Transfer Admissions

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Admissions Information for Transfer Students

We are excited to hear you are considering transferring to Western Washington University and pursuing our new Marine and Coastal Science (MACS) major. Annually, the program admits a cohort of approximately 30 students, a cohort made up of both transfer and current Western students.

Students who plan to transfer to Western in the fall, and have completed or are on track to complete all preparatory courses a their current institution, apply to the major in winter at the same time they apply for admissions to Western Washington University (before March 1st).

Students who are accepted into MACS start the major in the fall with MACS 110: Marine Habitat and Diversity, which involves a one week stay at the Shannon Point Marine Lab before the start of fall quarter. Additionally in the Fall, students will take MACS 301: Marine Geological Processes, which is the first in our series of core courses.

Admissions Requirements

To be eligible for the MACS major, prospective students must have completed, or be on track to complete before Fall of the year the student plans to start at Western, all the major preparatory courses with a grade of C- or better. These preparatory courses at Western are:

BIO 204 – Introduction to Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity

CHEM 161 – General Chemistry I  

CHEM 162 – General Chemistry II 

CHEM 163 – General Chemistry III 

GEOL 211 – Physical Geology

MATH 124 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry I          

MATH 125 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry II  

PHYS 161 – Physics with Calculus I

*While not required to start the MACS major, students are encouraged to complete either BIOL 205 & 206 or PHYS 162 & 163 prior to starting the core courses.

To determine which classes a prospective transfer students needs to take at their current institution to meet the above preparatory class requirements, students can use Western Washington University's Transfer Course Equivalency Guide.  This guide includes course equivalency information for community colleges and public baccalaureate institutions in Washington State, excluding The Evergreen State College.

The guide is also helpful for planning purposes and can help students develop an educational plan and timeline specific to their current progress.

For students at academic institutions outside of Washington State, please email We would be happy to help you figure out what courses you need to take at you current institution to fulfill our preparatory course requirem


Essay Questions

Western’s Marine and Coastal Science program uses a holistic admissions process to review student applications. The admissions committee is looking for students with strong motivation to pursue marine science, real-world problem-solving skills, and the ability to work effectively in diverse teams in addition to academic ability.  Students can demonstrate these qualities through describing their activities inside and outside of school, which could include participation in clubs, community and volunteer activities, or other personal experiences.

Below are the 2024 essay questions. These may be modified for the 2025 admissions cycle but it is not likely that they will change signficantly. Each answer should be no more than 300 words. Clear, focused, and detailed answers that directly answer each question are valued (see rubric):

  1. List two goals you want to accomplish. How will the MACS curriculum and/or program goals help you achieve them?  Be specific and consider how a degree in marine science will help you achieve your long-term goals.
  2. Obtaining a science degree takes commitment. Describe a past experience in which you persevered through a challenging situation and what you learned that might help you to succeed in the MACS program. 
  3. The MACS program is cohort-based. We value collaborating to solve complex problems. Explain your thoughts on the role of diverse perspectives in science and describe an experience (either academic or non-academic) that has prepared you to work effectively on teams with diverse backgrounds and experiences. 
  4. Is there anything else that you would like our selection committee to know about you that may provide valuable context to your application or academic history?

Note: We recommend students draft their responses in a word processing program and then paste the responses into the online application. The online application does not provide students with an option to save their progress and complete the application at a later time.


The MACS application for the upcoming 2024-2025 academic year is now closed. The application deadline for transfer students hoping to start in the MACS program at Western in Fall 2025 is March 1st, 2025. The application will open December, 2024.

Important notes: Application deadlines are final. All required materials, including transcripts, must be submitted by the deadline. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline and incomplete applications will not be considered. The application form cannot be started and saved; you must complete the application once started. We suggest typing out answers to essay questions before starting the application. You do not need to have all the preparatory classes completed before you apply but must indicate on the application when you intend to complete them. Finally, please note that the introductory MACS course, MACS 110, has a $350 course fee. 


If you have any questions about transfer requirements, admissions process, or need application assistance, please email


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