Our History

For 50 years, Seattle Central College has played a vital role in educating generations of residents, providing them with the skills and knowledge to build better lives for themselves and create stronger communities.

Seattle Central was officially created on July 1, 1966, as “Seattle Community College,” the first two-year college in the city, and the 19th in Washington state. Its establishment filled a huge unmet need for affordable education and career training for the city’s residents. No longer would people have to travel to colleges in Everett, Bremerton or other areas outside of Seattle.

Although the college was created half a century ago, its roots run much deeper. On the current Capitol Hill campus originally stood Broadway High School, the city’s first high school, which opened in 1902. When it closed in 1946, shortly after World War II ended, Edison Technical School opened to serve thousands of veterans returning from the war with vocational training and education, helping them transition to civilian life.

The passage of the Community College Act in the mid-sixties helped pave the way for the creation of the college. Its beginning was rather humble – Seattle Community College didn’t have a home when it first opened. It operated out of 11 buildings owned by the Seattle School District, principally at the former Edison Technical School.

That didn’t deter thousands of people from applying for admission, who were excited to enroll in vocational and college transfer programs. During that first academic year, tuition was just $60 per quarter, and nearly 14,000 students enrolled in classes.

When North Seattle and South Seattle community colleges were created in the early seventies, Seattle Community College changed its name to “Seattle Central Community College.” This signified its geographic location at the heart of the city, but also foretold its role as an educational, cultural and social cornerstone, as it became "central" to the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the city of Seattle.

Over the last few decades, Seattle Central has grown and evolved in significant ways in order to remain relevant and vital to its students and the community. In 2014, it changed its name again, to Seattle Central College, to reflect its status as an institution that awards four-year bachelor's degrees, in addition to two-year associate degrees and short-term certificates.

Throughout the 2016-17 academic year, the college staged a series of events to honor and celebrate Seattle Central’s 50th anniversary and its extraordinary impact on the community.