Across the nation and in our state, student interest in computer science is booming. This is visible in enrollment in introductory courses, demand for the major, and non-major demand for upper-division courses. Extensive data on these trends is available here.
At the University of Washington, students apply to majors after successfully fulfilling prerequisite courses – either at UW or at one of the state’s community and technical colleges. The capacity of various majors – the number of students who can be accommodated – is determined by factors such as the availability of faculty, staff, and laboratory facilities. Because UW tuition is far less than the cost of educating a student in computer science and other engineering fields, these majors can be expanded only with state support. As a result, the capacity of UW Computer Science & Engineering is far less than the demand from highly qualified students – or the demand from our state’s rapidly expanding technology industry.
UW CSE admits students to the major twice each year – during the winter (for spring quarter) and during the summer (for autumn quarter). On Friday we concluded the summer admission process. Despite a 60% increase in the size of our undergraduate program over the last few years, we are falling further behind the enormous increase in demand: we were able to accommodate only 25% of the students who successfully fulfilled the prerequisites and applied to the program. Those who could not be accommodated included a large number of very highly qualified students – students who would thrive in our major and contribute greatly to the vibrancy of our region and nation.
We will have another admission cycle in winter 2015, with an application deadline of February 1. We hope that we will be able to continue to expand our capacity. However, given the continued dramatic growth in student demand (as exhibited, for example, by the growth in enrollment in our introductory courses, illustrated here), we expect admissions to remain highly competitive independent of any plausibly imaginable investment by the state.
Our advisors can provide further information on the application and admission process.