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 not only at 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. We review your academic performance within the context of the major for which you apply.* This means we consider your performance in the foundational subjects on which your major of interest is based to ensure that you can perform successfully in the curriculum.
*We will also consider and accept applicants as undeclared majors if we are not able to admit them directly into their program of interest. These students will then have the opportunity to establish the appropriate academic foundation at RWU and transition into their intended major.
- 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.
For all first-year students, applying to RWU is completed using the online Common Application. If your application along with all supporting documents are received by the deadline date to which you are applying, your admission decision notification will be sent as outlined below.
|Early Action||Regular Decision||Spring Admission|
|Application Deadline||November 15||Extended to March 1||Currently accepting applications|
|Admission Notification Date||Mid-December||Rolling||Rolling|
|FAFSA Priority Deadline||February 1||Extended to March 1||December 1|
|Honors Program||Priority Consideration||Reviewed on a space available basis||Reviewed on a space available basis|
|Student Reply Date||May 1||May 1||Within 14 days of acceptance|
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:
- A completed Common Application
- Official high school transcripts
- A minimum of one (1) letter of recommendation is required
- 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.
Applicants may submit test scores by having them sent to RWU directly from the testing agency, or applicants may self-report their scores by entering them into the Common Application, sending a copy or screenshot of the test report (clearly showing the student's name), or requesting that they be sent by their secondary school. Students who submit self-reported test scores will be asked to provide the official score report only upon enrollment.
- Portfolio. Special portfolio requirements exist for the following majors: Architecture, and Visual Arts. Portfolios may be submitted through Slideroom.
- 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.
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 ProgramClick to Open
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 SAT||NEW SAT||ACT|
Students who do not meet these thresholds may be considered for admission as an undeclared education student until they attain 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, Modern Languages, History, and double major in Dance Performance Studies and Secondary Education.
Candidates for the Architecture ProgramClick to Open
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/or three-dimensional work demonstrating evidence of an applicant’s creative potential is required for all applicants for admission to the B.S. in Architecture program. The intent of the portfolio requirement is twofold—to offer applicants some idea of activities you will be engaged in as an architecture student, and to allow the school to begin to estimate your emerging potential at this earliest stage of your architectural 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 architecture at the college level.
The portfolio should consist of 8-12 examples of the applicant’s work, each piece clearly labeled. Your work should be submitted through SlideRoom at this address:
You may also submit your work in a simple 8-1/2” x 11” binder and mail to:
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Roger Williams University
One Old Ferry Road, Bristol, RI 02809.
The portfolio should contain reproductions of two and three-dimensional work recently executed in high school art course work, independent works by the applicant, or summer programs in Art or Architecture that you may have completed. High quality black + white copies and color copies as relevant to the work are acceptable.
Candidates for Performing Arts ProgramsClick to Open
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 register for your audition online.
Candidate for the Visual Arts ProgramClick to Open
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.
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
- 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, or 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
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 need-based aid process.
Merit scholarships for first-year students are based on academic performance in high school as well as involvements and achievements beyond academics. New student awards (Presidential, Deans, and Community Scholarships) range from $7,500 to approximately $22,500; students are notified of these scholarships at the time of admission. International applicants are also reviewed for merit awards using similar criteria and can receive awards ranging from $10,000 to $18,000. Merit awards are guaranteed for four consecutive years of full-time enrollment. While many colleges require a certain (and sometimes significantly high) GPA to maintain merit scholarship awards, RWU believes that students are better served with the peace of mind that comes with the confidence that their scholarship award is secure. Therefore, at RWU, students must maintain good academic standing at the university (overall 2.0 GPA) to retain scholarship eligibility. We believe this flexibility encourages students to take academic risks and step outside their comfort zone without the threat of a GPA forcing them to lose financial aid. Additionally, starting fall 2019 for new students, RWU students who achieve a minimum overall 3.6 GPA or higher at the end of the academic year will receive the Academic Excellence Award, providing an additional $1,000 towards the following year’s tuition.
RWU Travel Grant
Beyond tuition, room, and board, we know that many other factors impact the total cost of affording a college. For families from farther away, the purchase of flights to and from home over breaks will mean increased cost in choosing RWU. RWU is sensitive to the total cost of an education that families may face, including transportation, books, and other expenses. Therefore, to support our out-of-region enrolled students, we have created a special Travel Grant for students from states and countries outside of the U.S. northeast. This $1500 grant is awarded to all qualified students in addition to merit scholarships awarded at time of admission (with the exception of full-tuition scholarship recipients). Students meeting the geographic criteria will automatically qualify for this award. *Effective for students enrolling fall 2020
Additionally, RWU offers several scholarships that require a separate application. Intercultural Leadership Ambassador Program and Scholarship (ILAPS) program includes a full-tuition scholarship and recognizes a diverse group of students who have demonstrated academic achievement, an aptitude for leadership in creating an inclusive community and perseverance despite a significant challenge in their lives. Established through a generous grant from the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, the RISE STEM Scholarship recognizes, supports and empowers five (5) academically talented new students as they prepare to enter Research and Industry in Science and Engineering (RISE) in fields student as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To find out more about ILAPS, RISE STEM and other RWU scholarships, please visit our Financial Aid pages.