University of Washington
The Ivy Scholars guide to UW’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.
Public Research University
49,025 (32,779 undergrads)
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About University of Washington
The largest research university in Washington, the school is the flagship of their public university system. With a campus just north of Seattle’s downtown, students are able to enjoy all the perks of living in a major urban area. UW is well known for both its public health program and its medical school.
4 Year Graduation Rate:
45.5% Male / 54.5% Female
Student / Faculty Ratio:
Average Class Size:
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US News Rankings:
- #9 Computer Science Program
- #19 Top Public Schools
- #22 Best Undergraduate Engineering Program
- #55 National Universities
- #15 Top Public Universities per Niche
- #18 Best Universities in the World per Shanghai Ranking
- #19 Best Colleges for Physics per Niche
- #21 Best Colleges for Public Health per Niche
- #26 Best World Universities per the Times of Higher Education
- Regular Decision: 53%
- Transfer: 47%
Average Applicant Pool: 52,400
Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 24,900
Average Number Enrolled: 7,300
Application Systems: Common App
Average GPA (weighted):
SAT Scores: 25th% – 1220, 75th% – 1460
ACT Scores: 25th% – 27, 75th% – 32
*Test optional. Writing sections required.
UW does not consider demonstrated interest.
Recommendation Letter Policies:
UW asks that you not send any letters of recommendation.
UW Essay Prompts:
- They do not consider the Common App personal statement.
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. (650 words)
- Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. (300 words)
- 200 word optional additional information section, if you faced challenges or hardships in your education.
- UW Essay Writing Tips
- Interviews are not offered.
- Some majors are direct admit, and your choice of major is considered when they make admissions decisions. Here is a full list of majors which are direct admit.
- UW does take residency into account when making admissions decisions, and Washington residents are more likely to get admitted, especially to the most competitive programs. Residents have a 27% acceptance rate to CS, for example, compared to 3% for non-residents.
- Different majors have different requirements; some have an additional application, while others require that you enroll at UW first and then transfer to the desired major. Details for each can be found on their majors page.
- They use their own platform to handle transfer applications.
- They do not consider letters of recommendation, and are test optional for transfer students.
- Official transcripts are required.
- They require a personal statement as the only essay.
Score of 3+
Required to earn credit for AP tests
- Allen College of Computer Science and Engineering (9% acceptance rate)
- College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Built Environments
- Foster School of Business
- College of Education
- College of Engineering (40% acceptance rate)
- College of the Environment
- Jackson School of International Studies (Subset of Arts and Sciences)
- Evans School of Public Policy and Governance
- School of Public Health
- Note that the Allen School of CS is a subsidiary of the College of ENgineering, but must be applied to directly.
- UW requires all students complete the general education requirements. You are required to take courses in five basic skills: English Composition, Writing, Reasoning, Foreign Language, and Diversity. You are also required to take classes in three Areas of Inquiry: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences.
- Comprehensive Information
Courses of Study:
- 180 Majors Offered
- 100+ Minors Offered
- The most popular majors are Biology, Engineering, and Social Science.
- Course Catalog
AP Credit Policies:
- UW grants credit or course placement from scores of 3 or higher on AP exams. The total number of credits awarded is based on transfer credit limitations, and is capped at 135 credits. You may use AP credits to meet general education requirements.
- Comprehensive Test Credit Information
- The Honors Program oversees both the interdisciplinary honors and departmental honors tracks. Honors are awarded alongside your degree at graduation. You can apply to the honors program either as an incoming freshman, or during your first year on campus. All applicants are evaluated holistically.
- Graduation Honors
- The Office of Undergraduate Research serves to connect students to research opportunities on campus.
- The Foster School of Business offers a number of undergrad programs, including 8 majors, study abroad opportunities, and 28 partnered student organizations.
- You can apply either directly as a freshman, or gain acceptance through standard admissions, which requires you to apply as a current UW student.
- There are certificate programs to enhance your degree.
- Foster Honors is an invitation-only honors program at the school.
- There is no pre med major specifically, but pre health advising serves to connect interested students to resources on campus.
- UW is known for its public health program, and has other majors directly related to health.
- UW has a very good medical school, but current UW undergrads do not have an advantage when applying to it.
- There is a pre law advising office, though this is mainly focused on political sides of the law.
- They also have guides for pre law students.
- Law, Society, and Justice major.
Computer Science Options:
- The Allen School is a top rated CS program, offering degrees in both computer science and computer engineering. You can gain acceptance as either a direct freshman admit or as a current UW student. Admission is capped at 550 each year across all pathways. It is slightly easier to get in as a current student than as a direct admit (25% vs 9% acceptance rate), but both are competitive.
- Non-major students may still take introductory and advanced CS classes.
- Undergrads are encouraged to get involved with research.
- There are many student groups devoted to CS at UW as well.
- There is a combined BS/MS program for students who wish to go right into advanced studies in CS.
Additional Specialty Programs:
- Astrobiology the study of the evolution and existence of life on Earth and beyond.
- ROTC program.
- Double major and double degree options.
Programs for High Schoolers:
- UW in the High School is a program meant to allow high school students in Washington to take UW courses in their schools, taught by their regular teachers. This is a partnership between UW and public high schools in Washington.
- UW Summer Sessions are regular UW classes offered during the summer. High school students can apply to take these courses.
- Youth and Teen Programs are courses offered specifically for younger students. These are online courses, generally offered in the evenings.
- UW Academy allows small cohorts of academically talented 10th graders to gain early admission and enrollment to UW. This is only open to students in Washington. 35 students are able to enroll this way each year.
- UbiComp Summer Research the lab selects a small number of high school students each summer to take part in an intensive research experience.
Student Life at UW
of students participate in Greek life
acres of campus
Residential Housing System:
Dormitories are located on North and West Campus, with both traditional dormitories and apartment style housing available. UW does not require students to live on campus, and does not guarantee spots in housing for incoming freshmen. If you are in housing, however, then you are guaranteed to be able to retain your spot. Many students live off campus in surrounding neighborhoods, and up to 1,000 students live in fraternity or sorority housing.
- 71% of Freshmen live on campus
of freshmen live on campus.
Up to 1,000
students live in fraternity or sorority housing.
Campus & Surrounding Area:
- Located in the University District of Seattle, UW’s campus covers 703 acres, and is split into four zones; North, South, East and West. The campus is covered in trees and has several large quads. It is located on the shoreline, and students have easy access to water (not for swimming though, the Pacific is too cold for that).
- Points of interest on and around campus include: Union and Portage bays, Red Square, Henry Art Gallery, the Burke Museum, the Washington Park Arboretum, and Husky Stadium.
- Safety Information (University of Washington, College Factual)
- Virtual Tour
- Students are given the UPass, which offers full fair transit on busses, light rail, commuter trains, and more. With multiple public bus routes and rail stops on campus, this allows students to travel both around the campus and through the broader Seattle area.
- They recommend both biking and walking to campus.
- There is a night-ride shuttle for students who have to get to class late.
- Parking Information; note that there is limited parking available.
- Dawg Daze – An annual event to welcome new and returning UW students to campus in the fall. It’s a great chance to meet people and get to know the campus.
- Apple Cup – An annual football game between University of Washington and Washington State University, with the winning team being presented with a trophy by the governor.
- Family Weekend – Students’ families are invited to campus for a weekend of food, celebrations, and games each fall, so they can see how you’re doing at college.
- Windermere Cup – An annual sailing race and regatta hosted by the university in the bay it borders. Teams from around the world compete in the races.
- Organization Database
- Sample Organizations (Montlake Consulting Group, Husky Robotics, Ancient Drama Club)
- 14.4% of students are members of Greek life, including social, service, and academic organizations. There are more than 70 registered Greek organizations on campus.
- UW has an active part scene centered on the Greek community, though is not generally considered a party school. Football games can be large social events as well.
- UW is located close to Seattle’s downtown, and most neighborhoods in Seattle are easily reachable by transit, opening all of that nightlife up to students.
UW Financial Information
Yearly Cost of Attendance:
- Total: $34,554/$63,906
- Tuition: $12,645/$41,997
- Housing and Food: $17,982
- Transportation: $519
- Books and Supplies: $900
- Personal: $2,508
Around 50% of all students receive some form of financial aid. They use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) to determine eligibility. They recommend getting these in by January 15th for your best chance of receiving financial aid. International undergrads are not eligible for financial aid. Any aid awarded will be increased commensurately if tuition increases.
There are numerous scholarships available, for both need based and merit based aid. The two main scholarships are the Presidential, offered to Washington residents, and the Purple and Gold, which is solely offered to out of state students.
UW Fun Facts
- Notable alumni include actors Bruce Lee and Rainn Wilson, musician Kenny G, World War II flying ace Pappy Boyington, serial killer Ted Bundy, and USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo.
- The film War Games used UW’s campus for its filming.
- Multiple professors were investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1940s and 50s under suspicion of being communist sympathizers.
- The school was founded in 1861, but struggled early; closing three times in 1863, 1867, and 1876. The first student graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1876.
- UW’s men’s crew team won gold at the 1938 Berlin Olympics, beating both the German and the Italian teams. They were also the first American team to win a gold on Soviet soil, when they won the Moscow cup in 1958.
- UW’s colors of purple and gold were chosen by student vote in 1892, inspired by Byron Shelley’s poem The Destruction of Sennacherib.
- UW men’s football holds the record for longest undefeated streak of games in NCAA history at 64, and also the second place record at 40.
November 4, 1861.
Its medical school and public health program.
$34,554 for in-state students, and $63,906 for out-of-state students on average.
The average SAT is 1340.
Regular decision applicants are notified in March.
Harry the Husky.
UW got 52,406 applicants in 2023.