Congratulations on your admission to the University of Washington!
We are thrilled that you are considering attending the UW. This page has information for students who are interested in majoring in computer science or computer engineering and who were not among the small number of students who received “Direct Admission” to those majors.
Interest in computer science is growing rapidly nationwide – nowhere more than at the University of Washington. UW Computer Science & Engineering is expanding rapidly. Thanks to generous donations from Paul G. Allen and Microsoft, we recently became the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. Support from the Washington State Legislature, the University of Washington, corporations, and individuals has funded construction of a second building that will be completed during your time at UW and provide space to accommodate a doubling of our annual degree production. The Legislature has funded enrollment growth in each of the past two biennial budgets, and we hope for further investment in the 2017-19 biennial budget. However, student demand continues to exceed program capacity.
Importantly, fewer than 20% of our majors enter the Allen School via Direct Admission. We reserve the vast majority of our places for students who come to UW as pre-majors, fulfill prerequisites, and apply to the program. Direct Admission is the exception, not the rule!
Please review this page before contacting us with questions. When you contact us, please note that we have a strong preference for communicating directly with students, although parents are welcome to be CC'ed on emails, be on the phone line with their student, etc.
Highlights of the Allen School undergraduate program
- World-class faculty who prioritize research and teaching
- A supportive and inclusive learning environment (for example, we are a national leader in granting degrees to women)
- Flexible degree requirements, allowing students time to pursue a double major or a minor
- Meaningful and high-paying internship and full-time employment opportunities through our Industry Affiliates program, which hosts two recruiting fairs per year featuring startup and established companies seeking Allen School candidates
- Extra support for students including: tutoring, résumé review sessions, technical interview coaching, Ph.D. admission prep, daily drop-in advising
- Challenging and exciting courses in areas such as: virtual reality, machine learning, and data visualization
- Paid opportunities for undergraduates to serve as teaching and research assistants
Other UW opportunities and resources
Students in the Allen School and other units on campus have many avenues for pursuing their interests in computer science and computer engineering outside of major coursework. Examples include:
- The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship provides several programs for budding entrepreneurs. One class even gives students thousands of dollars to create their own company! In addition, Startup Hall helps students brings their ideas to fruition through a unique public-private partnership.
- DubHacks> is a 24-hour hackathon open to students of all backgrounds that takes place on campus each fall.
- UW's Career & Internship Center hosts several huge career fairs and lots of career prep workshops. Most of the major tech companies are on campus frequently.
- The eScience Institute is an interdisciplinary effort across campus dedicated to developing and applying advanced computational methods and tools to real-world problems in data-intensive discovery.
- Many campus clubs are open to all majors and have a tech/engineering focus. For example, here are some clubs offered through the College of Engineering.
- UW provides hundreds of study abroad programs, impactful service-learning opportunities, and cutting edge research positions.
I did not gain Direct Admission. What now?
As noted above, fewer than 20% of our majors enter the Allen School via Direct Admission. Direct Admission is the exception, not the rule!
Nonetheless, student demand greatly exceeds the capacity of our program, and we are unable to accommodate a significant number of well-qualified students each year. We are working hard to increase the number of undergraduates we admit to our majors, thanks in large part to investments by the Washington State Legislature and strong support from the University to expand our program. Even as we grow, we will have to contend with capacity limitations for the foreseeable future.
Students who are not directly admitted to one of our majors as freshmen can complete the prerequisites and apply through our regular admission program. This takes most students approximately one year to complete and includes three academic quarters of calculus, our introductory programming courses, English composition, and an approved science course. Our regular admission acceptance rate in the most recent year was 40%. Regular admission candidates are evaluated based on a combination of college grades and personal statements; Washington state residency may also be a factor in admissions as we strive to fulfill our mission as the state’s flagship public university.
Why wasn't I offered Direct Admission?
If you were not offered Direct Admission, it is not an indication of your ability to excel in this discipline. Instead, it is an indication of the small number of students to whom we offer Direct Admission. For 2017, fewer than 3% of UW freshman applicants who listed Computer Science or Computer Engineering as their first-choice major were offered Direct Admission; these students had an average unweighted GPA of 3.97; average test scores of ACT 34, SAT Math 764, and SAT Verbal 758; took a rigorous high school curriculum; provided evidence of meaningful extracurricular activities; submitted strong personal statements; and were mostly Washington residents.
Some students intending to study computer science or computer engineering may not ultimately gain admission to the Allen School, while others may discover, upon arriving on campus, a major that is a better fit for their strengths and goals. (At the same time, more than 50% of the young women who ultimately become our majors did not have that intention when they enrolled in our introductory course sequence.) Students in other majors enjoy access to our non-major courses, can serve as Allen School teaching assistants, and can participate in Allen School research.
Below is a sampling of other UW majors you may want to explore, based on your interest in our program. Please note that most of these majors are also capacity-constrained and some students may not be admitted to these alternative options. We encourage students to consider open or minimum-requirement majors among their options (see here for a list of all UW majors).
- Applied Math
- Electrical Engineering (particularly the embedded systems track)
- Geography (particularly the geographic information systems track)
- Human Centered Design & Engineering
Should I come to UW if I was not Direct Admitted to the Allen School?
We can't answer this for you, but we recommend thinking about the following factors:
- Do my background and motivation equip me to excel during my freshman year at UW and gain admission to a competitive major?
- Am I open to exploring other UW majors besides computer science or computer engineering?
- If I gained admission to another institution’s computer science or computer engineering program, how does that program compare to the opportunities offered to non-majors at UW?
- Am I comfortable with the possibility that I may ultimately have to select a different major or transfer to another school if I am not admitted into the Allen School as my first choice?
Traits of successful UW students
It is impossible to predict whether a prospective UW student will be admitted through our regular admission process (we get this question a lot). We can offer some general observations about students who are likely to succeed at UW, whether they gain entry to their top-choice major or pursue a different path:
- Strong ability to manage time, self-regulate, and self-motivate
- Ability to advocate for themselves
- Personal initiative to ask for help and seek out resources
- An openness to exploring alternative pathways to reach their goals
- Ability to get along with people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives
- A humble attitude (a 4.0 high school GPA does not necessarily mean you will have a 4.0 UW GPA)
- Willingness to listen to advice and feedback (Example: If an adviser tells you your planned fall quarter schedule is too rigorous, please believe them!)
Need more information?
The best way to learn more about our program is by coming to UW's Admitted Student Preview Days, where we will participate in the academic options sessions and also hold information sessions and tours for students who are particularly interested in applying to a major in the Allen School. You can also reach us by email at: email@example.com.
Direct-to-College Program in the College of Engineering
Direct to College is a new admission process that assures incoming freshman students who are admitted into the College of Engineering that they can pursue an engineering degree at the UW. The changes take effect for the incoming freshman class of 2018. We are in the process of updating our website to reflect the changes. For details, see: