UW Bothell No. 3 on Money’s list of 25 great colleges for science

students in lab

By Douglas Esser

University of Washington Bothell has pulled down another high ranking in Money magazine. In a report Monday, the magazine listed UW Bothell third on its national list of “25 great, accessible colleges for aspiring scientists and engineers” (behind Maine Maritime Academy and Texas A&M University).
 
The early-career median salary for UW Bothell science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates is $64,100, according to PayScale.com figures used by the magazine.
 
“This ranking reflects the outstanding faculty, staff and students in the School of STEM at UW Bothell,” said Elaine Scott, dean and professor of engineering.
 
“Our faculty and staff dedicate themselves to providing engaging, collaborative, and rigorous educational opportunities for our diverse student body. We are proud to be recognized this way as our graduates continue to become successful and engaged citizens,” she said.
 
In the past five years, 33 degrees have been added at UW Bothell and 14 are in the STEM fields. The School of STEM is committed to providing access to students from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented populations. For the 2015-2016 academic year, 33 percent of STEM students are from underrepresented populations or low-income families, and 30 percent of STEM students are women.
Money ranked UW Bothell 36th in the nation last year on its overall list of best colleges. For its most recent list for STEM graduates, Money rated colleges that score high in its national rankings, accept more than two-thirds of their applicants and have good graduation rates.
 
Two other universities in Washington on the list are No. 13 Washington State University and No. 15 Gonzaga University.
 
One reason UW Bothell ranks so well is that the student-faculty relationship is held paramount, says Warren Buck, physics professor and chancellor emeritus. “Our STEM faculty are very dedicated to student learning through undergraduate research in addition to learning-teaching strategies in and out of the classroom,” Buck said.
 
Students say the ranking illustrates how distinctive learning practices in the science-based programs, rigorous coursework and research contribute to success upon graduation, either in a career or graduate school.
 
A Kirkland student who already had a degree in chemistry from another school said he didn’t really take off academically until he attended UW Bothell where he earned a second bachelor’s degree last year in biology.
 
“I got into every master’s program I applied to,” said Harkirat Sran, now earning a master’s in biomedical sciences at Rutgers in New Jersey. Sran credits an “amazing” experience at UW Bothell.  “That’s where I really changed my life,” Sran said. “I learned how to effectively study, work in groups.” Sran cites the way classes were structured by Douglas Wacker, an assistant professor in the School of STEM Biological Sciences Division, and the passion of other students.
 
“The whole community is so close. I connected with a lot of the students. We all had the same passion and same goals. That led me to be successful.”
 
Wacker turns the credit back on the students who chose UW Bothell. “I’ve been lucky to have worked with a great crop of students.  So, I suspect they could have gone where they wanted school-wise,” he said.  One of Wacker’s current students, Amanda Morgan, says two things have made for a distinctive experience at UW Bothell. “The first is the ability to form relationships with professors that is usually not possible at larger universities. Secondly, and equally significant, is the ability to conduct research in a lab as an undergraduate,” said Morgan who plans to become a neurobiology researcher.  
 
Those kinds of outcomes have made UW Bothell familiar to Money magazine.
“Bothell has generally done well in our rankings in part because, according to PayScale, your graduates report earning much higher salaries than competing schools with student bodies reporting equivalent test scores and similar percentages of Pell Grant-eligible students,” said Kim Clark, senior writer.