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STARS Students

The STARS Program

Now accepting applications!

Apply to STARS

Washington STate Academic RedShirt (STARS) program supports engineering and computer science students from low-income backgrounds and underserved high schools in navigating the transition to college-level engineering courses.

STARS is a two-year program with a specialized curriculum designed to build learning skills and strengthen academic preparation for core math and science prerequisites. STARS students who maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher and fulfill first- and second-year program requirements are guaranteed admission to an engineering or computer science major. Though students are not guaranteed admission to their first-choice major, thus far, 99% of STARS students have been admitted to their first-choice major. STARS students can expect to complete their degrees in five years—only 1 to 2 quarters longer than average for an engineering or computer science degree at UW.

STARS program benefits

  • Specialized and individualized first- and second-year curricula
  • Comprehensive academic advising tailored to students’ individual needs
  • Tutoring and instructional support through the Engineering Academic Center
  • Career counseling and resources to help students secure internships in industry
  • Mentoring and research opportunities with faculty
  • A supportive community of peers, faculty and staff
  • Scholarships

Program eligibility

To be eligible, a student:

  • Must be an incoming first-year student at the University of Washington, Seattle campus.
  • Must be a Washington state resident and U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Must be eligible for financial aid (preference given to Husky Promise, Pell Grant, and/or Washington State Need Grant recipients).
    Students who apply to STARS on or before February 28 are required to apply for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS). In 2017, nearly 79% of high school seniors who applied for WSOS received the scholarship.
  • Indicated an engineering or computer science major on the UW application.
  • Graduated from a high school in Washington state; priority is given to students who graduated from a high school where at least 30% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

STARS and Direct to College admission

  • The UW College of Engineering has adopted a Direct to College admission process starting with the incoming freshman class of Autumn 2018.
  • STARS could provide a second chance to study engineering or computer science for students from low-income backgrounds who were not selected for Direct to College admission.
  • All UW engineering or computer science applicants who meet eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply to STARS by the March 8, 2018 priority application deadline.

Apply to STARS

About the “redshirt” name

In NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics, focused and talented athletes occasionally use their first year—known as a “redshirt year”—to train to compete at the college level. Redshirt athletes practice with the team but do not set foot on the field. After completing a redshirt year, these athletes are eligible to compete for four years. The STARS program follows a similar model: the first year is devoted to strengthening academic preparation and building skills and support systems necessary for success in engineering and computer science.

Bowling with the STARS

The first cohort of STARS students at UW invited the second year cohort for some bowling. Watch these future engineers find the angles and adjust rotation speed!


STARS funders


Join us in appreciation for support and current-year funding from these organizations:

Microsoft logo
National Science Foundation logo
Washington State Opportunity Scholarship logo


To become a sponsor of the STARS Program, contact Sharon Dana, 206-543-6908.