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Continuing Education

Set : Find the Right School

"Cool Tool: White House College Scorecard helps match your interests with potential colleges! 

Academic Programs in Washington State

Finding the programs you want to explore—and the schools that offer them—can be time-consuming. Online resources like can help. The site allows you to search by school, location, degree type, and even academic program—from architecture to zoology, and everything in between.

College Types

The best way to know what kind of school to attend is to first consider all of your options. Maybe you already know whether you want a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree, but if not, below are short descriptions of the different kinds of schools you can attend.

 Two-Year Colleges

Two-year colleges are usually called community or technical colleges. Examples of these includeBig Bend Community College and Lake Washington Technical College. These schools offer associate degrees and certificate programs. Washington community and technical colleges teach specific subjects like computer programming, graphic design, early childhood education, and automotive technology, and general subjects like history, math, and English. With some two-year degrees, you can transfer directly to a four-year school. Two-year colleges are also a great resource for apprenticeships and other trade-based education programs. For more information on apprenticeship programs in Washington, visit the Labor & Industries apprenticeship program webpage.

Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Four-year colleges and universities are popular choices for students who go to college right after high school. These can be public, like The Evergreen State College, or private, likeWhitworth College. Both types offer certificates, four-year degrees, and graduate degrees in areas such as business, history, biology, math, English, education, and more.

Private Vocational Colleges

Private vocational colleges often partner with unions and trade groups to offer apprentice and journeyman programs in fields like plumbing, carpentry, or welding. The length of each program varies, but many can take three or more years to complete. Make sure the program you're interested is a state-registered apprenticeship program by checking the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries'apprenticeship program webpage.

Proprietary or For-Profit Schools

Proprietary or for-profit schools can offer master’s and bachelor’s degrees, but most also offer associate degrees or certificates in fields like office management, medical assistance, cosmetology, dental hygiene, computer systems engineering, and more. Examples of these schools include the University of Phoenix, Bryman College, and Clare’s Beauty College. Again, the length of each program varies. Many take less than one year to complete.