How to Get Into WashU: Admission Requirements + How to Apply

Picture of WashU's crest with latin writing
September 22, 2023
12 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 9/22/23

Wondering how to get into WashU? Read on to learn more about Washington University, the application requirements, dates, and even a step-by-step guide on how to get into WashU! 

St. Louis, MO

It’s almost summer. And if you’re preparing for college, that’s a crucial time for you to get as ready as you can for when applications open. If you’re looking for schools you wish to apply to, one recommended school is Washington University.

Despite what the name might suggest, Washington University is not located in Washington but in St. Louis, Missouri, not to be confused with the University of Washington, located in Washington, Seattle. 

St. Louis is a major city on the eastern edge of Missouri and right next to Illinois. This city is known for its steamboats, unique cuisine and music, the Gateway Arch, and hot, humid summers and cold winters. If this sounds like a place you want to be, Washington University is certainly a place you can complete your post-secondary studies!

Washington University Acceptance Rate 

The application round for the class of 2027 saw an acceptance rate of 12%, making Washington University quite a selective school. The acceptance rate for all early applicants was 26%, while the acceptance rate for all regular applicants was 9%. Getting into WashU isn’t easy. 

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean applying early will necessarily make it easier to get admitted, as the review process is identical for all application rounds.

Here is a table demonstrating WashU’s acceptance rate trends for the last 3 years: 

Class of: Acceptance rate
2026 11%
2025 13%
2024 16%

Washington University Yield Rate 

WashU’s average yield rate for the past four years sits at around 42%, based on historical data. The yield rate is also known as the enrollment rate and evaluates the number of students who choose to enroll after being admitted. 

How Hard Is It to Get Into WashU?

With an average acceptance rate of 13% for the past four years, it is not easy to get into WashU. But it’s not impossible if your application is strong. 

Due to the competitiveness of this school, you need a lot of time and effort to create a solid application profile. Make sure you start early and use your time wisely. Furthermore, try to seek all the help you can get and establish connections, especially with your counselors and teachers.

In terms of academics, you should strive to do as well as you can in your courses at school, but don’t use a lot of easy courses to pad your GPA. Your senior-year transcript should show that you continue to take demanding courses that your school offers, such as honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate courses, or others. 

As for your extracurricular activities, remember the rule of quality over quantity. It’s pointless to sign up for any activities that you won’t participate in much. Instead, select activities that will help you on your career path. Additionally, community services will also make your profile look good, provided that you make your fair share of contributions.

WashU Application Requirements

Before we get into the procedure, we need to make sure the preparation is sufficient. Let’s take a look at WashU’s application requirements. 

First-Year Applicants

This is for students who either are about to finish secondary education or already have and intend to begin their college education in the next fall term. 

First-year applicants are required to have a high school diploma or the equivalent, such as home school programs and certain college preparation programs. Your transcript must include your grades for all courses you’ve taken. If your school ranks students, it’s also best to include your rankings.

You also need one recommendation letter from the counselor and one teacher evaluation. Specific instructions about these documents can be found during the application process.

Additionally, you need to write a 200-word essay that responds to the question: “What are you interested in studying at WashU and why?” 

To write a strong essay, explain your reasons for applying. What about Washington University appeals to you? How will studying at Wash help you achieve your goals?  A tricky part is that you must be concise; pick out the parts that you believe are the most significant.

You also need to describe your extracurricular and community activities: what you’ve done, how the activities impacted you, and how you impacted communities. It’s best if you can list some awards, achievements, or noteworthy experiences here. Similar to the 200-word essay, only pick out the most noteworthy and significant activities. 

Because the application must be completed through either the Common or Coalition Application, you must also complete either the common application essay or the coalition application essay. 

GPA Requirements

It’s recommended, especially for transfer applicants, to achieve a minimum 3.5/3.6 GPA in order to get into WashU. However, for incoming students, there is no specified GPA requirement. 

SAT Requirements

Note that, as of now, standardized test scores (SAT or ACT) are optional to submit due to the COVID-19 pandemic making testing difficult. This policy has been extended through to Fall 2024. This article will be updated once relevant further notices come out, but you should also be on the lookout for any changes in the future.

However, if you still choose to take the SAT, you should aim for a score of around 1500-1540 to get into WashU. 

ACT Requirements

The ACT test requirements also fall under the COVID-19 test-optional policy. You may still choose to write the ACT and submit your scores to WashU, so if you do, aim for a score of 33-34. 

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Apply

Now that we’ve gone through what is required to apply, let’s go through the entire application process!

Common Application or Coalition Application

Application to Washington University can be made through two routes: 

Both options open on August 1st. 

Before you begin your application, make sure you have answers to the following questions:

  • What term do you intend to enroll in?
  • Which WashU school or interdisciplinary program are you applying to?
  • What are your motivations for studying at WashU, and why?
  • Are you applying for an early decision or a regular decision?
  • Are you applying for any financial aid or scholarships?

During your application, you will be asked questions related to these topics, so have some answers prepared.

Access Your WashU Pathway

After you complete and submit your application, regardless of which application option you choose, you will be asked to log in to WashU Pathway. You’ll also receive instructions on how to log in. 

You will need WashU Pathway to do the following:

  • Check the status of each of your applications
  • Access the checklist for everything you need to complete and/or submit for each of your applications
  • Access information about applying for financial aid
  • Check the status of each financial aid you applied for
  • Admission decisions
  • Your next steps if you get admitted 

Remember to consistently check your application checklist and your WashU Pathway. Any updates and information about your applications will be there, so make sure you stay up to date and do not miss out on anything.

Apply for Financial Aid

Washington University provides need-based financial aid for all students. Applying for financial aid will not affect your application or your chances of being accepted. If your financial situation makes it difficult or even impossible to study at Washington University, you should apply for financial aid while you apply for admission.

Be sure to indicate that you intend to apply for financial aid on your Common Application or Coalition Application. You must also submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is normally open as soon as the application period begins. Additionally, you must submit your CSS profile to provide sufficient information that the university needs.

Regardless of whether you’re a first-year applicant or an international applicant, your FAFSA application and your CSS profile are both required and must be submitted before the corresponding deadline for financial aid application. This deadline also applies to transfer applicants.

You may track your financial aid application process on your WashU Pathway, which, as mentioned before, will be given access to you after you’ve submitted your Common Application or Coalition Application. You will find any additional required submissions on there, so keep your eyes peeled for any updates.

FAFSA Information

FAFSA is an application portal under the federal student aid office of the US Department of Education, which is a part of the United States government. To complete your FAFSA, you need the following:

  • Your Social Security Number 
  • Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your federal income tax returns (including schedules), W-2s, and other records of money earned 
  • You may be able to get this information by using the IRS Retrieval Tool
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • A Federal Student Aid ID (if you wish to sign in electronically)
  • WashU’s FAFSA code: 002520

CSS Information

The CSS profile is an application portal owned by CollegeBoard. It is used by nearly 400 colleges and scholarship programs. To complete your CSS profile, you need the following:

  • Most recently completed tax returns
  • W-2 forms and other records of current-year income
  • Records of untaxed income and benefits for the current and previous years
  • Current bank statements (if applicable)
  • Records of savings, bonds, trusts, stocks, etc. (if applicable)
  • Family income information from two years prior to the expected date of you starting college
  • Your CollegeBoard account (to sign in)
  • WashU’s CSS Profile Code: 6929
  • Application fee of $16 (fee waiver available)

WashU Application Dates and Deadlines

Washington University has an Early Decision option and a Regular Decision option. 

Early Decision allows you to receive your admission and financial aid decisions earlier than regular decision candidates. However, it comes with a binding commitment that you will attend Washington University if you get the offer. Early applicants, their counselors, and a parent or guardian must sign the Early Decision commitment statement during the application process.

If you apply for Early Decision, you can still apply to other schools. However, if you get accepted to Washington University, you will be required to withdraw and forfeit all your other applications. Washington University strongly recommends applying early if this school is among your first choices.

The regular decision, as the name suggests, is for applicants who wish to apply during the regular admission period. There is no commitment needed for this option, so Washington University recommends applying for the regular decision option if this school is not one of your first choices.

Here is a table of the important dates and deadlines for all application options for the 2022-2023 admission cycle. Dates for the next admission cycle may vary slightly.

Important Dates
and Deadlines
Early Application I Early Application II Regular Application
Application Open Date August 1st August 1st August 1st
Financial Aid Application Open Date December (specific date not available) December December
Application Submission Deadline November 1st January 3rd January 3rd
Deadline for Receiving Official Materials November 8th January 10th January 10th
Scholarship Application Deadline January 3rd January 3rd January 3rd
Financial Aid Application Deadline November 15th January 12th February 1st
Admission and Financial Aid Decision Release Date December 15th February 16th April 1st
Deadline for Applicant’s Reply January 3rd March 4th May 1st

As you can see, the Early Decision option has two deadlines: one for Early Decision I, and another for Early Decision II. 

You may notice that the deadlines for Early Application II and Regular Application are similar, if not on the same date. But Early Application II still gives your decision much earlier than the regular application does. So do keep in mind the difference despite the proximity of the deadlines. 

About Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university founded in 1853. With 3,645 instructional faculty and over 300 academic programs, Washington University provides a fulfilling learning environment with abundant growing opportunities. 

The university’s mission is “to act in service of truth through the formation of leaders, the discovery of knowledge and the treatment of patients for the betterment of our region, our nation and our world..”

The Washington University campus prides itself on its strong sense of community, encouragement of leadership and collaboration, inclusivity and diversity, and supportive university staff. Washington University has a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

If these seem appealing and you’re interested in applying to Washington University, let’s go through the entire application process step by step!

International Applicants 

For international applicants, the requirements are the same for the most part. You must complete a minimum of 12 years of primary and secondary studies for application to any WashU program. You must also obtain a secondary school diploma or equivalent as of the completion of your studies. 

For required documents, in addition to your transcripts, school report, and recommendation letters, you also need scores of certified examinations, proof of English proficiency, proof of valid Visa, and certified English translations of all documents not in English. Specific requirements can be found during the application.

FAQ: How to Get Into WashU

Those are all the steps and requirements for applying to Washington University. But if you still have questions, perhaps you can find your answers here!

1. If I Apply Early, Will I be Deferred to the Regular Decision application?

Regardless of which Early Decision option you applied to, if you get deferred, you will drop straight into the pool of regular applicants, where you will be compared against them.

However, you also have a chance of being denied admission without getting a second chance at all, so take note of that. 

2. Is a 3.5 GPA enough to get into WashU?

Looking at how selective Washington University is, a 3.5 unweighted GPA is decent but still risky. It’s best to push yourself more and reach a 4.0 GPA

3. What is Washington University’s ranking?

According to US News and World Report, Washington University in St. Louis ranks 24th in best national universities, tied with Carnegie Mellon, Emory University, and the University of Virginia.

4. What Does the University of Washington Specialize In? 

The most popular majors at WashU include: 

  • Computer Science
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Finance
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Biology/Biological Sciences

Final Thoughts

Washington University in St. Louis is certainly an excellent place to get your postsecondary education. Even though the application process seems complicated and lengthy, you have plenty of assistance to help you along the way, provided by both the school faculty and your own counselors. 

The instructions are clear, and you usually always have somewhere to go once you need help. And yes, this school is competitive, but just as they always say: it’s definitely going to be worth it in the end. Best wishes for your preparation and applications!

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