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50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West

colleges out of california

From small private colleges to large public universities, there is plenty of diversity to be found west of the Mississippi for students looking to advance their education and eventually their careers. Whether you’re looking for the cheapest colleges in the west or the most affordable colleges for out-of-state students, you’re bound to find a great value school that fits your needs and budget.

While some of these schools offer only two-year and four-year degrees, others include advanced opportunities for credentialing at the master’s and even doctoral levels. If you’re interested in distance education, there are plenty of options for online and hybrid learning as well. In this ranking, we explore the 50 best regional colleges and universities in the Western United States and provide some basic information regarding each school’s academic offerings.

 

Featured Schools

Methodology

Graduate Tuition:

  • Under $5,000—4 points
  • Under $10,000—3 points
  • Under $15,000—2 points
  • Under $20,000—1 point

National Recognition (U.S. News & World Report’s Ranking of Best Colleges)

  • Top 150—1 point
  • Top 75—2 points
  • Top 50—3 points
  • Top 25—4 points
  • Top 10—5 points

20-Year Net ROI

  • Over $200,000—1 point
  • Over $300,000—2 points
  • Over $400,000—3 points
  • Over $500,000—4 points
  • Over $600,000—5 points

Wow Factor
1 point per feature that “wowed” us

Ranking the Most Affordable Colleges in the West

To compile this ranking of the top 50 most affordable colleges in the west, our editors began with an initial pool of colleges and universities located in the thirteen states that make up the Western United States. These include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Next, we applied a tuition filter, eliminating schools with undergraduate tuition rates of more than $25,000 per year. Finally, we applied the rating and ranking methodology above, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), PayScale, and U.S. News & World Report. In the case of a tie, the more affordable school was awarded the higher ranking.

Here is a sneak peek at the Top 10 Most Affordable Colleges in the West:

  1. CSU-Long Beach
  2. BYU-Idaho
  3. San Jose State University
  4. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
  5. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
  6. Oregon Institute of Technology
  7. CSU-Fullerton
  8. San Francisco State University
  9. CSU-Sacramento
  10. CSU-Chico

#50—City University of Seattle

Seattle, Washington

Website

Points: 3

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West City University of Seattle

Known as a distance education leader, the City University of Seattle is one of the best private affordable colleges in the west. Established in 1973, the school enrolls just under 2,000 students annually and offers undergraduate and graduate credentials in academic disciplines like:

  • Health and Human Services
  • Computer and Information Systems
  • Business and Management
  • Teaching and Education

The school’s online bachelor’s programs in business and its online master’s in computer information technology are ranked among some of the best such offerings nationwide. CityU is fully accredited to offer online and on-campus degree programs by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Undergraduate Tuition: $13,658

#49—National University

La Jolla, California

Website

Points: 3

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West National University

One of the most affordable colleges for out-of-state students in our ranking, National University serves more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Degree programs are available both on-campus and online and include popular majors such as:

  • Nursing
  • Education
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology
  • Business Administration

The school is also home to nationally ranked bachelor’s degree programs in computer science as well as master’s-level offerings in nursing and public health. National University is institutionally accredited to award these postsecondary credentials by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. U.S. News & World Report has identified it as one of the nation’s leading regional universities in the Western United States.

Undergraduate Tuition: $13,320

#48—Alaska Pacific University

Anchorage, Alaska

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Alaska Pacific University

Among the top private affordable colleges in the west, Alaska Pacific University was established in 1959. The school currently enrolls just over 500 students per year, yet it still offers an impressive range of academic degrees ranging from associates to doctoral programs. At the bachelor’s level, APU offers majors such as:

  • Business Administration
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Health Sciences
  • Environmental Public Health
  • Sustainability Studies

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has accredited Alaska Pacific University to award credentials at the postsecondary level. The school has been ranked among the top 100 regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $20,760

#47—Southern Oregon University

Ashland, Oregon

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Southern Oregon University

A public liberal arts school, Southern Oregon University is also one of the more affordable colleges in the west. Established in 1926, the school now serves roughly 5,000 undergraduate students. Popular majors include:

  • Education
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Psychology
  • Marketing
  • Fitness Studies

SOU also offers numerous graduate degree programs in education, performing arts, counseling, and business administration. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has extended institutional accreditation to the university. It has been ranked among the top 75 regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,710

#46—Western Colorado University

Gunnison, Colorado

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Western Colorado University

Though it’s one of the smaller affordable colleges in the west, Western Colorado University offers many academic majors for its undergraduate students. The school’s most popular bachelor’s degree programs include those in:

  • Fitness Studies
  • Biological Sciences
  • Management
  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology

The school is also home to a nationally recognized online master’s degree program in education. Western Colorado University is fully accredited to award these credentials at both the graduate and undergraduate levels by The Higher Learning Commission. It is listed among the top 75 Western universities in U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,646

#45—Western Oregon University

Monmouth, Oregon

Website

Points: 4

Western Oregon University 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West

As one of the smaller affordable colleges in the west, Western Oregon University serves a student body of just over 4,000 undergraduate students. Part of the Oregon University System, this public university offers majors in academic disciplines like:

  • Homeland Security
  • Education
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Psychology
  • Business

WOU is also home to one of the nation’s leading graduate degree programs in rehabilitation counseling. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has fully accredited the university to award postsecondary academic credentials. It has been recognized as one of the 75 best Western universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,194

#44—Adams State University

Alamosa, Colorado

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Adams State University

Adams State University is not only one of the most affordable colleges in the West, but it is also the most diverse college in Colorado. The school serves a small student body of just over 3,000 total students. It offers a wide range of undergraduate degree programs in academic disciplines like:

  • Communication and Media Studies
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Political Science
  • Kinesiology
  • Agriculture

Several graduate programs, as well as online degrees, are also available. Adams State is fully accredited to award these postsecondary credentials by The Higher Learning Commission. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among some of the best regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,560

#43—Eastern Oregon University

La Grande, Oregon

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Eastern Oregon University

Founded in 1929, Eastern Oregon University is one of the smaller affordable colleges in the West. The school has a total enrollment of just over 3,000 students. Still, its academic offerings are broad and include popular majors such as:

  • Leisure and Fitness Studies
  • Business
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Psychology
  • Marketing

The school also offers nationally recognized online programs, including a variety of bachelor’s degrees and master’s programs in education and business administration. Eastern Oregon University is accredited to award these academic credentials online and on-campus by the Northwestern Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,405

#42—Metropolitan State University of Denver

Denver, Colorado

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Metropolitan State University of Denver

One of the larger and more affordable colleges in the west, the Metropolitan State University of Denver serves the Denver, Colorado area, enrolling over 20,000 students per year. The school focuses on undergraduate studies and offers popular majors such as:

  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Health Professions
  • Interdisciplinary Studies

The university’s bachelor’s degree programs in business and computer science have been nationally ranked, and the school is also home to an exemplary graduate degree program in social work. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, MSU Denver is also one of the most affordable colleges for out-of-state students featured in our ranking.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,693

#41—Eastern New Mexico University

Portales, New Mexico

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Eastern New Mexico University

Established in 1927, Eastern New Mexico University is the largest regional university in New Mexico. The school has been designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and, nearly 35% of enrolled students classify themselves as Hispanic. In addition to its main campus in Portales, ENMU operates two satellite campuses in Roswell and Ruidoso for students seeking an associate’s degree. Popular undergraduate majors include:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Aviation Science
  • Business Administration
  • Social Work
  • Biology

For graduate students, top programs span academic disciplines like:

  • Counseling
  • Nursing
  • Education
  • Communicative Disorders
  • Physical Education

One of the most affordable colleges in the west, Eastern New Mexico University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the top universities in the region.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,648

#40—Western New Mexico University

Silver City, New Mexico

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Western New Mexico University

One of the most established affordable colleges in the west, Western New Mexico University was founded in 1893. Today, the school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 70 different areas of study, both on-campus and online. This includes bachelor’s degree programs in academic disciplines such as:

  • Education
  • Criminal Justice
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Accounting

The school’s graduate degree program in social work has also been nationally ranked. The Higher Learning Commission institutionally accredits WNMU. It’s been called one of the West’s leading regional universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,574

#39—New Mexico Highlands University

Las Vegas, New Mexico

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West New Mexico Highlands University

Founded in 1893, New Mexico Highlands University is one of the oldest and cheapest colleges in the west. The school offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its main campus and five different university centers throughout the state. Popular majors include:

  • Health Professions
  • Psychology
  • Business
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Education

The school is also home to nationally ranked graduate programs in social work and rehabilitation counseling. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited New Mexico Highlands University to award postsecondary degrees. It is one of the leading regional universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,558

#38—Montana State University-Billings

Billings, Montana

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West MSU- Billings

Established in 1927, Montana State University now offers academic degree and certificate programs in well over a hundred different study areas. Its relatively small study body comprised of approximately 4,000 undergraduate students pursue popular majors such as:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Psychology
  • Health Sciences

A low student to faculty ratio creates an intimate learning environment for students. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has accredited Montana State- Billings to award postsecondary degrees in various academic disciplines. It’s been ranked among some of the West’s leading regional universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $5,980

#37—Utah Valley University

Orem, Utah

Website

Points: 4

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Utah Valley University

One of the larger of our affordable colleges in the west, Utah Valley University, serves a student body of over 40,000 students. The school emphasizes undergraduate education, though it also offers nearly a dozen master’s degree programs. Popular majors include:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Psychology
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Computer and Information Sciences

The school’s bachelor’s degree programs in engineering and computer science have been nationally ranked. UVU is institutionally accredited to confer postsecondary degrees by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It’s been ranked among some of the West’s leading regional universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $5,906

#36—Colorado Mesa University

Grand Junction, Colorado

Website

Points: 5

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Colorado Mesa University

One of the mid-sized affordable colleges in the West, Colorado Mesa University enrolls just over 9,000 students per year. Though it was founded in 1925, the school did not attain university status until 2011. Today, Colorado Mesa offers over a hundred different majors for undergraduates, including popular options such as:

  • Kinesiology and Exercise Science
  • Nursing
  • Criminal Justice
  • Business
  • Biological Sciences

The school is also home to some of the best online master’s degree programs in nursing nationwide. It holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among some of the best, most affordable colleges in the region.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,686

#35—Colorado State University-Pueblo

Pueblo, Colorado

Website

Points: 6

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Colorado State University- Pueblo

One of the smaller affordable colleges in the west, Colorado State University-Pueblo enrolls just over 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students per year. The school offers 35 different bachelor’s degree programs, including popular majors such as:

  • Sociology
  • Nursing
  • Business
  • Psychology

CSU-Pueblo’s undergraduate degree programs in business and engineering have been nationally ranked, and its master’s degree programs in nursing have also been recognized as among the best in the country. The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited the university to award degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the top 100 regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,591

#34—The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

Website

Points: 6

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West The Evergreen State College

A small public school emphasizing the liberal arts and sciences, The Evergreen State College made our ranking of the most affordable colleges in the West due to its stellar reputation and low in-state tuition rates. Known for its innovation as well as its undergraduate education programs, the school also offers majors in academic areas such as:

  • Visual Arts
  • Environmental Studies
  • Media Arts
  • Computer Sciences

Evergreen State is also home to a nationally recognized graduate degree program in public affairs. The school holds its institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. U.S. News & World Report has called it one of the 50 best regional universities in the Western United States.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,325

#33—California State University-Channel Islands

Camarillo, California

Website

Points: 6

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West California State University- Channel Islands

One of the younger affordable colleges in the west, California State University-Channel Islands was established in 2002. Offering approximately 30 academic degree options to a student body of just over 7,000 enrolled students, the school remains one of the smallest in the California State University system. Standout programs include:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Global Business
  • BS in Health Sciences
  • BS in Mechatronics Engineering
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Liberal Studies
  • BA in Political Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The WASC Senior College and University Commission has fully accredited Cal State-Channel Islands to award these academic credentials. It has been ranked among the top 50 regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,802

#32—Southern Utah University

Cedar City, Utah

Website

Points: 6

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Southern Utah University

Among the more established affordable colleges in the west, Southern Utah University was founded in 1897. Today, the school enrolls over 10,000 students annually and offers nearly 160 different academic programs. Popular majors at the university include:

  • Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Fitness Studies
  • General Business
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Education

The school’s graduate programs in business administration and public affairs have also been nationally ranked. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has fully accredited SUU to award degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It has been ranked among the top 65 regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,770

#31—Montana Technological University

Butte, Montana

Website

Points: 6

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Montana Tech

Known for its excellence in STEM education, Montana Technological University is one of our smaller affordable colleges in the West. With an enrollment of fewer than 2,000 students, the school still manages to offer a wide variety of degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Examples include:

  • BS in Business and Information Technology
  • BS in Occupational Safety and Health
  • BS in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
  • MS in Ecological Restoration
  • PhD in Materials Science

Montana Tech’s undergraduate engineering programs have been ranked among some of the best such programs nationwide. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has accredited the university to award STEM degrees and other academic credentials.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,390

#30—Humboldt State University

Arcata, California

Website

Points: 7

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Humboldt State University

Humboldt State University was established in 1913 and is a member of the California State University system. As one of the smaller affordable colleges in the west, the school currently enrolls just over 7,000 students and offers bachelor’s degrees in a variety of academic disciplines, including:

  • Business Administration
  • Environmental Science
  • Biological Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Physical Education

Humboldt State is also home to a nationally recognized graduate degree program in social work. The WASC Senior College and University Commission has accredited the university to award academic credentials at the postsecondary level. It is one of the top regional universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,858

#29—University of Hawaii-West Oahu

Kapolei, Hawaii

Website

Points: 7

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West University of Hawaii- West Oahu

A nationally-ranked public university, the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, is one of the West’s smaller affordable colleges. The school was established in 1976 and currently enrolls just over 3,000 students, all undergraduates. UHWO’s most popular majors include:

  • Humanistic Studies
  • Social Sciences
  • Business Administration
  • Interdisciplinary Studies

The WASC Senior College and University Commission has fully accredited the University of Hawaii- West Oahu to confer academic credentials at the undergraduate level. U.S. News & World Report has recognized it as one of the top 20 regional universities in the Western United States.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,584

#28—California State University-Bakersfield

Bakersfield, California

Website

Points: 7

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West California State University- Bakersfield

One of the leading affordable colleges in the west, California State University-Bakersfield was established in 1965. Currently, the school enrolls over 11,000 students annually, offering programs in popular academic disciplines like:

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Law Enforcement
  • Homeland Security
  • Psychology

The school is particularly well-known for its undergraduate programs in computer engineering, and its graduate offerings in social work and public affairs are also nationally ranked. Cal State- Bakersfield holds institutional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It has been ranked among the 60 best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,498

#27—University of Alaska-Southeast

Juneau, Alaska

Website

Points: 7

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West University of Alaska- Southeast

One of the three public universities that comprise the University of Alaska System, UA Southeast is also one of the cheapest colleges in the west. The school enrolls just over 2,000 students annually, offering both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Popular majors include:

  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Social Sciences
  • Education
  • English Language and Literature
  • Marketing

The school’s graduate program in public affairs has also been nationally ranked. Alaska Southeast is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to award these academic credentials. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school as one of the top 100 regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,960

#26—California State University-Dominguez Hills

Carson, California

Website

Points: 7

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Cal State- Dominguez Hills

California State University-Dominguez Hills is not only one of the more affordable colleges in the west, but it is also one of the most diverse. It has been recognized as one of the best higher learning institutions for minority students and those with significant financial need. Some of the school’s most popular majors include:

  • Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Management
  • Social Sciences

Cal State-Dominguez Hills has been nationally ranked for its undergraduate programs in teaching and computer science and its graduate offerings in occupational therapy. The WASC Senior College and University Commission has accredited the university to award these academic credentials. U.S. News & World Report has also rated the school among some of the best regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,941

#25—Weber State University

Ogden, Utah

Website

Points: 7

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Weber State University

Founded in 1889 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Weber State University is now a public institution and one of the West’s most affordable colleges. The university offers well over two hundred academic degree and certificate programs, including 16 different graduate degrees. Among its many undergraduate degree programs are nationally ranked options in engineering, computer science, and business. Weber State’s graduate degrees in health care management have also been recognized as some of the nation’s best such programs. The school holds its institutional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the top 100 best and most affordable colleges in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $5,956

#24—Warner Pacific University

Portland, Oregon

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Warner Pacific University

A Christian liberal arts school, Warner Pacific University also happens to be one of the most affordable colleges for out-of-state students in our ranking. Serving a small student body of just over 400 students, the school is home to popular bachelor’s degree programs in subjects like:

  • Elementary Education
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Business Administration and Management
  • Sport and Fitness Administration
  • Accounting

Warner Pacific University is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. U.S. News & World Report has called it a best value school and one of the ten best regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $19,860

#23—University of Alaska-Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West University of Alaska- Anchorage

One of the top public affordable colleges in the west, the University of Alaska-Anchorage offers more than 100 different academic degree programs to its student body of roughly 12,000 students. Among the school’s most popular offerings include bachelor’s degree plans in subjects like:

  • Health Professions
  • Engineering
  • Social Sciences
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Business

UAA is also home to outstanding graduate degree programs in occupational therapy, social work, public health, and public affairs. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has fully accredited the university to offer these academic degree programs. The school is one of the 75 best Western universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,622

#22—Central Washington University

Ellensburg, Washington

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Central Washington University

One of the more affordable colleges in the west, Central Washington University is also considered an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution. Currently, the school enrolls more than 11,000 undergraduate students and offers over 135 different academic majors. Popular options include:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Elementary Education
  • Business Administration
  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences

Graduate degree programs are also available, including a nationally recognized fine arts program. CWU is institutionally accredited to award these credentials by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the 50 best regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,444

#21—Sonoma State University

Rohnert Park, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Sonoma State University

One of the smaller affordable colleges in the west and a member of the California State University, Sonoma State University enrolls just under 9,000 students per year. The school emphasizes undergraduate education, offering nationally recognized bachelor’s degree programs in business and computer science. Additional majors include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Anthropology
  • Criminal Justice Studies
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Philosophy

Sonoma State also offers top master’s degrees in nursing as well as an outstanding part-time MBA program. The WASC Senior College and University Commission has accredited the university to award these academic credentials. It has been ranked as one of the 35 best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,952

#20—California State University-Stanislaus

Turlock, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Cal State- Stanislaus

A long-standing member of the California State University system and one of the more affordable colleges in the west, Stan State has been offering high-quality academic degree programs since 1957. Majors popular amongst the school’s nearly 10,000 undergraduate students include:

  • Business Administration
  • Liberal Studies
  • Criminal Justice
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

The school is also home to nationally ranked graduate programs in business administration, public affairs, and social work. Stanislaus State is institutionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It’s one of the top 30 regional universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,584

#19—California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

Pomona, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West California State Polytechnic University- Pomona

Founded in 1938, today, California State University-Pomona is known for its prestigious engineering programs. As a comprehensive institute of higher learning, however, the school also offers bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral degree programs in a wide variety of disciplines, including:

  • Hospitality Administration
  • General Business and Management
  • Computer Science
  • Teaching

The university’s graduate degree programs in public affairs have also been nationally ranked. Cal Poly Pomona is fully accredited at the institutional level by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It has been named a top ten regional university in the Western United States by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,438

#18—California State University-Monterey Bay

Seaside, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West California State University- Monterey Bay

With a student body of less than 8,000, California State University-Monterey Bay is one of the West’s smaller affordable colleges. Founded in 1994, the school has since been designated as a Hispanic-serving institution. In terms of academics, Cal State-Monterey Bay is known for its excellent teacher preparation programs; other popular majors include:

  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies
  • Business
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Marketing

The school has also gained recognition for its graduate-level social work programs. The WASC Senior College and University Commission has granted CSUMB full institutional accreditation. It has been ranked among the 25 best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,147

#17—California State University-Northridge

Northridge, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West California State University - Northridge

Among the largest of our picks for the top, most affordable colleges in the west, California State University-Northridge enrolls nearly 40,000 students per year. Academically, the school is known for its excellent undergraduate engineering programs as well as popular majors such as:

  • Education
  • Communication
  • Business
  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology

Cal State-Northridge also offers various graduate degree programs, including nationally ranked offerings in health care management, social work, and fine arts. The WASC Senior College and University Commission has accredited CSUN to award these undergraduate and graduate credentials. It has been named one of the top 40 regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,017

#16—Lewis-Clark State College

Lewiston, Idaho

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Lewis-Clark State College

One of the best choices for private affordable colleges in the west, Lewis-Clark State College emphasizes both undergraduate and online education. The school enrolls nearly 4,000 undergraduate students each year and offers more than 130 different degree programs at the associate’s and bachelor’s levels. Popular majors include:

  • Public Administration
  • Fitness Studies
  • Management
  • Education
  • Health Sciences

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has institutionally accredited Lewis-Clark State to confer undergraduate credentials. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school among the 20 best regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,982

#15—California State University-San Bernardino

Sacramento, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Cal State- Bernardino

One of the most affordable colleges in the west and in the California State University system, Cal State-San Bernardino has been offering postsecondary degrees since 1965. Today, the school offers a wide variety of undergraduate majors, including popular programs in:

  • Psychology
  • Management
  • Homeland Security
  • Social Sciences
  • Health Professions

The school has been nationally ranked for its graduate degree programs in social work, rehabilitation counseling, public affairs, and business administration. The WASC Senior College and University Commission has fully accredited CSUSB to award these undergraduate and graduate credentials. The school has been ranked among the top 40 regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,952

#14—California State University-East Bay

Hayward, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Cal State- East Bay

Known for its nationally ranked undergraduate programs in business, engineering, and computer science, California State University-East Bay also happens to be one of the West’s cheapest colleges. First established in 1957, the school now serves more than 16,000 students through multiple campuses throughout the San Francisco East Bay area. These students study popular academic subjects such as:

  • Psychology
  • Social Sciences
  • Business Administration
  • Family and Consumer Economics
  • Health

The university’s graduate degree programs in social work and speech-language pathology have been ranked among some of the nation’s best. Cal State-East Bay is institutionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. As one of the most affordable colleges in the region, it has garnered a top position in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the West’s best regional universities.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,890

#13—California State University-Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West California State University- Los Angeles

One of the leading affordable colleges in the west, California State University-Los Angeles enrolls 26,000 students per year. These students are given the opportunity to explore over a hundred different degree and certificate programs, including top-ranked bachelor’s in engineering and master’s in fine arts and social work programs. Other popular areas of study include:

  • Business and Management
  • Health Professions
  • Social Sciences
  • Law Enforcement

Cal State-LA is fully accredited at the institutional level by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,781

#12—Northern New Mexico College

Espanola, New Mexico

Website

Points: 8

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Northern New Mexico College

A comprehensive public institution of higher learning, Northern New Mexico College is one of the most affordable colleges for out-of-state students in our ranking. The school offers more than 50 different associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in high-demand academic disciplines such as:

  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Business Administration
  • Engineering
  • Technology

The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Northern New Mexico College to award undergraduate credentials. The school is not only one of the cheapest colleges in the west, but it has been ranked among the top 25 schools in the region by U.S. News & World Report.  

Undergraduate Tuition: $4,952

#11—Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington

Website

Points: 9

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Western Washington University

One of our top picks for the most affordable colleges in the West, Western Washington University has been nationally recognized for its excellent graduate degree programs in rehabilitation counseling. The vast majority of the school’s 16,000-plus students are undergraduates, however. These students pursue popular majors at the university, including:

  • Management
  • Multidisciplinary Studies
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Resources and Conservation

The school is also home to top-rated bachelor’s degree programs in business, engineering, and computer science. WWU is fully accredited to award both undergraduate and graduate degrees by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. U.S. News & World Report has identified the school as one of the 20 best regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,508

#10—California State University-Chico

Chico, California

Website

Points: 9

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Cal State- Chico

Established in 1887, California State University-Chico is the second oldest member of the California State University system and one of the oldest affordable colleges in the west. With a current enrollment of over 17,000 students, the school offers undergraduate degrees in a wide array of disciplines, including popular majors such as:

  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Journalism
  • Psychology
  • Management
  • Health Sciences

The school is also home to nationally ranked graduate degree programs in social work, speech-language pathology, and fine arts. Cal State-Chico is fully accredited to confer postsecondary credentials by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. U.S. News & World Report has identified it as one of the 30 best regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,864

#9—California State University-Sacramento

Sacramento, California

Website

Points: 9

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Sacramento State University

Better known as Sacramento State University, CSU-Sacramento is one of the most affordable colleges in the west and a member of the California State University system. The school enrolls nearly 30,000 undergraduate students each year, offering popular majors such as:

  • Business
  • Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Journalism
  • Social Sciences
  • Health Professions

Sac State is particularly well-known for its undergraduate engineering program and its graduate degrees in social work and public affairs. The university holds its institutional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission. U.S. News & World Report has named it one of the best, most affordable colleges in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,418

#8—San Francisco State University

San Francisco, California

Website

Points: 9

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West San Francisco State University

One of the larger affordable colleges in the west and part of the California State University system, San Francisco State University enrolls nearly 30,000 students annually. These students pursue popular majors at the university such as:

  • Communication
  • Management
  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Visual and Performing Arts

The school is particularly well-known for its bachelor’s degree programs in education and engineering and its graduate offerings in social work, rehabilitation counseling, and public health. SF State is institutionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. U.S. News & World Report has recognized the school as one of the top 30 regional universities in the West.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,006

#7—California State University-Fullerton

Fullerton, California

Website

Points: 9

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West California State University- Fullerton

One of the largest and most affordable colleges in the west, California State University-Fullerton was established in 1957. Today, it enrolls over 40,000 students and offers more than 200 degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Popular areas of study include:

  • Psychology
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Health Professions
  • Social Sciences

The school’s undergraduate degrees in engineering and computer science and graduate nursing programs have all been nationally ranked. Cal State–Fullerton holds its institutional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Because its one of the most affordable colleges for out of state students, the university has been named a “best value school” by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,953

#6—Oregon Institute of Technology

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Website

Points: 11

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Oregon Tech

Oregon’s sole polytechnic university, Oregon Institute of Technology, is also one of the West’s more affordable colleges. The school emphasizes STEM degrees but also offers majors in high-demand disciplines such as:

  • Healthcare
  • Business
  • Social Sciences
  • Communication

The school’s undergraduate engineering program is one of the best in the nation. Many graduate degree programs are also available, including:

  • MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • MS in Engineering
  • MS in Allied Health
  • MS in Marriage and Family Therapy

Oregon Tech is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It’s been called one of the five best regional universities in the Western United States by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,269

#5—California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, California

Website

Points: 12

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

One of the two polytechnic schools in the California State University system and one of the most affordable colleges in the west, California Polytechnic State University was first established in 1901. The school serves just over 20,000 undergraduate schools per year, offering majors in high-demand academic disciplines such as:

  • Business
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Agriculture
  • Marketing

The school’s bachelor’s degree programs in engineering and computer science are routinely ranked among some of the best such programs nationwide. Cal Poly holds its institutional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It’s one of the ten best regional universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,071

#4—New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Socorro, New Mexico

Website

Points: 12

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

 A highly revered STEM school and one of the more affordable colleges in the west, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology offers robust undergraduate and graduate degree programs in high-demand academic disciplines like:

  • Engineering
  • Computer and Information Technology
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Management

The school’s graduate programs in earth sciences, engineering, and computer science have been ranked among some of the best such programs nationwide. New Mexico Tech holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission. It’s one of the 20 best universities in the region, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,361

#3—San Jose State University

San Jose, California

Website

Points: 12

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West San Jose State University

In 1857, San Jose State University became the first campus of the California State University system and is one of the oldest, most affordable colleges in the west. Today, the school enrolls over 35,000 students annually, most of them undergraduates. Known for its excellent bachelor’s degree programs in engineering, San Jose State also offers popular majors such as:

  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Marketing
  • Health Professions
  • Psychology

Top graduate programs offered by the university include those in library and information studies, and occupational therapy. SJSU is fully accredited to award undergraduate and graduate degrees by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It’s been ranked among the 25 best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,852

#2—Brigham Young University-Idaho

Rexburg, Idaho

Website

Points: 12

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West BYU- Idaho

One of the most affordable colleges for out-of-state students in our ranking, Brigham Young University-Idaho is a private university affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Established in 1888, the university now enrolls nearly 40,000 undergraduate students and offers nearly a hundred different bachelor’s degree programs. The school is known for its outstanding undergraduate degree programs in engineering, but it also offers a host of other majors, including:

  • Nursing
  • Computer Information Technology
  • Education
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • Visual and Performing Arts

BYU-Idaho is fully accredited to award associate’s and bachelor’s credentials by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the top 20 affordable colleges in the west.

Undergraduate Tuition: $4,300

#1—California State University-Long Beach

Long Beach, California

Website

Points: 14

50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West Cal State- Long Beach

Highly ranked among universities in the region, California State University-Long Beach is one of the more populous affordable colleges in the west. The school enrolls nearly 40,000 students annually, most of them undergraduates. Popular majors at the university include:

  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Business
  • Human Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Health Professions

Cal State-Long Beach is also home to nationally ranked graduate programs in social work and health care management. The university is institutionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,834

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