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University of Puget Sound

Located in Tacoma, Washington, the University of Puget Sound (UPS) sits atop a hill in a residential neighborhood overlooking the Sound. Not nearly as populated or as dense as Seattle, Tacoma brings to mind what Denver may have been like around 50 years ago. Small and manageable at 200,000 people, Tacoma is an easy to navigate, pretty and very underrated. The economy is made up of an industrial port, entertainment/arts venue, museum district and a copper smelting plant.

One of the prettiest campuses I have visited, Puget Sound is making plans for the future. From expanding services to building programs, Puget Sound is taking advantage of their induction into the new “Colleges That Change Lives” book. This distinction will only serve to build and diversify enrollment, which is a top priority. UPS has recently hired a new enrollment manager for the sole purpose of building international enrollment which is currently at a woeful 1%. To that point, though, I must reveal I was there with an international client considering the school for next fall, so it was something we were aware of. I do believe, however, that UPS has made a good investment in moving this issue to the top of the list, and will see the benefits in one to two years’ time.

UPS’s curriculum is supported by a Core Curriculum that begins with First Year Seminars, guiding students through an in-depth exploration of a focused area of interest to sharpen skill in constructing persuasive arguments. After that, students are required to take 1 unit in each of the following: Fine Arts, Humanistic Approaches, Mathematical Approaches, Natural Science, and Social Science.

UPS has 3 major’s they consider their signature programs. The first is the School of Business, which boasts an emphasis in International Political Economy. One of the first Liberal Arts Schools to offer this concentration, UPS professors literally wrote the book on the subject.

The second is the School of Music. Open to all students through an audition process, this is a unique program for a liberal arts college. Not nearly as big as Lawrence University’s music program, but a wonderful option for the musically minded student with a desire for a liberal arts education. Dual degree options are available in Music Business, Education and Performance.

The third program is health and human sciences with graduate programs available in Occupational Therapy and Physical therapy. Included in this is a newly developed Bioethics program.

UPS students have an active, outdoor life. Surrounded by mountains and ocean, opportunities to explore outside the classroom are abundant.

Some statistics to consider:

  • 40% travel abroad

  • 50% do at least one internship

  • Highest percentage of students to matriculate into the Peace Corp.

  • 88 to 90% freshman retention rate

  • Student/faculty ratio 12:1, average class size 19, 2600 undergraduates, 250 graduate students

  • New dining hall on the way, ready for fall of 2014

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