Current UW Student Admission
The current UW Student admission pathways is for students who complete prerequisites before applying to the major. Most often these students would be 'interest changers' - students who came to UW with another interest in mind and later developed a passion for computer science and computer engineering. UW students apply to the Allen School online, through the College of Engineering application, for Autumn or Spring admission. Applicants who satisfy the minimum prerequisites below will be given thorough consideration by the Allen School Admission Committee. However, because demand exceeds capacity, the Allen School cannot offer admission to all applicants who meet these minimum qualifications.
Applicants must be enrolled at the UW Seattle campus.
To enter the program in the autumn quarter: July 1st
To enter the program in the spring quarter: January 15th
We offer two different types of information sessions - a general information session for students who are considering applying to CSE in the future, and a specific application information session before each application cycle for students who are actively working on applying.
Dates for both types of information sessions are posted on our information sessions webpage.
Students interested in applying to Computer Science or Computer Engineering must complete the prerequisites listed below by the time of application. In addition to meeting prerequisite requirements applicants must also submit an online application through the College of Engineering, write a personal statement, and fill out a work history section outlining their extracurricular involvement.
Computer Science Prerequisites
The Computer Science major is offered through the College of Arts & Sciences. Students applying to this major must complete the following requirements prior to the application deadline:
- Math 124, 125 & 126
- At least 5 credits of natural science, including one of the following:
- CSE 142 & 143;
- Five credits of English composition.
Computer Engineering Prerequisites
Computer Engineering is an ABET-accredited program offered through the College of Engineering. Students applying to the Computer Engineering major must complete the following requirements prior to the application deadline:
Advice & FAQs
How is the personal statement evaluated and what should I discuss in my personal statement?
Evaluations of personal statements are subjective. Since each application is read by at least three committee members before the admissions meeting, we can rarely provide specific feedback on an applicant's personal statement. However, we provide below an overview of what we ask you to discuss in the personal statement:
- We are most interested in hearing why you have chosen computing, what most interests you about this field, and what your long-term goals are at this point. Please discuss how you think a Computer Science or Computer Engineering degree will help you reach your goals.
- We would also like to know what interests you have outside of CSE. Although a strong academic background is important, we are also committed to maintaining a rich, diverse student population. We would like to hear about your activities both in and outside of school. These may include involvement in student organizations, volunteer work, hobbies, employment, etc.
- If you have applied previously to the Allen School, please point out what has improved since your previous application.
- If you had to overcome significant obstacles, difficulties, or challenges to reach where you are now, please discuss them and how they have affected the person you are today. Keep in mind that hardship itself is not a positive factor; overcoming hardship to demonstrate academic success can be.
- If special circumstances have negatively affected your performance in a particular course or academic quarter, you may include a brief explanation. We don't need many details; disclose only information that feels relevant and comfortable to you. Information about a difficult personal circumstance can provide context for a grade or academic term that seems uncharacteristic of your overall record.
- If you plan to pursue more than one major, explain why both majors are important to your goals. If admitted, advisers in your other major will need to approve of your plan to declare a double-major or double-degree.
- The UW’s Standard Satisfactory Progress policy requires graduation by the time you earn 210 credits. If you expect to earn more than 210 credits, please tell us why and briefly discuss your plan for graduating. If admitted, you will need to discuss your plan with an Allen School adviser (and your other departmental adviser, if you pursue more than one major).
What are some resources I can use to help me write a strong personal statement?
A good essay conveys important information clearly, but is still concise. Expect that writing your personal statement will take time: start thinking about your essay and writing drafts well before the application deadline. Plan to have your essay reviewed by a mentor/teacher, parent or friend.
Here are some resources to consult to ensure you submit a statement of the highest quality.
What are my chances of admission?
There are always more qualified applicants than space available in our programs. Therefore, our process is competitive, and we must deny admission to some students with good academic records. We typically have space for approximately 20-25% of all students who apply however this is rapidly changing. Until we see how things change with our move to Freshman Direct to Major being our primary pathway, we can not predict how competitive these cycles will remain. We imagine they will be quite competitive for the next few years.
All applications are reviewed by the Allen School Undergraduate Admission Committee, comprised of faculty and advisers. We use an evaluative, rather than a quantitative, process in our admission review. This means our decisions are based on more than simply which applicants have the highest grades. We do not tally up points; rather, we form an overall evaluation based on academic background and other factors, such as outside interests and activities, evidence of leadership and a sense of direction, and life experience. We do not expect all students to excel across the board, but achievement in relevant academic areas or evidence of overcoming hardships can strengthen an application.
What factors are considered in the review process?
Here are some points to keep in mind about the Allen School admission process:
- Our goal is to have as complete a picture as we can of your activities, experiences, and academic performance.
- In evaluating transcripts, we look not only at your grades, but at how many courses you have taken each quarter; circumstances (such as employment or activities) that may limit the number and types of courses taken, and the difficulty of each quarter as a whole (insofar as we have access to that information). For example, do you take balanced yet challenging course loads? Are you pursuing honors courses? Negative elements might include a pattern of repeating classes, multiple dropped, withdrawn, or S/NS courses, or selecting schedules with overlapping content.
- We look for breadth in prerequisite coursework as well as in general education classes. For instance, courses in English and Speech Communication can be important to our majors. Many of our upper-division courses demand presentation skills and an ability to communicate among team members. Also, your choice of courses gives us a glimpse of what interests you.
- Your personal statement is an opportunity for the committee to learn more about what is important to you and why computer science/engineering is of interest.
Students applying to the Allen School should consider alternative degree options as well. UW offers many other excellent computing-related majors that are far more than "back-up" plans. Choose a major you enjoy and that will help further your personal, academic, and professional goals. Students in any major may take non-major Allen School courses to build technical skills.
For some students who are denied admission to the Allen School on their first application, applying a second time may make sense. Reapplying does not automatically improve your chance of admission. You must identify what specifically kept you from being competitive the first time, and resolve these issues. Note, however, that the primary reason most students are denied is that space is limited; the Allen School denies many very strong applicants and sometimes there is no specific issue.
For students who decide to reapply, here are some things to consider:
- If your grades in a key area (math, science, English, or CSE) are below the range that is typically competitive for the Allen School, you might improve your application by taking more-advanced classes in the same area. If you have not maintained consistently strong grades across multiple quarters, evaluate the options you have to create stability and work hard at maintaining strong grades. If you tend to pay attention only to the courses that interest you at the expense of everything else, focus on taking a more balanced approach to your coursework.
- Most students planning for a second application will take additional challenging courses in math, science, English, or computer science. Keep in mind that although it may seem appealing to take a non-major Allen School course, these classes do not count toward Allen School major requirements. Applicants should speak with an Allen School adviser before taking a non-major Allen School class.
- Consider general requirements needed to graduate instead of just courses needed to apply. For example, finish your math and science courses, work towards a minor or another major, and complete your general education requirements.
- Ask for feedback on your personal statement. You might ask friends or family if it captures the most interesting and important details of who you are. Be open to making changes. Also, address what has changed since your first application. Spend time proofreading. Remember that it is more important for us to hear what you are doing presently and hope to accomplish in the future, rather than details about the first time you sat in front of a computer or played your first video game.
- If you have trouble taking tests or organizing your time, consider talking to a counselor at the Counseling Center about test-anxiety, test-taking tips, or time management.
- If you would like to speak to an adviser, there are two pre-major advising centers available to you: Undergraduate Academic Affairs Advising in Mary Gates Hall and pre-engineering in Loew 301. You may also attend drop-in advising hours for the Allen School.
What are options if I discovered CSE late (in my Junior or Senior year of college)?
Non-Traditional Admission (NTA) is intended for students who discover CSE "late." Typically, NTA applicants already will have made progress towards another major before taking (and doing well in) CSE 142 and 143. NTA was created so that a small number of students may declare and complete an Allen School major in a timely manner, rather than waiting to apply after completing all standard Regular Admission prerequisites. NTA applicants should apply using the College of Engineering's online application. They will need an Allen School adviser’s assistance in submitting the application. NTA follows the same deadlines as Regular Admission: July 1st to enter in the autumn quarter, and January 15th for entry in the spring quarter. See below for helpful information on our application review process.
We expect well-qualified NTA applicants to have:
- Course requirements: CSE 142 or equivalent; Grade of 3.7+ in CSE 143 (must be taken at UW Seattle); at least five additional credits toward the Computer Science Regular Admission prerequisites (preferably in Math or Science).
- Other requirements: Currently enrolled UW Seattle student. Completion of at least 4 full-time quarters at UW*; 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher. Most importantly, applicants must present a compelling reason for being admitted before they complete the standard Allen School Regular Admission prerequisites.
*Students with at least one year of transfer credits may be eligible before having 4 quarters completed at UW.
If you believe you are a well-qualified applicant, you must meet with an Allen School adviser to discuss your situation well before the application deadlines. Students will not be able to submit a NTA application without approval from an Allen School adviser. Please note that the grade and GPA minimums listed above are expectations, but not strict minimums. Remember: Non-Traditional Admission benefits students who have not completed Allen School prerequisites. If you have completed all prerequisites, or are able to finish your prerequisites in a reasonable amount of time, you should apply through Regular Admission (in lieu of entering the more-selective NTA applicant pool).