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.
Starting in 2020, the Informatics program has two admissions cycles per year:
- The application to start the program during Winter 2021 opened in mid-July and will have a deadline of Friday, October 2.
- The application to start the program during Autumn 2021 will open in mid-February (2021) and have a deadline of Friday, April 2.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 3,000 characters (including whitespace) 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 and space resources, we have to select only a small subset of the students who apply. To make the best use of our time and resources, and to ensure that you will thrive in the program, we select students based on five criteria, all weighted equally:
- Ability to write clearly and coherently. Rationale: Clear communication is central to thriving in our courses, as most involve writing and collaboration. Note, however, we will not penalize for spelling and grammar, unless it significantly interferes with our ability to comprehend your writing.
- Extent to which a student has engaged in extracurricular projects related to data, design, development, of information technology for the good of people, organizations, and society. These might include experiences in hackathons, workshops, informal learning, personal projects, jobs, internships, community service, entrepreneurial activities, or anything else that has developed your interest or skills in information technology. The kind and prestige of an experience matters less than the depth and duration of engagement; for example, a long-term experience managing information in family business or a substantial side project can be just as deep as a selective internship. Rationale: long-term engagement in topics related to Informatics indicates that you have a sustained interest in the subjects we teach.
- Clarity of post-Informatics ambitions and how to engage with the Informatics community to achieve them (even if those ambitions might change). Share your plan with us so we can see how you would use the degree. Rationale: this ensures that you will be able to effectively leverage classes and community in your short time before graduation to achieve your goals.
- Understanding of the role of information technology in inequity and injustice, and participation in changing that role. This might include evidence of knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion in technology, or evidence of engaging in teaching, mentorship, activism, or community-organizing that amplifies equity and justice in technology. Rationale: this ensures that you resonate with the mission of social justice underlying much of the iSchool’s teaching, research and service.
- Ability to successfully learn in classes related to their ambitions. We will read your academic transcripts to assess this, but you may also use your statement to share any useful context about your transcripts (e.g., grades you’re particularly proud of, quarters that should be ignored because of a hardship). Rationale: this ensures that you have the prior knowledge sufficient to thrive in our courses.
We’ll look to your statement for evidence of all of the above. The only exception is the last criterion, which we’ll evaluate first by using your statement to determine your ambitions, and then by evaluating relevant grades in your transcripts. What courses are relevant depends on what you want to do: aspiring software engineers should have a strong grade in a relevant programming course; aspiring data scientists should have a strong grade in a statistics or data science course. For students interested in biomedical health informatics, design, product management, research, and other areas, relevant courses will vary. Poor grades in an irrelevant subject, or a few poor grades in a relevant subject, do not matter: after all, poor grades are often a measure of other unrelated things, like hardship, transitions to college, and other factors that don’t tell us much about your ability to succeed in the future. Therefore, there is no one perfect transcript, just positive indicators of an ability to learn what you want to learn. (Note: we do not consider your GPA, only individual grades relevant to your ambitions).
Since we read the statement for all five criteria, tell us your story clearly and coherently. Do not just write five paragraphs for the five criteria; integrate them into an integrated narrative that helps the committee see how they relate. For example, sharing information about your experiences with information in school, work, and life might simultaneously demonstrate your ambitions, your understanding of equity and justice in technology, and your ambitions, all at once. 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, 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 3,000 characters, 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.
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 five 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.