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Future Students

PhD Admission FAQs

How competitive is PhD admission? 
Admission is highly competitive. The department accepts about 10% of our applicant pool each year.

When is the next admissions deadline?
There is only one application deadline annually, December 2nd.  

Is the application deadline flexible?
The 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 HCDE PhD application. 

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. Applicants must submit a request in advance, the HCDE department will not reimburse fees to the applicant. 

What is the HCDE experience for BIPOC students?
The Department 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 the application deadline, it is not possible to submit additional materials or request to have documents updated or replaced. If the application has been submitted before the final deadline, email for assistance. Please double-check all documents and only upload final versions into the online application, there is no priority deadline. 

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 HCDE PhD program offer online or part-time options?

No, the HCDE PhD program is full-time and in-person on the UW Seattle campus. 

Does the department offer funding/tuition support?

HCDE PhD students enrolled in full-time study (10 credits/quarter) are eligible for funding. Benefits for TAs, SAs, and RAs include a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend. All incoming HCDE students are guaranteed 12 quarters of funding (excluding summers), but often are funded throughout their entire program. Almost all PhD funding, including all positions in the HCDE funding guarantee and most fellowships, is tied to employment.
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. See English Language Proficiency Exam for PhD Admissions for more details.

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? 

See English Language Proficiency Exam for PhD Admissions for more details.

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 Policy 5.2: Conditions of Appointment for TAs who are not Native Speakers of English to receive an employment offer as a TA. Policy 5.2 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 International Applicants website for answers to your questions. The department of Human Centered Design & Engineering is not able to answer questions about visas.

Is the PhD program in HCDE considered a STEM program?
Yes, we are considered a STEM program, and accepted students are therefore eligible to apply for OPT extension. The CIP code for all our programs is 11.0103.

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 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 may 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 and HCDE faculty websites to become familiar with the work of individual faculty members. For questions about specific research projects, please first meet with a PhD Grad Ambassador

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, however, multiple applications will be required. 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.