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STARS Scholars

The Washington State Academic RedShirt (STARS) program supports engineering and computer science students from low-income, first-generation, and underserved backgrounds in navigating the transition to college-level 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 scholars are guaranteed placement into an engineering or computer science major.

Tammy Teal, ’18, and senior Ivan Cordero
"I know that without STARS, I wouldn’t be an engineer."
Tammy Teal

Read and watch how STARS is changing the future of engineering »

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 play in games. After completing a redshirt year, these athletes are eligible to play for four years. STARS takes the redshirt model a little further. The first year is devoted to strengthening academic preparation and building skills and support systems necessary for success in engineering and computer science. An additional year ensures STARS scholars have the foundation needed for direct placement into an engineering or computer science major.

STARS scholars...

  • Are a tight-knit engineering learning community
  • Master core problem-solving skills in math, chemistry, physics, and computer science
  • Do better in fundamental math and science courses 
  • Improve their studying, test-taking, and time-management skills
  • Receive personalized academic and career counseling
  • Benefit from peer and faculty mentoring
  • Learn about internship and research opportunities
  • May be eligible for scholarships when funding is available
  • Cultivate passion, perseverance, and grit inside and outside the classroom

See the STARS Impact report.

Eligibility requirements

Applications for 2021 are now closed. Please check back in late 2021/early 2022 for information on next year’s selection process.

  • Admitted incoming freshman at the University of Washington, Seattle campus (STARS is not offered at UW Bothell or UW Tacoma)
  • Washington State resident and graduate of a Washington high school
  • Eligible for financial aid (preference for Husky Promise, Pell Grant, and State Need Grant recipients)
  • Engineering or computer science indicated as first-choice major on the UW application


STARS Students

Annual Bowling with the STARS

Watch these future engineers find the angles and adjust rotation speed!


Join us in appreciation for support and current or past funding from these organizations:

Apple logo
F5 logo
Micron logo
Microsoft logo
National Science Foundation logo
Washington State Opportunity Scholarship logo
Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering logo


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