Students gather in front of the Cascade Buidling

Quick Facts About Pierce College

  • Established in 1967
  • Total of 9000 students, including 400 international students from over 35 different countries
  • Two campuses, in Lakewood and Puyallup, both located approximately 45 minutes from Seattle
  • Ranked by as the #1 most successful community college in Washington state

Programs of Study

Universities with Guaranteed Transfer Agreements for Pierce College students: 20

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some questions often asked by international students. If you don't find answers to your questions, contact us.

What is the difference between Pierce College Fort Steilacoom and Pierce College Puyallup?

The two college campuses are about 20 miles apart (a 30-minute drive). Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood is the larger college with about 6,000 students. Pierce College Puyallup is smaller with about 3,000 students. Each campus is about 45 minutes from Seattle.

Which college has more international students?

Currently, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom has far more international students than Pierce College Puyallup. The Intensive English Program (IEP) is available only on the Lakewood campus, so students who need to take Intensive English Program classes should plan to study in Lakewood. Also, not all programs and classes are available at both campuses, so it is important to ask which campus is better for your field of study.

When can I start my studies at Pierce College?

You can start in September, January, March, or June. For exact dates see the Academic Calendar. You can begin your studies any quarter, though most students start in the fall. Registration for classes and payment of tuition are done each quarter. It's a very flexible system.

When can I enter the U.S.?

You can arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the first day of school. This gives you time to attend new student orientation and settle in before classes begin.

How soon can I take a quarter off for vacation?

After having attended Pierce College for 3 quarters, you can take one quarter off for vacation.

Do I have to pay for airport pickup?

For students arriving on the designated days, airport pick up is included in the placement fee. Contact our International Housing Manager.

Where will I live?

Pierce College students have three housing options:

  • Center for Global Scholars (CGS) Residence Hall: The CGS is a new residence hall for Pierce College students that opened in the Fall of 2016. This new residence hall is an interdependent global learning community for international AND local domestic students, with a goal to promote cross-cultural understanding and academic success. Strong student support, unique learning opportunities, and academic presentations with a global emphasis will be an ongoing part of this learning community experience. Students are well-supported with an on-site resident manager and resident assistants living in the residence hall.
  • Homestay:
    • Meals included: If you choose homestay, you will live with a carefully selected American host family. Hosts provide a private, fully furnished room, three meals a day and a family atmosphere. This is a great option if you want to experience American culture firsthand.
    • Single room: If you wish to live independently and prepare your own meals, you can rent a private furnished room in the home of a local family. You will buy your own food, which you can prepare in the family kitchen. You will also have access to bathroom facilities in the home.
  • Apartment: There are many apartments near the Pierce College campus, but we do not make placement arrangements. If you want to live in an apartment, we recommend that you start with a temporary homestay; once you are here, you can then choose your own apartment. We recommend apartment living only if you plan to attend Pierce for six months or longer.

When I first arrive, can my mother or father stay with me in my homestay? If not, where can they stay?

If your host family has enough space, it may be possible to arrange for your mother or father to stay in their home for a short period of time, for a daily fee. We can also send information on hotels in the area; please contact our International Housing Manager.

Where can my parents rent a car?

There are several car rental companies located near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Be sure to compare prices.

How much money should I bring, for settling in?

Please see the International Education Tuition web page for details about tuition and estimated costs.

When do I pay for my tuition and other expenses?

  • Tuition: be ready to pay your tuition for the quarter on the first day of new student orientation. Continuing students pay tuition on a quarterly basis after registering for classes.
  • Books and supplies: be ready to pay for your books and supplies for the quarter on the first day of new student orientation. Continuing students buy their books and supplies on a quarterly basis.
  • Medical insurance: be ready to pay for your medical insurance for the quarter on the first day of new student orientation. Continuing students pay medical insurance on a quarterly basis.
  • Homestay: Be ready to pay for the first month of homestay ($650 USD) a day or two after you arrive.

Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS to be admitted to Pierce College?

Students can be admitted to Pierce College without submitting proof of English language proficiency. International students with a minimum score of 61 on the iBT TOEFL, or a minimum of 5.5 on the IELTS, with no band below 5, can begin academic classes directly. There are other ways to demonstrate English proficiency. Students who cannot demonstrate English proficiency take an English language placement test when they arrive at Pierce College.

Tell me about the English language placement test.

Students who cannot demonstrate English proficiency take the placement test when they arrive at Pierce College.

If I need to study English, how will I know what level of English classes to take?

Students enroll either in the appropriate level of the Intensive English (IEP) Program or in academic classes on the basis of their placement test results. The Intensive English (IEP) Program has four levels, from beginning through advanced.

Can I work while studying at Pierce College?

Yes, you can. Students on F-1 visas can work up to 19.5 hours per week, on campus only; you are not allowed to work outside of the college. Also, at least 50% of your classes must be at the college level. Further, in order to get a job, there must be a position available, and you must go through the hiring process for the position. We cannot guarantee you a job. Therefore, it is important to have enough money to pay all of your expenses without needing to work while studying at Pierce College.

Can I get a scholarship at Pierce College?

Scholarships are available only for students who have completed a minimum of 10 college level credits at Pierce College. These are competitive, merit-based scholarships, awarded in the form of a partial tuition credit.

Do I need to buy a car?

Most Pierce College international students use the public bus system for transportation. The public buses come right on to the Pierce College campus. Students over the age of 18 can buy a car, but you will also need to get a driver's license (you must pass a written test and a driving test first) and purchase driver's insurance.