Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to Washington University

I submitted my application. When can I log in to the WashU Pathway?

Hooray! Now that you have hit “submit” on your Common or Coalition application, you will receive an email within 24-48 hours that contains your WashU Pathway login information and instructions.

If you are an applicant for financial assistance, it may take an additional business day to match your application with any forms or data you have submitted directly to Student Financial Services. You will then be able to see the “My Checklist” function on the SFS website, and you will log in with the same username and password as you use for the WashU Pathway.

Do you accept the Coalition Application? Do you prefer the Coalition Application or the Common Application?

Washington University does accept the Coalition Application ( or the Common Application ( and we have no preference for either one. Students should submit one or the other, not both. Once students have started with one application, they should complete that application and not switch between the two. Both applications will be available beginning August 1.

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 achieve 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 McKelvey School of Engineering 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.

What are the "Special Programs" I can apply to?

There are currently two Special Programs that first-Year applicants can apply to on their Common Application or Coalition Application.

  • The Beyond Boundaries Program helps talented, self-initiated, and self-motivated students become creative problem solvers and insightful scholars who are prepared to pursue their own broad interdisciplinary interests.
  • The Joint Program in Business and Computer Science provides an integrated educational experience with the Olin Business School and the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Should I apply ED? Is it easier to get in ED?

If you know that WashU is your first choice, the answer is YES, you should apply ED I or II. Early Decision applicants demonstrate the same level of academic preparation as their Regular Decision counterparts. And, like Regular Decision students, we meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for all students admitted Early Decision. More information about Early Decision.

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, as 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.

Do you take demonstrated interest into consideration?

Yes, demonstrated interest is a factor when we are considering applicants. We want to get to know you through the admissions process and for you to get to know us. “Demonstrated interest” refers to ways that you can explore or research a college or university to learn more about us. One of the best ways to do this is through a campus visit (if feasible) to experience our community first hand. If this is not possible, perhaps you can attend a local information session or college fair, or visit with admissions officers when they visit your high school. You can also demonstrate interest through meaningful interactions via phone or email. Please know that we don’t expect you to all these things, and demonstrating interest in more than one way is not necessarily better. Rather, we want you to feel comfortable starting the conversation with us. Feel free to ask us questions about our campus, programs, and community that may not be on our website, and to share your academic and personal interests with us. This is your time to explore WashU and we are happy to help you.

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
  • ACT Test
  • We do not require the writing test if you submit ACT Scores or the optional Essay if you submit SAT 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. 

WashU now accepts self-reported scores on the Common and Coalition applications. We hope this policy will make the application more accessible for you, since you will no longer have to formally request scores and pay for them to be sent to WashU. If you enroll at WashU and submitted unofficial scores, we will then ask you to send official score reports from testing agencies (ACT code: 2386; SAT code: 6929).

For the ACT, Washington University considers your highest section scores across all the test dates that you submit. If you take both the ACT and SAT, we will consider whichever set of scores is most advantageous to you. We will "Super Score" within old sets of test scores or new sets of test scores, but not across tests. The last test date accepted will be the December testing (October if applying Early Decision I).

Applying from outside the US? Problems with standardized testing?

Results from either ACT or SAT are required to apply for first-year admission to Washington University. However, if any situation beyond your control – cancellation of test dates, a natural disaster, political turmoil, etc. – has prevented you from taking ACT or SAT, we want to know. Please send a message to, with subject line “Test Waiver Request”, that explains your circumstances.

What are Washington University's admissions policies toward undocumented students?

Undocumented students receive the same admissions review as all applicants to our undergraduate programs. Students may choose to apply through the Common Application or the Coalition Application, which have optional questions regarding undocumented/DACA status. Applicants who are currently in the DACA Status (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) will need to select “Other (Non-US)” for citizenship status. Then answer “No” for “Do you currently hold a valid U.S. Visa?”

Please see the Center for Diversity & Inclusion website for more information regarding Undocumented Students (DACA) at WashU.

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. 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, we look for the same qualities in our applicants across all academic divisions 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. 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 or Coalition 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 application for admission 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?

First-year students are 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 are also required to wait one full semester before requesting a change to another undergraduate division at WashU. Transferring to another division is not guaranteed.

If I am disciplined at school for participating in a peaceful protest about an issue that is important to me, will that effect my chance to attend WashU?

We encourage civic engagement. If you are disciplined by your high school for engaging in peaceful demonstrations, that disciplinary action will not have a negative impact on how your application is reviewed. If you have already been admitted, your acceptance will not be rescinded.

The Application

How do I check my application status? Did Washington University receive my Common or Coalition Application?

Please log in to your Common Application or Coalition Application account to see if your application has been submitted. Once you submit the 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 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 Merit Scholarships and Scholars 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.

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 when they submit their Common Application or Coalition Application. 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 "WashU Fee Waiver" on your Common Application or Coalition Application.

Does Washington University require a writing supplement?

First-year applicants are asked to submit a supplemental essay in addition to the Common Application or Coalition Application Personal Essay. This supplemental essay will allow you to further express your interest in your academic area of choice. While we don't want to limit you from fully expressing your ideas and responding to our supplemental essay question, we recommend that you keep your response to around 250 words.

  • Writing Supplement Prompt:
    Tell us about something that really sparks your intellectual interest and curiosity and compels you to explore more in the program/area of study that you indicated. It could be an idea, book, project, cultural activity, work of art, start-up, music, movie, research, innovation, question, or other pursuit.

Once you complete the supplemental question, you will be considered for the appropriate merit scholarship for the division to which you are applying. As you write your supplemental essay, you should keep in mind that it will be used by admission committee as well as the scholarship committees in selecting the scholarship winners. Therefore, you may wish to craft your response within an academic framework.

If you indicate an interest in the Beyond Boundaries program on your application for admission, you will be asked to respond to a different prompt.

  • Writing Supplement Prompt for Beyond Boundaries:
    Many of our students broadly explore the connections across WashU's five undergraduate divisions and three graduate schools and engage with the community before declaring a major. The Beyond Boundaries Program equips students to make a difference in a complicated world where challenges do not come pre-packaged as the territory of a single discipline. Tell us what great challenge you might want to tackle leveraging two or more of WashU's schools and how you would pursue a path of study in an interdisciplinary way.

If you are submitting the Common Application, you must first answer the question "Do you wish to be considered for a special program?" in order to see the writing supplement.

Prospective transfer students will be asked to complete a writing supplement with their application for admission.

How long should my WashU supplemental essay be?

We recommend you keep your essay to around 250 words. The word allowance on the Common Application and Coalition Application forms is 300 words. This is to give you flexibility and to ensure your essay is not cut off. You should only use the number of words you need to express your answer.

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 a counselor recommendation?

Yes, Washington University does require a counselor recommendation for students applying for first-year admission. 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 SlideRoom. 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. 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 your application for admission, namely in the extracurricular, essay, and additional information sections.

I am having trouble using the Common Application/Coalition Application. Who should I contact?

Unfortunately, our office is unable to assist students having technical problems with either the Common Application or the Coalition 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 or click on the "Contact our Help Desk" link within the Coalition Application.

Does Washington University accept submissions from ZeeMee with the application for admission?

If you would like to include a ZeeMee submission with your application, you are welcome to do so. However, we encourage you to present yourself the best you can within the format of your application for admission, namely in the extracurricular, essay, and additional information sections. Your application will not be at a disadvantage if you choose not to include a ZeeMee submission with your application.


Are interviews required?

Washington University does not require interviews as part of the admission application process. For more information about optional interviews, please see Visit Frequently Asked Questions.

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