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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.

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.

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
  • 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. Applicants have completed at least four quarters of equivalent college-level coursework and are on track to begin the department curriculum in the Autumn quarter of their Junior year. The application deadline is April 5.

Ensure you are on track to apply

Find information about the application requirements and the additional lower-division coursework, referred to as enrollment requirements, required for the engineering programs you are considering. While the application requirements are your priority courses to take, it is important to ensure you have a plan to complete the enrollment requirements prior to starting in the major.

Compare majors: Required courses by department »
Comparison of the application and enrollment requirements for the different engineering majors.

Department application requirements

  • Maintain a UW GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • 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
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

If you started your engineering studies at another college or university and are looking to transfer to UW engineering, you must have completed at least xx academic credits at the time of application, including the required courses or equivalents listed in the table below.

You must complete the application requirements no later than by the application deadline date, and the enrollment requirements by no later than the beginning of autumn quarter. You can use our HCDE BS degree requirements as guidance for which courses to take xx link to department’s degree requirements.

Department application requirements

  • Cumulative UW GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • 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
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. 

How to apply

To apply as a transfer student, you will need to apply to the UW by the application deadline listed for your intended start quarter. If you miss the UW application deadline, you will not be able to apply to an engineering major. You will then apply to the majors of your choice using the Engineering Application.

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.

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 (, 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.