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50 best colleges on the West Coast

50 best colleges on the West Coast
1/turtix // Shutterstock

50 best colleges on the West Coast

Choosing a college is a daunting task. Not only does it start students down the all-important life path, but there are also just so many schools to choose from. With more than 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States, narrowing down the field can seem impossible. Deciding on a West Coast school might be the hardest of all. Oregon, Washington, and California have a bevy of wonderful state schools and excellent private universities, ranging in student-body size from a few hundred to tens of thousands. Major research universities like Standford and University of California, Berkeley regularly rank among the nation's best, while little Pomona College routinely sits atop the country's best liberal arts schools. Four of the colleges listed here rank in the Niche's top-20 schools in the country. Studying agriculture? Rocket science? Marine biology? There's a school or multiple schools specializing in exactly that. So, with only a glance, it's easy to see why choosing a college on the West Coast requires extensive research. Stacker, along with higher education information website Niche, is here to help.

Niche releases an annual ranking of the best colleges in America to help prospective students and their parents find the perfect school. Based on Niche's 2019 Best Colleges in America list (updated August 2019), Stacker has a roundup of the top 50 schools on the West Coast. These institutions in Oregon, Washington, and California are ranked based on rigorous analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education; categories examined include academics, admissions, financial costs, student life, and other factors.

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 will provide a wealth of options. You can pick your best fit based on categories like location, net price, and median earnings range. College search: handled.

You may also like: 50 best colleges on the East Coast

#50. California Lutheran University
2/TOLocal // Wikimedia Commons

#50. California Lutheran University

- Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
- Acceptance rate: 73%
- Net price: $28,241
- SAT range: 1060-1230
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $54,200
- Overall rank: #371

#49. Stanbridge University
3/Kevin Zollman // flickr

#49. Stanbridge University

- Location: Irvine, CA
- Acceptance rate: 58%
- Net price: $23,224
- SAT range: Data not available
- Median earnings six years after graduation: Data not available
- Overall rank: #366

#48. University of California, Riverside
4/Amerique // Wikimedia Commons

#48. University of California, Riverside

- Location: Riverside, CA
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Net price: $12,404
- SAT range: 1090-1300
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,700
- Overall rank: #362
 

#47. University of La Verne
5/Founder's Hall // Wikimedia Commons

#47. University of La Verne

- Location: La Verne, CA
- Acceptance rate: 48%
- Net price: $27,718
- SAT range: 1020-1190
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,200
- Overall rank: #360
 

#46. Azusa Pacific University
6/Jon Coyne // Flickr

#46. Azusa Pacific University

- Location: Azusa, CA
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Net price: $28,784
- SAT range: 990-1220
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,100
- Overall rank: #339
 

#45. Westmont College
7/Thomas Hawk // Flickr

#45. Westmont College

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Net price: $32,699
- SAT range: 1060-1280
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,400
- Overall rank: #330
 

#44. Willamette University
8/M.O. Stevens // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Willamette University

- Location: Salem, OR
- Acceptance rate: 89%
- Net price: $33,089
- SAT range: 1100-1330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,100
- Overall rank: #314

#43. Seattle University
9/Calvin Marquess // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Seattle University

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Net price: $35,581
- SAT range: 1130-1330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,500
- Overall rank: #312

#42. Pacific Lutheran University
10/Ben Cody // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Pacific Lutheran University

- Location: Tacoma, WA
- Acceptance rate: 75%
- Net price: $24,567
- SAT range: 1040-1270
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,400
- Overall rank: #306
 

#41. University of Puget Sound
11/Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

#41. University of Puget Sound

- Location: Tacoma, WA
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Net price: $40,065
- SAT range: 1110-1330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,700
- Overall rank: #303
 

#40. Seattle Pacific University
12/Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Seattle Pacific University

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Acceptance rate: 91%
- Net price: $31,078
- SAT range: 1060-1280
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,100
- Overall rank: #298
 

#39. Whitworth University
13/Scott Ellison // Flickr

#39. Whitworth University

- Location: Spokane, WA
- Acceptance rate: 89%
- Net price: $29,281
- SAT range: 1090-1310
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,100
- Overall rank: #287
 

#38. University of California, Santa Cruz
14/Casey Marshall // Flickr

#38. University of California, Santa Cruz

- Location: Santa Cruz, CA
- Acceptance rate: 51%
- Net price: $16,792
- SAT range: 1160-1340
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,900
- Overall rank: #281
 

#37. DigiPen Institute of Technology
15/Shuichi Aizawa // Flickr

#37. DigiPen Institute of Technology

- Location: Redmond, WA
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Net price: $32,433
- SAT range: 1150-1360
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $80,200
- Overall rank: #271
 

#36. University of the Pacific
16/Yoshio Kohara // Wikimedia Commons

#36. University of the Pacific

- Location: Stockton, CA
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Net price: $32,715
- SAT range: 1070-1330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $71,700
- Overall rank: #267
 

#35. Biola University
17/Steve // Flickr

#35. Biola University

- Location: La Mirada, CA
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Net price: $33,206
- SAT range: 1060-1300
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,500
- Overall rank: #263
 

#34. University of San Francisco
18/Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#34. University of San Francisco

- Location: San Francisco, CA
- Acceptance rate: 66%
- Net price: $35,270
- SAT range: 1100-1290
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $62,300
- Overall rank: #260
 

#33. San Diego State University
19/Sprachcaffe Düsseldorf // Flickr

#33. San Diego State University

- Location: San Diego, CA
- Acceptance rate: 35%
- Net price: $13,363
- SAT range: 1090-1290
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,000
- Overall rank: #259
 

#32. California State University, Long Beach
20/Alan Ray // Wikimedia Commons

#32. California State University, Long Beach

- Location: Long Beach, CA
- Acceptance rate: 28%
- Net price: $9,654
- SAT range: 1020-1230
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,100
- Overall rank: #249
 

#31. Oregon State University
21/Gregkeene // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Oregon State University

- Location: Corvallis, OR
- Acceptance rate: 79%
- Net price: $19,205
- SAT range: 1070-1300
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,600
- Overall rank: #241
 

#30. Gonzaga University
22/SCUMATT // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Gonzaga University

- Location: Spokane, WA
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Net price: $34,085
- SAT range: 1180-1350
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,100
- Overall rank: #223
 

#29. Point Loma Nazarene University
23/Greenstrat // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Point Loma Nazarene University

- Location: San Diego, CA
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Net price: $31,349
- SAT range: 1100-1290
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,900
- Overall rank: #211
 

#28. University of Oregon
24/Another Believer // Wikimedia Commons

#28. University of Oregon

- Location: Eugene, OR
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Net price: $15,100
- SAT range: 1080-1270
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,800
- Overall rank: #199
 

#27. Lewis & Clark College
25/Chris Phan // Flickr

#27. Lewis & Clark College

- Location: Portland, OR
- Acceptance rate: 71%
- Net price: $35,872
- SAT range: 1210-1390
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,200
- Overall rank: #187
 

#26. Chapman University
26/Tom Arthur // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Chapman University

- Location: Orange, CA
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Net price: $40,053
- SAT range: 1190-1360
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $54,500
- Overall rank: #184
 

#25. Washington State University
27/Jeremy Segrott // Flickr

#25. Washington State University

- Location: Pullman, WA
- Acceptance rate: 73%
- Net price: $17,885
- SAT range: 1020-1220
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,600
- Overall rank: #151
 

#24. University of San Diego
28/Ckbee // Wikimedia Commons

#24. University of San Diego

- Location: San Diego, CA
- Acceptance rate: 50%
- Net price: $38,592
- SAT range: 1180-1350
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $60,000
- Overall rank: #149
 

#23. University of Portland
29/M.O. Stevens // Wikimedia Commons

#23. University of Portland

- Location: Portland, OR
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Net price: $33,327
- SAT range: 1140-1320
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,800
- Overall rank: #146
 

#22. Pepperdine University
30/Edward Blake // Flickr

#22. Pepperdine University

- Location: Malibu, CA
- Acceptance rate: 40%
- Net price: $36,372
- SAT range: 1200-1390
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $65,500
- Overall rank: #143
 

#21. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
31/hakkun // Wikimedia Commons

#21. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

- Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
- Acceptance rate: 35%
- Net price: $19,002
- SAT range: 1200-1380
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $66,900
- Overall rank: #125
 

#20. Loyola Marymount University
32/Michael Blow // Flickr

#20. Loyola Marymount University

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- Net price: $42,459
- SAT range: 1180-1360
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,300
- Overall rank: #124
 

#19. University of California, San Diego
33/Vince Smith // Flickr

#19. University of California, San Diego

- Location: La Jolla, CA
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Net price: $14,616
- SAT range: 1210-1410
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,900
- Overall rank: #122
 

#18. Occidental College
34/Jeffrey Beall // Flickr

#18. Occidental College

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Acceptance rate: 42%
- Net price: $33,738
- SAT range: 1280-1440
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,600
- Overall rank: #120
 

#17. University of California, Irvine
35/Allyunion // Wikimedia Commons

#17. University of California, Irvine

- Location: Irvine, CA
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Net price: $13,944
- SAT range: 1170-1350
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,400
- Overall rank: #118
 

#16. University of California, Davis
36/Bev Sykes // Flickr

#16. University of California, Davis

- Location: Davis, CA
- Acceptance rate: 43%
- Net price: $16,446
- SAT range: 1130-1360
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,200
- Overall rank: #110
 

#15. Scripps College
37/Lure Photography // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Scripps College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Acceptance rate: 33%
- Net price: $36,831
- SAT range: 1290-1460
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $54,100
- Overall rank: #101
 

#14. Whitman College
38/Joe Shlabotnik // Flickr

#14. Whitman College

- Location: Walla Walla, WA
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- Net price: $38,144
- SAT range: 1140-1380
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,300
- Overall rank: #100
 

#13. Reed College
39/Visitor7 // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Reed College

- Location: Portland, OR
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Net price: $32,097
- SAT range: 1310-1500
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,200
- Overall rank: #97
 

#12. Santa Clara University
40/Omar A. // Flickr

#12. Santa Clara University

- Location: Santa Clara, CA
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Net price: $38,900
- SAT range: 1270-1440
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $72,600
- Overall rank: #96
 

#11. Pitzer College
41/Lauriealosh // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Pitzer College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Net price: $26,935
- SAT range: 1300-1450
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,700
- Overall rank: #93
 

#10. University of California, Santa Barbara
42/Carl Jantzen // Flickr

#10. University of California, Santa Barbara

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Acceptance rate: 33%
- Net price: $16,154
- SAT range: 1190-1400
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,300
- Overall rank: #86
 

#9. University of Washington
43/Wonderlane // Flickr

#9. University of Washington

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Net price: $9,443
- SAT range: 1190-1420
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,700
- Overall rank: #74
 

#8. Harvey Mudd College
44/Imagine // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Harvey Mudd College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Net price: $38,135
- SAT range: 1470-1570
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $88,800
- Overall rank: #61
 

#7. Claremont McKenna College
45/Craig Stanfill // Flickr

#7. Claremont McKenna College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Acceptance rate: 10%
- Net price: $28,712
- SAT range: 1340-1510
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $72,900
- Overall rank: #41
 

#6. University of California, Berkeley
46/Charlie Nguyen // Wikimedia Commons

#6. University of California, Berkeley

- Location: Berkeley, CA
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Net price: $18,178
- SAT range: 1260-1480
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $64,700
- Overall rank: #37
 

#5. University of California, Los Angeles
47/Prayitno // Flickr

#5. University of California, Los Angeles

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Net price: $14,760
- SAT range: 1220-1450
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $60,700
- Overall rank: #29
 

#4. University of Southern California
48/Ken Lund // Flickr

#4. University of Southern California

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Net price: $32,892
- SAT range: 1300-1500
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $74,000
- Overall rank: #20
 

#3. Pomona College
49/Nostalgicwisdom // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Pomona College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Net price: $18,427
- SAT range: 1370-1530
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,100
- Overall rank: #16
 

#2. California Institute of Technology
50/Kevin Stanchfield // Flickr

#2. California Institute of Technology

- Location: Pasadena, CA
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Net price: $24,466
- SAT range: 1530-1590
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $85,900
- Overall rank: #10
 

#1. Stanford University
51/Simaah // Pixabay

#1. Stanford University

- Location: Stanford, CA
- Acceptance rate: 5%
- Net price: $16,562
- SAT range: 1390-1540
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $94,000
- Overall rank: #2
 

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