Future Students

Admission Requirements

The process of applying to the Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) depends on a student's entry point to the University of Washington. Choose an option below to learn more about the different pathways for entering the major.

Freshman applicants who meet UW admissions criteria and who list an engineering department (or Engineering-undecided) as their first choice major on their UW application are automatically considered for Direct to College admission. For more information about Direct to College admission, see the Direct to College Admission FAQs on the College of Engineering website.

Welcome to the College of Engineering at UW! After completing required courses, you will have multiple opportunities to request placement into one of the many UW engineering programs, including Human Centered Design & Engineering. Students must meet the following requirements to request placement into the HCDE program:

  • Maintain a minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA
  • Complete at least one quarter as a full-time UW student
  • Complete the following courses with grades of 2.0 or above in each course
     
MATH 124, 125, and 126
CSE 142 or CSE 160
One course from: STAT 220, STAT 221, STAT 290, STAT 311, IND E 315
One course from: CHEM 142, PHYS 121, BIOL 180
5 credits English Composition

The deadline for requesting placement is April 5.

If more students request the major than we can accommodate, we use a holistic review process that considers your academic record and personal statements to determine placement. If you have questions about Direct to College admission, the placement process, or advising for Engineering Undeclared Students, see the College of Engineering website. If you have advising questions as an Engineering Undeclared student, please see your assigned adviser in the College of Engineering .

Engineering Undeclared students who were admitted Direct to College in Fall 2020 and beyond, please refer to this College of Engineering webpage to help determine the courses needed to request placement in an engineering major.

Application Deadlines

The HCDE department admits non-DTC students once a year for autumn quarter start. The application deadline is April 5.

Major Application

The major application opens two weeks before the application deadline. Even when the application is not open, you can read the list of requirements and see the personal statement prompts by visiting the online application website in order to prepare.

HCDE is committed to a holistic review of each eligible application, taking the following into account: completion of prerequisites; competitive grades and grade trends from quarter to quarter; additional coursework showing progression to graduate with HCDE and/or coursework related to HCDE concepts; articulation and breadth of personal statement thoroughly addressing the prompt; and special circumstances as disclosed by the applicant. Involvement in extracurriculars including research, internships, employment or volunteer experience is helpful but not required for admission to HCDE.

Application Requirements

Students must have the following prerequisites completed at the time of the application deadline. Students are encouraged to meet with an adviser to discuss their plans. For answers to frequently asked questions about admission, see the HCDE admission FAQ on this page.

Admission is competitive. As a capacity-constrained program, we are unable to admit all qualified students at this time. 

Minimum Requirements: To apply, students must have a minimum 2.50 average GPA in the following prerequisite courses.
In Reality: Historically, the students admitted to the major have had substantially higher GPAs in these categories.
Recently: For the most recent admission cycle, admitted students had an average GPA of 3.48 in prerequisite coursework.

10 credits from: MATH 120, MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126
CSE 142 or CSE 160
One course from: STAT 220, STAT 221, STAT 290, STAT 311, IND E 315
Three courses from: CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, PHYS 114/121*, PHYS 115/122*, PHYS 116/123*, BIOL 118, BIOL 180, BIOL 200, PSYCH 202
5 credits English Composition

*The UW does not grant credit for both courses, so only one course would count, e.g., a student who has earned credit for PHYS 114 and PHYS 121 would only have earned five (5) credits towards this prerequisite requirement. 

Apply to the Department

Application Steps and Deadlines

Successful transfer involves two separate admissions processes. Students must complete both by the stated deadlines in order to be considered. Note that the deadline for the UW application is earlier than for departmental applications. Learn more about transferring into an engineering major on the College of Engineering transfer webpage.

Autumn Quarter

  1. Apply to UW by February 15
  2. Apply to HCDE by April 5

Major Application

The major application opens two weeks before the application deadline. Even when the application is not open, you can read the list of requirements and see the personal statement prompts by visiting the online application website in order to prepare.

HCDE is committed to a holistic review of each eligible application, taking the following into account: completion of prerequisites; competitive grades and grade trends from quarter to quarter; additional coursework showing progression to graduate with HCDE and/or coursework related to HCDE concepts; articulation and breadth of personal statement thoroughly addressing the prompt; and special circumstances as disclosed by the applicant. Involvement in extracurriculars including research, internships, employment or volunteer experience is helpful but not required for admission to HCDE.

Application Requirements

Students must have the following prerequisites complete at the time of the application deadline. Students are encouraged to meet with an adviser to discuss their plans. For answers to frequently asked questions about admission, see below.

Admission is competitive. As a capacity-constrained program, we are unable to admit all qualified students at this time. 

Minimum Requirements: To apply, students must have a minimum 2.50 average GPA in the following prerequisite courses.
In Reality: Historically, the students admitted to the major have had substantially higher GPAs in these categories.
Recently: For the most recent admission cycle, admitted students had an average GPA of 3.48 in prerequisite coursework.

 
10 credits from: MATH 120, MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126
CSE 142 or CSE 160
One course from: STAT 220, STAT 221, STAT 290, STAT 311, IND E 315
Three courses from: CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, PHYS 114/121*, PHYS 115/122*, PHYS 116/123*, BIOL 118, BIOL 180, BIOL 200, PSYCH 202
5 credits English Composition

*The UW does not grant credit for both courses, so only one course would count, e.g., a student who has earned credit for PHYS 114 and PHYS 121 would only have earned five (5) credits towards this prerequisite requirement. 

Information Session

Spring 2021 Information Session

Lexi Rohrer, peer advisor in the University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, gives an overview of the Bachelor of Science in HCDE and answers questions from prospective students. Recorded March 15, 2021.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

For current UW students and transfer students, the application deadline is April 5 for autumn quarter start.

Image comparing UW programs; description in the caption below

HCDE has three major areas of learning: technicality, design, and social scientific. Technicality refers to building the systems that have been designed, including front and back end coding. The UW Computer Science and Informatics programs have a greater focus on technicality than HCDE does, and Interaction Design has fewer technical components than HCDE. The design component includes visual, product, interaction, service, and other forms of design across industries. The Interaction Design major has the greatest emphasis on design, followed by HCDE then Informatics. Computer Science has the least emphasis on design. Social scientific describes the integration of psychology, sociology, ethics, and other fields rated to people and their interactions. HCDE has the greatest emphasis on social scientific content, followed by Informatics. CSE and Interaction Design both have minimal focus on the social scientific.

The online HCDE Undergraduate Application is available through the College of Engineering approximately two weeks prior to the application due date.

All applicants will be notified of being admitted or declined approximately one month after the deadline. Next steps such as change of major and course scheduling will be outlined in your decision letter.

Yes, all departments use the same online application. Direct-To-College students will rank their department preferences and then address each department-specific personal statement prompt. Transfer students must apply to UW first, then use the college of engineering’s application to complete application requirements for each engineering major. 

No, all applications are reviewed together after the application deadline so submitting early will not result in an earlier decision.

Your personal statement needs to address the prompt provided on the application. There is no word length maximum, but typical length is around 750 words. Please be mindful of keeping your statement around 750 words out of respect for our admission committee’s time.
See 11 tips for writing a personal statement »

The HCDE peer advisor can give feedback on personal statements, but only during appointments (not via email). To talk about your personal statement with a peer advisor, book an ‘Undergraduate - Non Major” appointment. You are also encouraged to use the UW campus resources such as the Writing Centers, CLUE, or the Career Center.

No, HCDE does not accept letters of recommendation.

Because the admissions committee has to review so many applicants each cycle, they do not have time to review portfolios.

All prerequisites must be completed by the application deadline to be eligible for admission. The only exception to this rule is current transfer students from a semester school: they may have one prerequisite course in progress at the time they apply.

Yes, HCDE is a capacity-constrained program, meaning we are unable to admit all qualified students. The acceptance rate for the last two cycles (AUT '20/SPR ‘21) was approximately 16%. Please speak with the undergraduate adviser if you have further questions.

The most important part of your application is your personal statement, as it’s how the admission committee gets to know you!  The department particularly values personal statements that thoroughly address the prompt and articulate an understanding of HCDE. Involvement in research, internships, employment, or volunteer experience may help us understand what you value and are interested in, but are definitely not required for an offer of admission into HCDE. Competitive grades, positive quarterly grade trends, and coursework related to HCDE concepts are also all key components in evaluating applications.

Yes, but the amount of feedback we can provide may be limited. As a smaller capacity constrained program, we are unable to admit all qualified students. For feedback, set up an “Undergraduate Non-Major appointment” with the HCDE Peer Advisor.

You are welcome to apply more than once. In each application cycle, you are a new applicant and must submit all new materials to be considered. Keep in mind the UW’s credit limit registration holds for students who haven’t declared a major. The more time you spend applying equates to more credits you earn without being in a major and making progress to graduate. HCDE cannot remove registration holds for students who are not yet admitted to the major.

You are still eligible to apply, however, please include in the additional comments section why you are deciding to change your major, add another major, or do not yet have a major in progress.

No. The admissions committee does not track whether an applicant has applied to the major before. However, an average 46% of admitted students from AUT ‘18-SPR ‘21 had applied two (or more) times. Often students have had time to reflect on their interest in HCDE, take relevant extracurriculars, and refine their application between cycles.  

The undergraduate program is designed to take two years with required core coursework structured in a sequence. Students typically cannot take a quarter off as certain required core courses, as well as HCDE elective course options, are only offered once per year. Please do not apply if you are not prepared to complete the program in two academic years.

In most cases yes. However, keep in mind that HCDE’s sequenced course schedule may make scheduling an additional major tricky. In addition, any second major that is declared along with HCDE automatically becomes a double degree (as opposed to a double major), requiring a minimum of 225 credits to graduate. To maintain active student status in HCDE after you are admitted, you will need to be enrolled in the required core courses offered each quarter during your first and second year. You will need to complete a graduation coursework plan, and include a statement describing your reasoning as to why you are pursuing two majors, to both departments for approval.  Typically, completing coursework for a minor presents few issues. A graduation coursework plan and statement are not necessary with a minor. We do not allow double degrees with any Engineering degree, Computer Science, Informatics, or Interaction Design. 

Information sessions are scheduled once per month during the academic year. Specific Admission and Application info sessions are offered in the weeks leading up to the application deadline. Dates/times and locations are noted on the HCDE Info Session Calendar at least two weeks in advance.

No, it is highly encouraged that students who have already completed a Bachelor's degree, look closely into HCDE’s User-Centered Design Certificate or Master’s Degree programs. Students admitted into these programs come from interdisciplinary academic backgrounds.

With the exception of the remote courses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is only offered in-person on the UW Seattle campus.

Appeals Procedure

This procedure only applies to non-Engineering Undeclared (DTC) and Transfer students. If you are a DTC student, please contact your assigned Engineering adviser.

If you are denied admission to the HCDE department, you should first consult with the HCDE undergraduate advisor. Then you may request a review of the Admissions Committee decision by writing a letter to the Department Chair (hcdechr@uw.edu), citing your reasons for appeal. You must submit this letter within two weeks after the letter of denial is postmarked. The only legitimate basis for appeal is an error in the data considered by the Admissions Committee. If you were denied admission because you submitted incomplete or inaccurate records, your appeal will not be considered. A Departmental Appeals Committee will consider appeals and respond promptly.