2009-2010 University Catalog 
    Jul 20, 2018  
2009-2010 University Catalog archived

Application for Admission to Washington and Lee


An Invitation

Although a personal interview is not required in the admissions process, it is recommended, and all prospective students and their parents are encouraged to visit Washington and Lee University.

The best time for students to see the University is during the spring of the junior year in secondary school or in the fall of the senior year. Candidates should try to schedule visits on a weekday while the University is in session, so they can meet with students, tour the campus,  and—most importantly—sit in on a class. During the school year, the Admissions Office in the Gilliam House is open from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and until noon on Saturdays. During the summer, the office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and closed all day on Saturdays.

Interviews, campus tours, class visits and discussions with professors are available between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitors are requested to telephone the Admissions Office at least two weeks in advance of an intended visit, at (540) 458-8710.

Application for Admission To Washington and Lee

Washington and Lee is selective in its admission of students. Each year the University enrolls a first-year class of about 455 students from approximately 6,000 applicants. In addition, the University will consider applications from students who want to transfer from other institutions of higher education.

Washington and Lee University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran’s status in its educational programs and activities or with regard to employment. Undergraduate student inquiries about this policy should be directed to the Vice President of Student Affairs, Elrod University Commons, (540) 458-8754, law student inquiries to the Associate Dean for Student Services at the School of Law, (540) 458-8533, and employment inquiries to the Executive Director of Human Resources, Early-Fielding, (540) 458-8920, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia 24450-2116.

Washington and Lee encourages applications from students who value the kinds of opportunities and experiences in undergraduate education which Washington and Lee affords and who judge themselves well prepared. The University tries to select students who will benefit from and contribute to its educational programs.

The Committee on Admissions considers each candidate’s secondary school record, class standing, standardized test scores, and record of extracurricular involvement. Recommendation letters from secondary school officials, teachers and other sources addressing the applicant’s character, intellectual curiosity, seriousness of purpose, and range of interests also play a significant role in the committee’s decisions. For all those qualified to undertake its exacting degree programs, the University strives to provide whatever financial assistance may be needed to permit their enrollment.

It may be of interest to applicants for admission to Washington and Lee to know that the University does NOT retain confidential letters of recommendation from secondary school teachers, guidance counselors, alumni and others after a decision has been made on a given application, i.e., that such information does not become a part of the student’s permanent file and hence is not available for examination under The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (often referred to as the “Buckley Amendment”).

Requirements for Admission

Secondary School Credits: The University assumes that applicants will have pursued courses of study which have adequately prepared them for the rigors of the University’s academic programs. Students must have a high school diploma, a GED credential, or the equivalent to be   eligible for admission. Students who are enrolled in elementary or secondary school may not be simultaneously enrolled as regular students of Washington and Lee University.

A student must have completed at least 17 units in college preparatory subjects. At least 15 of these 17 units should be in English, foreign languages, mathematics, history, the social sciences and the natural sciences. Specific requirements are four units in English, three units in mathematics, three units in foreign language (preferably through the senior year), one unit in natural science (excluding general science), and one unit in history.

College Entrance Examinations: Washington and Lee requires all candidates for admission to submit the results of standardized college entrance examinations. Candidates should submit for consideration either the test results from the ACT with its writing section or the SAT. In addition, all candidates must submit the results of two different SAT Subject Tests.

The two required SAT Subject Tests should be chosen from two different areas of the following groups: 1. Natural Sciences; 2. Mathematics (level I or level II); 3. Foreign Languages; 4. Literature or 5. History. The college entrance examinations, as secondary schools advise, may be taken in the junior year simply for practice or for qualification for the Early Decision Plans outlined on this page.

International Students should be sure to submit the results of the school-leaving examination appropriate to their home countries, when they become available (Abitur, Baccalaureat, GCE examinations, etc.). Students who are not native speakers of English must submit results of either the SAT, the ACT, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). International students are not required to submit SAT subject test results.

Normally, tests should be taken in October, November, or December of the candidate’s senior year, although tests taken earlier may be accepted, and tests taken in January will be considered.

Arrangements to take the standardized tests can be made through a high school guidance counselor or by registering online for the ACT at www.act.org or the SAT at www.collegeboard.com. These organizations will furnish information about the tests, times, locations and fees.

Of particular note, applicants with disabilities who, for any reason, are unable to take the regularly administered, required admissions tests may contact either the College Board or ACT for information about special testing arrangements.

Candidates should request that their test results be sent to Washington and Lee. This is important because the results are not sent automatically.

Early Decision Plans


Washington and Lee offers two Early Decision options to well-qualified applicants whose first choice is Washington and Lee University. Under the Early Decision I plan, applicants receive notice of their status by December 22 of the senior year. Under the Early Decision II plan,  applicants are notified by early February of the senior year.


All applicants for the early decision programs should proceed as follows:

  1. Affirm the binding nature of W&L’s Early Decision plan by submitting the signed Early Decision Commitment Form, available in Part I of the Washington and Lee application for admission or online at admissions.wlu.edu. Submission of the ED Commitment Form indicates that W&L is an applicant’s first choice and that he or she will attend Washington and Lee if accepted. (An early decision candidate is free to make applications to other colleges with the understanding that those applications will be withdrawn should the candidate be offered admission in December or February.)
  2. Complete all materials required for admission and have them forwarded to the Admissions Office by November 16 for Early Decision I or January 2 for Early Decision II.
  3. Take either the ACT with its writing portion or the SAT. In addition, take the SAT subject tests, if possible, no later than the November test date of the senior year. Some Early Decision candidates may be unable to sit for SAT subject tests prior to the senior year. Their  applications will be considered for an Early Decision, but they must take the tests as soon as possible, certainly no later than January.

Successful applicants will be required to confirm their intent to enroll with the regular, non-returnable tuition and room deposit of $500.

Most applicants not offered admission through the Early Decision plan will be deferred, and their applications will receive unbiased consideration under the Regular Decision review. Such candidates should have the secondary school submit a transcript of first-term grades as soon as possible. A student whose application is deferred is free, of course, to apply to other colleges.

It is possible that the Admissions Committee will deny an Early Decision application, rather than defer it for reconsideration during the Regular Decision review. The Committee will exercise this option only when it is clear that a student will not be competitive for admission during the Regular Decision review. This will allow such students to devote full attention to preparing applications to other colleges in which they have sincere interest.

Regular Application Procedure

Applicants should arrange to take the college entrance tests as set forth under Requirements for Admission. Applicants should fill out the personal application form and return it to the Dean of Admissions together with a non-refundable fee of $50. The Secondary School Report form should be given to the applicant’s high school or preparatory school counselor for completion; that official is to return the form directly to the Dean of Admissions. The two Teacher Recommendation Forms enclosed with the application materials should be completed by teachers who have taught the applicant in either the junior or senior year of secondary school and forwarded directly to the Dean of Admissions. Applicants offered admission are accepted subject to successful completion of the academic work then being undertaken.
Applications for admission may be submitted any time from the beginning of the senior year until January 15. Applications received after January 15 can be considered only for any vacancies that develop.

Successful applicants are advised of acceptance no later than early April. Washington and Lee, along with a large number of other colleges, subscribes to the National Candidates’ Reply Date and does not require admitted students to confirm acceptance before May 1. However, a candidate’s prompt confirmation and payment of a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350, plus a $150 room reservation fee and security deposit (also not refundable if the candidate does not matriculate), does enhance the likelihood of the University’s being able to honor the  student’s request for a particular room or type of room in the first-year residence halls. The security deposit, less any charges assessed for damages, is refundable at the end of the academic year.

Credit for Prior Work by First-Year Students

In order to receive Washington and Lee credit, all documentation (official transcripts, official score reports, required W&L forms, etc.) must be received by the University Registrar before the end of the first term in which the student is enrolled at W&L.

Beginning in Fall 2009 for the entering Class of 2013, first-year students may receive a maximum of 28 credits from any and all non-W&L sources (AP, IB, college courses while in high school, etc.). Of the 28, no more than nine credits can be counted toward the requirements for a particular major with departmental approval; individual departments may set a limit of less than nine credits counted toward the major.

Washington and Lee participates in the Advanced Placement Examination Program conducted by the College Board. New students who wish to have their Advanced Placement examination(s) considered for credit must designate Washington and Lee as the college to receive their Advanced Placement score reports. Most departments require a minimum score of “4” or, in some cases, “5”, before awarding credit will be considered. Current departmental policies appear on the University Registrar’s Web page at registrar.wlu.edu/x35742.htm. See also Advanced Placement Credit .

Credit is also available for students who have earned certificates or diplomas in the International Baccalaureate program. New students who wish to have their IB scores considered for credit must designate Washington and Lee as the university to receive their IB scores. Credit will  be considered only in cases where a course has been studied at the “higher level” and the student has earned a score of 5 or higher on the corresponding IB examination. Current departmental policies appear on the University Registrar’s Web page at registrar.wlu.edu/x35804.htm. See also International Baccalaureate Credit .

Entering students who wish to be awarded credit at Washington and Lee for courses previously taken at another college or university should obtain a Credit Transfer Form from the University Registrar or online at registrar.wlu.edu/forms and return it with the requested information (course description and syllabus, official college transcript, information on instructor, location and texts). Only work comparable to that at Washington and Lee in level, nature, and field may be accepted for degree credit. Courses taken at community (or other similar) colleges or programs after original matriculation at Washington and Lee may not be used for degree credit. Requests and transcripts received by August 15 will be processed in time for new students’ registration for fall term. These courses are often prerequisites for work new students plan to undertake in their first term, so it is important to have the records sent as soon as possible. No college credit will be awarded if it has been used to meet one of Washington and Lee’s entrance requirements. See also Requests for Transfer Credit by First-Year Students  .

Transfer Students

Students seeking admission as transfers from other colleges should apply online using the Common Application for Transfer Admission, available at www.commonapp.org. An applicant for transfer must have sent directly to W&L’s Office of Admissions official transcripts of all collegiate academic work, including entrance units, and a statement of eligibility to continue at or return to each institution attended.

Applications for September entrance must be submitted no later than April 1. Candidates seeking entrance in January should submit all required materials by November 1. Transfer applicants are required to submit to the Admissions Office test results from the ACT, with its writing portion, or the SAT.

It is expected that an applicant for transfer will have completed at least one full academic year of study elsewhere and will complete at least two years of full-time study at Washington and Lee prior to receiving a degree.

While no explicit grade-point average standard exists for transfer admission, the successful transfer applicant generally will have achieved at least a B (3.000) average. Only work comparable to that at Washington and Lee in level, nature, and field may be accepted for degree credit. For specific policies, see Transfer of Credit .

International Students


Washington and Lee is pleased to receive and review applications for admission from international students. Further, international applicants for places in the first-year class are eligible to apply for both need-based financial assistance and Johnson scholarship consideration. University resources for international students have limits, however, and admission to the University does not guarantee financial aid. International transfer applicants are not eligible for financial support from Washington and Lee. In general, it is expected that international students granted admission will be able to provide a portion of their educational costs from personal resources.

International students applying for admission must complete the regular admissions application and should be sure to submit the results of the school-leaving examination appropriate to their home countries, when they become available (Abitur, Baccalaureat, A-level examinations, etc.). Students who are not native speakers of English must submit results of either the SAT, the ACT, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). International students are not required to submit SAT subject test results. All regular admission deadlines apply.

International applicants for financial aid must complete the College Board International Financial Aid Form and the Washington and Lee Foreign Student Information forms available through Washington and Lee’s Office of Financial Aid. Timely filing of forms is imperative, and compliance with all requests for information is mandatory.

Federal law requires that the procedures for certain academic and administrative policies be different for some international students. Failure to follow these different procedures and to report required information will subject both the student and the University to harsh penalties. All international students should discuss reporting obligations and questions regarding academic or administrative policies (e.g., change of address, underloads, withdrawals) initially with the International Student Adviser at the Center for International Education.

Special Students

A high school graduate who gives evidence of ability to pursue selected courses of study, but who does not seek a degree, may, under certain circumstances, be admitted without fulfilling the regular entrance requirements. Special students may take any subjects for which they are prepared. If they should decide to become degree candidates, they must satisfy the normal requirements for regular admission.

A non-degree student who is enrolled in no fewer than six credits during the fall or winter term or three credits during the spring term, and who is simultaneously employed at Washington and Lee as a special student language assistant, is considered by the University to be maintaining a full course of study.

In the annual Register of Students, each special student is indicated as such and not as a candidate for a degree.

Alumni Admission Program

The Alumni Admissions Program (AAP) is presently established in 97 areas throughout the country to assist the University in identifying qualified students for Washington and Lee and to provide information and assistance to these prospective students, their parents and guidance counselors. AAP Committees in these areas are comprised of alumni eager to provide up-to-date information to all persons interested in learning more about the unique educational opportunities offered by the University. Anyone interested in learning more about Washington and Lee should not hesitate to consult the appropriate AAP Chair, who will arrange for a personal meeting with a W&L graduate. The following Web site includes an updated list of AAP representatives with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses: admissions.wlu.edu/aap.