Our philosophy

We want to know who you are and what matters to you, so we can help you direct your talents, drive, and energy toward becoming a successful, contributing global citizen who works to improve your communities and your world.

Each year Washington University’s community entrusts Undergraduate Admissions & Student Financial Services with identifying, enrolling, and supporting a cohort of exceptional students to join our vibrant community. It is an incredible privilege to be able to do this work in a community that provides life-changing experiences to student leaders who will drive change in the world.

Holistic admissions

At WashU, we take our mission seriously: to discover and disseminate knowledge; protect the freedom of inquiry through research, teaching, and learning; and to create an environment to encourage and support wide-ranging exploration.

We also know the importance of our impact and how we can, and must, enhance the lives and livelihoods of each other, the people of the greater St. Louis community, the country, and the world.

With our mission in mind, we review your application in a holistic and individualized manner, where our goal is to get to know you—and your story—through the application process. Here are some of the things we are looking for:

Academic Potential

We evaluate your achievement, preparation, and potential to contribute in your chosen area of study and across the university. How do your academic choices and performance help us understand your ability to thrive here? How do others describe your academic talents and skills?

WashU is need blind

Through the Gateway to Success Initiative, Washington University is forever “need blind” in our admission process for first-year applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

What does “need blind” mean? It means that WashU does not consider an applicant’s ability to pay when making admission decisions.

What does this mean for you? It means we rely solely on our holistic and individualized review of applications with one goal in mind: to get to know you as a person and understand and how you would both contribute to and benefit from the WashU experience. In our review, we look for evidence of academic potential, strong personal characteristics and qualities, developed accomplishments and involvement, and potential for fit and engagement in the WashU community. What we do NOT look for is your ability to pay tuition.

Personal Characteristics & Qualities

While there is no one type of WashU student, our students have many things in common. They are collaborative, intellectually curious, creative, and demonstrate leadership in a variety of ways. They share concern for others, seek solutions, and support one another. We also know that our classrooms, residence halls, and common spaces are enriched by being a community of people with a broad array of experiences, backgrounds, perspectives, and interests. What will you contribute to the WashU community? How have you demonstrated your character? What is important to you and what sort of person do you hope to become?

Accomplishments & Involvement

We are interested in understanding your engagement outside of the classroom, including extracurricular activities, family obligations, work commitments, service, or other ways you are involved. How do you spend your time and how have you had an impact in your family, school, workplace, or community? What have you learned from your experiences and how have you taken advantage of the opportunities made available to you? Do you have particular skills or talents?

Fit & Engagement

What opportunities would you seek out on our campus? How do your academic and professional interests align with what we offer? We hope to understand why WashU might be a good fit for you and how you have taken advantage of opportunities to get to know us better, too.

Professional standards

As we do the work of recruiting, enrolling, and supporting each class of first-year and transfer students, we commit to:

  • Evaluating each student’s academic preparation within the context of their home, learning, and community environment.
  • Seeing student potential and value through more than traditional academic measures.
  • Getting to know students personally so we can understand what they aspire to, believe in, are committed to, and have overcome.
  • Being aware of bias and actively working to remove it from our processes.
  • Conducting our work in a way that allows us to create an undergraduate student body that is diverse and inclusive that enriches the educational environment and enhances the collective experience for our community.

We choose to work in Admissions & Aid at WashU so we can:

  • Remove barriers to access and create an inclusive community that is welcoming, nurturing, and intellectually rigorous.
  • Know our students by name and story and help prepare them with attitudes, skills, and habits of lifelong learning and leadership so they are productive members of a global society.
  • Create an environment that is collaborative without being cutthroat. Instilling our community with the idea that one person’s success does not come at the cost of another’s.
  • Create an environment to encourage and support an ethos of wide-ranging exploration.
  • Enhance the lives and livelihoods of students, the people of the greater St. Louis Community, the country, and the world.
  • Expect bold, independent, and creative thinking of ourselves and our community.