University of Washington Tacoma opened its doors on October 1, 1990 to a class of 187, taught by 13 faculty members (some of whom are still with UW Tacoma). The first graduating class consisted of just four students. UW Tacoma was established by the state legislature to help meet the regional need for more 4-year degree opportunities, especially for students unable to attend college far from their homes. Classes were originally held in the Perkins Building, but moved to UW Tacoma’s permanent, downtown location in 1997.
Beginning with just one program, Liberal Studies (now Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences), UW Tacoma gradually added new courses of study designed to meet regional needs. (Read a full list of our academic offerings.) In addition to creating these programs, UW Tacoma began to add new types of students, welcoming its first freshman class in 2006.
Today, UW Tacoma is an urban-serving university that educates diverse learners and transforms communities by expanding the boundaries of knowledge and discovery. In the past 25 years, it has awarded 15,879 degrees and certificates to students with a wide variety of family backgrounds, interests, ages and experiences. About 10% of our current student population are veterans and 65% of our freshmen class’ parents do not have college degrees. Twenty-five years after our founding, we are proud to still provide educational access to students in ways that transform local families and communities.