College Intel

Washington University in St. Louis Admissions

The gothic Brookings Hall is featured at Washington University in St. Louis.

There are a lot of universities in the United States that are named after George Washington, but Washington University in St. Louis is certainly the most esteemed. In fact, in 1976, the Board of Trustees added the phrase “in St. Louis” to the university’s official title to avoid any confusion with the many other uses of the first U.S. president’s name in higher education. As a hub of innovation and scientific discovery, WashU has been affiliated with 26 Nobel Laureates and 11 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Notable alumni at the school include playwright Tennessee Williams, former director of Planned Parenthood Leana Wan, and Founder of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Charles Nagel. Faculty who have taught at WashU include Gerti Cory, the first woman to be awarded a Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, Joseph W. Kennedy, co-discoverer of plutonium, and Mona Van Duyn, former U.S. poet Laureate.

7,800 undergraduate students are enrolled at WashU in four schools: the College of Arts & Sciences, the Olin School of Business, the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, and the McKelvey School of Engineering. The university has a reputation for excellence when it comes to its Architecture, Social Work, Genetics, and Physical Therapy departments, its generous financial aid program, the beauty and livability of its Collegiate Gothic campus, and for its research programs, which draw the participation of over 60% of the undergraduate student body.

All undergraduate students must fulfill general education requirements in “College Writing,” “Applied Numeracy,” “Social Contrasts,” “Writing-Intensive Courses,” as well as area requirements in the “Humanities,” “Natural Sciences and Mathematics,” “Social Sciences,” and “Linguistic and Cultural Diversity.”

Washington University was established in 1853 by prominent members of the St. Louis community in order to address the lack of Midwestern institutions of higher learning. Unlike many other universities of its caliber, WashU did not have a primary benefactor or religious affiliation at the time of its inception. The Board of Trustees chose to name the university after George Washington to strategically position the new institution as a force of unity amidst widespread national tension in the years prior to the Civil War.

During World War II, WashU played a pivotal role, in collaboration with the University of Chicago, in conducting research for the Manhattan Project. As the university continued to expand westward in Missouri and create a greater infrastructure to support a residential college community, it also expanded its reputation for academic achievement. As the recipient of nearly one billion in research funding each year, WashU has played integral roles in many contemporary scientific innovations, including contributing 25% of finished sequences to the human genome project. Additionally, it has hosted more presidential debates in the 21st century than any other institution.

Campus life is replete with over 300 student organizations, a long history of traditions, and an active social scene. The Washington University Student Union has one of the highest annual budgets of a collegiate student government, which is spent on a biannual concert series, weekly lectures, a campus television station, and a variety of extracurricular offerings. The a cappella scene is particularly strong, with over 13 student groups. Athletes, known as the Bears, compete in NCAA Division III. Around 14% of students are involved in Greek life. Perhaps most notable among the student traditions is Thurtene Carnival, the oldest and largest student-run carnival in the United States.

Admission into the private research university has become increasingly competitive in recent years; the Class of 2027 drew 32,240 applicants, and 3,855 were accepted, for an overall acceptance rate of 12%. The Undergraduate Admissions philosophy reads as follows: “We want to know who you are and what matters to you, so we can help you direct your talents, drive, and energy toward becoming a successful, contributing global citizen who works to improve your communities and your world.” With help from Ivy Coach, demonstrating your accordance with these holistic criteria will get you one step closer to sporting red and green!


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