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College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADRs)

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

CADRs 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, may also be counted as one credit for comparable course content.

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 CADR credit)
  • Total: 4 credits

World Languages

  • High school: 1 credit of Spanish
  • Community college: 5-credit course SPAN 102 (counts as 1 CADR 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 CADR. A grade of “pass” in a “pass/not pass” will also count. However, the UW recommends that CADR courses be completed with a letter or numerical grade. This is especially true if you are completing a CADR by taking a college course, because you may want to apply the college courses towards requirements for your major or University or college graduation requirements, and grading restrictions may apply.

If you are using a college course to satisfy the mathematics requirement, specific restrictions on grading apply. See Mathematics.

English

Four credits of study are required in English.

If taken in high school, at least three of the four required CADR credits must be 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, the 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 reading 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, refugees or undocumented students 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 the alternative English requirements for more information.

Mathematics

Three credits of study are required in mathematics.

If taken in high school, coursework must be completed in at least the level of algebra, geometry and second-year 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 high school.

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

If your high school preparation in mathematics was insufficient and you plan to make up the mathematics requirement through college coursework, you must complete one of the courses 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

Three credits of study are required in social sciences/social studies.

If taken in high school, coursework is required in history or any of the social sciences, e.g., anthropology, contemporary world problems, economics, geography, government, political science, psychology, sociology.

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 will count towards the requirement, e.g., anthropology, economics, ethnic studies, history, philosophy, political science, psychology or sociology.

World languages

Two credits of study are required in world languages.

If taken in high school, 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 United Kingdom and the U.S.
  • International applicants who entered the U.S. education system prior to the eighth 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, 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

A minimum of two credits of study are required in lab science.

If taken in high school, 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

One credit of study is required in a math-based quantitative course during the senior year. This requirement is for freshman applicants only.

If completed in high school, 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

One-half (0.5) credit or one trimester of study is required in the fine, visual or performing arts.

If completed in high school, the credit should 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
  • Architectural history courses.

Academic elective

One-half (0.5) credit or one trimester of study is required in an academic elective.

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