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How to Write the Washington University in St. Louis Essays

Updated for 2023-2024

Washington University in St Louis requires all students to answer one prompt about why they are interested in their major of choice. Then, all students have the option to answer one of three supplemental prompts – we recommend students submit an essay!

Essay Prompt:

Please tell us what you are interested in studying at college and why. (200 words)



Representing WashU’s only required essay, this question calls for a straightforward response given its relatively short word limit and placement within the “Academic” section of the Common Application and the “Academic Interests” section of the Coalition Application. Following the prompt, your WashU supplement should address your academic passions and describe what attracts you to them. However, since this is your only opportunity to articulate your voice to the admissions committee, you’ll also want your response to demonstrate how passionate you are about the school, as they will use this essay to gauge your interest and the extent to which you have researched WashU.

To begin, you’ll want to identify a major that is consistent a) with your career ambitions and b) with your “hook” and academic profile. At WashU, your intended program of study could be housed in one of the following four undergraduate schools:

  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Olin Business School
  • Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
  • McKelvey School of Engineering

Once you’ve determined which major most suits your interests and profile, a great place to start your research is the website of the academic department that houses your intended major. There, you can check out the courses, resources, and special opportunities offered to students. Identify unique study abroad programs, specialized summer research programs, and interdisciplinary academic programs of interest to you. Checking out the “News” tab on the academic department’s website can also enlighten you on the latest developments in the department and the impact being made by professors through their work, which might pose an option for collaboration should you attend the school!

After completing your research, make sure to balance how much you include about the school with information about yourself in your WashU supplemental essay; admissions already knows their school is great, so you must also show how you would add to the vibrant academic community if admitted. Focus on connecting your past experience to related opportunities or courses of study within your specified major of interest—that way, the admissions committee can directly see how you will fit right in on the Danforth campus.

The university also gives students the option to respond to one of three optional prompts. We recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity to tell the school more about yourself and why you would be a good fit for their institution!