Office of Admissions

College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR)

All freshman and transfer applicants must complete a minimum level of preparation in six subject areas. This requirement ensures that students entering the UW have an appreciation for the liberal arts and are adequately prepared to succeed in college.

 
Subject Credits Required
English 4
Mathematics 3
Social Sciences/Social Studies 3
World Languages 2
Lab Science 2
Senior Year Math-Based Quantitative Course 1
Fine, Visual, or Performing Arts 0.5
Academic Elective 0.5

Introduction

CADR are admission requirements. Therefore, they must be satisfactorily completed before the first quarter of enrollment at the UW.

Almost all applicants will have satisfied CADR through coursework completed in high school (generally defined as grades 9-12 in the U.S.). However, students who completed a portion of the CADR in high school may supplement high school courses with qualifying college courses, as long as they are completed before enrolling at the UW.

CADR completed in high school are expressed as high school credits. In general, at the college level, five credits on a quarter system (or three credits on a semester system) equals one high school credit. Usually, one CADR credit represents content covered in a full year course. Alternative scheduling systems, such as block schedules, can also result in one credit awards being granted for comparable course content covered over various period of times eg over a semster rather than full year.

Examples of Combining High School + College Coursework

English

  • High School: 3 credits of English
  • Community college: 5-credit English composition or literature course (counts as 1 credit)
  • Total: 4 credits

World Languages

  • High School: 1 credit of Spanish
  • Community college: 5-credit course SPAN 102 (counts as 1 credit and attainment of second-year level)
  • Total: 2 credits

Grading Restrictions

In general, you must attain at minimum a passing grade (including D) to satisfy a college academic distribution requirement. Also permissible is a grade of Pass in a course taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis. However, the UW recommends that CADR courses be completed with a letter or numerical grade. Additionally, if you are completing a CADR by taking coursework through a college, you are strongly encouraged to choose a letter or numerical grade, because you may later want to apply the college courses towards requirements for your major or University or college graduation requirements, for which grading restrictions pertain.

Applicants using a college course to satisfy the mathematics requirement: specific restrictions on grading apply. See Mathematics.

English 4

If completed in high school

Four credits of coursework are required, at least three of which must be in college-preparatory composition or literature.

  • One of the four credits may be satisfied by courses in drama as literature, public speaking, debate, journalistic writing, business English, or English as a Second Language (ESL).
  • Courses that are generally not acceptable include those identified as remedial or applied (such as acting, basic English skills, developmental reading, library, newspaper staff, remedial English, review English, vocabulary, yearbook/annual).

If made up through college coursework

College coursework must be at the 100 level or higher. For the composition/literature component, generally any course with an English or Writing prefix is acceptable.

  • One of the four credits may be satisfied by a college course in speech, drama as literature, journalistic writing, business English, ESL, or engineering/technical writing.
  • Courses such as developmental or speed reading, vocabulary, or remedial English are not acceptable.
  • English courses are considered equivalent to ESL unless taken in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the U.S.

Guidelines for applicants whose first language is not English

There are several options for U.S. citizens, permanent residents or refugees whose first language is not English or who attended school in a non-English speaking country. English-speaking countries are defined as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the U.S.

Please consult Alternative English Requirements for more information.

Mathematics 3

If completed in high school

Three credits of study are required, at least at the level of algebra, geometry, and second-year level algebra.

Mathematics coursework taken in the senior year may overlap with the Senior Year Math-Based Quantitative coursework requirement.

An algebra course completed in the last year of junior high school may partially satisfy the requirement if the second-year level of algebra is completed in secondary school.

  • Arithmetic, pre-algebra, business math, and statistics will not count toward the requirement.

If made up through college coursework

If your high school preparation in mathematics was insufficient, you must complete one of the courses listed below:

  • A course in intermediate algebra. At Washington community colleges, qualifying courses in intermediate algebra are listed as equivalent to MATH 098 in the UW Equivalency Guide. The course must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better, even though it does not transfer to the UW as college credit and the grade earned in the course is not used in computing the Transfer GPA.
  • A course in trigonometry. The course must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.
  • Mathematics courses with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (except statistics courses). This includes any higher-level math courses such as elementary functions, calculus, and beyond.

Social Sciences/Social Studies 3

If completed in high school

Three credits of study are required in history or in any of the social sciences, e.g., anthropology, contemporary world problems, economics, geography, government, political science, psychology, sociology.

Credit for religion courses, consumer economics, student government, or community service will not count towards the requirement.

If made up through college coursework

Courses in the social sciences—e.g., anthropology, economics, ethnic studies, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology-will count toward the requirement.

World Languages 2

If completed in high school

Two credits are required. The two credits must be devoted to a single language, and applicants must progress through a second-year level course.

  • The World Languages requirement will be considered satisfied for applicants who complete their education through the seventh grade in school(s):
    • where English was not the language of instruction and
    • in countries other than Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S.
  • International applicants who entered the U.S. education system prior to the 8th grade must satisfy the world languages requirement.

Any natural language that has been formally studied may be used to satisfy this requirement, including American Sign Language (ASL, the language of the deaf community), and languages no longer spoken, such as Latin and ancient Greek. However, neither computer “languages” nor forms of deaf signing aside from ASL are acceptable.

A world languages course taken in the eighth grade may satisfy one credit of the requirement if the second-year level course is completed in high school.

If made up through college coursework

For purposes of admission, each quarter of language in college is considered equivalent to one credit in high school. Applicants who have never studied a world language will need to complete ten quarter credits of a single world language. However, an applicant who studied French for one credit in high school needs to complete only the second quarter (e.g., FREN 102) or the second semester of a first-year language sequence. Of course, you may prefer to begin with 101 to refresh your memory.

Lab Science 2

If completed in high school

A minimum of two credits of laboratory science is required. At least one of the two credits must be in biology, chemistry, or physics. Students typically take this full credit course in two successive high school semesters. Additionally, at least one of the two credits of laboratory science must be an algebra-based science course. The principles of technology courses taught in Washington State high schools may apply toward the laboratory science requirement. Additionally, courses identified by the school district as laboratory science courses — astronomy, environmental science, geological science, genetics, marine science — may also apply toward the additional credit of laboratory science requirement.

Lab science coursework taken in the senior year may overlap with the Senior Year Math-Based Quantitative coursework requirement.

If made up through college coursework

College science courses with a lab in departments such as astronomy, atmospheric science, biological structure, biology, botany, chemistry, environmental science (but not environmental studies), genetics, geology, oceanography, physical anthropology, physical geography, physics, or zoology will count toward this requirement.

Senior Year Math-Based Quantitative Course 1

If completed in high school

This requirement is for freshman applicants only.

The goal of this requirement is to have students take a meaningful math or quantitative course during the senior year, so that their skills don’t atrophy. More important, math opens doors: students who continue to study math throughout high school will find they have the widest choices when it comes to majors when they enter the UW.

One credit of math-based quantitative coursework is required in the senior year. This requirement may be met in many ways:

  • If the third year of the minimum mathematics CADR is being completed in the senior year, such as intermediate algebra (Algebra II) or Integrated Math III
  • By completing an advanced level math course (pre-calculus, math analysis, calculus)
  • By completing a math-based quantitative course (statistics)
  • By completing an algebra-based science course (chemistry, physics)
  • By completing an AP Computer Science course

In some cases, a single course may fulfill two requirements. For example, a single chemistry course with a lab taken in the senior year may apply toward the lab science requirement as well as the Senior Year Math-Based Quantitative course requirement.

If made up through college coursework

Comparable college courses in math (for example, pre-calculus) or science (chemistry, physics ) will meet the requirement.

Fine, Visual, or Performing Arts 0.5

If completed in high school

One-half credit or one trimester of study is required in the fine, visual, or performing arts, to be chosen from art appreciation, band, ceramics, choir, dance, dramatic performance and production, drawing, fiber arts, graphic arts, metal design, music appreciation, music theory, orchestra, painting, photography, print making, or sculpture.

Courses generally not accepted include architecture, color guard, creative writing, drafting, drill team, fashion design, foreign languages, interior design, sewing, speech, woodworking, and yearbook.

If made up through college coursework

One course, chosen from the following subjects, will satisfy the requirement. Two college credits (quarter or semester system) are sufficient.

  • Art, art history, cinema/filmmaking, dance, music, photography
  • Drama, except drama as literature courses.
  • Architecture, except architectural history courses.

Academic Elective 0.5

 If completed in high school

Academic electives are courses in any of the six core subject areas — English, Mathematics, Social Science, Foreign Language, Science, and the Arts — beyond the minimum number of credits specified. An additional half-credit of study is required. For almost all students taking a college preparatory curriculum, this requirement will take care of itself.

If made up through college coursework

Three quarter credits (2 semester credits), chosen from any of the six subject areas, satisfy this requirement.