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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.

High School Students – Direct to College Admission

For current high school students who are planning to apply to UW: If you were admitted to the UW as a freshman and selected engineering-undeclared or an engineering major (other than computer engineering) as your first-choice major on your application, you will automatically be considered for Direct to College (DTC) admission. If admitted DTC, you will enter the UW as an Engineering Undeclared (ENGRUD) student and will have the opportunity to explore many engineering disciplines before requesting placement in an engineering major after your freshman year. Admission to DTC is only available in autumn quarter. For more information on the application process and deadlines, visit the College of Engineering’s Freshman admission website.

Current UW Engineering Undeclared (ENGRUD) students

Welcome to the University of Washington College of Engineering! As an Engineering Undeclared student, your first year will include engineering foundational coursework such as math and science, as well as UW general education courses. At the end of your freshman year, you will request placement into an engineering major. The requirements to request placement are as follows:

  • Maintain a minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA in courses used to satisfy placement requirements.
  • Complete placement requirements with grades of 2.0 or above in each course.

If you meet placement requirements, and list six majors in your placement request, you are guaranteed to be placed into one of the engineering majors. However, you may or may not be placed in your first choice major. Some majors may receive more placement requests than they can accommodate. Learn more about the placement process.

This is the only admission point to the HCDE degree program for current UW students admitted to a major other than through the Direct to College pathway. You must complete all application requirements below no later than the April 5 application deadline. Refer to Current UW Non-Engineering Student Admissions for additional details and the application. You can use our HCDE BS degree requirements as additional course guidance.

Department application requirements

  • 2.5 cumulative GPA in courses required for application
  • Grade of 2.0 or higher in each required course
  • Prerequisite course requirements: Must be completed by the department application deadline.
10 credits from: MATH 120, MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126
One course from: CSE 121, CSE 122, CSE 123, CSE 142, 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

If you started your studies at another college or university and are looking to transfer to UW HCDE, you must complete all application requirements below no later than the April 5 application deadline. You can use our HCDE BS degree requirements as additional course guidance.

Department application requirements

  • 2.5 cumulative GPA in courses required for application
  • Grade of 2.0 or higher in each required course
  • Prerequisite course requirements: Must be completed by the department application deadline.
10 credits from: MATH 120, MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126
One course from: CSE 121, CSE 122, CSE 123, CSE 142, 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. 

How to apply

To apply as a transfer student to enter UW as an HCDE major, must submit two applications: one to the University of Washington and one to the HCDE Department for fall admission. Refer to Transfer Admissions for additional details, deadlines, and the application.

Timeline: applying for fall admission

Dec. 15

UW application opens

Feb. 15

UW deadline

Late March

Engineering application opens

April 5

Engineering deadline

Early May

Admission decisions announced

Connect with UW and Engineering advisers

Frequently Asked Questions

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

For current high school students applying for Direct to College admission, find more information and deadlines on the College of Engineering’s Freshman admission website.

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 related 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. Prospective students are encouraged to meet with our peer advisers to discuss personal statement best practices and advice for putting together a strong application.

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.

The undergraduate program is designed for students to start the 300-level core courses in their third year, completing them before the capstone series. Students must be enrolled at UW during winter and spring of their final year to complete the 2-course capstone series, offered once per year. DTC students are placed into the major at the end of their first year, so should plan to complete the major in three academic years. All other applicants should plan to complete the major in two academic years.

In most cases yes. 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. You will need to complete a graduation coursework plan and meet with HCDE advising to discuss your reasons for pursuing a second degree, review your plan, and confirm whether it may be possible to complete both majors within UW's Satisfactory Progress guidelines. We do not allow double degrees with any Engineering degree, Informatics, or Interaction Design. 

Typically, completing coursework for a minor presents few issues. A graduation coursework plan and statement may not be necessary with a minor. Students who wish to declare a minor should contact HCDE Advising.

Information sessions and application workshop dates can be found on the HCDE Info Session Calendar.

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 notification of denial is sent. 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.