College of the Week

Each week, Mrs. Nilsen will provide insight into unique college options for learners and families. The source is the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2019, an annual comprehensive catalog of diverse universities here in California and nationwide, Colleges That Change Lives, and 50 Colleges that Create Futures.


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Enrollment: 2,687

Acceptance Rate: 79%

DETAILS: An ambitious building program and revised core curriculum have raised the profile of the University of Puget Sound, transforming it from a regional liberal arts college in Tacoma to an undergraduate institution with growing national reach. What hasn’t changed is the school’s close-knit community and its emphasis on Asia. “People don’t come here because they have heard of us before,” says one contented senior. “They come here because they visit and they don’t want to leave.”

Puget Sound students must complete an eight-course core curriculum, which includes a freshman seminar in writing and rhetoric, and another in scholarly and creative inquiry; they must also demonstrate foreign language proficiency. In their first three years at Puget Sound, students also study five Approaches to Knowing—fine arts, humanities, math, natural sciences, and social sciences. An upper-level capstone course, Connections, challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries and examines the benefits and limits of an interdisciplinary approach to learning.

The university has developed a reputation as a jumping-off point to Asia—both literally and figuratively. Its curriculum stresses two of the fastest-growing fields in the region: Asian studies and Pacific Rim economics. Nearly one-third of Puget Sounders take at least one Asian studies course, and once every three years, there’s a nine-month, school-sponsored trip through Japan, Thailand, Korea, India, China, and Nepal, where participants study native art, architecture, politics, population, and philosophy. In all, more than 100 study abroad programs are available in more than 40 nations; 34 percent of students participate. Other special offerings include a classics-based honors program, the Business Leadership Program, residence-based humanities programs, and the Social Justice Residence Program.

UPS Student Perspective: ““The vibe is laid-back, but purposeful at the same time. People who come to this school are passionate and love to share those passions with others.”