Tuition & Fees

Western Washington University

Western Washington University tuition for the six-quarter degree program is estimated to be $12,800 for residents of Washington State and $23,500 for non-residents. For the State of Washington resident requirements, please see WWU's registrar's office information.

HOUSING and living expenses

For the first quarter of this program, students will spend a majority of their time outdoors exploring the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades ecosystem. A $500 summer course fee will cover housing and food while at the Environmental Learning Center, as well as course travel. Students will cover food costs for the field portion of the summer course (approximately $250).

During the next four quarters, students are provided housing and partial board at or near the Environmental Learning Center. For the final two quarters, students will live near WWU in Bellingham and provide their own housing. Students are responsible for their own health insurance, books and supplies, transportation, computer and personal outdoor equipment.

North Cascades Institute

North Cascades Institute's Residency fee is $16,800* for 2014-2015. If North Cascades Institute and Western Washington University Graduate School application materials are received by January 15, student will receive a $500 residency fee discount. If they are received by February 15, student will receive a $250 discount. Discounts are applied to the final residency quarter fees. North Cascades Institute also offers individual scholarships of up to $2000; please contact for more details.

Download Graduate School Application

Wilderness First Responder certification is required for this graduate program. You will need your WFR certificate prior to the start of the residency. The estimated cost for certification is $600-$800.

Students are strongly encouraged to have their own transportation. The Learning Center is remotely located along State Route 20 in North Cascades National Park, and the nearest services are 20 miles to the west. Bellingham is approximately two hours from the Learning Center, Seattle is three hours.

Financial Aid and Other Important Links

Students are eligible for educational loans through Western Washington University. Federal financial aid applications are available from the Financial Aid Office. The financial aid application priority deadline is February 15. Be sure to mark work-study on the application if you are interested.

Past graduate students have been incredibly successful at applying for and receiving outside scholarships and grants to help partially or fully fund their graduate education.  We strongly urge you to read the below excerpt from a past-graduate student, discussing key tips and strategies on navigating the scholarship process.

At North Cascades Institute, we recognize the financial burden that our students take on in order to enroll in our graduate program.  We have years of experience with helping graduate students navigate through the financial aid process at Western Washington University as well as other funding options.  Please reach out to our Graduate Program Coordinator if you have any questions, and so that we can begin a dialogue on making this graduate experience affordable for you.

M.Ed. Financial Aid page

Tips on scholarship opportunities from a North Cascades Institute Graduate M.Ed. residency alumni

Other useful links:


WWU Financial Aid Office for Graduate Students

Graduate Student Funding Sources (pdf)

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

WWU Graduate Funding and Support

We suggest that you investigate other financial aid opportunities available through foundations, government grants, community groups, professional organizations, financial institutions and other sources.

Please note that the Residency fee of $16,800 is for the 2014 - 2015 academic year, and is subject to change in future years.  Please note that students living in North Cascades Institute housing during their residency will be charged an additional $100 damage deposit, that will be returned upon completion of the residency if there is no damage to their housing.

Graduate Program Resources


M.Ed. Graduate Program Brochure

Institute Residency Application


NCI Residency Information
WWU Graduate School Application
WWU Tuition & Aid
WWU Student Financial Resources


The Picket Post

To request more information or schedule a site visit, please contact

Grad Program Brochure


Western Washington University is the highest-ranked public master's-granting university in the Pacific Northwest according to 2013 college rankings from U.S. News and World Report!