How to Get Into University of Washington: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into the University of Washington?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Washington University Students
- What is the University of Washington Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into the University of Washington
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington (UW) is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast and has grown into one of the world’s preeminent institutions of higher education, ranking 16th on the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities. UW is known for its cutting-edge research and innovation—bubble gum, vinyl, synthetic rubber, and the process that brought about color television were all invented on campus (as was “the wave,” in which people in a stadium rise and cheer in a pattern that resembles a wave).
How Hard Is It to Get Into the University of Washington?
The University of Washington received 43,778 applications for its Seattle campus and accepted just 24,467 students, resulting in a 56% overall acceptance rate. Although UW admissions are competitive, your actual chances of getting in are tied to the strength of your profile.
CollegeVine can help you better understand your odds of acceptance at UW. Our free admissions calculator uses a variety of factors—such as your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars—to estimate your likelihood of admission and to provide tips to improve your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Washington University Students
The average high school GPA of the University of Washington – Seattle’s Class of 2025 is 3.79.
The middle 50% SAT score for the University of Washington – Seattle’s Class of 2025 is 1220-1430. The middle 50% ACT score is 27-33.
The University of Washington doesn’t publish the average class rank of its accepted students, but you can be sure that those admitted to UW are likely to have graduated at, or near, the top of their class. A little more than 12% of UW’s Class of 2025 graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA.
What is the University of Washington Looking for?
The University of Washington is a public institution and being a resident of the state will give your admissions odds a boost—74% of UW’s student body are Washington residents and all 39 of the state’s counties are represented on campus. In-state applicants are admitted at a higher rate than those from out-of-state (60% vs. 51%). Out-of-staters are in the minority, however, students from all 50 states study at UW, and international students make up 12% of the student population.
UW practices holistic admissions and takes numerous factors into consideration when making admissions decisions. That said, like other highly selective schools, the university places significant weight on academic performance and favors students who pushed themselves in high school by seeking out challenging coursework.
How the University of Washington College Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, the University of Washington considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
These factors are “important”:
- Extracurricular activities
- First generation
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
These are “considered”:
- State residency
And these are “not considered”:
- Class rank
- Test scores
- Geographic location
- Religious affiliation
- Racial/ethnic status
- Applicant intertest
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into the University of Washington
1. Achieve at least a 3.79 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
GPA is “very important” to admissions at the University of Washington—its Class of 2025 had an average high school GPA of 3.79. Academic preparation and performance are of primary importance to the UW admissions process and are indicated by “an overall strong level of academic achievement, as demonstrated by grades and rigor of curriculum.” For serious consideration at UW, you’ll need to earn all, or mostly all, As in the most challenging coursework available to you. Students applying to top-tier schools like UW have commonly completed between five and 12 AP classes.
Selective schools that receive large numbers of applications, like UW, use a tool known as the Academic Index to facilitate admissions decisions. Academic Index is the distillation of your entire academic performance into a single numerical score. If your Academic Index doesn’t meet a school’s standards, you risk being viewed as academically unqualified and your application will not receive a thorough review.
If your GPA is low, and you’re a freshman or sophomore, you have time to raise it—check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it’s harder to increase your GPA, and the best method to improve your Academic Index is with a higher test score.
2. Write engaging essays
Essays are the only factor outside of GPA and course rigor that the University of Washington deems “very important.” All applicants are required to respond to an essay prompt and a short-answer prompt. UW also provides an optional space to include more information about yourself or your circumstances, such as:
- You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education
- Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations
- You have experienced unusual limitations or opportunities unique to the schools you attended
A persuasive college essay shows a college why you belong on its campus and how they’ll benefit from having you there. Essays allow you to show a school who you are and how you’re different from other applicants, so write in your unique voice and be authentic. For more tips on acing the UW essay, check out our article, “How to Write the University of Washington Essays 2021-2022.”
3. Cultivate strong extracurriculars
UW views extracurricular activities as “important” to admissions. How does a college value your activities outside of the classroom? The four tiers of extracurriculars provide useful insight:
- Tier 1 activities are the most prestigious and rare, including winning a national award and attending a renowned merit-based summer program.
- Tier 2 extracurriculars demonstrate great accomplishment and leadership but are more commonly seen by admissions officers than those in Tier 1. These activities include winning state-level recognition in athletics or music and serving in a leadership position like student body president.
- Tier 3 activities are great for highlighting your interests outside of the classroom but do not exemplify a talent (something UW considers “important” to admissions) in the same way as those in the higher tiers. Tier 3 activities include winning regional recognition in academics, athletics, or music, and holding a minor leadership role in a club.
- Tier 4 extracurricular activities are those most commonly seen by admissions officials and hold the least sway on your odds of acceptance. These include general volunteer work, participating in a club, or playing an instrument.
While you probably don’t need a Tier 1 (national-level) activity for UW, having a few Tier 2 or 3 (regional- and school-level) activities will demonstrate your drive.
4. Aim for a 1430 SAT and 33 ACT
The University of Washington practices test-optional admissions, and promises that students “will not be disadvantaged for sending low scores or for not sending scores.” Curriculum quality and performance in courses are the primary ways UW judges your academic preparedness. That said, UW may consider high test scores (1400 SAT/31 ACT or above) for students who may not otherwise be admitted.
UW superscores both the SAT and ACT and a high score can help push you over the top if you’re a borderline applicant. Sitting for either the SAT or ACT two or three times is a smart strategy to maximize your superscore. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
How to Apply to the University of Washington
The University of Washington has just one admissions process—it doesn’t offer Early Decision or Early Action admissions. Applications are due by November 15.
The University of Washington accepts the Coalition Application. Other requirements include:
- Supplemental essays
- Test scores (optional)
Learn more about the University of Washington
Interested in learning more about the University of Washington? Check out these other informative articles:
- What is the University of Washington Known For?
- 3 University of Washington Essay Examples by Accepted Students
- How to Write the University of Washington Essays 2021-2022
Want to know your chances at UW? Calculate your chances for free right now.