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Academic Excellence

Accolades. Achievements. Standout academic programs.

Top tier recognition

One of America’s top research universities

WSU is one of just 131 U.S. colleges and universities—out of 4,600+ public and private institutions—named among doctoral universities with the “highest research activity” in the Carnegie Classification (2018).

Faculty elected to membership in the National Academies

The nation’s highest honor for scientific researchers

Superior rankings

#1 in U.S. Department of Agriculture research and development expenditures

USDA is the largest funder of agricultural and natural resource research and development at U.S. academic institutions. Expenditure of USDA funding is the most consistent measure of external research support for a university. WSU spent $50.9 million in USDA funding in the 2017 fiscal year, leading the list of 387 universities nationwide.

National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Survey (2017)

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

conducted by Murrow College of Communication faculty
Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS)

#1 online hospitality business management bachelor’s degree (2019)

#1 bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program in Washington by number of graduates (2019)

#2 online bachelor of science program in data analytics

Data Science Degree Programs Guide (2019)

#3 online criminal justice bachelor’s degree

College Choice (2019)

#5 online accounting bachelor’s degree

The Best Schools (2019)

#7 most innovative college for foreign language learning (2019)

#8 hospitality business management program nationwide (2019)

Top 10 nationally for communication research in 24 areas

conducted by Murrow College of Communication faculty
Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS)

Unique undergraduate programs

Writing Program

Writing skills are essential to success in the professional world. WSU’s nationally ranked Writing Program supports, tutors, and assesses writing to help students communicate effectively. Before beginning the junior year, all students must assemble a Writing Portfolio. Required for graduation, the portfolio is used to evaluate 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. Professors, residence hall staff, librarians, and others explore topics raised in the book. They link topics to course content and special extracurricular programming. Professors also share information from their research that relates to the book’s themes. Students learn the value of research, the power of ideas, and ways in which different disciplines approach similar problems.

Innovations that foster student success

The Transformational Change Initiative takes a multipronged approach to helping students succeed in college and beyond. First, it tailors instruction to actively engage students with coursework and encourage collaboration with peers. Then, it provides parents with a handbook of activities to do with their students. These activities help students identify their most important values. The handbook shows students how those values could help them make decisions on issues they encounter in college. Finally, the program provides students with experiential learning opportunities to further hone their problem-solving skills.

Honors College that prepares top students for influential careers

The Honors College attracts top students in all majors from across the United States and around the world. Honors alumni have long and distinguished records of leadership and impact 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 with a mentor an academic question of importance to them. They document their analysis and conclusions, and orally present 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 just a few nationwide that airs a daily, student-produced television newscast: Murrow News 8. The College houses 3 nationally acclaimed media outlets, including Northwest Public Radio, Northwest Public Television, and the student-run Murrow News Service. Students produce stories for media outlets nationwide. They have won national and regional Emmys for their television productions.

Foreign (and domestic) correspondence opportunities

Accomplished students in the Murrow College of Communication have the chance to report stories from abroad. The Murrow Backpack Journalism Program takes top journalism students to distant lands: the Galapagos Islands, Guatemala, Costa Rica, China, Sri Lanka, and more. Equipped with the latest video, audio, and web technology, travelers produce multimedia content for blog posts, final projects, and even publication by professional media.

A similar program, Backpack Environmental, sends journalism students to destinations around the U.S. Students profile the field research of environmental scientists in the Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach (CEREO).

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.

Path to success for low-income students in engineering and computer science

The Academic Redshirt program prepares promising students from low-income households to succeed in engineering and computer science disciplines. If you’re selected, you’ll be given the academic foundation you need to prepare for the demands of these fields. Plus, first-year coaching on study skills and habits readies you for the challenges that lie ahead.

Summer research opportunities

Dedicate your summer to conducting research alongside award-winning professors. Investigations span a wide range of fields, among them engineering, plant sciences, health sciences, and environmental sciences. The summer concludes with a symposium showcasing your work. Summer research programs are hosted by WSU faculty and funded by the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates, US Department of Agriculture, and faculty grants.

Springboard for aspiring entrepreneurs

Multiple WSU programs nurture students seeking to launch their own enterprises.

  • The internationally recognized Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship program unites students from a variety of disciplines to develop businesses from their technology ideas.
  • The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies enables you to learn the hands-on skills and teamwork necessary to create a prototype, develop a business plan, and ultimately launch a commercially viable product and business.
  • The annual WSU Business Plan Competition challenges you to launch a new venture. You receive expert advice in navigating the entrepreneurial process as you compete for scholarship money.

Accelerated track to DVM and nursing degrees

Honors College students can apply early to 2 health care programs:

  • Through the Honors College Vet Med 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.
  • Incoming Honors freshmen can apply for the Nursing Direct-Admit 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.

Unique construction engineering program

WSU offers 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.

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.

Hands-on design and fabrication studio

Translate design ideas into working prototypes, using band saws, sanders, drills, laser cutters, 3-D printers, and other tools. The Frank Innovation Zone promotes creativity by providing fabrication tools, as well as testing and measurement equipment, in a supervised space. No matter what your major, you can use the “FIZ” to build class projects or support club activities. A staff advisor is on hand to offer guidance as needed.

World-class wine science program

Viticulture and enology students master the art and science of grape growing and wine-making at WSU’s Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center. The center is one of the most technologically advanced of its kind in the world. It sits in the heart of the state’s wine country—in Richland on the WSU Tri-Cities campus. Viticulture and enology students complete internships in a vineyard and a winery to translate their knowledge into practice.

Fermentation science major

Study the science behind fermented beverages and foods. You’ll learn about yeasts, bacteria, and molds and discover industrial-scale applications of fermentation. There are only a handful of other fermentation science programs nationwide. Most focus on a specific commodity—like wine, dairy, or beer. In contrast, these courses (pdf) examine fermentation science across a broader spectrum.

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. They work closely with professors and instructors to customize and teach these skills for specific courses of study. In fiscal year 2016, WSU Libraries faculty taught about 1,340 instruction sessions for 71 courses, reaching more than 49,200 individuals.


Exceptional graduate and professional programs

Interdisciplinary doctoral degrees

Tailor your doctoral degree to your interests in programs that bridge disciplines:

Dual-degree program for pharmacy students

Pharmacy students interested in research have the opportunity to earn 2 degrees concurrently: Pharm.D. and PhD.

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.

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.

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

For several years running, WSU has produced roughly half of the nation’s chemistry Ph.D. graduates specializing in radiochemistry. Collaborations with experts at Pacific Northwest National Lab and Idaho National Lab offer students 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 destinations that include Ecuador, Peru, Vietnam, and Wales. Alternatively, you could work at a camp for children with diabetes, or apply for an external rotation program. 

Chemical and bioengineering PhD programs with unique internship and training opportunities

Doctoral students in the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering gain firsthand experience conducting research in government and industrial settings.