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Highline College | Field Guide 2021

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Highline College was founded in 1961 as King County’s first community college. Highline offers a vibrant and diverse learning environment with over 100 degrees and certificates, including seven applied bachelor’s degrees within eight degree pathways. With about 70% students of color and people representing more than 120 cultures, Highline is the state’s most diverse higher education institution.

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Key Facts

Highest Enrolled Programs

  • Physical and Life Sciences
  • Business/Accounting
  • Psychology/Human Services
  • Nursing/Health Occupations
  • Computer Science/Computer
    Information Systems


  • Headcount (all sources): 15,095
  • FTES (all sources): 7,074
  • Headcount (state-funded): 11,818
  • FTES (state-funded): 5,180

Students in Selected Programs

  • Applied bachelor's: 455
  • Apprentices: 9
  • I-BEST: 138
  • International: 523
  • Running Start: 1,462
  • Worker Retraining: 450

Student Profile

Type of Student

  • Academic/transfer: 29%
  • Basic skills: 40%
  • Other: 1%
  • Workforce education: 30%


  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 2%
  • Asian: 21%
  • Black/African American: 24%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 25%
  • Pacific Islander: 2%
  • Other race: 10%
  • White: 25%


  • Full-time: 29%
  • Part-time: 71%

Family and Finances

  • Students receiving need-based financial aid: 25%
  • Students who work: 50%
  • Students with children: 30%


  • Female: 62%
  • Male: 38%

Median age


Points of Interest

Ensuring equity and inclusion during the pandemic

Highline, like other colleges, has adapted teaching and student support strategies during the pandemic, keeping equity and inclusion at the forefront of our practices. In 2019-20, 11% of students taking Basic Education for Adults courses in Washington state were enrolled at Highline. For English language learners, moving to remote learning proved especially problematic. To address barriers in online instructional methods, class instructors have been sending weekly printed packets to several hundred students to work on at home. Instructors call and text these students to monitor progress and answer questions.

Increasing access through multiple measures and dynamic placement process

Research has indicated that placement tests used by community and technical colleges are not reliable predictors of student performance in college-level coursework. It’s estimated that as many as 30% of students placed in remedial education could have succeeded in college-level courses, and the time and money wasted in those cases is an obstacle to degree completion. With this knowledge and the help of grant funding, Highline transformed its placement process and now uses multiple measures of assessment for course placement. Students are active participants and situate their skills within their educational pathway. The new approach has increased access to college-level English courses from 60% to 89% and college-level math from 17% to 63%. 

Contributing to the area’s economic development

Highline contributes to the economic development of south King County by providing no-cost business training and one-to-one technical assistance for new and existing businesses. Such assistance helps local businesses achieve sustainability and self-efficiency. In 2019, Highline provided 2,361 hours of service to more than 466 clients and helped launch 34 new businesses, created 90 full-time and 41 part-time new jobs, and generated $5.39 million in loans and investments. Businesses served report $5 million increase in revenue. Highline’s economic development initiatives include the Small Business Development Center and StartZone.

Data is from the 2019-20 academic year. Reflects headcount unless otherwise noted.

*May not add up to 100% because students may be counted in more than one race. Percentages calculated on reported value.


Dr. John R. Mosby


  • Sili Savusa, chair
  • Dan Altmayer
  • Joseph S. Bowman IV
  • Fred Mendoza
  • Sharmila Swenson

Year Founded


Service Area

Southwest King County

Legislative Districts

11, 30, 33, 34, 47

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Last Modified: 2/17/23, 11:42 AM

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