Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a first-year or transfer student?

A first-year student is someone who earned college credits while also fulfilling high school requirements. All first-year students will need to fulfill the requirements for first-year admission; this includes Running Start students who earned an associate degree while in high school. First-year applicants may apply for admission as early as the fall of their senior year of high school, or may apply years after graduation. 

A transfer student is someone who attempted college credit after graduating from high school or earning a high school equivalency certificate or diploma such as the GED (excluding credit earned the summer after high school graduation). Students who earned college credits while also fulfilling high school requirements will be considered first-year students and will need to fulfill the requirements for first-year admission. This includes Running Start students who earned an associate degree while in high school.

Are SAT or ACT scores required?

While your SAT or ACT scores are not the most important part of your application, they are taken into consideration along with other elements of your application such as your high school work – including the grades you earned and the courses you chose to take – and your essay and activities list.  All First-year and Running Start applicants are required to submit either ACT or SAT test scores as part of their application for admission.  We do not prefer one test over the other. ACT or SAT scores can be sent directly from the testing agency or you can have your high school send them with your transcript.  To be received on time, you should take the test at least six weeks before the application deadline

Should you choose to take the SAT more than once, Western will superscore by taking your highest score on each section of the test on any date you took the test to form your highest average score. We are unable to superscore between old (pre-March 2016) and new (March 2016 and later) versions of the test and we do not superscore the ACT. Western does not require the writing portion on the ACT nor do we require the optional SAT Essay section of the redesigned SAT. Visit our Application Instructions page for more details about submitting test scores.


Can I submit an electronic or unofficial transcript with my application?

First-year student applicants may submit either an official or unofficial high school transcript at the time of application. In addition, applicants can upload an electronic copy of their transcript with the online application. Additional details about submitting transcripts are available in the application instructions.

Transfer students must submit official college transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, even if you do not expect or desire to transfer credit. For additional information, please review the application instructions.

Do you accept the "Common Application" or "Coalition Application"?

No, but we've got something that's equally helpful. Like many other schools, Western uses CollegeNet's ApplyWeb for our online application. This means that you can use the same account login and password for Western as you use for University of Washington, Washington State University, Evergreen State College, Pacific Lutheran University, and many others across the country. Using the same account login and password may allow questions that are common between the applications to fill in automatically.

How do I get technical support when using the online application? (I forgot my login and/or password. I need help paying online. I can't navigate between the form pages.)

For technical support of the online application, please visit the ApplyWeb Help page. You will find help with many technical issues, such as signing in, online payments, or form and navigation issues. You can also use this link to submit your specific question, which will be answered to you by email. If you prefer not to use the Applyweb Help page, you can send an email directly to -- be sure to include your full contact information with your questions.

How do I get you my transcripts and other application materials?
  1. Your high school Registrar can directly email your final high school transcript to   
  2. If your high school is partner in the Naviance/Parchment/SCOIR e-transcript system, please use this electronic service to send your official transcript
  3. If you attended a Washington community college, please request those transcripts be sent electronically
  4. Other colleges and universities that send official transcripts electronically can send them to
  5. Official high school/college transcripts and/or test scores can be mailed to:

Office of Admissions
Western Washington University
516 High Street, MS 9009
Bellingham, WA 98225

How will I know if my application is complete?

You can verify if your transcripts, test scores and other information has arrived by checking your Application Status. This online service is available approximately two weeks after you submit your application. If your email or mailing address changes at any time after you submit your application for admission, you should notify the Office of Admissions so we can update your file.

I've been admitted! What happens now?

Congratulations! We have a First-Year Admitted Student website and a Transfer Admitted Student website  to help you finalize your decision, get to know us better, plan your finances, find a new home, prepare for orientation and registration, and tie up other loose ends.

If Running Start students are considered freshmen, does that mean my college credits won't transfer?

The same policies regarding the acceptance of transfer credit apply for Running Start students as for transfers and any transferable college credit (Running Start college credit, AP, IB, etc.) you earned will be considered in transfer to Western. To receive credit, official college transcripts and AP/IB scores are required. Running Start students who have completed college credit are encouraged to request an electronic college transcript be sent from the community college at the time of application.

What are the application requirements?

For first-year applicants: the completed application, including the essay; $60 application fee; high school transcript or certificate or diploma of high school equivalency (such as the GED), submitted electronically or by mail; and ACT or SAT scores are required. Additional information or letters of recommendation are optional. See our complete first-year application instructions for details.

For transfer applicants with less than 45 quarter (30 semester) transferable credits: the completed application, including the essay; $60 application fee; high school transcript or certificate or diploma of high school equivalency (such as the GED); ACT or SAT scores; and official transcripts from all colleges attended are required. See our complete transfer application instructions for details.

For transfers applicants with more than 45 quarter (30 semester) transferable credits: the completed application, including essay; $60 application fee, and official transcripts from all colleges attended are required.  See our complete transfer application instructions for details. 

What does the Admissions Committee look for when reviewing my application?

Of course your academic performance – including the courses you've taken, grades and grade trends – is important in the admissions decision. But, we also know there is a lot more to you than just your GPA and test scores. We want to learn what makes you, you: we'd like to hear how you’ve been involved with your school or community, how you spend your time, and what interests, passions and talents you’ll bring to campus. We are looking for students who will take an active role in their education and want to make meaningful contributions to the Western community. The application’s essay and activities list is your chance to help us learn more about you during our comprehensive application review process. 

What is the difference between Early Action and Regular Decision?

First-year and Running Start applicants who complete their admission application by November 1 will be considered for Early Action, which guarantees an Admissions response by December 31 as well as expedited scholarship review and financial aid notification. Like all other admitted students, those admitted to Western via Early Action will have until May 1 to confirm their intent to enroll. Please note that financial aid files must be complete before final awards can be processed.  

First-year students who apply by our Regular Decision Deadline of January 31 will be given full consideration for admission and scholarships and will be notified of their admission decision on a rolling basis.

All first-year students are guaranteed housing as long as they apply by the housing deadlines, however room assignment priority is based on the date that you apply to Western.

What should I expect after I apply for admission?

1. If you apply online you will receive an acknowledgement email within an hour of successfully submitting the application and payment of the application fee.

2. Within two weeks of receiving your application we will send you an email that includes your student number (Western ID) and instructions on how to check your application status online using the Application Status website. This website lists the application items we've received (such as transcripts, test scores, etc.), as well as any missing items needed to make your application complete. This website will not display your decision.

3. You will be notified in writing of an admissions decision. While some students are notified earlier, the majority of decisions are made after the application deadline. Students can generally expect to receive a decision within six weeks after the deadline. We appreciate your patience in this process to ensure every application is carefully reviewed.

Are any scholarships available?

A variety of scholarships are available to new and continuing Western students. A limited number of scholarships are awarded through the Office of Admissions and are based primarily on the student’s academic accomplishments, involvements and may also include financial need.  Students may browse Western's Scholarship Center website for a current listing of all scholarships.

Many academic departments also provide scholarships to new and continuing students based on previous academic performance, audition, or other criteria; students should contact the department in which they are planning to major to inquire about the availability of department scholarships.

How do I apply for financial aid at Western?

Western's Financial Aid Office makes every effort to help eligible students meet their educationally related financial needs through grants, scholarships, student employment, loans, or some combination of these student aid programs. Students should apply for financial aid well in advance of the January 31 priority deadline for the following academic year. Submitting the FAFSA after the priority deadline may limit your financial aid eligibility. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available October 1 for the upcoming academic year and should be completed as early as possible. While you may obtain the FAFSA packet from your high school counselor or college financial aid office, the fastest and best way is to apply online. Western's Title IV number is 003802.

How easy is it to find a job while I am a student?

The Student Employment Center helps work-study and non work-study students find jobs both on and off campus. Well over 3,000 students hold jobs in a variety of different areas on campus. Students find employment in positions as diverse as web page designer, computer programmer, food service worker, departmental assistant, Residential Advisor, student advisor, kayak guide, and grounds crew member.

What is Western’s tuition and total cost of attendance?

Up-to-date tuition, fee, housing and other costs for both Washington residents and non-residents is available on our website.

Will I be able to afford Western?

Western is committed to offering an excellent education at an affordable cost and is ranked as one of the 100 best values in public colleges (Kiplinger's Personal Finance). Western helps reduce the cost of attendance for students who cannot afford full tuition, on-campus housing and meals, books, and related expenses. Students who submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by Western's priority financial aid deadline of January 31 are considered for need-based aid in the form of grants, tuition waivers, work-study employment, and loans.

Nearly 85% of low and lower middle income students - as determined by the FAFSA - who are Washington residents that applied for financial aid are generally awarded need-based grants, waivers and scholarships that exceed the full cost of tuition and fees. These waivers and grants are free money, meaning they do not need to be repaid. The remaining grants, waivers, scholarships, on-campus employment and loans help cover additional expenses such as housing, meals, books and related expenses.

Western recognizes that affordability is also a concern for middle income families. Partial tuition waivers, loans, student employment, and scholarships help these families to reduce the cost of attendance as well.

Does Western have an orientation program?

Yes! Our orientation programs give students an overview of campus resources and services, provide insight into the registration and advising process at Western, and facilitate meeting with an academic advisor. For more information about orientation programs, visit the New Student Services/Family Outreach website.

First-Year Students: first-year students admitted for fall quarter and their families are invited to participate in Fall Advising & Orientation. This two-day orientation, advising and registration session takes place on a variety of dates in August and once in September, before the start of the fall quarter. Students will receive their invitation to register after they confirm their intent to enroll at Western. First-year students entering winter and spring quarters will attend on campus Advising & Orientation the Monday before classes begin.

Transfer Students: transfer students admitted for fall quarter are invited to participate in Transitions, an orientation, advising, and registration program held each July. Students will receive their invitation to Transitions after they confirm their intent to enroll at Western.  Transfer students admitted for summer, winter or spring quarter are also invited to attend an Advising & Orientation program, generally held one or two months prior to the start of the term. Students will receive their invitation to attend one of these sessions after they confirm their intent to enroll at Western.


How can I get more information about my areas of academic interest?

Check out our comprehensive majors pages, which provide an excellent overview of all 160+ majors. Each major page links to program of study details including the courses and credits that comprise each degree and a personal contact whom you can ask questions. For additional information you can also visit department websites and reference the detailed program of study available for each major in our online catalog.

Am I required to live on campus my first-year?

No, you are not required to live on campus, but over 90% of first-year students lives on campus and it is definitely recommended. Not only does it make it easier to meet new people and to take advantage of all that campus has to offer, but living on campus makes it easier to focus on academics as you have someone to cook your food, clean your bathroom, and keep you informed. We can pretty much guarantee you won't have it so good off-campus.

Western's residence halls are among the nicest in the country – including great facilities, tremendous choice, a spectacular location, and a very welcoming community. On-campus housing is available to all interested students, which includes 93% of first-year students and nearly 4,000 students overall. After the first year, many students continue to live on campus as it just is comfortable, convenient, and fun.

Priority for selecting where on campus you want to live is determined by the date we receive your application for admission.

How big is Western?

Western Washington University has approximately 15,000 students, 95% of our whom are undergraduates. Our 215-acre campus is located within easy walking distance of downtown Bellingham, the historic Fairhaven district, and Bellingham Bay.  You can learn more about Western by reviewing our Quick Facts.

How do I get more information about Western sent to me?

To receive more information about Western, complete the online request form and we will send you information to help you get to know Western better.  If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact us.

I would like to visit campus and talk with someone about admission.

There are many campus visit options available to you and your family. Please consult the visit section of our website for additional information about scheduling a campus visit. The Admissions Team page will allow you to identify and connect directly with your admissions counselor.

What kind of outdoor recreational opportunities are available?

Bellingham is an outdoor-lover's paradise. For the outdoor enthusiast, the San Juan Islands, Skagit River delta, and Mt. Baker National Forest and Ski and Snowboard Area are all at our doorstep. Nearby, Mt. Baker Ski Area has one of the longest seasons in the country (November - late-April), enjoyed world record snowfall during the 1998-1999 season, and is well regarded as the place where snowboarding began!

One great way to get into the outdoors is to visit the Outdoor Center, part of the Associated Students of Western. The student-run bike shop is the perfect place for a tune-up. The Outdoor Center also rents outdoor equipment ranging from backpacks and sleeping bags to snowshoes and snow skis. They also plan kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, snow-shoeing, snowboarding, biking, and sailing trips with trained student leaders to destinations all over the greater Whatcom County area.

Another location for great outdoor activity is the Lakewood recreational facility located on the shores of Lake Whatcom. The Lakewood facility is surrounded by 30 acres of wooded land and beach property owned by WWU. At Lakewood's Boathouse you can rent over 60 watercraft for as little as $3 a day, including kayaks, canoes, rowboats, sailboats, sailboards, Lasers, and Alphas. Or, just come to relax and swim off the docks!

Western's location is idea for fieldwork and outdoor research, with mountains, glaciers, rivers, saltwater, and a wide variety of other natural habitats in our backyard.

Where is Bellingham and what is it like?

A coastal city of 85,000, Bellingham is located 55 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and 90 miles north of Seattle. Our location between two major cities provides easy access for national and international visiting artists, scholars, and touring groups. The local music scene and arts community are great, with many places for live music, performances, and art. On and off-campus theatre and other performance opportunities are abundant, including the Up-Front Theater, owned by internationally known improv comedian Ryan Stiles.

The San Juan islands and Bellingham Bay lie directly to the west; Mt. Baker and the North Cascade mountain range are less than an hour east. Bellingham is the only city in Washington and Oregon to be designated a Trail Town USA by the American Hiking Society. In addition, Bellingham has also been rated nationally as one of the top 10 places to live for people in their 20's.

Please take a moment to check out our Life in Bellingham page to learn more about the city students love to call home.