Washington State University (WSU) is a large, public university in Pullman, Washington with branch campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and an online school. WSU was founded in 1890 as a land-grant institution, and received university status in 1959.
Today, WSU features an observatory with numerous events for student and public education and enjoyment, a sizable art museum, and a nationally known concert hall. The university defines its mission as one of “enhanc[ing] the intellectual, creative, and practical abilities of the individual, institutions and communities that we serve by fostering learning and inquiry in all their forms.”
WSU is composed of twelve colleges, a graduate school, and the Center for Distance and Professional Education. Colleges include: the College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences; the College of Business; the College of Education; the College of Engineering and Architecture; the Honors College; the College of Liberal Arts; the College of Nursing; the College of Pharmacy; the College of Sciences; University College; and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Bachelor’s degrees are awarded in 95 different fields of study, including agribusiness, animal sciences, entomology, forestry, soil science, business, management information systems, education, engineering, Asian studies, criminal justice, English, humanities, philosophy, Russian areas studies, theatre arts and drama, nursing, biochemistry, environmental science, mathematics, zoology, and neuroscience. Minors or areas of concentration are available in fields such as adolescents, fruit and vegetable horticulture, pre-veterinary medicine, sustainable agriculture, aerospace studies, Chinese, jazz studies, Naval science, speech language pathology, ecology, mathematical modeling, optics electronics, pre-medicine, and statistics, and many others. Students from any major may apply to be part of the Honors College.
Master’s degrees are awarded in 64 programs, including agribusiness, architecture, biology, business administration (MBA), communication, education, engineering, human nutrition, materials science and engineering, music, natural resources, public affairs, statistics, veterinary science, and zoology, among others.
The school awards doctorates in 44 programs, including popular fields such as American studies, crop science, educational leadership and counseling psychology, English, horticulture, material science, mathematics, nutrition, soil science, and zoology. There are also professional degrees awarded through the College of Pharmacy (D. Pharm) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).
The Washington State University Library offers a wide range of electronic catalogs and on-line databases to meet contemporary research needs. There is well-referenced digital access to many of the archives and special collections, and the library also maintains dozens of links to online resources of other county, university, and research libraries.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Dual Degree Programs
There are several concurrent or dual degree programs offered at WSU, including an MBA/JD program offered jointly with the University of Idaho College of Law. Design Intelligence magazine has rated WSU’s interior design program eighth in the nation, based on industry surveys. Through two different campuses—Pullman and Spokane—students can earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in interior design over five years. The program is the only one of its kind in the state to be accredited by the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research.
Washington State offers students in every discipline a unique, full-service writing program that focuses and hones their abilities to communicate through the written word. This program has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the top writing programs nationwide.
The Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences area offers a wide array of unique programs for students of the natural sciences, including entomology, environmental physics, forestry, turf management, and wetland/aquatic resources.
Admissions to WSU are highly competitive. The average GPA of entering first-year students is 3.44 while the average SAT score is 1098. Prospective students must have completed four years of English, three years of mathematics with an additional year recommended, two years of science, two years of a foreign language, three years of social science, and one year of art.
WSU disperses more than $258 million in financial aid annually to over 19,000 students. In addition to the usual array of grants and loans, WSU administrates dozens of their own scholarships. The flagship of their financial aid program, the University Achievement Award, offers substantial aid for students with a 3.6 or higher GPA, SAT score of 1200, and demonstrate other outstanding academic qualities. The Regents Scholarship is awarded to a single student each year with a 3.8 or greater GPA who demonstrates leadership and community involvement.
Student Financial Aid Details
Dining and Housing
Over 4,500 students live in 18 residence halls at WSU. Freshmen dorm mates are enrolled in the same two general courses for their first semester to encourage social interaction and academic collaboration. The University also offers a variety of living-learning communities, including communities focused on teaching, business, engineering, and architecture.
Students in residence must participate in a meal plan through dining services. There are four large dining centers with vegetarian and vegan options at every meal. WSU also features Carlita’s Mexican Grille and Espresso, a local, sustainable restaurant. In keeping with Washington culture, there are also several espresso bars around campus. Students may order meals and snacks online via Webfood and pick up their orders at a predesignated time.
Up All Night
One of the most distinctive (and fun) aspects of campus life at WSU is the Up All Night program. Up All Night is usually free or, at the most, very cheap entertainment during weekends. Certain nights may have a particular theme, like the “Beach Theme” in March. There are movies, music, dancing, games, even dance lessons. Up All Night also includes athletic events like Ultimate Frisbee.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The WSU mascot, Butch T. Cougar, dates back to 1927, when the governor presented a cougar cub to the WSU student body. Tryouts for the role of Butch are held in April of each year. The public can also arrange a Butch appearance through coordination with the WSU Athletics Department.
A more solemn tradition is that of the “Gray W,” signifying the achievement of a varsity letter in athletics. Wearers of the Gray W are still very active in their alma mater’s activities, both on and off the athletic field.
About. Washington State University. Web. 12 June 2011.
Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
Living Options. Washington State University. Web. 12 June 2011.
Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.