Seattle Pacific University is a small(ish) Christian college located in the upscale Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Founded by the Free Methodists, SPU does not require a statement of faith from students; over 50 religious denominations represented among the 3,300 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students on campus.
SPU seeks to help students “engage the culture” as part of their education; the commitment to community service is pervasive here. Homelessness is a major issue in Seattle and SPU students and administration invited a “Tent City” community to locate on their campus, so students could immerse themselves in the issue on a deeper level.
Engaging the culture comes into play in SPU’s academics as well, and SPU has over 60 majors. The university owns a field station on the San Juan Islands; every bio major goes out to SPU’s 1000-acre station on the island for at least a weekend, and there are more immersive opportunities for wildlife biology study on the island as well. Students I met with talked about very close relationships with professors both in and out of the classroom; mentorship is very important here. The student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1 and the average class size is 23.
Students and professors also talk about their values and how they are informed, and how that translates into academic discussion. My counselor group met with two science professors and current students who talked about the more nuanced conversations they have about how they study science within the context of the Christian faith.
The natural sciences and pre-professional programs are very strong at SPU; advising is very hands-on and their medical/dental/vet school acceptance rate is over 90%. Seattle has a strong biotech business community, including the nearby Hutchison Cancer Research Center, at which lots of SPU students get internships.
Students are required to live on campus for two years, and four years of housing is guaranteed. Dorms are both traditional style and suite-style. The food at SPU is GREAT! Their cafeteria is an all-you-can-eat card swipe; I taste-tested the cream of mushroom soup, which was fabulous, and built a large salad at their salad bar. There were many other choices with several vegetarian options.
SPU is a great place for middle-ish students who would benefit from mentoring and small class sizes. SPU is very generous with financial aid; about a quarter of their incoming freshman class has one of the top scholarships that covers about half of SPU’s tuition (which is about $36k, plus another 10k or so for room and board). Students with an unweighted 3.5 GPA are considered for merit scholarships, regardless of need (see this page for clear delineation of how they grant merit scholarships). SPU will recalculate GPAs, counting core academic classes plus religion courses, for those students who attend religious schools. More importantly, though, SPU is looking for students who can create a picture of their experience through their essays, and connect that to SPU’s mission. “Students don’t need to have the right resume to get admitted here,” says Admissions Director Jobe Korb-Nice. “It’s nice if you’re the class president, or the team captain, but what we really want to know is why did you do it?” Most importantly, the right student for Seattle Pacific should be someone who wants to become part of a community.
I visited Seattle Pacific in May, 2015. You can see all of my photos of the campus here.