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Future Students

PhD Admission FAQs

How competitive is PhD admission? 
Admission is highly competitive. The department accepts about 20% of our applicant pool each year.

When is the next admissions deadline?
There is only one application deadline annually, November 30.  

Is the application deadline flexible?
The November 30th deadline is a hard deadline and is not flexible. Applications are due at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. All materials (including unofficial transcripts and recommendations) must be received by this deadline in order to be considered. Please plan ahead, the HCDE advising or UW Graduate School staff are typically not available after 5pm. 

What is the recommended GRE score?
GRE scores are not required for the Autumn 2023 admission cycle. 

Is there a way to have the application fee waived?
The Department will pay for the application fee for students who participated in a pipeline program that aligns with our diversity mission. View eligible pipeline programs here.

What is the HCDE experience for BIPOC students?
The Department recently hosted a webinar to describe efforts to make the department more inclusive. The webinar includes a panel of current HCDE graduate students discussing their experiences in the department, both inside and outside of the classroom. Find the video here.

I applied to the PhD program last year and was not accepted. Could you use my application from last year?
No, we do not have access to materials submitted in other years and you are considered a new applicant. Please submit new application materials (including recent transcripts and new recommendations) in order to be considered.

I submitted my application but forgot to add something to my CV/Resume or Personal Statement. Could I request to make a change?
Unfortunately, after an application has been submitted, it is not possible to submit additional materials or request to have documents updated or replaced. Please double-check all documents and only upload final versions into the online application.

When may I expect to hear an admissions decision?
All applicants who applied in the current admissions cycle will receive an email outlining being accepted, declined, or waitlisted by mid-February.

Does the department offer funding/tuition support?

  • The department makes every effort possible to match your financial need with support from the department. However, an offer of admission is independent of a funding offer.
  • In general, first year students may be offered a teaching assistantship or research assistantship.
    See more about Financial Support »

I am an international student. Is a TOEFL score required?
Maybe. All applicants who are non-native English speakers are required to demonstrate English language proficiency. TOEFL is one of many options available. In the UW Graduate School application, Q11 pertains to the English language proficiency requirement. Entering TOEFL score information is only required if you are fulfilling the English Language Proficiency Requirements with that method. If you are using one of the other options (use link for full list), please disregard the TOEFL section of the application. University transcripts from the U.S. or other countries specified in Memo 8 will be verified with uploaded transcripts. For applicants who completed undergraduate, masters or higher degrees outside of the U.S. where the medium of instruction is in English, please make sure a notation is added to the transcript or an official document from the University is included. 

Does HCDE use MyBest scores? 

Yes, we do.

I am an international student. Could you tell me whether my test scores have arrived?
It may take several weeks for TOEFL scores to show as being "received" by the University of Washington. After applying, please be patient and periodically log-in to your application profile to check the status of the scores. For specific questions about test scores, please email Only unofficial scores are required by the deadline. 

What are the required English Language Proficiency exam scores for admission?
Successful candidates must have the following minimum score on one of the tests below.

  • 106 on TOEFLiBT (including 26 Speaking sub-score)
  • 623 on TOEFLPBT
  • 263 on TOEFLCBT
  • 7 on the speaking section of the IELTS*
  • 125 on Duolingo (Approved AUT 2023)**

*Applicants using IELTS test scores must submit official scores electronically via the IELTS system (E-TRF), using the University of Washington’s organization ID 365. An offer of admission cannot be extended prior to the receipt of official scores.

Applicants who are providing a TOEFL score to demonstrate English language proficiency should include a copy of their unofficial scores in the application.

**For the AUT 2023 application cycle, the HCDE department is also temporarily accepting the Duolingo English Test to assist international students with remote testing options. A minimum score of 125 is required.

What are the required English Language Proficiency exam scores for Employment?

International students should familiarize themselves with the Graduate School’s English requirements and teaching policies. HCDE PhD graduate students who are not native speakers of English must meet the criteria in Memo 15: Conditions of Appointment for TAs who are not Native Speakers of English to receive an employment offer as a TA. Memo 15 includes additional requirements beyond English language proficiency for admission to the HCDE PhD degree.

Where can I find additional information for international applicants, including visa requirements?
Please read the information located on the Graduate School website for answers to your questions. The department of Human Centered Design & Engineering is not able to answer questions about visas.

How will I know whether my transcripts have been received?

  • You are responsible for ensuring that the University of Washington has received your official transcripts by the the first day of classes.
  • To check the status of transcripts, please log-in to your application status page.
  • Remember, only unofficial transcripts are needed for application review. If you receive an offer of admission, you must then submit official transcripts for review.
    For specific questions about transcripts, please email

I understand three recommendations are required. Is it possible to submit a fourth recommendation?
In fairness to all applicants, only three recommendations may be submitted. Any additional recommendations will not be reviewed.

I am writing a student recommendation and get an error message while uploading my letter. Do you have any suggestions?
Yes, sometimes the online system has bugs with Firefox or Chrome browsers. If this occurs, please try again using Internet Explorer.

How will I know if my recommenders have submitted their letters of recommendation?
Once you have submitted your application, you can check the status of your recommendation letters by logging into your application status page. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure recommendations are received by the application deadline.

How can I learn more about faculty research?
Take a look at current offerings of Directed Research Groups to become familiar with the work of individual faculty members. For questions about specific research projects, please contact faculty members directly.

I'm interested in both the PhD in Human Centered Design & Engineering and another program at the University of Washington. Is it possible to apply to both programs and then make a decision?
Yes, the University of Washington allows you to apply to more than one program simultaneously. There is no penalty for doing this since every department evaluates applications independently.

Do you allow deferrals of admission?
We do not permit deferrals of admission into the PhD program. Individuals who are admitted but cannot attend starting the following fall are permitted to apply for a subsequent academic cycle.  

How can I learn more about applying to the University of Washington Graduate School?
Please see the Graduate School's Frequently Asked Questions page.