About Us

The University of Washington

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington has 41,000 students (28,000 undergraduate and 13,000 graduate/professional) and 3,100 full-time instructional faculty divided into 16 schools and colleges. The University's annual operating budget is roughly $4.7 billion, roughly 5% of which comes from the State.

Arial view of campus The University of Washington is one of the nation's premier research-intensive universities. Every year since 1974, UW has ranked among the top five institutions in annual Federal research obligations. The UW faculty includes more than 120 members of the National Academies, fourteen MacArthur Fellows, five winners of the National Medal of Science, and six Nobel Prize winners; four UW students have won Rhodes Scholarships in the past decade. Programs from across the campus are ranked among the best in their fields.


Computer Science & Engineering at UW

Computer Science & Engineering was established at the University of Washington as an inter-college graduate program in 1967. In 1975 an undergraduate program in Computer Science was added and departmental status was conferred. A second undergraduate program, in Computer Engineering, was added in 1989 when CSE moved to the College of Engineering, and a Professional Master's Program was added in 1996, and a combined Bachelors/Masters program in 2008. CSE currently has roughly 55 faculty, 75 technical and administrative staff members, 375 graduate students (225 in the full-time program and 150 in the Professional Masters Program), and 750 undergraduate students (230 Bachelors graduates per year, currently growing to 300+).

Humanities quadrangle in spring CSE is widely regarded as among the top ten programs in the nation. Thirty-one current CSE faculty members have won Presidential/NSF Young Investigator Awards or NSF CAREER Awards. Six faculty members are ONR Young Investigator Award recipients. Four (plus five former faculty) have held NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow or Presidential Early Career (PECASE) Awards. Twenty have held Sloan Research Fellowships. Among current and emeritus senior faculty are nine Fulbright recipients, three Guggenheim recipients, nineteen Fellows of the ACM, fourteen Fellows of the IEEE, two Fellows of the International Association for Pattern Recognition, five Fellows of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, three Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, three Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, two recipients of ACM or IEEE Field Awards, three MacArthur Fellows, four (plus one Adjunct) Allen Distinguished Investigators, and four (plus ten Adjunct/Affiliate) Members of the National Academies.

Within the University, five faculty members have received the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award, two have received the University of Washington Marsha L. Landolt Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, two have received the University of Washington Outstanding Public Service Award, one has received the David B. Thorud Leadership Award, one was named the University of Washington Annual Faculty Lecturer, and three have received the College of Engineering Faculty Achievement Award.

Drumheller fountain

In 1999, CSE received the inaugural UW Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence -- in essence a departmental distinguished teaching award (see our "Reflective Statement" here). In 2000, David Notkin received the UW Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. Thirteen CSE faculty members hold endowed positions.

We strive to maintain a highly effective graduate program, two strong undergraduate programs, and an "open" culture with minimal partitioning either vertically (between faculty ranks or between faculty and students) or horizontally (between research areas).

A Research Overview

We are active in most of the principal areas of computer science and computer engineering. Particular strengths include:

The Graduate Program

Shilshole marina at sunset

The department has roughly 225 students in the full-time graduate program. We typically award twenty five Ph.D. degrees and thirty five Masters degrees each year.

We are able to offer admission to roughly 7.5% of those who apply to our graduate program.

Our recent Ph.D. graduates have received offers from essentially every top academic program and industrial research laboratory, and dozens of our recent graduates populate these strong programs.

In addition, we offer an "accessible" Professional Masters Program (involving a mix of distance learning and evening courses) designed for fully-employed professionals in the region's burgeoning information technology industry. This program enrolls roughly 150 students from more than two dozen leading regional firms, and grants an additional 45 Masters degrees per year.

There is an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Computational Molecular Biology involving several departments in the biological and mathematical sciences, including Computer Science & Engineering.

The Undergraduate Program

Red Square in the fall

CSE offers two Bachelors degrees: a Computer Science degree offered through the College of Arts & Sciences, and a Computer Engineering degree offered through the College of Engineering. Together, these programs graduate approximately 230 students each year - and we are currently growing to 300+. Why do UW's best students choose CSE? Watch these videos!

We additionally participate in the Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences program with our colleagues from Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, and Statistics. As well, our intensive two-quarter introductory course sequence, CSE 142 / CSE 143, enrolls more than 3500 students annually from across the campus.

Because the demand for our undergraduate major programs exceeds the capacity, students are admitted on a competitive basis upon completion of prerequisite courses. Our undergraduates are wonderfully strong, classes are small, and interaction with the faculty is high. Undergraduate participation in research is common. Intensive "capstone design courses" are a hallmark of our undergraduate major programs; several recent offerings are highlighted in these videos.

UW CSE is among the top suppliers of students in the nation to leading high-tech firms such as Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Google. We are the leading supplier to many regional firms.

UW CSE students have received the Rhodes Scholarship, Goldwater Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and Google Anita Borg Scholarship.

Within the University of Washington, our students have dominated the University Medals and Dean's Medals.  Since 2000, fully 1/3 of the annual high scholarship medals awarded by the University have gone to CSE majors - our "fair share" is 2%.   In the past decade, 10 winners of the annual Dean's Medals awarded to the top graduates in Arts & Science and in Engineering have gone to CSE majors.

In the past decade, 33 of our students have been recognized in the Computing Research Association Undergraduate Research Award competition -- the most of any program in the nation.

Because Washington State has a vibrant computing industry, more than two-thirds of our graduates remain in-state. In the course of their education, the vast majority of our undergraduates participate in co-ops or internships, which we feel enhance the effectiveness of an undergraduate engineering education.

The Puget Sound Region

The Puget Sound region is increasingly prominent as a national and international technology center.

Key strengths of the University of Washington include medicine, biotechnology, the physical sciences, the marine and environmental sciences, and computing and allied areas of science and engineering.

Pike Place Market and Elliot Bay

Adjacent to the University of Washington are a number of major R&D facilities with which we have close ties, such as Microsoft Research, Google Seattle and Google Kirkland, Amazon.com, Adobe Advanced Technology Labs, Lee Hood's Institute for Systems Biology, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Strong collaborations exist among these groups, with CSE playing a major role in the University and the region. Our annual Affiliates Meeting is a forum for interaction among 75 leadership companies from the region and the nation. Our professional Masters degree program and our colloquium series (broadcast on UWTV and live on the Internet) play significant roles in keeping the region's leading-edge workforce current. Working with UW Educational Outreach, we offer more than a dozen "Extension Certificate Programs" that generated roughly 5,000 course enrollments during the most recent year.

Downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier

We are actively involved with regional leadership organizations such as the Washington Technology Industry Association and the Technology Alliance.

Seattle, consistently acclaimed as one of the most livable cities in the nation, is a terrific place to be. Seattle is a cosmopolitan city situated in the midst of the beauty and diversity of the Pacific Northwest. The University of Washington is located on Lake Washington, a few miles east of Puget Sound. The Cascade Mountains are one hour to the east; the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic Mountains are two hours to the west.

The Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering

Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering

In Autumn 2003, UW CSE moved to the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering. The Allen Center is a true public/private partnership, funded by the State of Washington, the University of Washington, and more than 250 friends and alumni. The six-story (plus basement) building increases CSE's total space by a factor of 2.5, and our laboratory space by a factor of 3; it affords sweeping views of Lake Washington, the Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, and the Space Needle.

View our printable department overview (pdf)