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Washington University
United States

The University of Washington-Seattle

Overview

Established in 1861, the University of Washington is a highly-ranked public research university, and one of the oldest on the west coast of the US.

Everything about the university is big: from its 49,000 student population to the 703-acre main campus, with its 500 buildings and 26 libraries, 370 graduate programmes and 140 departments. Financially, the University of Washington has one of the five top research budgets in the country, and in 2021 its endowments exceeded $5 billion. Major contributors include Microsoft (since Bill Gates started planning Microsoft in the university’s computer science labs), AstraZeneca, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Bayer, Burroughs Wellcome, Carnegie Corporation and Monsanto. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set up a Centre for Computer Science and Engineering on campus and the whole family make regular, generous donations to the university.

Sports at the  University of Washington-Seattle

Sports are important to the University of Washington, which fields 22 NCAA Division 1 sports teams and regularly sends athletes to represent the US at the Olympics. The football team, the Huskies, is led out onto the field by a real-life husky, called Dubs II, one of a succession of 14 Alaskan malamutes who have either proudly trotted out and enjoyed the applause, or disgraced themselves by howling during the national anthem or going walkabout on campus!

If you are keen on watersports, you will be able to go kayaking and paddleboarding, while lovers of team sports can enjoy rowing, softball, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, and track and field.

Less competitive students can go hiking on the many local nature trails, climb Mount Rainier, visit the evergreen forests and lakes around Seattle, or take a short trip to  three famous national parks a few hours’ drive away. The University of Washington prides itself on being green and creating a sustainable environment, and has its own farm and stunning botanic gardens, set against the backdrop of the mountains which frame Seattle.

University of Washington-Seattle – academic rankings and organisation

The University of Washington is renowned for its courses in:

  • Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Computer science
  • Atmospheric science
  • Statistics
  • Applied maths
  • Oceanography

and its ground-breaking, well-resourced research input has led to collaboration with Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon, among others. The university has produced 21 Nobel prizewinners, and many Fulbright and Rhodes scholars, along with Pulitzer Prize winning authors. Academic standards are high, and this has earned the University of Washington the title of “the Oxford of the Pacific Northwest” and a place in the top five of the US rankings of public universities, while its school of medicine is the top-ranked in the USA. Its high retention rate, 94 per cent, illustrates student satisfaction levels, and the renowned computer science and engineering courses are extremely competitive, since they run a direct-admit policy, which guarantees you a place on those programs in your second year, as long as your academic results up to that point have been excellent.

Some 27.8 per cent of classes at the University of Washington have 20 or fewer students and access to professors, research projects and specialised resources is not an issue.

The academic year is divided into quarters.

The university has close ties with tech giants and other industries in the Seattle area, with companies such as Dropbox, Costco, Expedia, Snapchat, Adobe and Starbucks all having located their headquarters in the city. Work experience internships are plentiful and graduate employment rates are high, and growing.

Applying to the University of Washington-Seattle

The university is highly selective and, unlike many others, does not use computerised cut-offs to categorise applicants, but reads every application from a holistic perspective. Its mission statement is to prioritise applicants who are the first members of their family to go to higher education, and individuals from within the state. In 2021, the admission rate was 53 per cent, although acceptance to engineering was a far lower 40 per cent, and computer science accepted 27 per cent of its applicants. Some 14 per cent of the applicants were international students, the majority of whom came from the following countries:

  1. China
  2. Taiwan
  3. India
  4. Korea
  5. Indonesia

In addition, statistics show that in-state students are more likely to get a place than other US applicants who come from out of state. It is important to the University of Washington to prioritise the local population and the historically educationally marginalised.

Criteria for acceptance to the University of Washington-Seattle can be divided into:

 The very important:

  • The rigour and level at which you studied in high school
  • GPA – 3.72-3.95 is what you should aim to achieve
  • The application essays

The important:

  • Volunteering activities
  • Extracurriculars
  • Work experience
  • Evidence of talent

The complementary:

  • Commitment to community service
  • Evidence of a sense of responsibility, either within the family, employment or the community.

The University of Washington does not interview applicants and has not required SAT or ACT scores since 2020. Although it is now test-optional, you may, however, ask to submit your scores, if you believe they are relevant to your application and improve your chances of being accepted.

It is vital to take the supplementary essays seriously, since the university classifies them as “very important”. To give you an idea of what to expect, in 2022, this essay prompt was included in the supplement:
Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it”. You were given a word limit of 650 words.

You will be asked to demonstrate proof of English language proficiency – IELTS, TOEFL etc. – and to apply through the Common App. See details of deadlines and documentary requirements for applying to American universities on our Study in the USA page.

The cost of studying at the University of Washington-Seattle

The average cost for tuition, room and board, books, transport and medical insurance comes in at approximately $60,000 per year for international students

Nevertheless, this is just an average, and you can trim down the expenses by choosing cheaper options. For example, you will need to sign up for a meal plan if you live in a residential hall, and these range from  Level 6 at $7,000 a year all the way to Level 1, which comes in at $3,000.

Accommodation costs also depend entirely on what type and size of room you choose, and whether you are happy to share facilities or want to have an ensuite and live independently. You could pay $7,000 a year or $16,000, depending on the kind of accommodation you prefer.

Scholarships

International undergraduates are not eligible for financial aid at the University of Washington, and the majority of scholarships are reserved for in-state applicants.

Accommodation options at the University of Washington-Seattle

Approximately 29 per cent of undergraduates opt to live on campus and can choose between fraternity and sorority accommodation, halls of residence and apartments.

Applications are processed through MyHFS, where you fill out a profile, read through and sign a housing agreement and wait to hear what is on offer. You can apply to share with a specific person, and ask for gender-inclusive, mixed-sex or single accommodation. Applications should be submitted from the beginning of May.

Please note that the University of Washington will not progress your application to live in halls unless you can produce a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 – but check with Elab whether this is still in force when you are ready to request accommodation.

The University of Washington-Seattle campus

This vast campus, on the shores of Portage and Union Bay, is visually spectacular, particularly in the spring when the cherry trees gifted by Japan are in full bloom around the Quad. The mixture of Gothic, Tudor-style and modern buildings include Red Square, the heart of the campus, the Drumheller Fountain with its greenery and ducks, the huge and comfortable Suzzallo Reading Room and the famous Huskies football stadium overlooking Lake Washington. Students who study at the Bothell or Tacoma campuses, which are 20 and 37 miles respectively away from the main campus, can easily reach the main Seattle campus by bus.

When it comes to facilities, the university offers career and counselling services, legal services, disability and housing and food services and even a food bank. Students can go to Hall Health for a free quarterly check-up, and security on-site is assured by 24 hour patrols, well-lit grounds and late-night escort services.

Greek life is very popular on campus, and if this does not appeal to you, then there are over 900 various societies which you could join, covering everything from debates to line dancing, sports to political and ecological groups. Why not take part in debates at Hurley Global Affairs, join the Dream Project, which mentors high school students, or sign up for Rural Health Education?  You could also take the light railway to do a spot of shopping in downtown Seattle, a short 20-minute ride away, or to listen to live music in one of Seattle’s many clubs – remember, this is the home of Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, who cut their musical teeth performing to audiences in Seattle.

In short…

The University of Washington-Seattle is an outstanding American university and often referred to as a “Public Ivy”. It leads the field in technology, medicine, computer science and engineering, with the backing of today’s giant multinationals, who fund much of the research produced by the university. Gaining a degree from the alma mater of none other than Bruce Lee, and following in the footsteps of Bill Gates, is a worthy ambition. Call Elab for further information, and to start your application to the amazing University of Washington-Seattle.