The University of Washington
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington has 48,000 students (32,500 undergraduate and 15,500 graduate/professional) and more than 2,000 full-time instructional faculty divided into 16 schools and colleges. The University's annual operating budget is nearly $8 billion (inclusive of the UW Medicine health care system), roughly 5% of which comes from the State.
Computer Science & Engineering at UW
The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering began 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 the department moved to the College of Engineering. A Professional Master's Program was added in 1996, and a combined Bachelors/Masters program was added in 2008. In 2017 - our 50th anniversary year - the University of Washington Board of Regents voted to create the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, elevating our status within the university and linking us in perpetuity with the internationally renowned investor, philanthropist and computing pioneer.
The Allen School is widely regarded as among the most distinguished programs in the nation. We have roughly 80 full-time faculty, 100 technical and administrative staff members, 450 graduate students (300 in the full-time program and 150 in the Professional Masters Program), and 1,300 undergraduate students (currently growing to award more than 450 Bachelors degrees per year). Allen School faculty are widely recognized as among the top in their fields. Forty-three current faculty members have won Presidential/NSF Young Investigator Awards or NSF CAREER Awards. Six faculty members are ONR Young Investigator Award recipients. Five - plus five former faculty - have held NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow or Presidential Early Career (PECASE) Awards. Twenty-seven have held Sloan Research Fellowships. Among current and emeritus senior faculty are nine Fulbright recipients, three Guggenheim recipients, twenty-two Fellows of the ACM, fifteen 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, four Fellows of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, three 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. In 1999, we received the inaugural UW Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence - in essence, a departmental distinguished teaching award (see our "Reflective Statement" here - as valid today as it was then). Fifteen faculty members hold endowed positions.
We strive to maintain a highly effective graduate program, two strong undergraduate programs, and an open and inclusive culture with minimal partitioning either vertically (between faculty ranks or between faculty and students) or horizontally (between research areas).
We are active in most of the principal areas of computer science and computer engineering. Particular strengths include:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Augmented & Virtual Reality
- Computational & Synthetic Biology
- Computer Architecture
- Computer Graphics, Vision, Animation, & Game Science
- Computing for Development
- Data Science, Data Management & Visualization
- Human Computer Interaction & Accessible Technology
- Machine Learning
- Natural Language Processing
- Programming Languages & Software Engineering
- Security & Privacy
- Systems and Networking
- Theory of Computation
- Ubiquitous Computing
- Wireless & Sensor Systems
Computer science plays a unique role in the modern university and the modern world. The Allen School has always embraced this role, and the University of Washington provides a particularly rich environment for multi-disciplinary collaboration.
In addition to a vast number of individual collaborations, the Allen School has played a leadership role in establishing a number of thriving multi-disciplinary centers, institutes, and programs, including:
- The University of Washington eScience Institute (data science)
- DUB (human-computer interaction and design)
- Change (technology developed in the context of positive social change)
- The Tech Policy Lab
- The Taskar Center for Accessible Technology
- The Center for Neurotechnology
- Global Innovation Exchange (project-based Masters education combining technology, design and entrepreneurship in a global context)
The Graduate Program
Roughly 350 students are enrolled in the Allen School's full-time graduate program. We typically award 35 Ph.D. degrees and 80 Masters degrees each year. Our recent Ph.D. graduates have received offers from essentially every top academic program and industrial research laboratory, and many dozens of our recent graduates populate these strong programs.
In addition, we offer a Professional Masters Program that is designed for fully-employed professionals in the region's information technology industry. This program features a mix of distance learning and evening courses. It enrolls roughly 150 students from more than two dozen leading companies in the greater Seattle area, and grants an additional 45 Masters degrees per year.
UW also offers an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Computational Molecular Biology involving several departments in the biological and mathematical sciences, including the Allen School.
The Undergraduate Program
The Allen School 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 and accredited by ABET. There is a Data Science Specialization for those students majoring in Computer Science who are interested in developing a foundation in one of the fastest-growing areas of the field. Together, these programs are growing to award 450+ degrees annually.
Our undergraduates are wonderfully strong, 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. A majority of our undergraduates participate in one or more internships in Seattle's vibrant information technology sector, dramatically enhancing their education. While a number of our students choose to continue their education at one of the nation's top graduate institutions (or in our own combined Bachelors/Masters program), most transition to industry positions. The Allen School is among the top suppliers of students in the nation to leading high-tech firms such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. In addition, we are the leading supplier to many regional companies. Because Washington State has a vibrant computing industry, roughly 90% of our graduates remain in-state.
Allen School undergraduates are widely honored within and beyond the University of Washington. Our students have received the Rhodes Scholarship, Goldwater Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and Google Anita Borg Scholarship. Within the University of Washington, they have received far more than their share of University Medals and Dean's Medals. We lead the nation in the past decade in the number of students recognized in the Computing Research Association's Undergraduate Research Award competition.
Our introductory course sequence, CSE 142 / CSE 143, enrolls nearly 5,000 students annually from across the campus. Despite significant recent growth, demand for our undergraduate program continues to exceed capacity. However, we have a broad range of upper-division courses for students majoring in other fields. We additionally participate in the Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences program with our colleagues from Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, and Statistics.
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.
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 the Allen School 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 dozens of "Extension Certificate Programs" that generate many thousands of course enrollments annually.
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.
Our World-Class Facilities
In October 2003, we moved to the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering. The Allen Center was 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 increased our 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.
In February 2019 we dedicated a second building, the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering. Located across the street from the Allen Center and designed by the same remarkable firm (Seattle's LMN Architects), the Gates Center doubles our space, with a particular focus on student capacity and the student experience.
The Allen Center, the Gates Center, and the creation of the Paul G. Allen School position us for a future even brighter than our past.