UW News

June 5, 2018

UW’s Allen School to expand direct freshmen admissions in computer science

UW News


Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & EngineeringKristin Osborne

In an effort to improve the student experience and provide certainty for prospective computer science majors, the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering is expanding its direct to major admissions program for incoming freshmen. Beginning with the incoming class of fall 2019, direct admission from high school will be the primary pathway into computer science for the majority of UW undergraduates.

“The Allen School’s expansion of direct to major as part of the UW freshman admissions process will provide more assurance to students and their families as they plan for the future,” said professor Dan Grossman, deputy director of the Allen School and the faculty leader for this change. “It also will allow the Allen School to fully engage undergraduates in an immersive computer science experience from their first day on campus, while still maintaining opportunities for transfer students and UW students who develop an interest in the subject later.”

The UW currently accepts a small percentage of students to the computer science program directly out of high school, while the majority enter through a process in which students enroll at the UW as “pre-majors” and apply for admission to computer science after satisfying prerequisites. Because student interest in computer science exceeds the program’s capacity, the Allen School must turn away qualified UW students from the major each year mid-way through their studies.

“The uncertainty faced by entering freshmen led to high levels of stress and frustration for students and parents alike,” said Crystal Eney, director of Student Services at the Allen School. “This new system will provide them with more clarity at the start of their educational journey and enable us to provide a better experience to students who decide to pursue computer science at the UW.”

The Allen School will continue to admit current UW students to computer science through its traditional admissions process in the 2018-19 academic year. While direct to major will thereafter become the primary entry point into the program, the school will continue to offer a pathway into the major for enrolled UW students who decide they want to study computer science after they arrive on campus.

“We will continue to provide multiple opportunities for students to discover computing at the UW,” Grossman said. “Students who start the UW with one intended major may discover a passion for computer science after taking one of our introductory courses.”

There are also multiple programs at the UW that prepare students to be successful in computing-related careers, including Informatics and several others, Grossman said.

“We encourage students to explore the variety of opportunities available to them at the UW if they don’t gain admission to the Allen School,” he said.

Direct to major expansion will have no effect on the Allen School’s process for admitting transfer students from community and technical colleges. Direct to major also will have no impact on admissions to the computer engineering major, which is part of the College of Engineering’s direct to college admissions process announced last year. That was the first UW program in which half of the students are admitted directly as freshmen. A small number of UW colleges, schools and departments currently offer limited slots directly to freshmen at the time of application to the UW.

The Allen School’s expanded direct to major proposal was approved May 29 by President Ana Mari Cauce following review and approval by the UW Faculty Council on Academic Standards, which oversees changes to university academic and admissions policies.

High school students who are preparing to apply to the UW this summer for entry in fall 2019 will be the first cohort to be admitted under the new process. Students who indicate computer science as their intended major on their application will automatically be considered for direct admission.

More information about direct to major admissions can be found here.