Seattle University vs University of Washington – A Guide for Prospective Students

Contemplating higher education in Seattle requires evaluating which university aligns best with your needs. Seattle University and the University of Washington stand out as the city’s leading and most esteemed educational institutions, each with its unique traits, strengths, and challenges to consider.

This blog post aims to provide a detailed comparison of these two universities, focusing on aspects like location, cost, admission criteria, academic offerings, outcomes, diversity, and campus life. Our goal is to offer insights that assist you in making a well-informed and assured decision for your educational journey ahead.


Seattle University and the University of Washington, situated in the renowned city of Seattle, share a common geographic location near the iconic Space Needle. However, their campuses boast distinct settings and environments that set them apart from one another.

Seattle University is situated in the First Hill neighborhood, east of downtown Seattle. It has a 50-acre campus that is close to many cultural, artistic, and civic attractions, such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Paramount Theatre, and the Seattle Public Library.

The campus is also easily accessible by public transportation, such as buses and light rail. University of Washington, on the other hand, has a 703-acre main campus in the University District, north of downtown Seattle.

Seattle University

It also has satellite campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. The main campus is surrounded by natural beauty, such as Lake Washington, the Montlake Cut, and the Arboretum.

It also has many historic and iconic buildings, such as the Suzzallo Library, Drumheller Fountain, and the Husky Stadium. The campus is well-connected by buses, light rail, and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Factor Seattle University University of Washington
Campus Size 50 acres 703 acres
Campus Setting Large City Large City
Nearby Attractions Seattle Art Museum, Paramount Theatre, Seattle Public Library Lake Washington, Montlake Cut, Arboretum
Transportation Options Buses, Light Rail Buses, Light Rail, Burke-Gilman Trail


Seattle University - Costs
When selecting a university, it’s crucial to assess the total cost of attendance. This encompasses tuition, fees, accommodation and meals, textbooks, and materials, along with other personal expenditures.

The total cost varies based on your residency status (in-state or out-of-state) and any financial assistance received, including grants, scholarships, loans, or work-study programs. Seattle University, a private institution, maintains the same tuition and fees for all students, regardless of residency.

Nonetheless, it provides substantial financial aid to 98% of its students, bringing the average annual net cost down to $36,843. The typical grant aid awarded is $26,710 annually, with the average student loan debt reaching $24,500.

In contrast, the University of Washington, a public institution, offers different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students. In-state rates are significantly lower, benefiting Washington residents.

Financial aid is available to 50% of its students, reducing the average annual net price to $9,661 for in-state and $37,491 for out-of-state students. The average annual grant aid is $15,450, with median student loan debt at $15,000.

Factor Seattle University University of Washington
Tuition and Fees (In-State) $48,510 $10,927
Tuition and Fees (Out-of-State) $48,510 $38,757
Room and Board $13,035 $14,871
Books and Supplies $1,050 $1,206
Other Expenses $2,700 $2,262
Total Cost of Attendance (In-State) $65,295 $30,266
Total Cost of Attendance (Out-of-State) $65,295 $57,096
Average Net Price $36,843 $9,661 (In-State) / $37,491 (Out-of-State)
Average Grant Aid $26,710 $15,450
Median Student Loan Debt $24,500 $15,000



When evaluating universities, the admissions process and criteria are key factors. These elements indicate a university’s selectivity and competitive nature, as well as the academic caliber and potential of its candidates.

Components of the admissions process include application deadlines, acceptance, and enrollment rates, average high school GPAs, typical grades, standards for admission, level of competition among applicants, and policies regarding test scores. Seattle University sets its regular decision deadline for January 15 and early action for November 15.

With an 85% acceptance rate, it admits roughly 8 in 10 applicants. Its enrollment rate stands at 14.2%, meaning approximately 1 in 7 accepted students opt to enroll.

The average high school GPA for admitted students is 3.62, with B+ being the common grade range.  Seattle University presents challenging admission criteria and experiences low competition among applicants.

While it considers ACT or SAT scores, they are not mandatory for admission.  Conversely, the University of Washington’s regular decision deadline is November 16, without options for early action or decision.

It accepts about 5 in 10 applicants, reflected in its 48% acceptance rate. About 3 in 10 admitted students, indicated by a 27.8% enrollment rate, decide to enroll.

The average high school GPA here is 3.82, typically within the A- grade range. The University of Washington is known for its stringent admission standards and faces intense competition among applicants.

It neither requires nor recommends ACT or SAT scores for admission.

Factor Seattle University University of Washington
Application Deadline January 15 (Regular Decision) / November 15 (Early Action) November 16 (Regular Decision)
Acceptance Rate 85% 48%
Enrollment Rate 14.2% 27.8%
Average High School GPA 3.62 3.82
Typical High School Grades B+ A-
Admissions Standards Difficult Exceptional
Applicant Competition Low High
Test Scores Considered but not required Neither required nor recommended


Seattle University - Students in Laboratory

Considering a university also involves evaluating its academic excellence and variety. These aspects mirror the curriculum’s rigor and pertinence, the faculty’s expertise and involvement, student support and achievement, and the research’s impact and innovation.

Key indicators of a university’s academic quality and diversity encompass the ratio of students to faculty, prevalent majors, graduation rates, median graduate earnings, and research funding. Seattle University boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, signifying substantial personal attention and interaction between students and educators.

Its most sought-after majors include business, health professions, social sciences, English and literature, and psychology. Approximately 7 in 10 students at Seattle University graduate within six years, as indicated by its 71% graduation rate.

Graduates from Seattle University earn a median salary of $60,400 ten years post-enrollment, surpassing the national average by 36%. Its research spending is $3.4 million, modest in comparison to other institutions.

The University of Washington, on the other hand, has a student-to-faculty ratio of 21:1, suggesting a reasonable level of personal engagement between students and faculty. Popular majors here are social sciences, business, biology, engineering, and communication.

The graduation rate at the University of Washington stands at 80%, with about 8 in 10 students completing their degrees within six years. University of Washington alumni earn a median income of $65,800 a decade after starting at the university, 44% higher than the national average.

Its research budget is a substantial $1.41 billion, ranking 5th nationally.

Factor Seattle University University of Washington
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 11:1 21:1
Popular Majors Business (27%) Health Professions (13%) Social Sciences (8%) English and Literature (5%) Psychology (5%) Social Sciences (19%) Business (11%) Biology (10%) Engineering (8%) Communication (6%)
Graduation Rate 71% 80%
Research Expenditure $3.4 million $1.41 billion


Seattle University - Outcomes

Another significant factor to consider when choosing a university is the outcomes and opportunities of the university. The outcomes and opportunities of the university reflect the value and return of the education, the satisfaction and feedback of the alumni, the recognition and reputation of the degree, and the career and professional development of the graduates.

Here are some of the outcomes and opportunities of Seattle University and the University of Washington based on the web search results. Seattle University boasts a 98% success rate for its undergraduates, as per the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Class of 2021-2022 First Destination Survey.

This indicates that within six months post-graduation, 98% of its graduates were either employed, pursuing further education, or involved in military or volunteer services. The average initial salary for Seattle University graduates is $60,400, standing 36% higher than the national average.

Graduates from Seattle University have expressed high contentment with their academic experience, particularly valuing education in writing, citizenship, and their major. The university’s alumni network is robust, comprising 84,000 members across every state and 93 countries, and it actively fosters connections and engagement among alumni through various programs and events.

The University of Washington’s alumni network is extensive and varied, with over 500,000 members globally. It provides numerous services and benefits to its alumni, including career coaching, mentoring, networking opportunities, and lifelong learning resources.


What unique extracurricular opportunities are available at SU?

Seattle University offers a range of unique extracurricular activities, including specialized community service programs, cultural clubs, and leadership development initiatives that leverage its urban location and Jesuit heritage.

How does the UW support student innovation and entrepreneurship?

The University of Washington has dedicated resources for student innovation, including entrepreneurship centers, startup incubators, and mentorship programs, fostering a strong culture of innovation and business development.

Are there specific programs at SU that focus on sustainability and environmental studies?

Yes, Seattle University is known for its commitment to sustainability, offering programs in environmental studies and sciences, and integrating sustainable practices across its campus and curriculum.

What are the unique research opportunities for undergraduates at the UW?

The University of Washington provides undergraduates with unique research opportunities across various fields, including access to state-of-the-art labs, research projects with faculty, and partnerships with leading research institutions.

How does SU integrate its Jesuit values into the student experience?

Seattle University integrates Jesuit values through its curriculum, community engagement programs, and campus culture, emphasizing social justice, ethical leadership, and a commitment to serving the greater good.

What are the advantages of the UW’s location in the University District?

The University of Washington’s location in the University District offers students a vibrant college atmosphere, proximity to downtown Seattle, access to diverse cultural and recreational activities, and networking opportunities with numerous tech and research companies in the area.

Bottom Line

When contemplating higher education in Seattle, Seattle University and the University of Washington emerge as prominent choices, each with distinct attributes and strengths. Seattle University, with its intimate campus in the First Hill neighborhood, offers a personalized educational experience, reflected in its favorable student-to-faculty ratio and high graduate success rate.

In contrast, the University of Washington, set in the expansive University District, excels in research and offers a diverse range of majors, appealing to a broader student body. Both institutions, however, provide robust alumni networks and substantial financial aid, catering to a wide spectrum of academic and professional aspirations.

This guide aims to assist you in making a well-informed decision, aligning your educational goals with the unique offerings of these esteemed Seattle universities.