UW Graduate School

Memo 3: Graduate Admission

Admission to graduate study at the University of Washington provides opportunities for study leading to master’s and doctoral degrees in over 100 disciplines. The Graduate School is responsible for determining the minimum requirements for admission. Departments may have additional or more stringent requirements. The basic objective of the admission policy of the Graduate School is to admit those students deemed best able to contribute to and benefit from the educational programs and opportunities offered at the University.

Within the parameters imposed on overall graduate enrollment in the University, enrollment in a specific graduate degree program is limited to the number of students for whom faculty, staff, and facilities can provide high quality graduate instruction and research guidance. Each graduate student must be admitted into a specific graduate program; the Graduate School does not permit general graduate enrollment.


A prospective graduate student must have one of the following:

1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S., or its equivalent from a foreign institution, and must have at least a 3.0 grade-point-average (on a 4 point scale) for the last 90 graded quarter credits or 60 graded semester credits**.


2) one of the following: a master’s degree, a graduate doctoral degree, or any of the following professional doctoral degrees: Doctor of Dentistry (D.D.S.), Doctor of Law (J.D.), Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.). The degree must be from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S. or its equivalent from a foreign institution, and must have at least a 3.0 grade-point-average (on a 4 point scale) calculated from the total cumulative credits.

The Graduate School does not require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for admission; however, graduate programs may require GRE scores or any other tests related to the applicant’s field for use in the admission review process.

Admission to the Graduate School usually signifies admission into a program of graduate study leading to a master’s degree or the equivalent, or into post-master’s study if the applicant already has received a master’s degree or successfully completed equivalent graduate study. Admission does not imply direct acceptance into a program of study leading to a doctoral degree. A student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree only upon the completion of specific requirements intended to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the department and the Graduate School his or her apparent ability to complete the program in a timely manner.

Proficiency in English is required for graduate study at the University of Washington. Therefore, every applicant whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency. No exceptions for this English proficiency requirement will be granted. See Graduate School Memorandum 8.

Admission Procedure

Application for admission is made simultaneously to the Graduate School Admissions and to the graduate program. Each department or other unit authorized to offer a graduate degree program maintains a Graduate Admissions Committee that must include at least three graduate faculty members. This Committee is responsible for the fair and complete evaluation of applicants and is expected to maintain files and to be able to demonstrate that full and fair consideration has been given to each applicant. It is also responsible for recommending to the Dean of the Graduate School the names of applicants who are considered to be qualified as well as those denied admission. The Graduate School shall consider these recommendations, together with any departmental petitions regarding exemptions from Graduate School admission requirements, in its decision to grant admission.

The Graduate School and each Graduate Admission Committee shall be guided by the following:

  1. Priority for admission of applicants into a graduate degree program is based upon the applicant’s apparent ability, as determined by the University, to complete the program with a high level of achievement.
  2. No practice may discriminate against an individual because of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran.
  3. Sustained efforts shall be made to recruit qualified applicants who are members of groups that are underrepresented in certain disciplines.
  4. All applicants to a degree-offering unit shall be processed through the same set of procedures to assure that all applicants are evaluated on their individual merits.
  5. Tests and criteria for admission should relate to the actual requirements of the graduate program. Reasonable accommodation for testing conditions may be made to compensate for relevant disabilities.
  6. Additional factors may be used in developing a pool of qualified applicants for admission to the Graduate School. Weights given these and other factors may vary among graduate degree programs. No factor will confer admission on an academically unqualified applicant. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Grades earned, especially for subjects in or closely related to the field of the applicant’s proposed graduate work.
    • Scores on the Graduate Record Examination Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Tests, on the GRE Advanced Test, on other tests related to the applicant’s field, and on other aptitude tests which may be required.
    • Personal interviews of the applicant by the Department Admissions Committee.
    • The career objectives of the applicant and the extent to which the graduate degree program may be expected to prepare him or her for those objectives.
    • Written and oral recommendations from persons who are qualified to evaluate the applicant’s academic record and promise.
    • The applicant’s degree objective, i.e. Master’s degree, Doctoral degree, or a Master’s followed by a Doctoral degree.
    • Activities or accomplishments; educational goals; prior employment experience; living experiences, such as growing up in a disadvantaged or unusual environment; special talents.
    • Academic accomplishments in light of the applicant’s life experiences and special circumstances. These experiences and circumstances may include, but are not limited to disabilities; low family income; first generation to attend college; need to work during college; disadvantaged social or educational environment; difficult personal and family situation or circumstances; and refugee status or veteran status.

Counseling and Financial Assistance

To assist in attracting individuals from low income families into the qualified applicant pool, the Graduate School offers certain kinds of financial assistance and works with other University offices to arrange for counseling and financial aid.

Enrollment Limitation

Total Graduate School enrollment is determined by the University Administration in furtherance of University intent to maintain appropriate proportions of all categories of students. The Dean of the Graduate School, after consultation with other University offices and faculty, assigns enrollment targets to the graduate programs. In assigning enrollment targets, the following factors are considered:

  1. The size of the graduate faculty, supporting staff, facilities, and other resources available;
  2. The number of graduate students already in the program;
  3. The number of applicants seeking admission;
  4. Circumstances outside the University that are specific to certain fields;
  5. The total enrollment assigned to the Graduate School.

First preference in enrollment is given to continuing graduate students, i.e. those who already have been admitted to a graduate program, are in good standing, and who have maintained continuous enrollment or on-leave status. After accommodating continuing students, the remaining places are available for the enrollment of new students or the re-enrollment of former students who have not maintained continuous enrollment.


Other Graduate School Memoranda, particularly numbers 8, 10, and 37.  Graduate School Memoranda 9,13, 16 and 19 provide information relevant to students in the later stages of graduate study.

**Graduates of The Evergreen State College and other institutions not using a grading system are exempt from the GPA minimum requirement but must submit equivalent measures of performance.

Revised: August 2011, March 2019