Best Western Universities

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The West was the last region of the United States to be settled.

Best Regional Universities in the West Badge

Although numerous major metropolises are now thriving in this region, the West is still, in many ways, a symbol of adventure, determination, and pushing the frontier towards something greater.

For many people, this means seeking higher education to advance their career, pursue their interests, and fulfill a lifelong goal of earning a degree. Luckily, the regional universities in the West are some of the best in the nation.

No matter what academic field students wish to pursue, there’s a region of the West that’s perfectly suited to their interests. From agriculture in Oklahoma to cutting edge technology in Silicon Valley, from the thriving arts scene in Los Angeles to the many financial hubs in Texas, the West has a city, and a college, for every passion.

While cities on the East Coast have had hundreds of years to establish roots, the cities in the West are generally younger, and many are continuing to reinvent themselves as they grow. The innovative attitude that is the hallmark of the frontier is alive and well in these areas. Students with a pioneering spirit will find themselves at home in flourishing cities like Portland and Austin.

Places like San Francisco, Houston, and Denver have been world-class cities for decades, and they provide all the trappings of true city life: major centers for commerce and trade, a significant presence of culture and the arts, and of course, a distinctive personality that’s unlike any other place in the world.

Outside of these urban hubs, there’s still plenty of room to spread out: almost all of the Western states have a population density well below the national average. Home to an array of national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and many others, the West encompasses some of the most breathtaking natural beauty on the planet.

With an economic and cultural landscape that’s just as diverse as the physical one, the West is the perfect place to launch a career by earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Top 10 Best Western Universities

Rank School Location
1 Trinity University San Antonio, TX
2 Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA
3 Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA
4 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA
5 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
6 University of Portland Portland, OR
7 Chapman University Orange, CA
8 New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Socorro, NM
9 Seattle University Seattle, WA
10 Whitworth University Spokane, WA

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What are the best regional universities in the West?

What exactly is a regional university? Simply put, the defining difference between a regional university and a national university is the highest degree offered by that school. A national university grants degrees up through the doctorate level, while a regional university typically offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees (although some may have very limited doctorate programs).

In order to bring you this ranking of regional universities, we’ve taken into account numerous important factors that fall under the broad categories of institutional excellence and student success.

Under the umbrella of institutional excellence, we consider factors like incoming student test scores, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, institutional reputation, endowment size, and other key data points. For student success, we look at metrics such as typical tuition costs, average student indebtedness after graduation, projected early career salary for graduates, and the amount of financial aid available. After a careful assessment of all of these data points, we’re pleased to present the following list of the very best regional universities in the West.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Trinity University
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewA private liberal arts college, Trinity University is an outstanding example of a regional university with rigorous standards of academic excellence. The university was founded in 1869 in Tehuacana, Texas before moving to Waxahachie and finally to its current home in San Antonio. Today, Trinity continues to uphold its tradition of preparing students to be leaders for a diverse and interconnected future.FeaturesTrinity University offers 47 degrees for undergraduate students and five programs of study for graduate students, including a Master of Arts in Teaching, a Master of Science in Accounting, a Master of Arts in School Psychology, a Master of Education in School Leadership, and a program in Health Care Administration. Top undergraduate majors at Trinity include:

    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
    • Social Sciences
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
    DetailsThe school boasts a world-class faculty (97% of TU faculty members hold PhDs) and exceptionally small class sizes, with a student-faculty ratio of just 9:1. The mean ACT score of incoming freshmen is an impressive 29.2, and the mean high school GPA is 3.56. The total enrollment at Trinity as of 2016 was 2,338, promoting a close-knit learning environment where students are encouraged to form meaningful friendships and collaborations with their peers.

  2. Santa Clara University
    Location

    Santa Clara, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewThe location of Santa Clara University in the heart of Silicon Valley means that the school sits at the world’s epicenter for technological innovation, and its roots in Jesuit tradition mean that SCU students will gain a strong vision for the future that’s guided by the university’s commitment to social justice. Ranked as the 6th best Catholic university in the United States, Santa Clara University is a truly excellent place to launch a career in the arts and sciences, business, law, or engineering.FeaturesMore than 50 majors, minors, and certificate programs are available at Santa Clara. A number of ecclesiastical degree programs are available, including a Bachelor, Licentiate, and Doctor of Sacred Theology. Numerous M.A.s and M.S.s are offered, as well as several B.S./M.S. dual degrees in engineering and arts and sciences. Some of the most popular majors at SCU include:

    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
    • Social Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    DetailsSanta Clara University was named by the Princeton Review as number 19 of the top “50 Green Colleges” for the school’s extensive sustainable initiative. The university runs numerous other community outreach initiatives, including Engineers Without Borders and the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. SCU has a total undergraduate enrollment of over 5,300, and a graduate enrollment of about 3,300. The school boasts an impressive 96 percent freshmen retention rate, an important measure of student satisfaction.

  3. Loyola Marymount University
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewLoyola Marymount University, located on a beautiful 142-acre campus overlooking Los Angeles, is ranked among the top 10 percent of universities nationwide by the Wall Street Journal. The university’s School of Film and Television was ranked 8th nationally by the Hollywood Reporter, and the Princeton Review awarded LMU the number 12 slot in Students Most Engaged in Community Service. LMU’s extensive accolades are a testament to the school’s commitment to the traditional Jesuit values of academic achievement and scholarly excellence.FeaturesUndergraduate students can pursue 58 majors and 53 minors at LMU. Graduate students have the option of 46 master’s degree programs, one education doctorate, one doctorate in juridical science, one juris doctorate, and 13 credential programs. Top programs among Loyola Marymount’s 6,100-plus undergraduates include:

    • Business/Commerce
    • Social Sciences
    • Visual and Performing Arts
    • Psychology
    DetailsBecause of its proximity to Los Angeles and Hollywood, LMU is known as a hub of visual arts and media studies. The school features a number of award-winning student media organizations, including KXLU 88.9 FM, The Los Angeles Loyolan (newspaper), The Tower (yearbook), and ROAR Studios (television network). The university is also home to 22 Division I and varsity sports, as well as 22 Greek fraternities and sororities.

  4. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
    Location

    San Luis Obispo, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewCalifornia Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo is best known for its engineering, architecture, and business programs, but it also offers renowned degree programs in a variety of other arts and sciences. The university has an extensive network of industry connections on California’s Central Coast, as well as throughout the Bay Area and Southern California. Perhaps due to these connections, 94% of currently employed Cal Poly students found jobs directly related to their major after graduation.FeaturesMore than 60 majors are available to undergraduate students, while graduate students can pursue numerous degrees and certifications through Cal Poly’s seven academic colleges, which include Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences; Architecture and Environmental Design; Business; Engineering; Liberal Arts; Science and Mathematics; and Education. Some of the most popular undergraduate majors include:

    • Engineering
    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Social Sciences
    DetailsCal Poly requires undergrads to declare a major on their application so that they can begin taking classes related to their major during their freshman year, allowing students to get “hands-on and elbow-deep” in their chosen field as early as possible. The agricultural college has land holdings of over 10,000 acres, including a 450-acre avocado and lemon ranch donated to the school in 2015. The university is only 10 minutes from beaches on the Pacific shore.

  5. Gonzaga University
    Location

    Spokane, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewAs a private liberal arts institution, Gonzaga University is anchored in Jesuit tradition and committed to cultivating critical thought, lifelong learning, spiritual growth, ethical discernment, creativity, and innovation in its students. Founded in 1887, the university now serves over 7,500 total students. The 152-acre campus is located on the north bank of the Spokane River, a half mile from Spokane’s downtown district.FeaturesThe degree programs offered at Gonzaga University include 75 fields of undergraduate study, 23 master’s degrees, three doctoral degrees, and a juris doctorate. The university also offers an Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, Honors Program, and Military Science program for the Gonzaga ROTC (one of the most highly ranked in the nation). Top undergraduate degrees include:

    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
    • Social Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    DetailsStudents at Gonzaga value the personalized education they receive from knowledgeable, experienced professors; 100 percent of Gonzaga’s classes are taught by professors rather than TAs, and 83 percent of faculty members hold a terminal degree in their area of teaching. The average financial aid package for students is $27,131. The university meets, on average, 78 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need, and 98 percent of students receive financial aid. Although Gonzaga is a Catholic university, a total of 24 faiths are represented on campus.

  6. University of Portland
    Location

    Portland, OR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewThe University of Portland has a long history of academic excellence: it’s been named among the top ten universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report for 22 consecutive years. This Catholic university is best known for its comprehensive academic programs, which include business, education, engineering, nursing, and a College of Arts and Sciences.FeaturesForty undergraduate programs, 33 minors, 20 graduate programs, and more than 1,300 courses make up the academic catalog of the University of Portland. All undergraduate students will take classes in literature, philosophy, theology, history, math, science, and the social sciences, ensuring that every student has a strong basis in a holistic liberal arts education. Some of the most popular undergraduate degrees include:

    • Health Professions and Related Programs
    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
    • Engineering
    • Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
    DetailsUP offers a total of 16 study abroad programs, including a flagship program in Salzburg, Austria (students who participate in this program are affectionately known as Salzburgers). The university places a strong emphasis on the importance of residential living for students: 94 percent of freshmen and 57 percent of the total student body live on campus. Incoming students can participate in Service Plunge, a pre-orientation opportunity to volunteer with local service agencies and meet fellow freshmen.

  7. Chapman University
    Location

    Orange, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewFounded in 1861 as Hesperian College, Chapman University has won national and international recognition as an institution that prepares students to contribute toward a global society. More than 60 nations are represented among Chapman’s students and alumni. Chapman students will have the chance to study, work, and play on the 78-acre campus located in Orange County, just 30 miles from Los Angeles.FeaturesUndergraduate students at Chapman can choose from 125 available majors, minors, and 4+1 programs, which allow students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The academic catalog includes a number of unique offerings such as minors in Game Development Programming, Holocaust History, and LGBTQ Studies. Distinctive programs at the graduate level include a joint MFA/MBA in Film & Television Producing and Business Administration. Top undergraduate degrees at Chapman include:

    • Business Administration and Management
    • Cinematography and Film/Video Production
    • Psychology
    DetailsAt Chapman, students will find a commitment to a student-centered environment, with full support from the school’s 423 full-time faculty (87% of whom hold doctoral or terminal degrees in their fields). The student-faculty ratio is 14:1. One of the most unique opportunities at Chapman is the Semester at Sea, a program that has allowed thousands of students to travel more than 25,000 nautical miles while they explore ports in non-traditional destinations around the globe.

  8. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
    Location

    Socorro, NM

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewThe New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology has earned top regional and national honors for its programs in hydrology, atmospheric physics, geophysics, information technology, and geological sciences. USA Today ranked New Mexico Tech as 8th in the country for its engineering program, and named NMT as one of the Best Value Colleges nationwide. The school’s setting is considered rural, with a 320-acre campus located in Socorro, 75 miles south of Albuquerque.FeaturesMore than 20 programs are available for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at New Mexico Tech. Master’s degrees, a limited number of doctorate degrees, and professional certificates are available in fields including biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, geochemistry, physics, and a variety of engineering disciplines. Among NMT’s 1,600 undergraduates, some of the most popular majors include:

    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Petroleum Engineering
    • Biology/Biological Sciences
    • Computer and Information Sciences
    DetailsStudents will benefit from the excellent faculty at New Mexico Tech; 99 percent of full-time faculty members hold a doctoral degree in their field. Although degree programs focus on technical fields, students can expand their horizons through classes in music, fine arts, poetry and creative writing, martial arts, Celtic dance, ballroom dance, scuba diving, and more. The campus is close to opportunities for rock-climbing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.

  9. Seattle University
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewLocated in the thriving Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle University is a Jesuit institution with a mission to transform students into daring scholars and empowered leaders. The school has won numerous accolades for academic excellence. Most notably, the Albers School of Business and Economics was named number one in the nation for macroeconomics by Bloomberg Businessweek, while the School of Law’s Legal Writing program was ranked number one nationwide by U.S. News & World Report.FeaturesThrough the 64 undergraduate programs, 31 graduate programs, and 28 certificate programs offered at SU, students can prepare for careers in a variety of fields. Academic colleges at the school include Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Nursing, and Science and Engineering. Top undergraduate majors include:

    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
    • Health Professions and Related Programs
    • Social Sciences
    • Visual and Performing Arts
    DetailsAs an integral part of Washington’s economy, Seattle University generates a regional economic impact of nearly $525 million annually. SU also highlights its commitment to improving the community through service, with over 200,000 volunteer hours contributed by SU faculty, staff, and students each year. The average class size is 19 students, and every class is taught by SU’s highly experienced faculty members.

  10. Whitworth University
    Location

    Spokane, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OverviewWhitworth University’s 200-acre campus of red-brick buildings and stately pine trees provides a perfect backdrop for the university’s ongoing mission to provide “an education of mind and heart.” Located in Spokane, Washington, the university serves a student body of roughly 2,600 undergraduates and 300 graduate students. A Christian university affiliated with the Presbyterian church, Whitworth offers rigorous academic programs, a holistic liberal arts philosophy, and an overarching commitment to faith.FeaturesThe four schools at Whitworth University include the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Continuing Studies, which is designed specifically for adult students seeking a bachelor’s degree. The Whitworth in the Evening program features accelerated-format classes with an emphasis on professional development. Top majors at Whitworth include the following:

    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
    • Social Sciences
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    DetailsAmong the 2016 graduating class, 43 percent of students participated in a study abroad program during their WU tenure. The freshmen retention rate, a key measurement of student satisfaction, is an impressive 85.4 percent. The university highlights its commitment to providing the support needed for students to succeed academically, and it shows: 85 percent of students graduate within four years. In 2016, Whitworth was recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine with a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for outstanding commitment to inclusion and acceptance.

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