Transfer Admissions

People mostly wearing yellow rain gear, standing on a jetty

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, 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 the major 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 to kick off the Western experience with some hands on marine science.  Students then move into MACS 301: Marine and Geological Processes in the fall, which is the first in our series of core courses.

General Student Transfer Timeline

The timeline below is for a student who decides early to pursue the marine and coastal science major and prepares to transfer and start at Western Washington University in the fall.  The timeline for students will vary, and it is advised students meet with their college advisor to discuss an appropriate timeline.

A Flowchart describing the courses to be taken per semester to advance through the major after transferring to WWU.


Admissions Requirements

To be eligible for the MACS major, prospective students must have completed, or be on track to complete, all the major preparatory courses (listed below) with a grade of C- or better in each course listed here (see below for transfer equivalency information). For the upcoming 2023-2024 year, priority will be given to those students who complete the preparatory courses within the timeline outlined below. For future years, any 4 of these preparatory courses must be completed before the admissions deadline. Any remaining preparatory courses must be completed before the students start at Western in the Fall:

To be completed before the application deadline (March 1st for transfer students):

BIO 204 – Introduction to Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity

CHEM 161 – General Chemistry I             

MATH 124 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry I        

CHEM 162 – General Chemistry II AND/OR MATH 125 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry II  

To be completed by the end of the spring quarter of the year that you apply to the MACS major: 

CHEM 162 – General Chemistry II AND MATH 125 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry II  (if both were not complete previously)

PHYS 161 – Physics with Calculus I

GEOL 211 – Physical Geology *if the equivalent of GEOL 211 is not available at your current college, please contact to discuss your options

To be completed no later than fall quarter of the year that you start the MACS major at Western:

CHEM 163 – General Chemistry III                   

*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.

WWU Transfer Course Equivalency Guide

To determine how courses will transfer to Western Washington University, Western has created a Transfer Equivalency Guide.  This guide includes course equivalency information for community colleges and public baccalaureate institutions in Washington State, excluding The Evergreen State College.

Students interested in the MACS major can use the Transfer Equivalency Guide to determine what courses will meet the required preparatory course requirements to apply to the major described above. The guide is also helpful for planning purposes and can help students develop an educational plan and timeline specific to their current progress.


Transfer Application Deadline

Students who plan to transfer to Western and start the Marine and Coastal Science major in the fall of 2024 must be on track to have all the preparatory courses completed prior to starting at Western. The MACS application for students transferring to Western is due at the same time as the Western transfer application: March 1st. Transfer students can only start in the MACS program in Fall Quarter.

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 2023 essay questions. These may be modified for the 2024 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 application for next academic year is now closed. The application for transfer students hoping to start in the MACS program at Western in Fall 2024 will be open on December 15, 2023 and close on March 1, 2024. Applications are due for transfer students on March 1st every year. 

Important notes: Application deadlines are final. All required materials, including transcripts, must be uploaded 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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