In order to apply to the program, applicants who are current UW students or transfer students must complete an online application and provide the information and materials listed below.
The Informatics program has two admissions cycles per year, spring and autumn.
- The application to start the program in Winter 2023 will open July 15, 2022, with a deadline of Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. PT.
- The application to start the program in Autumn 2023 will open in February 2023 and be due early April 2023.
Schools and Transcripts
Applicants are required to provide information about all schools where they have earned academic credit and are required to provide a transcript for each.
Applicants who have taken a prerequisite course at a school that does not have a transfer agreement with the UW (typically these are schools outside the state of Washington) will be asked to provide a syllabus and/or course description for the class. These applicants will be contacted directly after the deadline passes or can email this information at any time to email@example.com.
Applicants will provide information about the prerequisite courses. If the prerequisite course was taken at the UW, the student will select that option in the application. The system will automatically pull the course and grade information into your application. If more than one course was taken that will fulfill the prerequisite requirement, the system will automatically select the course with the highest grade.
In addition to providing information about prerequisite grades and academic history, applicants must submit a statement of less than 700 words that responds to the following prompt.
The Informatics admissions committee believes that all students interested in information deserve to major in Informatics. However, because we have limited teaching capacity and space, we can only admit some of the students who apply. To make the best use of your time and our resources, we select students based on a written response, evaluated against the following five criteria, all weighted equally:
- Experiences with information. What experiences do you have that concern data, design, or development of information technologies for the good of people, organizations, or society? How did these experiences affect your interest in studying information? These experiences might be individual, part of your family, in your community, at school, at work, or otherwise, including experiences such as class projects, hackathons, workshops, hobbies, jobs, internships, community service, entrepreneurship and more. If you’re not sure what experiences are related to information, browse the online book Foundations of Information for relevant topics. Rationale: students thrive most in our major when they are interested in the study, design, and development of information technology.
- Experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion. What experiences do you have with diversity, equity, or inclusion in relation to technology? These might be the same experiences with information you described, or different ones. These experiences might include learning, volunteering, activism, community organizing, mentoring, teaching, or personal experiences with exclusion or oppression. We are especially interested in experiences in which you took action to address issues of fairness, bias, or exclusion, whether advocacy or self-advocacy, social or technical. Rationale: it’s important that Informatics majors are attentive to ways that people can be excluded and oppressed by information technology, and in general. We’re seeking students who are committed to making information technology more just, equitable, and inclusive.
- Goals after college. How do you see the Informatics program and community furthering your goals and visions for your life, community or society after college? You don’t necessarily have to have a particular goal, but having one or more goals and being able to explain specifically how Informatics would help you achieve them is better than having no sense of how studying Informatics will help you after college. Rationale: it is important that Informatics is actually well-positioned to support your goals, whatever they are, and however vague they are. Informatics doesn’t support every goal.
- Learning skills. What grade or grades on your transcript best show your ability to successfully learn in Informatics and why? Tell us the story or stories behind how you earned these grades and why you believe these stories are a good indicator of your ability to thrive in Informatics classes. (We do not expect these to necessarily be Informatics classes, since transfer students don’t have access to them, though they may be). Rationale: Informatics majors need the ability to thrive academically in subjects related to their goals. We focus on indicators of meaningful indicators of success, and aren’t worried about courses you struggled in, since they are more often indicators of unrelated things, like hardship, transitions to college, and other factors that don’t tell us much about your ability to succeed in the future. We do not use your GPA.
- Writing. We expect students to already be capable of writing clearly and coherently in English; your response helps us evaluate that. Rationale: Clear communication is central to thriving in our courses, as most involve writing. Be sure to check your spelling. Do your best to avoid grammar errors, but note that we will not penalize you for them unless they significantly interfere with our ability to comprehend your writing.
We’ll read your statement for evidence of all of the above. Since we read the statement for all five criteria, tell us your story clearly and coherently, potentially organizing your statement around the prompts above, to make it easier for us to assess each criterion (though it is okay if you find other creative ways of organizing your responses, since it might be that a single experience addresses multiple criteria).
As you write, remember that the admissions committee is not looking for just one type of student: we need diversity of all kinds to promote critical learning about people, information, and technology, and so we need to know what makes you different. Therefore, focus on telling your personal story, not platitudes and generalities about data, information, or technology. These impersonal generalities only make it harder for us to understand you.
Note that many students will meet all of the criteria well, but not all of those students will be admitted. Demand for our program has been too high for us to meet with our current resources, and so that means declining many students, even students that meet all of our criteria. When students are indistinguishable based on the criteria above, they have equal (but still low) chances of being admitted.
Finally, remember that Informatics is not the only path to your ambitions. Our graduates pursue many different careers, and there are many different paths to those careers, most of which don’t involve Informatics. So as you think about your goals and how Informatics might support them, also think about how other majors might support them equally well or perhaps better. Most software developers worldwide, for example, don’t have computer science degrees, and most data scientists don’t have data science degrees. In fact, most people in the world don’t have Informatics degrees. Think broadly about how to achieve your learning goals.
You may include anything you want in your submission, as long as it satisfies the following requirements:
- Applicants will copy/paste their submission as plain text into a text box in the application. Be sure to test this before the deadline.
- You may include links for reference, but reviewers will not follow any of the links in your statement to complete their review. They will only read the text you submit.
Note: Two-Application Limit
Beginning with the 2020 admissions cycles, applicants will be allowed to apply to the Informatics major a maximum of two times.* For this reason, applicants are encouraged to be selective and apply only when they have fulfilled all the criteria and feel that they can present a strong application. (Specifically, applicants who have not completed all prerequisite courses should not apply to the program.)
Applications submitted prior to 2020 and applications for Freshman Direct Admission do not count toward the two-application limit.
*There is one exception to the two-application limit, intended to serve students who have nearly completed the Informatics degree requirements but have not yet been admitted to the program. If you have previously applied for admission twice and were not admitted, and you have completed enough required Informatics courses to be within 15 credits or fewer of completing the degree (in most cases this will be INFO 490/491 Capstone plus one additional required course), you can petition the Chair of Informatics Admissions to request a third review by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, clearly explain your circumstances, including information on the specific courses you are lacking, and the Chair will use your letter to decide whether to include you in the admissions process for a third and final time. Neither review nor admission is guaranteed through this process, and so it should not be part of your major planning.