High School Direct Admission
What is CSE Direct Admission?
CSE Direct Admission ("DA") means being admitted to the CSE major before you enroll at the UW, based just on your UW freshman application. This page gives general information on CSE DA.
- If you are a high school senior admitted to the UW as Pre-Science or Pre-Engineering, this page provides detailed info and advice for admitted pre-major freshman. If you are a high school senior and have been offered UW admission and Direct Admission to CSE, you will receive lots of info directly from the department.
Most UW students are admitted to the UW as pre-major (or undeclared) students, and are not directly admitted to any specific major. Pre-major students declare or apply to majors, usually in their sophomore or junior year. In addition to these "regular" or "upper-division" admissions processes, some departments also admit new freshmen through Direct Admission.
About 80% of CSE majors join the department through CSE Regular Admission and about 20% of our students come through Direct Admission. DA is a highly selective process, but offers lots of benefits to selected students:
- Guaranteed admission to CSE (no competitive application process later)
- Participation in CSE events and activities from your first day on campus
- More flexibility in planning your CSE coursework over four years of college
- More time to do internships and participate in research
- Access to CSE labs, facilities, and events
- Connection to other CSE students who share your academic interests
Selection Criteria for DA
CSE Direct Admission is offered to about 150 freshmen, selected from thousands of candidates. We prioritize strong, well-rounded students from Washington state.
The best academic preparation for computer science and engineering is taking the most rigorough curriculum offered at your high school. This includes advanced classes if available (Honors, AP, IB, etc.), especially in English, math, and science. Most students selected for DA have taken science and math every year of high school, and most have taken calculus. It is not necessary to take computer programming in high school, or to have computer-related work experience. However, if you have access to CS opportunities, we encourage you to take them!
CSE DA is designed primarily for Washington State resident students. Although a small number of non-Washington residents may receive offers, there is a very strong preference for Washington students.
There is no separate application for CSE DA. To be considered, students submit the regular UW Application for Freshman Admissions, and list Computer Science or Computer Engineering as their first choice of major. No additional materials are required. Applicants should follow the regular application guidelines; you do not need to craft a CSE-focused application. Applicants must meet all UW admissions deadlines and requirements as outlined on the UW Freshmen Admissions website.
The UW Admissions office selects students for CSE DA, based on criteria provided by the CSE department.
Advice & FAQs
How do I know if I am admitted to CSE as a Direct Admission student?
CSE DA decisions are sent at the same time as UW freshman admissions decisions, during the last two weeks of March. Your major will be listed on your offer letter. Students offered CSE DA will see Computer Science or Computer Engineering listed as their major. Students who are not offered DA will see pre-engineering or pre-science listed as their major.
In late March, CSE will also contact DA students with information about our program. Everyone offered CSE DA will receive multiple emails from CSE. Admitted students will not miss our offer.
Are there minimum test scores or GPA to be competitive for Direct Admission?
Most students offerd DA have a high school GPA of 3.85-4 (unweighted), and strong test scores (usually 700+ on each section of the SAT; 30+ on the ACT). Remember that these numbers are only one factor in our selection process. Regarding test scores specifically, it's helpful to know that other factors are typically more important (grades, curriculum, essays, and activities). Also note that hundreds of students with these high grades and test scores are not offered DA; no grade or test score guarantees admission.
Do you expect students to have computing experience in high school?
We do not expect high school applicants to have any computing experience. Computer science and engineering are intellectual challenges first and foremost, so we look for those students who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership. We look for students with strong academic motivation, who have excelled in math, science, English and other writing or communications courses.
What happens if I am not offered admission through the Direct Admission Program?
Can CSE majors pursue a double-mjaor, double-degree, or minor?
Yes! One of the advantages of a large institution like the UW is the enormous number of academic options, and we encourage CSE students to explore subjects outside the department. Many of our undergraduates pursue more than one major or degree, and seek minors in other disciplines. Because CSE DA students can start our curriculum early, they often have more flexibility to plan for a second major or minor.
What if I am offered DA but decide I prefer a different major?
You can drop CSE at any time if you decide it's not the right fit. We anticipate that DA students, like all students at the University, will spend their first year or two exploring lots of options.
To learn more about CSE, view our Capstone Design Course videos, read our FAQ for Prospective Students, and attend one of our Information Sessions.
- Program Overview
- Admissions & Prerequisites
- Application Review Process