News & Events

UW College of Engineering announces Direct to College admission for 2018 freshman class

The College of Engineering is taking a significant step to improve undergraduate engineering students' educational experiences by offering Direct to College admission beginning with the entering freshman class of 2018.

young students in class with laptops

This change will assure incoming freshman students who are admitted into the college and their families that they will be able to pursue an engineering degree at the UW. It will also allow the college to more fully engage these students in an immersive engineering experience from their first day on campus, while still maintaining opportunities for transfer and other UW students to pursue engineering degrees. Approximately 800 undergraduate students receive engineering degrees from the UW each year.

Following tri-campus review, the new admission pathway was approved March 31, 2017 by the UW Faculty Council on Academic Standards, which oversees changes to UW academic and admissions policies.

UW Engineering student Kaitlyn Zhou
“A great benefit from the Direct to College admissions policy will be that admitted students will be able to spend their first year taking risks and exploring different disciplines within engineering.”
– UW Engineering student Kaitlyn Zhou

Starting with next fall's applicants for the 2018 freshman class, the new process will ensure that roughly half of the students who receive undergraduate engineering degrees from the UW will have been admitted directly to the college as freshmen. The remaining engineering degrees will be awarded to students who transferred to the UW, primarily from Washington community colleges, or to students who were not admitted directly to the college but applied later as UW freshmen and sophomores.

Currently, most aspiring engineers at the UW are not accepted into engineering majors until they complete a competitive process at the end of their sophomore years. This creates uncertainty among students about whether they will be able to pursue their intended degree and career path. The Direct to College admission policy guarantees that admitted freshmen who continue to meet course requirements will find an academic home in one of the university's 10 engineering departments.

"Student demand for engineering education is soaring, but with current resources, we can admit fewer than half of the well-qualified students who come to UW to pursue an engineering major," said Michael Bragg, the Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering at the UW.

"This new admission policy won't solve our capacity problem — that will require additional state investment to grow our programs. But we will be able to offer more transparency and certainty to incoming UW freshman about whether this is a place where they can pursue their passion for engineering," Bragg said.

It will be the first UW program in which half of the students are admitted directly as freshmen. A handful of individual UW units currently offer limited slots directly to freshman at time of application to the UW.

"A great benefit from the Direct to College admissions policy will be that admitted students will be able to spend their first year taking risks and exploring different disciplines within engineering," said Kaitlyn Zhou, a junior double-majoring in human centered design and engineering and computer science.

"Rather than having to worry about taking the most strategic set of classes and acing all the prerequisite classes, students will be able to focus on learning, get involved in extracurriculars and explore what it means to be an engineer beyond the classroom," Zhou said. She also added that she believes the cohort of each year’s admitted students will help build a stronger engineering community.

photo, Mike Bragg "For high school students who are certain they want to be engineers, we offer a leading-edge educational experience that begins the day they set foot on campus."

Michael B. Bragg, Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering

Beginning in 2018, freshman applicants who meet UW admissions criteria and who list an engineering major as their first-choice on their applications will be automatically considered for Direct to College admission. The UW Office of Admissions will admit students to the new program based on established criteria and selection guidelines developed in partnership with the College of Engineering. Engineering anticipates that the cohort of students admitted through the Direct to College pathway will mirror the diversity of the overall UW incoming freshman class, and the college will continue to support and expand its numerous access programs to encourage underrepresented populations to explore engineering careers.

"For high school students who are certain they want to be engineers, we offer a leading-edge educational experience that begins the day they set foot on campus," Bragg said. "But our doors will also remain open to other UW students, transfer students and those who may not discover their enthusiasm for engineering until they arrive at the UW."

Nikki Higa in the labBioE undergraduate student in a lab.

Direct to College admissions also gives admitted engineering students the opportunity to explore the college's majors so that they can discover where their passion for engineering will take them. Because engineering disciplines range so widely — from civil engineers who design earthquake-resistant structures, to electrical engineers working on smart cities, to chemical engineers harnessing solar power, and many other options — the new program is structured to facilitate this exploration before students place into to a major.

After deciding which disciplines capture their interest, students will submit "placement requests" to specific engineering departments after their freshman year or during their sophomore year, at which point they will declare into a specific major.

At the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, the Direct to College admission option will be available to students pursuing bachelor's degrees in computer engineering, which are awarded through the College of Engineering. The Allen School’s computer science degree, which is awarded awarded through the College of Arts & Sciences, will not be a part of the new Direct to College program. Instead, the Allen School will continue to offer its existing Direct Admission program, through which roughly 20% of new computer science majors are enrolled as freshmen each year.

"The Direct to College policy in the College of Engineering will enrich the student experience, reduce students' uncertainty about whether or not they can pursue engineering at the UW and assist students in making the best academic and professional choices among our many different engineering options," said Philip Ballinger, UW associate vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions.

Read more in Direct to College FAQs.

photo, student holding up gold UW admission envelope