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Washington State University Academic Excellence

Accolades. Achievements. Standout academic programs.

Top tier recognition

One of America’s top research universities

WSU is one of just 108 U.S. public and private universities—out of 4,500+— singled out for its “very high research activity” in the Carnegie Classification.

Superior rankings

Best-in-the-nation university-wide writing program

for offering “stellar examples of writing in the disciplines.” WSU is the only university in the Pacific Northwest of 18 schools named. It stands among an elite group of institutions that includes Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford. For more than a decade, US News has identified WSU’s writing program as one of the nation’s best.

US News (2016)

#1 online criminal justice bachelor’s degree in the nation

Criminal Justice Degree Online (2014)

#1 for research in advertising, literacy (e.g. media literacy) and substance abuse prevention

conducted by Murrow College of Communication faculty



Top 5 interior design graduate program in the West

DesignIntelligence (2015)

Top 6 organic agriculture program in the nation

Organic Farming Research Foundation (2012)

#8 hospitality business management program nationwide


#9 nationally for articles by Murrow College of Communication faculty

published in the scholarly journal Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (1993-2013)

Top 10 nationally for communication research in 27 areas

conducted by Murrow College of Communication faculty


Extraordinary achievements

Faculty elected to membership in the National Academies

The nation’s highest honor for scientific researchers

Winner of the CleanTech Achievement Award

The 2015 honor from industry association CleanTech Alliance Washington recognizes WSU’s contributions to the state’s clean technologies industry in many fields:

  • Aviation biofuels
  • Smart grid
  • Advanced composite and bio-based materials
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Air and water quality
  • Sustainable building design
  • Organic and precision agriculture

Internationally recognized for major archeological research findings

The First Shanghai Archaeology Forum in 2013 honored the major research findings of WSU’s Village Ecodynamics Project, which examines the influence of social and environmental factors on prehistoric Pueblo farmers. The WSU project was among the top 10 in the world and the only project in North America to be selected for this honor.

Unique undergraduate programs

Writing Program

Writing skills are essential to success in the professional world. WSU’s nationally acclaimed Writing Program teaches, tutors, and assesses writing to help students communicate effectively. Before beginning the junior year, all students must complete a Writing Portfolio. Required for graduation, it evaluates students’ readiness to write at the requisite level for upper-division courses in their major.

Common Reading Program

Each year the University chooses a single book to be read by all freshmen. The book is used in courses and special extracurricular programs. Professors, residence hall staff, librarians, and others discuss topics raised in the book and link them to course content. Professors also share information from their research that relates to the book’s themes. Freshmen learn the value of research, the power of ideas, and ways in which different disciplines approach similar problems.

Honors College that prepares top students for influential careers

The Honors College attracts top students in all majors from across the United States and the world. Honors alumni have long and distinguished records of leadership and impact—locally and globally—throughout their careers.
The Honors College curriculum lets students choose among dozens of specialized classes in place of required general education courses. Class sizes are typically capped at 25 students. Honors students complete a thesis project, researching an academic question of importance to them, documenting their analysis and conclusions, and orally presenting their work to faculty evaluators.

Top training for future broadcast journalists

The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication offers the only comprehensive broadcast journalism program in the state of Washington. Noted for combining professional skill building and theory, the program is one of only a few nationwide that airs a daily, student-produced television newscast. The College houses 3 nationally acclaimed media outlets, including Northwest Public Radio, Northwest Public Television and the Murrow News Service.

Real-world training in small-business consulting

The Business Growth Mentor and Analysis Program empowers teams of students—mentored by seasoned business executives—to advise small businesses in southwest Washington and the greater Portland area. The students’ pro bono consulting has been so successful that participating clients’ revenues grew by $5.4 million in the first three years following the program’s inception in Fall 2010. $4.6 million of that growth was directly attributable to the students’ help.

Fast track to a doctoral degree in life science disciplines

The STARS (Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies) program allows select students in biochemistry, genetics and cell biology, microbiology, or neuroscience to earn a doctorate in as little as 7 years after leaving high school. The program immerses freshmen in research and provides them with one-on-one mentorship from faculty members.

Internationally recognized entrepreneurship program

The award-winning Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship program unites students from a variety of disciplines to develop businesses from their technology ideas.

Unique construction engineering program

In 2016 WSU will begin offering the only Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Engineering in the Pacific Northwest. Designed with input from Fortune 500 company leaders, the academic program equips graduates to succeed in the heavy/civil construction industry.

Accelerated track to DVM and nursing degrees

Honors College students can apply early to 2 health care programs

Honors College Pre-Admit Veterinary Program

Sophomores can apply to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine; if selected, they pursue the Honors curriculum that dovetails with vet med prerequisites and can graduate with their DVM degree in 7 instead of the usual 8 years.

Direct-admit program to the WSU College of Nursing

Incoming Honors freshmen can apply for the program. Accepted students maintain the required GPA and complete Honors and nursing prerequisite courses in Pullman in years 1 and 2, and years 3 and 4 at one of the nursing college sites in Spokane, Yakima, or the Tri-Cities.

Cross-disciplinary training in design, construction, and engineering

The unique, interdisciplinary environment in engineering and design disciplines prepares graduates to be work ready on Day 1, with hands-on skills. WSU’s School of Design and Construction offers all 4 of the following academic programs:

  • Interior design
  • Construction management
  • Architecture
  • Landscape architecture

In each field, students interact with other disciplines throughout the curriculum. The Integrated Design Experience (IDX) studio fosters collaboration among students in these disciplines, as well as civil engineering students and user groups, to develop sustainable solutions for the built environment.

Building information literacy skills across the curriculum

One of the goals of the WSU baccalaureate is information literacy, or the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. To give students this important preparation, WSU Libraries faculty created an innovative information literacy skill-building guide and work closely with professors and instructors to customize and teach these skills for a specific course of study. In fiscal year 2014, WSU Libraries faculty taught about 1,200 instruction sessions to more than 110 courses, reaching roughly 40,000 individuals.


Exceptional graduate and professional programs

Interdisciplinary doctoral degrees

Doctoral students can custom-design a degree program that spans 3 disciplines to earn an individual interdisciplinary doctoral degree. In addition, Pharmacy students can take advantage of dual degree programs. There is a joint Pharm.D./MBA program for students interested in specializing in business management and a joint Pharm.D./Ph.D. program for those interested in research.

One of the best-equipped veterinary teaching hospitals in the nation

Veterinary students learn to use the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment technologies, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT scan), and nuclear scintigraphy for large and small animals. The hospital provides full service care, and offers a wide range of specialty services in oncology, cardiology, orthopedic and soft tissue surgery, internal medicine, dermatology, dentistry, and neurology.

One of nation’s strongest university-based radiochemistry research programs

For several years running, WSU has produced roughly half of all Ph.D. graduates in nuclear/radiochemistry in the nation. Collaborations with experts at Pacific Northwest National Lab and Idaho National Lab offer students invaluable opportunities to work alongside preeminent researchers. The WSU Nuclear Radiation Center is a valuable on-campus resource for researchers and students.

International and camp rotations for pharmacy students

As a 4th-year pharmacy student, you have the unique opportunity to complete rotations in diverse cultural and clinical settings. You could travel to Ecuador or Peru, work with children with diabetes, or apply for an external rotation program. 

Outstanding preparation for veterinary licensing exams

Students completing the WSU Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program consistently achieve a near-perfect pass rate on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.