Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering?
- Will CSE let me pursue a double major?
- Does CSE offer any scholarships?
- How do I apply for Financial Aid?
- Do undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in research?
- Does CSE offer a program in Computer Animation?
- How will my credits transfer from another university or community college?
- Are there special considerations for International Students?
Academic Planning Questions
- If I’m not yet admitted to CSE but have completed the prerequisites and I register for courses before admissions decisions are posted, can I start taking the 300-level CSE courses?
- How can I take a CSE class if I am not a major?
- When are applications due for Regular Admission?
- Is there a minimum GPA for an application to be considered?
- How many undergraduates do you admit to the major?
- What weights are attached to grades, work experience, personal statements, and other application details?
- If I am not admitted the first time, can I apply again?
- Does CSE have any special admission programs for minority or female students?
- What if I already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline?
- If I am accepted into CSE, can I defer admission?
In our department, the difference between these majors is in what courses are required. CS is a major within the UW’s College of Arts and Sciences; therefore, it has broader liberal arts/general education requirements and more flexible upper-division requirements. CE is a major within the UW’s College of Engineering; its requirements are more focused and include a Technical Writing component. Both majors are flexible and lead to similar employment opportunities.
One of the key advantages of a large research institution like the UW is the extensive cross-department collaboration and the broad range of subjects offered. CSE values enabling you to explore subjects outside of the department. Many of the department’s undergraduates pursue more than one major or degree program or seek minors in other disciplines.
Yes, we have a limited number of departmental scholarships available to current CSE majors.
Please contact the UW Office of Student Financial Aid for complete information on types of assistance for undergraduates.
Yes. Many undergraduates participate in faculty research, either to complete Honors requirements or for personal enrichment. Research experience is strongly recommended if you are considering graduate school. The department also encourages you to participate in other activities outside the classroom. This includes co-ops and internships, study abroad, and part-time employment.
CSE offers some coursework in computer animation. These classes are generally open only to UW students who are admitted by application. For information about programs in Animation outside the UW, try searching larger web sites such as the Collegeboard.
If you are attending a Washington State community college, access UW Admission's online Equivalency Guide to determine how your courses will transfer. If you are transferring from a four-year university or any school outside of Washington, you will have your courses evaluated by the Admissions Office after being admitted to the UW.
International students apply to CSE through our standard Regular Admission process, and are considered the same way as all other Regular Admission applicants. Prior to applying to the department, international students must be admitted to the UW through the University's international freshman or transfer admissions process. For more information about these requirements, please visit the Prospective International Student website.
Academic Planning Questions
I finished my prerequisites and am applying to CSE, but I need to register for next quarter before I know my admission decision. What should I register for?
If you are not yet admitted to the major, register for a full schedule of non-CSE classes. Consider classes that count toward a minor or your alterntative major choices, general requirements (VLPA, I&S, Writing, Diversity), or fun electives. If you're worried about lower grades in a particular area, consider another class to improve in this area -- for example, a second science class if your first science grade here was a little low.
After you are admitted to CSE, we'll help you get majors classes. We have plenty of space for new majors, so don't worry about classes being full.
CSE offers non-majors courses to all UW students outside the CSE major. If you are not enrolled in a degree program at the UW, you are considered a non-matriculated, or non-degree, student. Generally, CSE non-majors courses have space for non-matriculated students, but matriculated UW students have priority over non-matriculated students. Information on taking courses as a non-matriculated student can be found on the UW Non-degree Enrollment page and on our Non-Majors page.
Regular Admission is the standard application if you have completed all CSE prerequisites. CSE accepts students through Regular Admission twice per year. For current UW students, the application deadlines are July 1 for the autumn quarter and February 1 for the spring quarter. Transfer students will apply through UW's regular transfer application only--no separate CSE application. For more information please see the Transfer Students page.
There is no minimum GPA to apply, and there is no automatic admission or denial based on GPA. Everyone who has met the application requirements will be considered. However, admission is competitive, and admitted students have strong grades. In general, competitive applicants typically have grades of 3.5 and higher in related math, science, CSE, and English courses, with strong grades overall -- but there is no exact formula determining what grades will be competitive. Speak to a CSE advisor if you have concerns or questions about your grades.
Currently, around 300 students per year are accepted into the CSE department. This includes both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. The CSE Admissions Committee reviews all applications together, so both majors are equally competitive. Approximately 30 percent of all applicants are accepted. Because the department has multiple application cycles, many people apply more than once, and applicant numbers vary each quarter. Although CSE tends to have more applicants in the autumn, the standards of admission are roughly the same for both the autumn and spring quarters.
What weights are attached to grades, work experience, personal statements, and other application details?
The Admissions Committee looks at each application as a whole and attempts to assess the individual qualities of each applicant. Grades are the most important factor, and all admitted students are well-qualified academically. Beyond grades, however, CSE seeks applicants with a variety of interesting and compelling non-academic attributes -- for example, prior involvement in CSE, creativity, and strong communication skills.
In response to the many questions the department receives about how admissions decisions are made, CSE offers Application Review Process pages that gives details on the factors considered in admissions decisions. This pages also provide suggestions about preparing your personal statement.
A CSE advisor can help you decide whether reapplying makes sense. For students who we encourage to reapply, an advisor can discuss previous applications, interpret feedback from the admissions committee if applicable, and recommend next steps for a possible reapplication. Additionally, all CSE applicants should explore alternative computing-related majors to determine a plan in case they are not admitted to the department.
No. All applicants are reviewed and admitted on the same standards. It is illegal to consider race or gender in any admissions or hiring decisions for any program at any public school in the State of Washington. No preference is given to anyone based on race or gender.
The department offers targeted recruiting and support opportunities for certain groups of students to help ensure students from all backgrounds are aware of the CSE program and feel welcome. CSE strongly believes in the educational value of bringing together capable students from a variety of backgrounds and therefore makes special efforts to encourage underrepresented students, such as those from minority backgrounds and women, to become aware of what the department offers and what each of them, as individuals, can offer the field of computer science.
Post-baccalaureate (“post-bac”) admission to the UW is limited because the University's primary commitment is to undergraduates completing their first bachelor's degree. Due to extremely high demand for our program from first-time bachelor's students, UW CSE is not currently accepting applications from students looking for a second BS degree (i.e., post-baccalaureate applications). We are considering the possibility of programs specifically for post-baccalaureate students in the future; if you plan to enter a degree program in a year or two, please check our web page again at that time as it is quite possible our situation may change. Contact a CSE advisor to discuss your options.
Due to the high demand for the CSE program, admission is offered only for the quarter for which you apply. You may not defer your admission or save a space in the department while not taking CSE courses. The department offers a full-time, daytime program. If you are admitted to the program, plan on pursuing your degree on a full-time basis. Some exceptions may be considered for extenuating circumstances.
- Program Overview
- Admissions & Prerequisites
- Application Review Process