The Allen School is taking a significant step to assure a greater number of incoming freshman students that they will be able to pursue a Computer Science degree at UW. Beginning with the entering freshman class of 2019, the Allen School will directly admit the majority of its non-transfer students to the Computer Science program. The vast majority of these spaces will go to Washington state residents.

The expansion of our Direct to Major admission program is in response to unprecedented demand for Computer Science at UW. The Allen School has more than doubled its capacity in the past several years, yet demand keeps rising and continues to exceed capacity. This means that we still must turn away a significant number of UW students, who then must either select another UW major or transfer to another school to study Computer Science. While there will still be space available in the Computer Science major for interest changers (students who discover Computer Science after coming to UW) and transfer students, freshman applicants who are not offered Direct to Major admission to the Allen School and who choose to attend UW should be prepared to major in something other than Computer Science. (There are many other excellent computing and technology majors at UW: Informatics, Geographical Information Systems, Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering, and many more.) Or, students can pursue any major at UW and complement it with our upper division non-major course offerings and other computing-related activities in the Allen School and elsewhere at UW. Additionally, our 100-level introductory courses will remain open to all students.

The Details

Starting with applicants for the 2019 freshman class, the Direct to Major process will ensure that the majority of non-transfer students who receive undergraduate Computer Science degrees from UW will have been admitted directly to the program as freshmen.

All freshman applicants who meet UW admissions criteria and who list Computer Science as their first-choice major on their application will be automatically considered for Direct to Major. The UW Office of Admissions will offer Direct to Major admission based on a holistic review that includes established criteria and selection guidelines developed in partnership with the Allen School.

As a result of the expansion of the Direct to Major program, the Allen School’s traditional admission process (UW “pre-major” students applying to CS after completing prerequisites) will no longer be the main pathway to majoring in Computer Science. There will be limited space available for students to apply to the major after arriving at UW, which is particularly important for students who discover CS via lower-division courses. The admission pathway for transfer students to directly enter the Allen School upon admission to UW will be maintained and, for WA-resident transfer students, expanded.

This change affects only the Computer Science degree granted by the Allen School through the College of Arts & Sciences. The Computer Engineering degree, also offered by the Allen School, is awarded through the College of Engineering and is part of Engineering’s Direct to College program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you changing the admission process for Computer Science? What problems does the expansion of Direct to Major address?

Implementing Direct to Major admission will assure incoming freshman students and their families that they will be able to pursue a Computer Science degree at the University of Washington. Direct to Major admission will allow the Allen School to more fully engage directly admitted students in an immersive experience from their first day on campus, while still maintaining opportunities for transfer and other UW students to pursue CS degrees. Our students and community voiced concerns about the uncertainty of our current process for aspiring CS students where many students are unable to declare into the major after two years of study. Direct to Major is a significant step to improve our students’ educational experience and aligns the UW with the admission process practiced by the majority of our peer institutions.

Who is affected by the new process?

The expansion of our Direct to Major program will impact students interested in Computer Science, beginning with the entering freshman class of 2019. The new admission process does not affect students who entered the UW earlier. Beginning with the freshman class of 2019, students not directly admitted into the Computer Science major should be prepared to major in something other than Computer Science if they come to UW.

How does Direct to Major admission affect transfer students?

There is no impact on the transfer admission process from the implementation of Direct to Major for freshman applicants. The Direct to Major process primarily impacts freshmen entering UW in autumn 2019 and beyond. The current pathway for transfer students will be maintained. Prospective transfer students will still need to submit an application to UW by the university’s deadline to be considered for admission to the CS major. Transfer admission processes will remain competitive. We have grown our CS program in the last several years and there are more transfer spaces that will be available in coming years, but demand continues to exceed capacity.

What should I do if I am admitted to UW but not to Computer Science via Direct to Major admission?

Some applicants who select the Computer Science major on their UW application will be admitted to UW but not offered Direct Admission to Computer Science. We encourage students to be open-minded. Many students arrive at UW thinking they want to pursue one major, but develop a passion for another major during freshman year. UW offers more than 180 majors, including a number of technology-related majors other than CS which are popular choices for many students and can be a great fit for your future plans.

However, if you are absolutely certain that you want to major in CS and you did not receive Direct to Major admission, you may want to consider other universities.

What computing-related majors and opportunities exist for students not majoring in Computer Science?

There are a number of great computing-related majors that students can pursue at the University of Washington: Informatics, Geographical Information Systems, Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences, and more. (Students need to keep in mind that many of these computing-related majors are capacity constrained; students should speak with advisers from those majors to understand the individual program details.) We encourage you to check out our related majors webpage for more information.

While we don’t have a minor in Computer Science, the Allen School does offer many courses, including several upper-division courses, to non-majors. These courses allow students pursuing any major at UW to also gain substantial exposure to Computer Science. In addition, a growing number of majors now offer a data science specialization.

Why is Computer Engineering not part of this process?

The Allen School offers degrees through both the College of Engineering and the College of Arts & Sciences. This change impacts the Computer Science degree granted through the College of Arts & Sciences only. The Computer Engineering degree is granted through the College of Engineering and is part of Engineering’s Direct to College admission process.

Will this change impact current UW students or the incoming class of 2018?

The expansion of Direct to Major does not affect current UW students or the incoming class of 2018. Pre-major students entering in autumn 2018 or earlier will still have access to the current admissions model: they complete prerequisites and have the opportunity to apply for competitive admission at the end of the first year and during the middle or end of the second year. However, starting in the fall of 2020, the space available for such students will be significantly reduced, so earlier applications are advised.

Are out-of-state and international students eligible for Direct to Major admission?

The majority of students in the Direct to Major cohort will be Washington residents, but all freshman applicants who identify Computer Science as their preferred major will be considered, including out-of-state students (as is already the case) and international students (which is new with this change).

What criteria are used?

The University of Washington seeks students who can benefit from its wealth of academic and cultural opportunities and contribute to its amazing energy and rich diversity of experience. Choosing students from a very able group of applicants requires a selection process that looks beyond grades and standardized tests. The UW holistic review process considers academic preparation and performance, personal achievements and characteristics, and more. The Allen School’s Direct to Major process considers these same holistic criteria.

Additional Questions?

Contact the Allen School advising staff at ugrad-advisor@cs.washington.edu.