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Pierce College Puyallup | Field Guide 2021

Pierce College logoPierce College Puyallup is part of the Pierce College District, a community college district serving more than 13,000 students annually. Founded in 1967, the college now offers 26 associate degrees, 52 professional certificates and six applied bachelor's degrees designed to prepare students for academic transfer and career success. By offering affordable and accessible programs, Pierce College Puyallup helps people of every age and background to learn and thrive in today’s economy. Whether students are 16 or 60, just out of high school or working adults, our college prepares them for the next step up in life. As a community college that serves a large number of lower-income students and students of color, our college is key to creating a stronger and more inclusive economy.

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Key Facts

Highest Enrolled Programs

  • Associate of Arts–DTA*
  • Nursing
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Health

*Direct Transfer Agreement


  • Headcount (all sources): 15,789
  • FTES (all sources): 8,165
  • Headcount (state-funded): 10,764
  • FTES (state-funded): 5,066

Students in Selected Programs

  • Applied bachelor's: 229
  • I-BEST: 171
  • International: 506
  • Running Start: 2,240
  • Worker Retraining: 218

Student Profile

Type of Student

  • Academic/transfer: 52%
  • Basic skills: 3%
  • Other: 2%
  • Workforce education: 43%


  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 4%
  • Asian: 14%
  • Black/African American: 15%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 20%
  • Pacific Islander: 3%
  • Other race: 1%
  • White: 63%


  • Full-time: 44%
  • Part-time: 56%

Family and Finances

  • Students receiving need-based financial aid: 41%
  • Students who work: 56%
  • Students with children: 29%


  • Female: 63%
  • Male: 37%

Median age


Points of Interest

2021 Aspen Prize finalist

Pierce College has been named one of 10 finalists for the national 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. We were selected in part for our success in closing equity gaps and dismantling barriers to student achievement. As a result of this work, 71% of our students continue their education after their time at Pierce, thanks in large part to Pierce College Puyallup’s popular Running Start program. The district’s combined graduation and transfer rates have increased from 56%, which was 20% over the national average, to 71%, since our previous recognition by Aspen in 2019. 

Pierce Nursing students well prepared to fill statewide shortage of registered nurses

Pierce College Puyallup’s nursing program plays an important role in filling Washington’s statewide shortage of registered nurses. The program has been ranked as one of the top nursing programs in the state, ranked No. 1 by, and No. 2 by In 2020, the college launched a new part-time LPN to RN program, allowing working LPNs to earn their registered nursing credentials on a part-time basis over five quarters. Over the past four years, our nursing program has seen an average first-time licensure exam pass rate of 98%, allowing students to move into in-demand nursing careers quickly upon graduation.

Pierce College partners with Bethel School District to offer innovative access to higher education

Pierce College continues to increase access to higher education in south Pierce County through an innovative partnership with Bethel schools. Pierce offers college courses at Graham-Kapowsin and Spanaway Lake high schools and will soon offer courses at the new Bethel High School. The courses at Bethel High School will be provided in a specially designated wing, with construction set to begin in 2021. Courses at each of these sites are open to everyone, including Running Start and returning adult students.

Data is from the 2019-20 academic year. Reflects headcount unless otherwise noted. Data is for the Pierce College District.

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


Michele L. Johnson, PhD


Darrell L. Cain, PhD


  • Brett Willis, chair
  • Therese Ngo Pasquier
  • Kristin Ray
  • Steve Smith
  • Amadeo Tiam

Year Founded


Service Area

Pierce County

Legislative Districts

2, 25, 27, 30, 31

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Last Modified: 12/20/22, 2:55 PM

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