How To Get Into University Of Washington

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Are you looking for information on how to get into the University of Washington? 

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At Transizion, we’re devoted to guiding students through the college application process. We research a wide range of schools and give you the highlights so that you can devote more time and energy to living your best life and crafting exceptional college applications. 

This post will tell you everything you need to know about the University of Washington. We’ll cover academics, campus life, and what the University of Washington is looking for. By the end, you’ll know whether or not this school merits a place on your list and what it takes to get in.

The University of Washington

The University of Washington is a large public research university located in the state of Washington. Founded in 1861, the university is only about a decade younger than the city of Seattle, where its primary campus is located. The UW is well regarded internationally and educates over 54,000 students each year.


The University of Washington is divided into eighteen colleges and schools that collectively offer over 6500 undergraduate courses. There’s a long list of undergraduate majors available – nearly two hundred! – with the oceanography and nursing programs being particularly renowned. Unique options include Aquatic & Fisheries Studies, Atmospheric Sciences, Comparative History of Ideas, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, and Scandinavian Studies. The UW offers over 600 study abroad options and has over 70 partner universities around the world. 

Campus Life

The main campus is over seven hundred acres and has one of the largest library systems in the world. It features gorgeous reading rooms and a huge green Liberal Arts Quadrangle lined with Yoshino cherry trees. With over a thousand student organizations, dozens of rec classes, and a large climbing center, there’s always something to do on campus. 

In addition to the main campus in Seattle, the UW has campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. 

Is it Hard to Get into the University of Washington?

With a recent acceptance rate of 48.7%, the University of Washington is less competitive than most of the schools we write about here. Sixty percent of applicants from the state of Washington are accepted, and just over fifty percent of applicants from other U.S. states are accepted. The average only drops below fifty percent when international students are factored in; 44% of international students who apply are accepted.

The University of Washington could be considered a safety school for students with very strong applications. For students who fall below the averages, though, admittance is by no means guaranteed. Read on to learn more about average GPAs and other factors. 

Average GPA 

The middle fifty percent high school GPA for the most recent incoming class was 3.73 to 3.96. Students with a GPA of 3.8 or above have a strong chance of being admitted to the University of Washington. And yes, that’s the weighted GPA. If you take AP classes in your best subjects, it should be relatively easy to maintain a GPA around 4.0 and gain admission to the University of Washington. 

Test Scores

The University of Washington has permanently removed the SAT/ACT requirement for applicants. UW is a test-optional university, which means that students are permitted to submit these test scores but are also allowed to apply without them. There are exceptions to this policy: homeschooled students and applicants who come from schools with non-standard grading practices are still required to submit SAT or ACT scores. 

UW states that students will not be disadvantaged for sending low scores or not sending any at all – but high test scores may help students who would not otherwise gain admittance. If your scores are above the school average, you should definitely include them with your application. Averages vary by year; 1340 was the most recent average SAT score.

What Other Qualities does the University of Washington look for?

The University of Washington considers a number of factors in its holistic review process, but academic preparation and performance are still the most important factors. In addition to maintaining a GPA near or above 4.0, students should take challenging courses. Here are four things that UW looks at when considering academic performance: 

  • An overall strong level of academic achievement as demonstrated by grades, depth, breadth, and rigor of curriculum
  • Taking advantage of college-preparatory courses during high school, such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Running Start or college in the high school; or academic subjects beyond the minimum required for college entrance
  • Taking full advantage of the senior year
  • A positive grade trend (grades that stay steady or improve over time)

The Office of Admissions also lists the following personal achievements and characteristics:

  • Demonstrating a commitment to community service and leadership
  • Exercising significant responsibility in a family, community, employment situation or through activities
  • Attaining a college-preparatory education despite socio-economic disadvantage (Washington state residents only)
  • Demonstrating cultural awareness or unique perspectives or experiences

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What Should You Do in High School?

You have a good chance at getting into the University of Washington if you maintain a GPA of 3.8 or higher. But what else can you do to improve your chances? 

Meet College Admission Requirements

You’ll need to meet or exceed the following requirements in order to attend the UW.

Subject Credits required

English 4

Mathematics 3

Social sciences/social studies 3

World languages 2

Science, including 2 years of lab science 3

Senior year math-based quantitative course 1

Fine, visual or performing arts .5

Academic elective .5

Remember, those are the minimum requirements. Your chances of admission improve with each additional class that you add (provided that you can maintain your GPA). 

Pursue Your Passions

Passion projects and unique skills will help you to stand out amongst thousands of applications. Seek out meaningful volunteer work or internships in fields that interest you. These extracurricular pursuits will enrich your life, prepare you for college, and give you something to write about in the all-important essay section of your college applications. 

Serve Your Community

More than anything, colleges are looking for applicants that will be valuable additions to their communities. They want students who work well with others, think creatively and show leadership potential. You can join clubs dedicated to community service, spearhead your own projects, or volunteer with a local nonprofit.

How to Apply

Students can apply to the University of Washington using either ApplyWeb or the Common App. The University of Washington doesn’t have a preference of application platform. The deadline for both is November 15, and decisions are released in March.

The University of Washington does not consider the Common App essay section, but they do have their own writing section that they emphasize is a required and important part of each application. 

The University of Washington Writing Section

Essays are your chance to distinguish yourself from a stack of similar candidates. The University of Washington doesn’t offer interviews or consider letters of recommendation, so essays are your one opportunity to give them a glimpse of your personality and highlight the things that make you unique. 

The main essay prompt has a maximum length of 650 words. The University of Washington invites you to Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. This wide-open prompt is your chance to show the Office of Admissions the student behind the transcript. So write about something that casts you in a positive light, sure, but don’t just phone it in. Write about something that you’re passionate about and let your feelings shine through in an essay that they’ll remember. 

The second essay prompt requires a short response with a maximum length of 300 words: Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW.

On their site, the UW emphasizes: “Keep in mind that the UW strives to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values and viewpoints.” So take some time to consider what aspect of your identity or life experience sets you apart from the crowd, and tell the UW how this experience has impacted you in a positive way and how you’ll carry those lessons forward into your college years. 

Applicants to the University of Washington are permitted (but not required) to submit an additional 200-word essay explaining any hardships that may have affected their academic performance. If your GPA is below average or you were unable to participate in extracurricular activities during your high school years, we recommend that you make good use of this section. 

Additional Essay Tips

Writing outstanding college essays starts long before you put pen to paper or pull out your laptop. It starts with rich life experiences that give you something worth writing about. This is one reason that extracurriculars are so vital. 

Depending on how many colleges you plan to apply to, you may need to write ten to twenty supplemental essays by the time you’re through. If you leave this to the last minute, it can be an overwhelming prospect. These essays are far too important to be rushed, so stay organized and start early. Many colleges release their essay prompts each summer. 

The content of your essays is important, but schools are also judging your spelling and grammar. Write these essays carefully, proofread them, and ask someone else to double check them before you submit your application. It’s best to write in a tone that’s genuine but still polished and professional. 

If you’re having trouble deciding on a topic, consider the stated values of the UW: Integrity, Diversity, Excellence, Collaboration, Innovation, and Respect. Use your essays to communicate how you share and embody these values. Don’t just state that these concepts are important to you; use detailed examples to demonstrate your values and write a memorable essay. 

Should You Apply Early to the University of Washington?

The UW does not participate in early decision or early action admission, so there’s no advantage to applying early. Application opens in September and the deadline is the fifteenth of November. All applicants will be notified in the first half of March.

Final Thoughts: How to Get Into the University of Washington

If you want to attend the University of Washington, it’s best to maintain a GPA of 4.0 or higher. The UW is a test-optional university, but it may still help to include your SAT results if you scored 1350 or higher. Use your high school years to explore a range of subjects and activities that interest you. At the same time, finding at least one extracurricular activity that you can dedicate yourself to for years and truly excel at will help you distinguish yourself from other applicants.

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