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Graduate Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have a question about the required minimum GPA, English proficiency level, or degree. Who should I ask about this?

The Graduate School sets these minimum admissions requirements for applicants, so if you have questions, please ask them first. Also make sure to read the Graduate School Admissions FAQ, which will answer many of your questions.

Q: Are there are specific page limits or topic limits for the writing sample? How long should it be? What format should it be in?

A: There are no specific requirements for the writing sample, either in terms of topic or page limits. Many writing samples are between 20-50 pages, but this department does not have an official limit. In terms of topic, applicants are usually best served by sending in a sample that relates to their specialty and area of interest, but again, there are no specific requirements. The writing sample should demonstrate the best of your writing and research abilities.

Q: Which tests do you accept for English language proficiency?

A: The list of tests and minimum scores can be found in the Graduate School's Memo 8.

Q: I haven’t received my TOEFL scores by the application deadline. What should I do?

AL&L requires that applicants submit self-reported TOEFL scores, but you can update your application with your scores after the application is submitted. You should make sure to send the official scores to the University of Washington by using the institution code 4854. For TOEFL scores, please contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to order your official TOEFL score report if necessary. TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. Usually, we will accept official TOEFL scores until the end of December. However, please keep in mind that late scores may affect your chances of admission.

Q: How can I check the status of my application and see if my scores or letters of recommendation have been received?

A: To check on whether your TOEFL sores and/or electronic letters of recommendation have been received, return to your application website. Once the scores have been received by the University of Washington the receipt of the item will appear on your screen.  Note that it takes up to one week from the  time you finalize your application for your scores to be matched to your application. You will also be able to see on this page whether your application is complete.

Q: Do letters of recommendation have to be from professors? Can I get a letter of recommendation from a colleague, a boss, or a friend?

While we have no specific requirement about this, it is strongly recommended that letters come from an academic source, rather than from a professional contact. Academic letters will carry more weight with professors. If this is impossible, however, we will accept letters from other sources.

 Q: Can letters of recommendation be written in languages other than English?

No. The letter of recommendation must be written in English or translated into English. In order to create a translation of the letter, someone must create a translation (either the applicant or a professional translator.) The original letter-writer should then sign the translation and send the translation directly to the department. You could also have the letter-writer send both the original letter and the translation. Basically, the important thing is that the letter come directly from the letter-writer, so we know that they approve of the letter.

Q: I don’t speak Japanese/Chinese, etc, but still want to do an MA degree in that language in your department. Is that possible?

A: Students admitted to our MA programs are expected to come in with strong language abilities (equivalent to at least 4 years of college level language classes). Students lacking such preparation may be admitted to the M.A. program provisionally, and will be required to make up the deficiencies during their first year of residence.

This is because our MA program is primarily designed for people who already have a strong undergraduate preparation in the language. If you have a limited language ability but want to learn it as an MA student, one option would be an MA through the Jackson School of International Studies. The MA programs at JSIS focus primarily on history and the social sciences, and include language learning classes. Please see here more information. 

Q: I’m a prospective graduate student and would like to arrange a visit to UW. Is that possible?

A: Yes, it’s possible to visit UW, meet with professors, and possibly even sit in on a graduate or undergraduate level course. Please contact to set up a visit.

Q: I received an MA degree from a university in the United States or the UK. Do I still need to submit proof of English proficiency?

A: If you received an MA degree in the United States, you meet the requirements for admission to Graduate School at the University of Washington, so you would not need to submit TOEFL scores. However, you would not necessarily be eligible to work as a TA at the university. To be eligible to teach at UW, you must meet additional requirements such as having a BA from an English-language institution or demonstrating spoken English proficiency with a test score of 26 or above on the speaking portion of the TOEFL-iBT.  Therefore you may still want to submit a TOEFL score at the time of your application, so that it is on file with the university.

For more information, see Memo 8 for admissions requirements:

See Memo 15 for TA requirements:

Q: I made a mistake and want to change something in my application – letter of recommendation, statement of purpose, etc. OR I wasn’t able to upload a document or submit a letter of recommendation! What should I do?

A: If you have already submitted your application, you can send the document to Please keep in mind that any letters of recommendation must come directly from the letter writer.

Q: Do you require the GRE for admission?

A: No, we do not require the GRE and we do not take it into consideration in our admissions decisions.