Welcome First-Year Applicants

We perform a holistic review of every individual application. This means that that we look at each and every piece of information, accomplishment, and involvement - and always in the context of your personal, school and local environment. Below is all the information you need to apply!

At A Glance

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Deadlines

Non-Binding Early Action 11/15Regular Decision Extended to 3/1; Spring 11/1

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How to Apply

Submit via Common Application for our holistic review process

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Scholarships

Merit scholarships up to $24,000; and travel grants available

The Five Areas We Review

Our admission committee competitively weighs all factors of the review process to assess to the fullest extent we can: who you are, what you have achieved so far, your future potential, and whether your preparation would ensure a successful career at Roger Williams.

graphic of number 1Academic Preparation.   We look not only at your grades earned, but also the rigor of your curriculum and school. We consider any trends in performance over the years, along with understanding the 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 plan a transition into their intended major.
graphic of number 2Activities and Involvement. How you spend your time outside the classroom, such as participation in school clubs, sports, jobs, or volunteering matters. We value the impact you have in the communities around you because that is a critical component of the RWU experience as well.
graphic of number 3Your 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 ability (i.e. grammar, spelling, and ability to communicate a thought).
graphic of number 4Optional Test Score Submission. Roger Williams is test-optional* in our admission and scholarship review 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. 

We understand that many students have been unable take or retake standardized tests this spring and fall due to COVID-19. Therefore, you may choose to share a statement about your intention of re-testing and your inability to do so, or you may choose to share a different credential or accomplishment in lieu of test scores.

* The Rhode Island Department of Education requires the submission of test scores, along with a minimum test score achievement for direct admission into the Elementary Education or Secondary Education majors by the end of your college sophomore year. However, in the absence of test scores, an alternative exam may be taken.
graphic of number 5Letter(s) of recommendation. Although we only require one letter of recommendation, we welcome more if they help tell your complete story. Letters of recommendation provide details from a school or community member that expand upon something we have learned from your application in other places, or share something entirely new. The best recommendations are personal and tell more about YOU, not just that you are “a pleasure to have in class.”

Please note: RWU supports the right of students to exercise freedom of expression through peaceful protests and demonstrations. Our namesake, Roger Williams, fearlessly advocated for freedom of conscience, equality, and tolerance to help improve his community. Thus, our values embrace intellectual exchange, critical thinking, inclusiveness and innovation as a means of improving a free society. Nonviolent activism that is reported as disciplinary action will not, in its own, disadvantage applicants in any way during our admission process.

Temporary Implementation of Pass/Fail Grading Policies at Secondary Schools

RWU will review each application on a case-by-case basis to understand the school’s policy on pass/fail grading and how it impacts the reported GPA. As always, we review applications in context – we consider your school and community environment, the rigor of your curriculum and what is available to you, and your life, involvements, and responsibilities outside of the classroom. With pass/fail grading, we will consider all of the above and pay particular attention to your previous performance and any contextual information shared in your letters of recommendation and/or the writing sections of the application. Secondary school GPA is a significant factor in our merit scholarship review, therefore, we will consider whether any adjustments need to made for equitable scholarship consideration if your GPA has been negatively impacted by a pass/fail year or semester.

Ultimately, no student will be penalized in our admission review for having pass/fail grading if your school implemented this policy due to the pandemic. 

Test Score Cancelations and Limitations

RWU has been test-optional for a decade. Test scores are not required for admission, merit scholarships, or Honors Program consideration. Test scores have always played a minor role in our admission review. We understand that thousands of students have faced barriers to taking and retaking tests. Those students will not be penalized in any way in our review process.

Cancelation of Activities due to COVID-19

While RWU values involvement outside of the classroom as an indication of a well-rounded, capable, and prepared college student, we also understand that many students were unable to participate in their intended activities due to the pandemic. We will review your involvements in this context, and encourage you to share with us how your ability to participate was impacted.

Demonstrated Interest

The admission committee strives to admit students who are excited about RWU and have likelihood to enroll. Our early action and regular decision admission processes are need-blind. We consider applicants’ engagement with us throughout the process including attendance at in-person and virtual events, responsiveness to outreach, connections at high school visits and college fairs, participation in informational interviews, and other proactive outreach. The inability to visit our campus in-person will not penalize any student in our admission review.

The Common Application added an opportunity for applicants to share the ways they have been affected by the pandemic. This is an optional question and by no means to we expect everyone to share statement here. It goes without saying that everyone has been impacted by the pandemic in different ways, and we review applications with an appreciation for this. However, if you have been impacted in a significant way, or have a story related to the pandemic that you’d like to share to help us better understand and appreciate your situation you are certainly welcome to share this with us in that section.

  • Official – Official credentials are those that are sent directly from the responsible institution. For example, an official transcript is sent directly from the secondary school or college whereas an unofficial transcript is a copy or downloaded version submitted by the applicant. Official test scores are sent directly from the testing agency whereas self-reported test scores are shared by the applicant.
  • Holistic – An admission review that considers all aspects of the applicant including both academic and personal qualities. A holistic review considers academic performance in the context of curriculum, school, and environment. It also considers involvements and responsibilities outside of the classroom, personal qualities and achievements, and the information shared through letters of recommendation.
  • Complete Application – An application is complete when the application itself as well as all required supporting credentials have been received. Each applicant is responsible for ensuring that credentials that are sent directly from their school, recommender, and/or testing agency are received. Students may log into their applicant portal (instructions are provided as soon as the application is received) to check on the status of their credentials.
  • Credential – A piece of information that supplements the admission application. Credentials include transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, auditions, portfolios, senior grades, etc. 

Resources and Information by Populations

First-Generation Fridays

First-Generation Fridays is a series of 30-minute workshops every Friday at 3:30 p.m. (EST) for students who identify themselves as the first in their immediate family to seek a bachelor's degree.

Learn More

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, starting in fall 2020, to support our out-of-region enrolled students, we created a special Travel Grant for students from states and countries outside of the U.S. northeast. This $1,500 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.

Given the unique academic environments in which home-schooled applicants are educated and the varying factors on which they’re assessed, it is important to apply a similarly unique review to their applications so we may best understand the achievements and abilities of these prospective students.  It is important that we capture and consider academic assessment practices, grading criteria and scales, variances in curricular structure and rigor, indications of personal and social preparedness, access (or limitations) to extracurricular activities, and many other factors.  As such, any information that home-schooled students, families, or educators can provide to share context in any of these areas adds great value to our review process. Frequently, home-schooled students provide synopses of their academic experience to provide perspectives on their home-schooled, online or collaborative home-schooling environments. 
 
Some home-schooled applicants opt to submit supporting academic credentials such as AP/IB exam scores, transcripts from community colleges or other college-level coursework, or standardized test scores.  It should be noted; however, that none of these are required by the application process, and absent these, students may still be offered admission to the University.
 
Admission interviews may be recommended at the discretion of the reviewer or admission committee (especially in a case in which none of the supporting academic credentials listed above are presented for review), but will be offered to any home-schooled student who requests to do so.  Admission interviews may be held any time from spring of the student’s junior year into their senior year.  Interviews may be conducted in-person, by video conference, or over the phone.  Home-schooled students may contact the Office of Admission to request an interview.

At RWU, we form a community to help you succeed and adjust to life in the U.S. We welcome students, like you, from all over the world and help them each step of the way. We value what you add to our community and are focused on your success. To aid you, we provide a range of services that includes peer mentors and support groups.

Learn More

Deadlines and Decision Timeline 

Early Action

Deadline: November 15
Our non-binding Early Action (EA) program serves as an early notification program for those who apply prior to November 15 for fall semester enrollment. EA does not bind you to RWU nor does it restrict you from applying to other schools. We want you to make an informed decision and have the time to make the right choice. All applicants have until May 1 to confirm enrollment. Applicants for the University Honors Program are encouraged to apply through Early Action for priority consideration.

Regular Decision

Deadline: Still accepting applications for fall 2021
We know this year has been nontraditional to say the least. To be most accommodating, we are still accepting applications for fall 2021 on a case-by-case basis. Contact us at admit@rwu.edu or 401-254-3500 to discuss. We would love to connect with you!

Though our Regular Decision (RD) program has a listed deadline of February 1, applications can be submitted at any time leading up to this deadline and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. This means that the earlier you submit and complete your application (by submitting all required items), the earlier we will review it for an admission decision. RD applicants should submit at least first marking period grades for senior year.

Spring Admission

Deadline: November 1
First-year students can apply to enroll for the spring semester (beginning Feb 1 for 2021, but typically beginning mid January). If you've taken some time off after high school, or graduated early, this can be the right time for you to begin college. We tend to think of the academic year as always beginning in the fall, but there are great reasons why a mid-year start can be ideal for many students.

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 ActionRegular DecisionSpring
Application DeadlineNovember 15February 1November 1
Admission Notification DateMid-DecemberRollingRolling
FAFSA Priority DeadlineFebruary 1February 1December 1
Honors ProgramPriority ConsiderationReviewed on a space-available basisReviewed on a space-available basis
Student Reply DateMay 1 May 1December 1

Application Checklist 

  • A submitted Common Application
    • First-Year Applicants for admission are expected to be graduates of four-year secondary schools or provide evidence of equivalent preparation. In addition to strong academic preparation in high school, candidates must meet additional requirements for certain degree programs.
  • Your personal essay
  • Official high school transcript(s) 
  • A minimum of one (1) letter of recommendation; additional letters welcome
  • First marking period grades for senior year, as well as mid-year grades (once available) 
  • 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
    • 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. 

There are additional application requirements for the following majors:

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: 
 

Your work portfolio should be submitted through one of the following:  

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.

Dance Performance Studies applicants are required to submit an audition video prior to their application being reviewed. Videos may be posted to a shared YouTube or Vimeo channel.

Video Audition Portfolio Checklist: 

The following video excerpts may be clips of you working in a studio, or dancing in any other setting, but please ensure that you are the only subject in the video.  There is no dress code or genre restrictions.

2-3 Minutes of Clips that Highlight Your Skills In: 

  • Stability / Balance 

  • Mobility / Locomotion 

  • Gestural Clarity of Limbs and Spine 

  • Ease of Weight Shift – Direction / Level Changes 

  •  Anatomically Sound Alignment Throughout 

2-3 Minute Solo: 

  • Performed by you, but may be choreographed by yourself or someone else. 

 Other Optional Materials: 

  • Dance Resume and Cover Letter 

  • Cover Letter: This can take the form of an informal introduction letter.  The purpose is to help us understand your interests as a dancer, scholar, and future professional.  If you are interested in double-majoring or minoring in another program let us know!  We will have several Accepted Student Q&A Sessions in the Spring; these letters will help us advise you more effectively then. 

Please feel free to contact Professor Cathy Nicoli at cnicoli@rwu.edu if you have further questions! 

Apply now for fall 2021.

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 for direct entry by the end of their college sophomore year. The Rhode Island Department of Education standardized test minimums are as follows:

SATACT
EBRW480English18
Math530Math22
  Reading22

Students who are unable to test, or do not meet the requirements through SAT or ACT scores may still qualify for these programs by taking an alternative academic skills exam or through faculty approval.

Students who do not meet these thresholds at the time of application may be considered for admission as an undeclared education student until they attain the necessary scores or meet alternative requirements.

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.

How to Submit Your Supplemental Application Materials (Credentials)
  • Transcripts, including senior grades, are sent directly by your school/school counselor. Please request that your school sends your transcript(s) to RWU in one of the following ways:
    • Submit via Naviance
    • Submit via another electronic document delivery service
    • Emailed to admit@rwu.edu
    • Faxed to: (401) 254-3557
    • Mailed to: 
      Office of Undergraduate Admission
      One Old Ferry Road
      Bristol, RI 02809-2921
  • Letters of recommendation should be sent directly from the recommender in one of the following ways:
    • Submit via Naviance
    • Emailed to admit@rwu.edu
    • Faxed to: (401) 254-3557
    • Mailed to: 
      Office of Undergraduate Admission
      One Old Ferry Road
      Bristol, RI 02809-2921
  • Audition videos, portfolios, and any other optional supplemental materials an applicant would like to share can be submitted in one of the following ways:
    • Upload through your RWU Status Portal account (login credentials will be sent once you’ve submitted your application) 
    • Submit via email to admit@rwu.edu 
    • Mail to:
      Office of Undergraduate Admission
      One Old Ferry Road
      Bristol, RI 02809-2921
  • Test scores may be sent directly from the testing agency or self-reported. Refer to the Application Requirements section for details on self-reporting test scores.

Scholarships and Financial Aid  

All students applying for admission will automatically be reviewed for merit scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $24,000. Merit awards are guaranteed for four consecutive years of full-time enrollment in Good Academic Standing. 

Additionally, RWU offers scholarships that require a separate application:

  • Intercultural Leadership Ambassadors (ILA) Program and Scholarship - students who qualify will have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership and positive contributions to their communities. Qualifying students also identify with one of the following: first generation college student; speak a first language other than English or live in a home where English is not the primary language; live or attend high school in an under-resourced community; or live in a geographically underrepresented community. The program includes a scholarship covering 95% of tuition for four consecutive years of undergraduate study in addition to a co-curricular program which provides mentorship and academic support while furthering the holistic and leadership growth of recipients throughout their time at RWU. 
  • Research and Industry in Science and Engineering (RISE) - This program includes a $10,000 scholarship for up to four consecutive years of undergraduate study and involvement in a co-curricular program. Eligible students must major in Applied Math, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Environmental Science, Forensic Science, Marine Biology, or Math. In addition, strong candidates will meet the following criteria: 3.0 high school GPA, 4 years of high school math, and 3 years of high school lab-science, show significant financial need.

If students are interested in qualifying for need-based financial aid such as RWU grants, federal or state grants, loan opportunities and student employment on campus, the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) must be completed by February 1. We recommend that you submit the FAFSA at the time that you submit your admission application. This allows you to receive a full financial aid award shortly after your admission decision if admitted. Please visit our Financial Aid pages.

Need Help? Have Questions?

Your admission counselor can help answer any of your questions - from the little things to your bigger questions. They are your personal guide to everything about RWU, and can put you in touch with other resources across the university, including athletics and academic support services. Meet your counselor now!