Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering?
- How many undergraduates do you admit to the major?
- 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?
- How can I take a CSE class if I am not a major?
- Does CSE offer a program in Computer Animation?
- How will my credits transfer from X university or community college?
- Are there special considerations for International Students?
- When are applications due for Upper-Division Admission?
- Is there a minimum GPA for an application to be considered?
- 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?
- 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?
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.
About 160 students per year are accepted into the CSE department, split between Computer Science and Computer Engineering. The CSE Admissions Committee reviews all applications together, so both majors are equally competitive. Approximately 40 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. It’s very difficult to say exactly what percent of students are admitted. 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.
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; indeed, CSE hosts several computing-related interdisciplinary programs (e.g., bioengineering). 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 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.
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 must meet all admission requirements to the University of Washington before their application to CSE will be considered. For more information about these requirements, please visit the Prospective International Student website.
Upper-Division admission is the standard application if you have completed all CSE prerequisites. CSE accepts students for Upper-Division admission twice per year. The application deadlines are July 1 for the autumn quarter and February 1 for the spring quarter. Transfer students applying to the major must already be accepted to the UW or have an application on file. Remember that the deadlines to apply to the UW may be much earlier than application dates for the major.
There is no minimum GPA to apply through Upper-Division admission, and there is no automatic admission or denial based on GPA. CSE does not rank applicants by their grades, nor does the department automatically disqualify an applicant with lower grades. Everyone who has met the application requirements will be considered. However, admission is competitive, and admitted students have strong grades. Speak to a CSE advisor if you have concerns or questions about your grades.
What weights are attached to grades, work experience, personal statements, and other application details?
CSE does not assign specific points to these items. The Admissions Committee looks at each application as a whole and attempts to assess the individual qualities of each applicant. 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.
Yes. Many students apply more than once before they are admitted to the major. However, CSE encourages you to also explore computing-related majors to determine a plan in case you are not admitted to the department. Also, please speak to a CSE advisor before reapplying if you have questions about departmental admissions.
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. However, CSE will consider your application; 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.
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?
You cannot register for any 300-level CSE major requirements until you are admitted to the department. If you have completed all the prerequisites and are not yet in the major, register for a full schedule of non-CSE classes. After you are admitted, CSE will help you get into major's classes. A CSE advisor can identify some non-CSE courses to consider (e.g., Math 308, Physics 122, and others) and help with your specific planning.
- Program Overview
- Application Review Process
- Application Instructions