The primary objectives of this study are to evaluate the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for different wave energy conversion strategies and to examine cost reduction pathways such that wave energy conversion projects are competitive, relative to alternative energy industries. The energy production of six different WEC devices was estimated for four sites along the U.S. Pacific coast. The LCOE of pilot-scale wave energy conversion projects was estimated to range between $0.07/kWh and $0.92/kWh higher than the target LCOE of those for early-market offshore wind energy projects. Device capacity factors were generally below the commonly assumed value of 30%. Methods of cost reduction to the target LCOE of $0.30/kWh were explored, including decreasing capital and operational expenditures (CAPEX and OPEX) and increasing annual energy production (AEP) through improvements in the waveenergy resource and WEC and WEC array performance, and advanced controls. Results indicate that CAPEX and OPEX should be reduced by at least 45% and AEP should be increased by 200%. A reduction of CAPEX and OPEX by 75%, combined with array evaluation and control strategies capable of increasing AEP by 12%-55% could also result in LCOE for wave energy conversion projects of less than $0.30/kWh.