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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture STARS Program

Washington STate Academic RedShirt (STARS) Program

Washington STARS in Engineering logo.

The Washington STate Academic RedShirt (STARS) program assists motivated first-year engineering and computer science students with the transition from high school study to the rigor of a college curriculum by providing them with the tools and requisite math skills to be successful. STARS targets need-based students who have demonstrated talent and interest in the engineering and computer science disciplines, but have not been given the opportunity to properly prepare for the demands of these fields. All students interested in engineering or computer science are encouraged to apply online.

STARS Offers Students:

  • A small cohort of engineering and computer science students who work together to complete introductory engineering classes.
  • First-year coaching on the study skills and habits needed to succeed in an engineering/ computer science degree program.
  • Comprehensive and individualized academic advising.
  • A supportive community of peers, faculty, and staff.
  • Access to peer mentors who facilitate mathematics and chemistry support.
  • Up to $8,000 in scholarship support earned over the first two years.

Program Eligibility

Students should apply to the STARS program as early as possible to determine eligibility and increase the chance of being accepted into the program.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Incoming WSU first-year students (Running start students are eligible!)
  • US citizen or US permanent legal resident
  • Washington State resident
  • Eligible for the Pell Grant or the State Need Grant (as indicated by the student’s level of financial need)
  • Highly motivated to complete an engineering or computer science degree
  • Attended a Washington State high school that has at least 30% of the student population identify as low income.

Math Placement Requirements

Eligible students must be placed in a WSU math course of Math 106 (pre-calculus) or higher in their first semester. There are a number of ways that a student can place into Math 106 or higher:

  • Take the ALEKS Math Placement Exam and receive a score of 70 or higher
  • An Advanced Placement (AP) exam score of 2 or higher (on AB or BC exam)
  • The transfer of a course from an accredited college/university that places you into Math 106 or higher

Have Questions About STARS?

Ask the STARS director, Emily Allen
Office Phone: 509-335-4823

Ask a current STARS student, Hannah Goodspeed

Application Process

Application to the STARS program is a two-step process:

  1. Complete the STARS online application.
    Candidates are required to write an essay as part of the application. Essay can be typed or copied directly into the application.
    Essay Topic: Engineering and computer science study requires determination and hard work over the course of 4‐5 years. Please share one or more experiences of a challenging goal that took a long time to achieve. How did you display determination and hard work? Was there a time when you wanted to give up and if so what did you do? Where did you get help? What did you learn? (500 words max)
  2. Complete the interview.
    After completing the application, our staff will contact you to schedule a follow-up interview. Be prepared to answer the following two questions as part of the interview process:

    1. Why are you inspired and motivated to study engineering or computer science? Please be sure to address in some depth the specific nature and extent of your interests in engineering or computer science.
    2. The STARS program offers students academic, social, and financial resources to be successful in an engineering or computer science curriculum. How do you feel the STARS program will benefit you as a first-year student in these fields at WSU? Please be sure to address specific challenges you anticipate facing that STARS will be able to help you with.

Candidates are evaluated on their background, math placement, and how their essay and interview demonstrate their desire to obtain an engineering or computer science degree.

Apply to STARS

Now accepting applications
for Fall 2021.

Hurry! Space is limited!

Apply Now.


More information

Emily Allen
Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Dana Hall room 143

Morann Johnson
Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Dana Hall room 106