College Admissions

Washington’s public and private four-year colleges and universities, 34 community and technical colleges, and an array of private career schools offer state residents an array of postsecondary educational opportunities.

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 to students from any educational background. It is important to note that some admission standards do apply, however. 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.

Required high school courses are known as the College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR). Completing the CADR courses does not guarantee admission to one of the state's six baccalaureate intuitions. The CADR courses are one of a number of criteria institutions consider when making admissions decisions.

Washington Administrative Code (WAC 392-415-070) requires that courses meeting or satisfying the core course requirements be designated with a “B” on students’ standardized high school transcripts.

Because the term "core course" may have different meanings depending upon context, the term "College Academic Distribution Requirements" (CADR) is used to describe those courses that meet the minimum requirements and, therefore, should carry the “B” designation on the transcript.

Each school district is responsible for determining which of its high school courses meet CADR guidelines and for ensuring that “B” designations are included on transcripts.

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

Transfer Pathways

Many Washington students initially enroll at a community or technical college, with the intention to transfer to a four-year institution. Many other students transfer between four-year institutions, or from four- to two-year institutions.

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.

The 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.

  • General Education
    • General education courses cover a broad range of basic subjects.​
    • The knowledge and reasoning skills gained through these courses generally is considered an essential base from which to attain further, more specific education. These courses make up from 60 to 70 quarter credits of an associate degree, or the first two years of a bachelor's degree.
  • Preparation for Major Courses
    • Additional credits required for an associate degree usually focus on a specific area of emphasis. Several 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 also are expected to complete some major-specific preparatory courses in the first two years. Some programs such as engineering require a comparatively large number of major-specific preparatory courses. Others, such as history, require fewer.