colleges in California, Oregon, and Washington state are included.

Whether you dream of spending the next four years lolling on a Southern California beach, spending weekends in trendy Seattle, or exploring nature around Portland, this list provides a wealth of options. You can pick your best fit based on categories like location, net price, and median earnings range. College search: handled.

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Entrance sign with spring flowers.

Ian Dewar Photography // Shutterstock

#50. University of Puget Sound

– Location: Tacoma, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 87%
– Net price: $38,127
– SAT Range: 1110-1330
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,700
– Overall rank: #403

Eaton Hall building on Willamette University campus.

Michael Warwick // Shutterstock

#49. Willamette University

– Location: Salem, Oregon
– Acceptance rate: 80%
– Net price: $37,913
– SAT Range: 1100-1330
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,100
– Overall rank: #394

Campus walkway on a sunny day.

Colleen Michaels // Shutterstock

#48. University of Washington – Tacoma

– Location: Tacoma, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 86%
– Net price: $10,113
– SAT Range: 960-1180
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,700
– Overall rank: #389

Aerial view of downtown Azusa.

Matt Gush // Shutterstock

#47. Azusa Pacific University

– Location: Azusa, California
– Acceptance rate: 94%
– Net price: $31,367
– SAT Range: 1030-1260
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,100
– Overall rank: #378

Two college students studying together.

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#46. DigiPen Institute of Technology

– Location: Redmond, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 38%
– Net price: $36,832
– SAT Range: 1140-1340
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $80,200
– Overall rank: #374

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Two college students studying together.

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#45. Northwest University

– Location: Kirkland, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 93%
– Net price: $21,825
– SAT Range: 1010-1230
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $41,300
– Overall rank: #342

College students in computer lab.

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#44. The Master’s University

– Location: Santa Clarita, California
– Acceptance rate: 60%
– Net price: $29,567
– SAT Range: 990-1250
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $41,700
– Overall rank: #335

James building at California Baptist University.

JBai_photo // Shutterstock

#43. California Baptist University

– Location: Riverside, California
– Acceptance rate: 80%
– Net price: $27,883
– SAT Range: 990-1210
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,600
– Overall rank: #327

Student writing in notebook with headphones on.

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#42. University of the Pacific

– Location: Stockton, California
– Acceptance rate: 71%
– Net price: $32,780
– SAT Range: 1080-1340
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $71,700
– Overall rank: #319

University sign with flowers in spring.

Ian Dewar Photography // Shutterstock

#41. Seattle Pacific University

– Location: Seattle
– Acceptance rate: 91%
– Net price: $28,367
– SAT Range: 1010-1160
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,100
– Overall rank: #315

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Students looking at laptop screen.

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#40. Stanbridge University – Orange County

– Location: Irvine, California
– Acceptance rate: 35%
– Net price: $24,969
– SAT Range: —
– Median earnings six years after graduation: No data available
– Overall rank: #309

Three students wearing commencement gowns.

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#39. Vanguard University of Southern California

– Location: Costa Mesa, California
– Acceptance rate: 50%
– Net price: $21,667
– SAT Range: 950-1140
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $41,800
– Overall rank: #306

Student with laptop sitting in stairwell.

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#38. Whitworth University

– Location: Spokane, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 91%
– Net price: $25,785
– SAT Range: 1050-1270
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,100
– Overall rank: #304

UCR sign in summer.

Therodrigoc // Shutterstock

#37. University of California – Riverside

– Location: Riverside, California
– Acceptance rate: 66%
– Net price: $11,948
– SAT Range: 1080-1280
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,700
– Overall rank: #277

Sign at the entrance to Gonzaga.

Lori Butcher // Shutterstock

#36. Gonzaga University

– Location: Spokane, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 73%
– Net price: $36,880
– SAT Range: 1160-1350
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,100
– Overall rank: #273

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Entrance sign and flag at Biola University.

Steve Cukrov // Shutterstock

#35. Biola University

– Location: La Mirada, California
– Acceptance rate: 64%
– Net price: $34,713
– SAT Range: 1070-1290
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,500
– Overall rank: #268

Seattle University sign on Capitol Hill campus.

VDB Photos // Shutterstock

#34. Seattle University

– Location: Seattle, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 83%
– Net price: $36,843
– SAT Range: 1130-1330
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,500
– Overall rank: #259

Group of students in lecture hall.

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#33. Whitman College

– Location: Walla Walla, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 54%
– Net price: $38,989
– SAT Range: 1230-1430
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,300
– Overall rank: #247

Exterior Lillis School of Business building on a spring day.

Joshua Rainey Photography // Shutterstock

#32. University of Oregon

– Location: Eugene, Oregon
– Acceptance rate: 84%
– Net price: $17,646
– SAT Range: 1090-1290
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,800
– Overall rank: #246

Saint Ignatius Church on the University of San Francisco.

Lissandra Melo // Shutterstock

#31. University of San Francisco

– Location: San Francisco, California
– Acceptance rate: 70%
– Net price: $42,801
– SAT Range: 1140-1330
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $62,300
– Overall rank: #207

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Students on Chapman University campus.

Steve Cukrov // Shutterstock

#30. Chapman University

– Location: Orange, California
– Acceptance rate: 58%
– Net price: $44,327
– SAT Range: 1170-1350
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $54,500
– Overall rank: #196

Elevated view of campus of Washington State University

Steve Smith // Shutterstock

#29. Washington State University

– Location: Pullman, Washington
– Acceptance rate: 80%
– Net price: $17,931
– SAT Range: 1020-1210
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,600
– Overall rank: #193

Exterior view of campus building.

Sara Hulan // Shutterstock

#28. Lewis & Clark College

– Location: Portland, Oregon
– Acceptance rate: 80%
– Net price: $37,478
– SAT Range: 1210-1380
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,200
– Overall rank: #187

San Diego State University banner on campus.

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#27. San Diego State University

– Location: San Diego
– Acceptance rate: 37%
– Net price: $13,192
– SAT Range: 1090-1300
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,000
– Overall rank: #184

Weatherford Hall on  OSU Campus,

Bob Pool // Shutterstock

#26. Oregon State University

– Location: Corvallis, Oregon
– Acceptance rate: 82%
– Net price: $21,444
– SAT Range: 1080-1310
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,600
– Overall rank: #179

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Oceanfront buildings at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Roaming Panda Photos // Shutterstock

#25. Point Loma Nazarene University

– Location: San Diego
– Acceptance rate: 84%
– Net price: $34,644
– SAT Range: 1100-1290
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,900
– Overall rank: #175

Entrance sign and view of Walter Pyramid sports arena.

Underawesternsky // Shutterstock

#24. California State University – Long Beach

– Location: Long Beach, California
– Acceptance rate: 42%
– Net price: $10,568
– SAT Range: 1020-1240
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,100
– Overall rank: #168

Group of students studying together in library.

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#23. University of Portland

– Location: Portland, Oregon
– Acceptance rate: 77%
– Net price: $37,317
– SAT Range: 1130-1320
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,800
– Overall rank: #159

Grant M. Brown engineering building at campus entrance.

Claudine Van Massenhove // Shutterstock

#22. California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) – San Luis Obispo

– Location: San Luis Obispo, California
– Acceptance rate: 38%
– Net price: $20,491
– SAT Range: 1240-1440
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $66,900
– Overall rank: #152

University of San Diego

Kit Leong // Shutterstock

#21. University of San Diego

– Location: San Diego, California
– Acceptance rate: 59%
– Net price: $37,547
– SAT Range: 1190-1370
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $60,000
– Overall rank: #146

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Loyola Marymount campus with palm trees.

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#20. Loyola Marymount University

– Location: Los Angeles
– Acceptance rate: 50%
– Net price: $48,758
– SAT Range: 1210-1390
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,300
– Overall rank: #145

Morning view of Thorne Hall at Occidental College.

Kit Leong // Shutterstock

#19. Occidental College

– Location: Los Angeles
– Acceptance rate: 41%
– Net price: $41,102
– SAT Range: 1270-1460
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,600
– Overall rank: #129

Pepperdine University with American, California, and Malibu flags waving.

Benny Marty // Shutterstock

#18. Pepperdine University

– Location: Malibu, California
– Acceptance rate: 42%
– Net price: $46,550
– SAT Range: 1200-1410
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $65,500
– Overall rank: #116

Brick building on Reed campus.

Png Studio Photography // Shutterstock

#17. Reed College

– Location: Portland, Oregon
– Acceptance rate: 42%
– Net price: $33,980
– SAT Range: 1320-1520
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,200
– Overall rank: #107

People visit Santa Clara University campus on a sunny day.

Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

#16. Santa Clara University

– Location: Santa Clara, California
– Acceptance rate: 51%
– Net price: $48,284
– SAT Range: 1270-1450
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $72,600
– Overall rank: #106

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Scripps College campus in Claremont.

Jim_Brown_Photography // Shutterstock

#15. Scripps College

– Location: Claremont, California
– Acceptance rate: 35%
– Net price: $40,259
– SAT Range: 1320-1480
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $54,100
– Overall rank: #102

Entrance sign at Pitzer.

Barbara Kalbfleisch // Shutterstock

#14. Pitzer College

– Location: Claremont, California
– Acceptance rate: 17%
– Net price: $30,095
– SAT Range: 1300-1450
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,700
– Overall rank: #91

Students in the Arbor Courtyard with Davidson Library in the background.

VDB Photos // Shutterstock

#13. University of California – Santa Barbara

– Location: Santa Barbara, California
– Acceptance rate: 37%
– Net price: $17,223
– SAT Range: 1230-1460
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,300
– Overall rank: #89

Building on the campus of the UCD.

Suchan // Shutterstock

#12. University of California – Davis

– Location: Davis, California
– Acceptance rate: 46%
– Net price: $17,026
– SAT Range: 1160-1400
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,200
– Overall rank: #85

Library walk with UCSD Geisel Library in the background.

Kapi Ng // Shutterstock

#11. University of California – San Diego

– Location: La Jolla, California
– Acceptance rate: 37%
– Net price: $15,222
– SAT Range: 1270-1480
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,900
– Overall rank: #76

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Students walking on the quad outside of The Hub Student Union Building.

VDB Photos // Shutterstock

#10. University of Washington

– Location: Seattle
– Acceptance rate: 56%
– Net price: $9,661
– SAT Range: 1200-1470
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,700
– Overall rank: #70

Pedestrian bridge to UCI Student Center.

The Image Party // Shutterstock

#9. University of California – Irvine

– Location: Irvine, California
– Acceptance rate: 30%
– Net price: $13,106
– SAT Range: 1230-1430
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,400
– Overall rank: #66

Students pass through Sather Gate at UCB.

David A Litman // Shutterstock

#8. University of California – Berkeley

– Location: Berkeley, California
– Acceptance rate: 17%
– Net price: $19,329
– SAT Range: 1310-1530
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $64,700
– Overall rank: #48

Fountain in front of an academic building at Claremont McKenna.

Jim_Brown_Photography // Shutterstock

#7. Claremont McKenna College

– Location: Claremont, California
– Acceptance rate: 13%
– Net price: $22,004
– SAT Range: 1330-1500
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $72,900
– Overall rank: #29

USC sign at the Village.

Hanson L // Shutterstock

#6. University of Southern California

– Location: Los Angeles
– Acceptance rate: 16%
– Net price: $39,759
– SAT Range: 1340-1530
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $74,000
– Overall rank: #28

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Students tour UCLA campus.

David A Litman // Shutterstock

#5. University of California – Los Angeles

– Location: Los Angeles
– Acceptance rate: 14%
– Net price: $16,474
– SAT Range: —
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $60,700
– Overall rank: #24

Building on Pomona College campus.

Jim_Brown_Photography // Shutterstock

#4. Pomona College

– Location: Claremont, California
– Acceptance rate: 9%
– Net price: $30,392
– SAT Range: 1390-1540
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,100
– Overall rank: #20

Entrance sign to Harvey Mudd College.

Jim_Brown_Photography // Shutterstock

#3. Harvey Mudd College

– Location: Claremont, California
– Acceptance rate: 18%
– Net price: $37,192
– SAT Range: 1490-1570
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $88,800
– Overall rank: #18

Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology.

Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#2. California Institute of Technology

– Location: Pasadena, California
– Acceptance rate: 7%
– Net price: $26,591
– SAT Range: 1530-1580
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $85,900
– Overall rank: #7

Aerial view Stanford campus.

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#1. Stanford University

– Location: Stanford, California
– Acceptance rate: 5%
– Net price: $20,023
– SAT Range: 1420-1570
– Median earnings six years after graduation: $94,000
– Overall rank: #2

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Founded in 2017, Stacker combines data analysis with rich editorial context, drawing on authoritative sources and subject matter experts to drive storytelling.

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