High School Direct Admission
Computer Science and Computer Engineering are dynamic and exciting fields. Although most UW students do not declare a major until their sophomore or junior year of college, the CSE department admits up to 20% of our students directly out of high school through Direct Admission (DA). Advantages of DA include:
- Participating in CSE events and activities from your first day on campus
- Flexibility to spread CSE coursework over four years of college
- More time to take internships and participate in research
- Access to CSE labs and facilities
- Connection in your first year with students who share you interest in CS
The best high school preparation for pursuing computer science and computer engineering in college is to take advanced high school classes (Honors, AP, IB, etc.) in English, math, and science. Students we admits through DA have usually taken calculus. In science, physics is the preferred high school laboratory science course. It is not necessary to have had computer programming courses in high school, or computer-related work experience, to gain admission to our program.
Most UW students choose their major after completing prerequisite courses. See our Upper-Division Admission page for CSE's prerequisites. However, there are no specific prerequisites required to be considered for Direct Admission.
Freshman applicants to the UW who list Computer Science or Computer Engineering as their intended major on the Application for Freshman Admissions (with the UW Office of Admissions) will automatically be considered for Direct Admission. No additional materials or separate application is required.
UW Admissions staff will use the general UW freshman application to select DA students. There is no separate deadline to be considered. Applicants must meet all UW admissions deadlines and requirements as outlined on the UW Freshmen Admissions website.
Advice & FAQs
How do I know if I am admitted to CSE as a Direct Admission student?
The UW Office of Admissions sends freshman admissions decisions in the last two weeks of March. In April, CSE sends offers of Direct Admission to the CSE department.
Here's a little more detail: Students who are admitted to the university will get a letter from UW between March 15 and 31. UW Admissions then sends a Welcome Packet containing an "enrollment confirmation" slip that lists your major. For most DA students, the enrollment confirmation slip will be updated to show the major as Computer Science or Computer Engineering. For students who have not been selected for DA, the major will be listed as Pre-Major, Pre-Science, or another pre-major status.
Official Direct Admission offers from CSE will arrive a little later -- roughly two weeks after the Admissions office sends its notifications of general university admission. CSE will email all DAs to announce our offer of admission to the department. We will follow this email with a letter from our chair, sent via postal mail. We will then communicate directly with our new DA students to answer any questions about our program, and to confirm enrollment.
Is there a minimum grade point average for an application to be considered?
Competitive applicants generally have a high school GPA of 3.8 or above.
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. In particular, we look for students who excel in math and the sciences (especially physics) and also in English and other writing/communications courses.
What happens if I am not offered admission through the Direct Admission Program?
If you are not offered Direct Admission, it is not an indication of your ability to excel in this discipline. Instead, it is an indication of the small number of students to whom we are able to offer this program. The vast majority of applicants will apply under the Upper-Division Admission program after they have completed the prerequisite courses.
How does the department feel about students who want to pursue a second major?
One of the great advantages of a large research institution like the UW is the enormous amount of collaboration among departments and the incredibly wide range of subjects offered. It is very important to CSE that our students are able to explore subjects outside of the department. Many of our undergraduates pursue more than one major or degree program or seek minors in other disciplines.
What if I am offered DA admission but then attend the UW and find I prefer a different major?
At no time are you “locked in” to this degree program. Once DA students arrive at the UW, we realize that they may find their interests lead them in a different direction. Offering students the flexibility to follow their true educational paths is a priority to us. We anticipate that DA students, like all students at the University, will spend their first year or two exploring all that the university has to offer.
Other Resources & Information
- Advanced Placement (AP) Test Credit: For those who do pursue CS in high school, the University of Washington may grant credit for CSE 142 to students with AP scores of 4 or 5 on the Computer Science A exam.
- Explore the campus with a UW Campus Tour!
- Computing-related programs at UW and other institutions.
- Program Overview
- Application Review Process
- Application Instructions