Apply for Admission

Frequently Asked Questions

imageApplying to Washington University

I submitted my application. When can I log in to the WashU Pathway?
Once you submit your Common Application the process begins. See the example below to understand how it works:
  1. You submit your Common Application on Saturday.
  2. Common Application sends us your application electronically on Sunday morning.
  3. Your application processor reviews the transmission from the Common Application and enters your application into our system on Monday.
  4. We will send you an email with instructions on logging in to the WashU Pathway Tuesday afternoon.
  5. If you are an applicant for financial assistance, it will take another day to match your application with any forms or data you have submitted directly to Student Financial Services. By Wednesday, you should be able to see the "My Checklist" function on the SFS website.
Near the deadlines, when many students are submitting applications, your application processor may not be able to enter all applications received in the same day. In that case, the above process may take an extra day. (This is one reason we highly recommend applying early, especially if you want to apply for academic scholarships online through the WashU Pathway.)
Why am I asked to choose one of the five divisions when I apply?
Washington University's five undergraduate divisions offer different curricula for different areas of academic interest. We encourage students to think about where their interests may lie at the time they apply, in terms of a major and a degree path to pursue, and to select one of the five schools as the primary point of interest. Keep in mind that students can change their minds and majors and take courses in other schools. For example, art students may study history, business students poetry, engineering students music, and so forth. But, we ask you to indicate which of the five schools is your primary choice now, so we can provide effective academic advising from the start to help you realize your goals.
Are there different admission standards for the five schools?
While there are university-wide admission standards common to all of the schools, we look for the right preparation for each curriculum. Students applying to the Olin Business School should have completed coursework in math at least through the pre-calculus level with calculus highly recommended. Students applying to the School of Engineering & Applied Science and/or students who are interested in pre-med should have completed coursework in physics and chemistry as well as coursework in math at least through the pre-calculus level with calculus highly recommended. Students interested in studying architecture or art should demonstrate interest, skill, or background in art and design by highlighting relevant course work or extracurricular activity. A portfolio is required for applicants to the College of Art and encouraged for applicants to the College of Architecture.
Can home-schooled students apply for undergraduate admission to Washington University?
Of course! Washington University welcomes applications from home-schooled students. Please have your parent(s) complete the School Report in lieu of the Teacher Evaluation. We also encourage you to include a recommendation from an adult outside your home.
What weights are attached to grades, test scores, responses to the questions on our application, and so forth during the application process?
Admission decisions at WashU are based on a combination of factors, including the high school transcript, test scores, personal essay, teacher evaluation, and extracurricular activities. We do not attach specific weights to individual components of the decision (a holistic view of each student is taken). However, a student’s academic record in high school is of critical importance in the admission decision because it is the best indicator that we have of how well a student will do in college.
Does Washington University take into account the rigor of an academic program, the rigor of a school’s grading system, or the difference between weighted and unweighted grade point averages or ranks in class?
The academic rigor, high school’s grading system, whether GPAs and/or ranks (if available) are weighted or unweighted are all taken into account when reviewing each student’s application. We evaluate each student’s academic record in the context of how well he or she took advantage of the opportunities that were available in his or her particular high school.
How do you weigh extracurricular activities?
Extracurricular activities are one of the factors considered when making admissions decisions at Washington University. We try to get a sense of what a student is passionate about beyond the classroom. We look to see what occupies the student’s time when he or she is not in class. Instead of a laundry list of activities, we look for those to which the student has shown commitment over time, the leadership roles that have developed, etc. We also understand that for many students, an after-school job or caring for a sibling or relative will be the primary extracurricular activity or commitment.
Does it help to have extra letters of recommendation sent on an applicant’s behalf?
Washington University requires the Counselor Recommendation and one Teacher Evaluation from an academic teacher in high school with whom the student has taken a course. Extra letters are not required, but if you would like to submit an additional letter, you are welcome to do so. While some students choose to submit an additional teacher recommendation, others choose to submit an extra letter of recommendation from a coach, an employer, or a member of the clergy, because that person can provide unique insights that teachers may not include.
What standardized test scores does Washington University accept?
We accept the following standardized tests:
  • SAT Test (includes a writing test)
  • ACT Test (with the optional writing section)
  • ACT Test (without the writing section)
  • We do not require the writing test if you submit ACT Scores.
We do not have a preference for either the SAT or the ACT. Test results from any of your high school years are acceptable, although we encourage senior-year testing. Consideration will only be given to the highest individual scores, whenever they occurred. Washington University considers your highest section scores across all SAT and/or ACT test dates that you submit. Final admissions decisions will be made using only your highest scores. Each time you submit scores, we will update your record with any new high scores (so-called “Super Scores”). We strongly encourage you to submit your scores each time you take the SAT and/or ACT. Sending your scores each time you take the SAT and/or ACT can only benefit you by allowing us to consider you for all available enrollment related opportunities. The last test date accepted will be the December testing (October if applying Early Decision).
Do I need to take any of the SAT Subject Tests (SAT IIs) to apply to Washington University?
Washington University does not require SAT Subject Tests (formerly SAT II: College Board Achievement Tests). However, if you do take them and submit your scores, we will only consider them if they strengthen your application.
Are there required minimum GPA, class rank, or standardized test scores?
Although we do look for students who are strong academically, Washington University does not have any minimum requirements for GPA, class rank, or standardized test scores. A combination of academic and personal factors is considered in making the admission decision for each student.
Which college or school at Washington University will offer me the best chance of admission?
Washington University offers students admission based on their academic interests, high school transcript, test scores, personal essay, recommendations, and extracurricular activities. While overall admission percentages may vary somewhat from year to year, there is virtually no difference in the annual admission percentages ("admit rates") by school at WashU. We encourage you to apply to the school that offers courses and majors in which you are most interested at the time you apply.
Is it better to take an advanced class in high school and get a B, or take the regular course and get an A?
Of course, it is best to take the advanced class and get an A! If you get a B in the advanced class, that’s fine, too. Your main goal should be to challenge yourself in high school to the extent that your high school allows, so you’ll be better prepared for the academic challenges in college.
Does it matter whether an applicant attends a public or private secondary school?
No. We consider all aspects of each applicant’s high school situation — academic rigor, course offerings, grading system, GPAs, and/or class ranking systems.
Does Washington University rank high schools?
Washington University does not rank or compare high schools. Instead, we work to understand each student within the context of his or her high school.
Does Washington University limit the number of students admitted from a particular high school?
There are no limits or quotas for the number of students we admit from any high school, city, or state. While Washington University is a diverse community — for example, geographically, ethnically, and economically — our diversity is not contrived.
Is a portfolio required for applicants to the College of Art?
Yes, a portfolio is required for applicants to the College of Art. To be considered for an academic scholarship, your portfolio must be submitted in digital format. Portfolios are strongly encouraged for the College of Architecture, as well, and should follow the guidelines for the College of Art. The portfolio may include drawings, paintings, design models, sculpture, ceramics, etc. Do not include CAD drawings or examples of drafting skills. These portfolios should be submitted through the SlideRoom function of the Common Application. There is no charge for portfolios submitted for Art and Architecture applicants. For details, please visit the Portfolio Guidelines page.
I'm an Early Decision applicant. What does Washington University mean when it asks for my mid-year grades?
Washington University needs to see your progress in your senior year. If your school issues quarter or trimester grades, please have your school send them. If not, we will accept a progress report from your school that includes each class in which you are currently enrolled and your current grade in that class.
How many letters of recommendation can I submit?
We require one letter of recommendation from a teacher and one letter of recommendation from your counselor. Students are able to submit one additional letter of recommendation through the Common Application if they wish. Although you may include a letter from a coach, mentor, etc., most applicants include a second teacher letter.
Can an applicant who has been admitted defer enrollment?
An applicant who has been offered admission to Washington University may request to defer enrollment after completing enrollment materials and submitting the enrollment deposit. Typically, students who defer do so because they wish to travel, complete required military service, or participate in a year-long gap year program. Students must request to defer enrollment in writing. Students generally do not attend another university during a gap year, however, if they do complete coursework they must contact their dean's office at Washington University to have an assessment of any credits earned to see if they will transfer. The dean's office has the final say on transferability of any credits earned.
Does Washington University accept credit from Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate examinations or A-Level results?
In a highly selective applicant pool, transcripts that include AP, IB, or A-Level coursework help Admissions advocate for applicants. Admitted students may benefit from the results of this coursework in terms of placement and/or credit. A maximum of 15 units of pre-matriculation credit may be counted toward any undergraduate degree. These units will count toward graduation, but will not meet general education requirements. Placement and credit policies vary by subject area and academic division, detailed information may be accessed through the links below:
Can I change the school to which I’ve applied after I’ve submitted my application, but before the admissions application deadline?
Yes. Simply send your request in writing to Include your full name as it appears on your Common Application and the name of the high school you attend. If you have questions, call our office at (800) 638-0700 or (314) 935-6000, and ask to speak with an admissions officer or your application processor.
Can I change my mind about what I want to study and switch undergraduate colleges (schools) at WashU, after I’ve been admitted and/or after I’ve enrolled?

Beginning in the Fall of 2016, freshmen will be required to wait one full semester before requesting a change to another undergraduate college at WashU.

Please keep in mind that:

  • You will be able to take courses in all of the colleges as you explore your academic interests
  • You can work with your academic advisor to add a major or minor in another WashU college
  • You have three full semesters to decide on your academic major.

Transfer students entering WashU in the Fall of 2016 and beyond will be required to wait one full semester before requesting a change to another undergraduate division at WashU. Transferring to another division is not guaranteed.

imageThe Common Application

How do I check my application status? Did Washington University receive my Common Application?
Please log in to your Common Application account to see if your application has been submitted. Once you submit the Common Application, you will be able to check the progress of your application using the WashU Pathway on our website. We will email instructions for selecting your WashU Pathway password after our office has received and processed your Common Application. When you log in to the Wash U Pathway, you will be able to see what pieces of your application have been received by our office, verify your application data, submit electronic applications for our University Scholars Program and Academic Scholarship & Fellowship Programs, and link to a site where you can check the status of your application for financial assistance. If you have any questions about the status of your application to Washington University, please contact your application processor.
Why doesn't Washington University require a supplemental essay for the Common Application?
Although Washington University does not require a supplemental essay for the Common Application, supplemental essays are required for our Academic Scholarship and Fellowship Programs, which are open to all freshman applicants. Because our application deadline for our academic scholarships is the same as our Regular Decision deadline, January 15, 2016, we would like students to focus their time to thoughtfully address our scholarship essays and not add an additional strain on applicants to write another essay for the general application.
How do I request an application fee waiver?
Students who feel that the application fee will place a hardship on their family should request a fee waiver by answering "Yes" to the Common Application Fee Waiver question found in the "Profile" section of the Common Application. Common Application will send an automated email to your high school counselor. Your counselor must confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements for a fee waiver. Please check the WashU Pathway to determine if a fee waiver has been granted. If a waiver is not granted, you will need to pay the fee prior to the deadline for the decision plan you have selected. Students who attend selected academic experiences on the WashU campus may automatically be given a fee waiver. If you have received a notice that you are entitled to a fee waiver, be sure to indicate that you have been granted a "Washington University Fee Waiver" in the "College-Specific Questions" section of the Common Application.
I cannot format my essay, what should I do?
Some students have reported that they are having issues formatting their essay on the Common Application website (spacing problems, missing indentations, etc.). Please be assured that we are only interested in the content of your essay, not the formatting.
Does Washington University require the Common Application Arts Supplement?
We do not require the Common Application Arts Supplement, but we do require students applying to the College of Art to submit a portfolio. Please see Portfolio Guidelines for more information
Does Washington University require the Common Application Counselor Recommendation?
Yes, Washington University does require the Common Application Counselor Recommendation for students applying for freshman admission in fall 2016. The Counselor Recommendation is new to the Common Application starting with the 2015-16 application cycle. The Counselor Recommendation will be available to your counselor only after the School Report has been submitted. Both the School Report and the Counselor Recommendation are required to complete your application.
Can I submit supplemental materials?
If you are applying to the College of Art, a portfolio is required. If you are applying to the College of Architecture, a portfolio is recommended, but not required. (It is only required if you wish to be considered for the Fitzgibbon Scholarship in Architecture). These portfolios should be submitted through the SlideRoom function of the Common Application. There is no charge for portfolios submitted for Art and Architecture applicants. Please see Portfolio Guidelines for more information.

If you wish to submit a “Maker Portfolio” highlighting a project you have made that you would like the School of Engineering & Applied Science to consider, please submit it through the SlideRoom function of the Common Application. While a “Maker Portfolio” is not required, the School is dedicated to encouraging Makers and will review the portfolio with interest.

For applicants to the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering & Applied Science, and Olin Business School: If you decide to submit a supplement (athletic, performing arts, research, etc.), SlideRoom will charge you a $10 fee for each submission. These supplements are not required. We encourage you to present yourself the best you can within the format of the Common Application, namely in the extracurricular, essay, and additional information sections. (Please note: If you qualify for a Common Application or a WashU fee waiver, the SlideRoom fee will automatically be waived.)

I am having trouble using the Common Application. Who should I contact?
Unfortunately, our office is unable to assist students having technical problems with the Common Application. If you are having trouble completing and submitting your application, use the "Ask a Question" function in the "Help Center" section of the Common Application website.


Are interviews required?
Washington University does not require interviews as part of the admission application process. For more information about optional interviews, please see Campus Visit FAQs.