Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission and financial aid without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability, or genetic information.
Evidence considered by each admissions committee includes not only the quality of previous course work but also its relevance to the applicant's prospective program. Research experience in the discipline is always viewed favorably.
The Graduate School is strongly interested in recruiting, enrolling, retaining, and graduating students from diverse backgrounds. Applications for admission by students from diverse backgrounds to any of the Graduate School's degree programs are encouraged and welcomed. To the greatest extent possible, students with disabilities are integrated into the student population as equal members.
Degree programs set their own application deadlines, which must be no later than January 15. Many deadlines are much earlier; applicants should check with their prospective programs. It is generally advantageous to the applicant to complete the application well in advance of the deadline.
Admissions and financial aid awards are for a specific academic year; students who do not matriculate that year must normally reapply. Admitted students can request a deferral of admission for up to one year, but such special requests require approval both of the admitting program and of the Graduate School. Applicants to whom admission is not offered may reapply after gaining additional evidence of qualification.
Degree programs in Arts & Sciences rarely admit applicants for the spring semester. Students interested in beginning graduate study in the spring should consult their prospective program's faculty and staff.
The application is available online through the Graduate School website.
Applications are ready for final consideration after the following items have been submitted:
- The application.
- Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate courses taken by the applicant. The application review process will be greatly expedited by uploading unofficial copies of transcripts. Official transcripts will be required before an offer of admission will be made.
- Official TOEFL scores (for international applicants whose native language is not English).
- Three reference forms and letters of recommendation completed by persons closely acquainted with the applicant, preferably those who have recently taught the student in relevant subjects.
- Application fee or fee waiver.
- Any additional material or interview required by the degree program.
Admissions recommendations are made by the faculty of each degree-granting program. Disciplines naturally require different preparation and various aptitudes in their applicants, so the admissions process is necessarily decentralized.
Students may be admitted to study for the PhD degree directly from baccalaureate study or after undertaking other graduate or professional education, whether at Washington University or at another accredited institution.
Admission of International Students
International students considering application to Washington University for graduate study should have a general familiarity with academic practices and university customs in the United States. All international students are required to present evidence of their ability to support themselves financially during graduate study. International students whose native language is not English must submit score reports from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The test should be taken in time for results to reach Washington University directly from ETS before the application deadline.
To be eligible for a TOEFL waiver the applicant must have completed a full-time bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited university located in the United States. Please note that the entire program of study must have been completed at the institution.
Categories of Admission
Students are admitted to the Graduate School as full-time candidates for a specific degree program. There are also two ways to take graduate courses without admission to candidacy for a degree: as a Student Not Candidate for a Degree (SNCD) or as an Unclassified Graduate Student.
Student Not Candidate for a Degree (SNCD)
SNCD admission may be granted to qualified students who hold a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, who wish to enroll in graduate courses on a non-degree basis, and who receive approval from a degree program. Examples include international exchange students who are studying at the university for a limited duration, students in good standing at other graduate schools, and students who wish to test their capabilities in a graduate setting. Students in this category are assigned faculty advisers and are accorded the same privileges as degree candidates. Applicants for SNCD study in the Graduate School should follow all application procedures outlined in the section headed "Application Process." Continuation as a Student Not Candidate for a Degree is subject to the same academic and other standards that apply to degree candidates. In special cases, SNCD students might be eligible for financial aid.
Unclassified Graduate Student
A student who wishes to enroll for selected graduate-level courses without admission to the Graduate School is generally permitted to do so by registering as an Unclassified Graduate Student with the registrar of the Graduate School. Application for admission is not required for such registration, and permission to register as an Unclassified Graduate Student does not constitute admission. Permission to take more than 6 hours of graduate credit in any one program requires the approval of that program's director of graduate studies. Unclassified students are not eligible for student services, including financial aid.
Acceptance of Admission and Award Offers
Washington University, along with most other graduate schools in the United States, subscribes to the following resolution of the Council of Graduate Schools:
Acceptance of an offer of financial support (such as a graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or assistantship) for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both student and graduate school expect to honor. In that context, the conditions affecting such offers and their acceptance must be defined carefully and understood by all parties.
Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution. In those instances in which a student accepts an offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institutions and organizations subscribing to the above Resolution that a copy of this Resolution or a link to the URL should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, and assistantship offer.
Students to whom admission and financial awards are offered in March are requested to give notice in writing of the acceptance or rejection of their offers no later than April 15. Students to whom offers are made after April 1 are asked to reply within two weeks of receipt of the notice. Offers can be withdrawn if the deadline passes without any response from the student. Requests to extend deadlines or to reinstate withdrawn offers should be addressed to the degree program, which must endorse them before forwarding them to the Graduate School dean for final approval.