College Admissions

College admissions decisions are made by individual colleges, and vary depending on the type of institution and other factors. While high school graduation (or the equivalent) is typically required, meeting high school graduation requirements is not the same as meeting college admissions standards.

Community and Technical Colleges

Washington offers broad access to students through its 34 community and technical colleges, whose open admissions policies are designed to eliminate barriers between students and postsecondary education. However, some admission standards do apply. Specific information can be obtained from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Baccalaureate Institutions

Students who aspire to attend a baccalaureate institution in Washington must apply for admission. Factors influencing admission include high school grade point averages, test scores, and extra-curricular activities. Read the full admission standards policy.

Required high school courses are known as the College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR). Washington Administrative Code (WAC 392-415-070requires that each school district determine which of its high school courses meet CADR requirements and ensure students' standardized high school transcripts designate such courses as meeting the requirements.

Completing CADR courses does not guarantee admission to one of the state's six baccalaureate institutions. Institutions consider a number of criteria when making admission decisions.

Minimum college admission standards for public baccalaureate institutions include: 

  • 2.0 GPA
  • Completion of CADR courses
  • Taking the SAT or ACT and having the scores sent directly to the college or university

Specific admission information for freshmen entering Washington's public baccalaureate institutions: 

Overview - Minimum College Admission Standards and College Academic Distribution Requirements

Detailed Version - College Academic Distribution Requirements

Transfer Pathways

Students take various paths to a certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree, or advanced degree. A large percentage of those who enter a four-year institution as freshmen graduate from that institution. Others may enroll at one four-year institution and then transfer to another. And still others start at a community college and transfer to a baccalaureate institution. Visit our Transfers page for more information.

Credits to Complete a Degree

To earn an associate degree at a community or technical college, a student must complete 90 quarter or 60 semester credits. By design, this is the same number of credits needed to complete the first two years of a bachelor's degree program.

A bachelor's degree generally requires completion of a total 180 quarter or 120 semester credits over a four-year period. Bachelor's and associate degrees require students to complete credits in two types of course material.

1. General Education: General education courses cover a broad range of basic subjects.​ These courses give students a strong foundation of knowledge and skills to draw from as they advance to deeper study in specific fields.

2. Preparation for Major Coursework:

  • Additional credits required for an associate degree usually focus on a specific area of emphasis. Associate transfer degrees prepare students to transfer to specific bachelor's degree programs at four-year colleges and universities. 
  • Students seeking a bachelor's degree are expected to complete major-specific preparatory courses in the first two years. Some programs, such as engineering, require more major-specific preparatory courses while others, such as history, require fewer.