First-Year Applicants

At Roger Williams, we welcome interest from new students who have the passion and drive to solve problems for the community and the world. We strive to be a diverse community and enroll students from across New England and throughout the world. Are you ready to join us?

What we look for

If you have not yet earned a high school diploma or equivalent, you will be considered as a first-year applicant to the university. The admission process for first-year students is a competitive and personalized process. While your academic performance (courses taken, grades received) is the most important factor, our admission committee considers all materials submitted and weighs all factors of the review process to assess the fullest context we can of who you are, what you have achieved so far, and ultimately making sure your preparation ensures a successful career at Roger Williams.

We seek students who want to bring their talents and abilities to Roger Williams and do more than just “earn a degree” or learn one specific major. Our core curriculum, along with our distinctive approach to experiential education, will stretch you in many directions in an exciting and dynamic learning environment. Our comprehensive (“holistic”) review of each student means that the Admission Committee reads and weighs all pieces of the submitted application. Every item we require provides a glimpse into the life you have led and allows us to imagine the impact you can have as a member of the Roger Williams community.

So what do we look for? We are looking for a glimpse of you through the way you present your application materials. We are excited to hear your story through the below materials you share with us.

  • Academic Preparation. We look at not only your grades earned, but consider the rigor of your school and courses, your grade trend over the years (improving? declining?) along with understanding the course subjects that are your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Activities and Involvement. How you spend your time outside the classroom, such as participation in school clubs, sports, jobs, or volunteering matter. We value the impact you have in the communities around you because that is a critical component of the RWU experience as well.
  • Essay. The application essay gives us an understanding of who you are. While it gives us a chance to hear you in your own words, we also use the essay to assess your level of writing (ie, grammar, spelling, and ability to communicate a thought).
  • Testing. Roger Williams is test optional* in our admission process. We recognize that standardized test scores are merely one measure of a student’s academic performance. In some cases, students feel that their high school transcript and other accomplishments are better representations of their ability and potential. Therefore, it is your choice to have test scores considered as a portion of our admission review.*  When filling out the Common Application, you will indicate your preference. Approximately 60-65% of applicants choose to share test scores as part of their application.

* Please note that the Rhode Island Department of Education requires minimum test score achievement for direct admission into the Elementary Education or Secondary Education majors. Students who do not meet the requirements or do not submit test scores will be considered for provisional admission or admission into the Undeclared Education program.

  • Portfolios. Some programs require supplemental materials such as portfolios and auditions, or specific preparatory courses for admittance. Prospective applicants should review program requirements outlined.
  • Letter(s) of recommendation. We only require one letter of recommendation but encourage more if they help tell your story. Letters of recommendation provide details from a school or community member that expand more upon something we have learned from the student's application in other places or tell us something entirely new. The best recommendations are personal and not just that the student is “a pleasure to have in class.”.
  • For International Students. Additionally, non-U.S. citizens and those without permanent residency status must also provide the following in the application process:
    • Please ensure all school transcripts and teacher evaluations are translated into English.
    • IELTS or TOEFL scores. Although RWU does not require the TOEFL or IELTS, taking the test is highly recommended when English is not your primary language. We will use these scores to determine the appropriate admission path: conditional admission (requiring an ESL program), Bridge admission (ESL prerequisite work at RWU), or direct admission (no ESL prerequisites required).

Meet us! You can help make the admission process a more personal experience. If you have any unique circumstances that can’t be explained through the above materials, call or visit us. We are glad to learn your story and offer help on how best to present it in your application to our Admission.  Sometimes, we may even call you for more information before we act on your application.

Next step:View Deadlines

Deadlines

We encourage you to apply as early as possible. By doing so, we can guide you through the rest of the scholarship and financial process, ensuring that you are able to receive full consideration for Roger Williams programs. Our Early Action allows you to apply by November 1 and receive our response by December 15. Additionally, Early Action application is highly encouraged of students considering our honors program.

 Early ActionRegular Decision
Application DeadlineNovember 15February 1
Admission Notification DateMid-DecemberRolling
FAFSA Priority DeadlineFebruary 1February 1
Honors ProgramPriority ConsiderationReviewed on a space available basis
Student Reply DateMay 1May 1

Various competitive scholarships require separate application and have differing deadlines for supporting documents to be submitted.

Requirements

High school students with earned college credit beyond secondary school should apply as freshman applicants. For best consideration for admission to the university, honors program, and all merit-based scholarship opportunities, students should apply under our Early Action program. Requirements for applying are as follows:

  1. A completed Common Application
  2. A $50 (U.S.) non-refundable application fee or fee waiver
  3. Official high school transcripts
  4. A minimum of one (1) letter of recommendation is required
  5. Standardized Test Scores: SAT or ACT submission for RWU students is optional for all students applying for admission except for Department of Education applicants. Rhode Island Department of Education requires applicants to the Department of Education to meet minimum test scores standards for teaching programs. Details for education program requirements are below. Additional details on our Standardized Test Policy can be found on our Test Optional Policy page.
  6. Portfolio. Special portfolio requirements exist for the following majors: Architecture, Creative Writing and Visual Arts.
  7. Students applying for financial aid should file the FAFSA (Federal & State Aid) no later than February 1. FAFSA is available for the upcoming year online as of October 1.

Major-Specific Requirements

Some programs require supplemental materials such as test scores, portfolios and auditions, or specific preparatory courses for admittance. Prospective applicants should review program requirements outlined below.

Candidates for the Elementary or Secondary Education Program

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While Roger Williams University is a test-optional institution, students applying to the Elementary and Secondary Education programs are required to submit either SAT or ACT scores in accordance with Rhode Island Department of Education guidelines. The Rhode Island Department of Education standardized test minimums are as follows:

OLD SATNEW SATACT
Critical Reading500EBRW550English20
Math520Math550Math20
Writing490   Reading21

Students who do not meet these thresholds may be considered for admission as an undeclared education student until he/she attains the necessary scores.

In addition, applicants to the Secondary Education program must select one of the following additional majors within the Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences: Biology, Chemistry, English, Foreign Languages, History, and double major in Dance Performance Studies and Secondary Education.

Candidates for the Architecture Program

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Architecture applicants must have completed a minimum of one year of geometry and two years of algebra in high school. Transfer students are encouraged to have successfully completed college-level calculus. Proficiency in trigonometry and physics is necessary for students to take required college-level courses in calculus and structural systems. Students who lack this proficiency are eligible to apply but must complete the necessary course work before taking calculus and structural systems. Courses taken at RWU in preparation for calculus and structural systems may not count toward degree requirements.

A portfolio of two- and three-dimensional work, showing evidence of creative ability, must be submitted by all applicants for admission. The portfolio (8-12 pieces of art work) should consist of a simple 8-1/2” x 11” folder containing the following: reproductions of original design projects, and reproductions of two- or three-dimensional work recently executed. This work may be reduced photo statically or may be photographed. Smaller pieces should be affixed to an 8-1/2” x 11” sheet. The portfolio becomes a permanent part of the candidate’s application and is not returned. Applicants are admitted on the basis of academic excellence and potential in areas relevant to the profession of architecture as demonstrated by the required materials submitted for admission. Portfolios may also be submitted on electronic media, preferably CD. Portfolios for Architecture may also be submitted through Slideroom.

Candidates for Performing Arts Programs

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Candidates applying to these programs should demonstrate achievement and career potential in areas of dance or theatre. Theatre program applicants should be prepared to audition during the freshman year. Dance Performance Studies applicants are required to audition prior to their application being reviewed. In order to complete the application process a student interested in Dance Performance Studies must have auditioned. To schedule an audition, please contact Jennifer Kendrigan in the Office of Admission at 401-254-3089.

Candidates for the Graphic Design Communications Program

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STANDARD PORTFOLIO

A portfolio on CD or mailed slides or samples. Portfolio submissions must be 18-20 pieces. The portfolio submissions should include computer-generated graphic design work; logos, posters, publications, websites, etc. In certain situations other media may be considered. Interview Optional.

-OR-

TARGETED PORTFOLIO

10-15 pieces* including the following 3 assignments:
* (a series would be considered one piece and should be identified as such on separate information sheet)

  • Photographic Story – Use a familiar object (no people) that has meaning in your daily life, create a visual story – fictitious or realistic – with that object in 5 images (considered one entry)
  • Collage – Create a color collage, approximately 8" x 8", from magazine clippings using a unique two-color scheme (should be created by hand not on the computer)
  • Signage – If your home or personal room was a museum, what would it be called and what would the sign look like? No computer type or computer rendering.

The following are optional.
If necessary to meet the minimum requirement, or if desired to broaden your portfolio, you may add two of these to your submission:

  • Visual Message – Create a distress/‘S.O.S.’ or ‘message in a bottle” letter. Using ONLY found type from magazines, newspapers, and/or other printed material such as menus or business cards as well as photographs of letters on a one-sided page. Size is up to you, mention the dimensions and rationale, if any, on the information sheet. No pictures.
  • Map your day – Using various mediums (not a computer) such as collage, pencil, ink, markers, pastels, watercolors, etc. create a visual map of your typical day.
  • Video – create a 20-60 second video that responds to the theme “Make/Think.”

Tips

The pieces included in your portfolio should be the best representation of you – how you think, how you solve problems, how you see the world, and how you visually compose. The work should be finished. Although there are no requirements as to media, it is recommended that work is diverse in nature and shows the breadth and depth of your experience and interests. If you do not have experience in one medium or another, then include the work that shows your strengths. Computer work is not necessarily the primary indicator of potential success in graphic design.

Method of submission

Digital files are the preferred format in either JPG or PDF on a CD. Good color copies will also be accepted but should be of high quality. Original material may be presented in a personal on-campus interview (contact department chair for an appointment). A URL of your online portfolio would also be acceptable.

Supporting material

Include an informational sheet that outlines the basic information of each portfolio piece including but not limited to when it was created and why, your concept or rationale and medium. You may also choose to include a brief statement on what you learned from creating the work and what would you do differently if you had the opportunity.

Portfolios for Graphic Design may be submitted through Slideroom.

Candidates for the Creative Writing Program

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Applicants must provide the following:

  1. Short story and/or (3) poems
  2. A 600-900 word statement that discusses how one book has influenced you as a writer

Portfolios for Creative Writing may be submitted through Slideroom.

Candidate for the Visual Arts Program

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A portfolio of two and/or three-dimensional work demonstrating evidence of an applicant’s creative potential is required for all applicants for admission to the B.A. or BFA in Visual Art Studies program.

The intent of the portfolio requirement is to allow the school to begin to estimate your emerging potential at this earliest stage of your arts education. Consistent with the mission of our program, Roger Williams University is interested in and celebrates the variety of expression that applicants demonstrate. Applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, and we appreciate this variety as a basis for beginning the study of Visual Arts at the college level.

Applicants must submit a portfolio of 10 to 20 recent artworks in photographic form with the application for admission. Applicants may submit color prints or digital reproductions on CD. Digital images need to be in a universally readable format such as JPG or PDF documents. All work should be labeled with the applicant’s name, the size of the original and the medium. Admission portfolios will not be returned. Portfolios for Visual Arts may be submitted through Slideroom.

Next step:Apply

Apply

For all first-year students, applying to RWU is completed using the online Common Application. Review the “What We Look For” section for useful info on how to prepare all the necessary materials.

Your primary choice is in deciding which admission program to utilize. Our non-binding Early Action (EA) program serves as an early notification program for students who apply prior to November 15 for fall semester enrollment. EA does not bind you to RWU nor does it restrict/prevent you from applying to other schools. We want you to make an informed decision and have the time to make the right choice. You still have until May 1 to confirm enrollment.

  • To complete your admission file, we require:
    • A submitted Common Application
    • A $50 (U.S.) non-refundable application fee or application fee waiver
    • Common Application Essay
    • Official high school transcripts
    • Standardized Test Scores are optional but if you choose to submit, students should use the following RWU school code:
      • College Board SAT and TOEFL: 3729
      • ACT: 3814
    • If applicable, students must request any official college transcripts or AP exam scores
    • Secondary school report/counselor’s recommendation
    • Special requirements for the following majors: Architecture, Performing Arts, Secondary Education, Elementary Education, Graphic Design Communication, Creative Writing and Visual Arts
    • Students applying for financial aid should file the FAFSA (Federal & State Aid) by February 1. Please note the FAFSA is available online on October 1
Next step:Financial Aid

Financial Aid

All students applying for admission will automatically be reviewed for various university-managed merit scholarships. If students are looking for federal or state grants, loan opportunities and student employment on campus, the FAFSA form must be completed. Visit the Financial Aid section of our website for details and timelines of the process.