Washington University is highly regarded nationally and internationally for the quality of our teaching, our research, and our service to society. No matter what your interests, you can find a top-notch program in our undergraduate curriculum.
Our medium-sized University has approximately 6,000 full-time undergraduates, but you’re also part of a smaller college or school where you’ll receive lots of individual attention.
Our residential areas have classrooms and other amenities to support your education. You can choose from nearly 240 student organizations, varsity and intramural sports—and much, much more.
Washington University has a beautiful campus surrounded by great neighborhoods. Our students discover that St. Louis is a great place to live and go to school.
This genuinely friendly place reflects our Midwestern location. Some say it is our combination of academic excellence and supportive atmosphere that sets us apart.
Academics at Washington University
Professor William Buhro, a leading researcher in nanoscience and materials chemistry, teaches undergraduate students.
Washington University has a personality, and you feel it everywhere.
It’s a friendly, welcoming feeling that you pick
up from students, professors, advisors, and staff. It’s an academic environment loaded with challenging courses and populated by intellectually curious students and teachers. It’s a flexible, supportive attitude that invites exploration and individuality. And it’s an optimistic outlook that drives innovation and new opportunities. No matter what you study, where you live, or which activities you pursue, these elements pervade your Washington University experience.
We have created—and continue to develop—a learning environment characterized by intellectual challenge and academic excellence.
We treat your intellectual, personal, and professional growth as our top priorities. We listen and respond to students’ interests and needs. We help you prepare for a career. And we believe that you’ll get where you want to be by becoming an analytical thinker, a problem-solver, and an effective communicator. These principles are at work 24/7 at Washington University.
Our commitment begins your first year. A comprehensive resource for all incoming students, the First Year Center, promotes and establishes social connections and academic engagement. We want to give every student opportunities to build and sustain an undergraduate experience of exceptional quality. Each student becomes known to us by name and story, and we commit to helping each one prepare for a life of meaning and purpose.
Campus Life at Washington University
The Activities Fair is held in the Brookings Quadrangle each fall.
There’s always something to do at Washington University. What happens when you’re not in class or studying, when you’re between projects, or when you’re just ready for a break? Plenty!
Students here are serious about their academic work, but they make time for activities, community service, sports, and social get-togethers. They welcome new people, new experiences, and new ideas. It’s easy to join in.
The “South 40” Residence Hall Area
Living in a residential college, you share experiences with other students, making transition to college life smoother. If you’re a freshman from outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area (more than 25 miles away), you are required to live in one of the residence houses your first year. Here you can make friends from around the world, and they’re likely to remain your friends for life.
Our Residential Colleges are Complete Living Centers
Our residence houses feature recreation/game rooms, lounges, music practice rooms, computing, and laundry facilities. The South 40 residence area is a center of activity with a café, fitness center, technology center, meeting rooms, intramural fields, basketball and sand volleyball courts, game rooms, and photographic dark room. Student-run businesses, including a hair salon and a laundry/dry cleaning business, also make their homes here.
Learning Where You Live
Each living/learning community comprises two or three buildings that form a single community. Each has its own identity and flavor, offering many programs and activities.
- Residential peer mentors: In the residence halls, residential peer mentors offer tutorials in important freshman courses, such as chemistry and calculus, and assist with writing, study skills, and more.
- Double, triple, or single rooms: Most first-year students start their residential experience in a double room. There are also a limited number of triple and single rooms. All residence houses are co-educational.
- Resident Advisors (RAs): Each floor of your residence house has one or two Resident Advisors. These specially trained juniors and seniors are available to answer your questions and make referrals to important University services. RAs encourage a sense of community through social and educational floor events, support services, and advising.
After Your First-Year: On- or Off-Campus Living
- On-campus: You and a group of friends who share related interests and goals and have a faculty or staff sponsor may apply to live in Village housing on the northwest corner of campus. This living option blends living and learning, action and thought. Many upperclass students find suite-style housing very attractive. In addition, approximately 450 students live on campus in apartments at Millbrook Square and Village East Apartments.
- Fraternities: A special University housing option exists for members of fraternities—10 fraternity houses are managed collaboratively between fraternity leaders and the University.
- Off-campus: Beautiful suburban neighborhoods surround our campus, offering a variety of affordable apartments within walking distance. These areas give an even greater degree of independence. Washington University owns many nearby off-campus apartment buildings, which are connected to the University’s computer and telephone systems. Shuttles run through many surrounding neighborhoods from early morning until after midnight.
Catch the Spirit of St. Louis
The Gateway Arch and The Old
The most visible symbol of St. Louis is its noted Gateway Arch. Designed by the late architect Eero Saarinen and completed in 1965, the Arch symbolizes St. Louis’ role as Gateway to the West. But St. Louis’ location near the center of the country could just as well make it the Gateway to the East, North, or South.
Washington University has been an integral part of the St. Louis community since its founding in 1853. The Danforth Campus, surrounded by suburbs and facing Forest Park, is seven miles west of the Mississippi riverfront and the Arch. In between, at the eastern end of the park, are the University’s School of Medicine and the affiliated hospitals and clinics of the Washington University Medical Center.
Our students and faculty take advantage of the metropolitan area in many ways—from recreation and cultural offerings and fine dining, to internships and clinical experiences, to volunteering their time to a variety of worthy causes.
ATHLETICS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
Washington University has a long and rich tradition of athletic achievement that first started well over 100 years ago. Since the mid-1970’s the Bears have competed as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. Washington U. has been a member of the University Athletic Association (UAA) since the beginning of the 1987-88 season.
Throughout its athletic history, Washington University has continued to establish itself as both a leader and pioneer in the world of student-athletics.
During various periods of its history, Washington University has enjoyed the benefits associated with athletic conference membership.
The year 1890 marked the beginning of men’s intercollegiate athletics on Washington University’s campus. During the initial stages of its development and continuing through 1906, the athletic program functioned effectively as an “independent.”
A member of the Missouri Valley Conference from 1907 to 1946, Washington relinquished its membership when the University adopted a new athletic policy that prohibited the awarding of scholarships on the basis of athletic ability alone. From 1946 through 1961 the University’s athletic program operated as an “independent.”
In January 1962, Washington University became a founding member of the College Athletic Conference and continued its membership until the spring of 1971 when the men’s basketball program was dropped from Washington’s intercollegiate program. From the fall of 1971 to the spring of 1986 the University once again conducted its intercollegiate program as an “independent.”
Washington University became a founding member of the University Athletic Association in June 1986 when it joined eight other leading independent research universities to compete in intercollegiate athletics at the varsity level for men and women.
MEN’S INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS
Prior to World War II, male student-athletes received specialized financial assistance for their participation in intercollegiate athletics. In general, scholarship assistance was grouped into three categories: those which involved a full or proportionate remission of tuition; those which were annually available from special endowment funds; and those which were described as tuition service grants that provided for a full remission of tuition.
In 1946, under the leadership of Chancellor Arthur Holly Compton, Washington University adopted a new athletic policy. The policy received considerable publicity. It was established in the face of some alumni opposition and much skepticism as reported by the press. The student body was less than enthusiastic. There was also little precedent among other universities that would suggest Washington University had even the right solution, much less a popular one.
The policy, however, had been carefully thought out. It was based on an educational philosophy that included athletics as a proper and necessary part of the total educational experience. It differed from the athletic policy of most other colleges and universities in one vital respect: It was “amateur.”
To some the word amateur suggested the activity of the beginner, to others it suggested merely lack of ability; to others, including the University, it meant participation in athletics without financial inducements or rewards. Chancellor Compton wanted intercollegiate athletics, but he wanted them on terms that would contribute to and not weaken the educational development of the individual student. The University made a commitment to subsidize athletics, but not the athletes.
In essence, two of the athletic policies established and carried out by Chancellor Compton in the mid 1940’s, serve today, as the philosophical basis for membership at the Division III level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Compton stated the following:
First, “the same admissions and grading standards would apply to all students, whether athletically talented or not,” and, second “No subsidies, financial inducements or support, or scholarships would be awarded on the basis of athletic ability alone. Students with athletic ability compete for scholarships on the same basis as other students.”
Chancellor Ethan A. H. Shepley, in his Chancellor’s Message of May, 1959, had reinforced the policies established by Compton and had indicated that:
“If the day should come when enough comparable institutions take the step Washington University has taken in athletics, a conference could be formed that would not only reflect credit on all the institutions involved, but would provide for everyone–students, alumni, and the general public–a program that would be interesting and entertaining as well as educationally sound.”
The day had come to give serious consideration to affiliating Washington University’s intercollegiate program with an athletic conference. As previously advanced in conversations with various representatives of Washington University, there were distinct advantages, both academically and athletically, that would result from conference association.
BRIEF HISTORY OF WOMEN’S SPORTS
Women’s athletics at Washington University has a long and varied history. Due to a lack of documentation it has been difficult to determine exactly how and when each evolution and change took place. The greatest sources of information have been the school’s yearbook, Hatchet, as well as recently recovered files and departmental correspondence. These have provided the basis for this history.
The earliest documented women’s varsity team played in 1909. The yearbook indicated that due to the lack of competitors on the college level this team competed against various high school teams. The women’s athletic program at Washington University has taken many forms since, but has always had a solid place in the lives of its female students.
It is not precisely known when the program began, but by the turn of the century, women’s athletics at Washington University existed with a limited number of activities. The earliest events consisted primarily of health oriented physical conditioning, “modern” dance, and a few competitive sports. In 1917, the women of Washington University held their First Annual Field Day, in “McMillan Court, on the Athletic Field, and in the Gymnasium.” It included such events as “drills by Gymnasium Classes, Hurling the Javelin, and a Pole Climb.”
With the construction of Wilson Pool in 1921, swimming became a part of the athletic regimen. Throughout the early part of the century the program continued to expand and diversify. By 1950, women’s athletics had become such a vital part of campus life that 70 percent of the female students were members.
For an yet unknown reason, the women’s intercollegiate athletic program was disbanded following the 1955 season and didn’t return for 20 years. In 1975 intercollegiate athletic programming was revived with the re-introduction of swimming, tennis and volleyball varsity teams for women. In 1977 track was added on the varsity level and basketball began in club form. In 1979, women’s varsity athletics were granted access to the “Cage,” the Training Room, and the Field House. By 1980, all coaches for women’s sports were employed full time by Washington University.
And yet, competitive athletics and varsity sports do not completely describe the women’s athletic program. For many women on campus, the program represented a strong element in the campus social life. Both the Women’s Athletic Association and its successor, the Women’s Recreational Association, provided a myriad of activities for their members. These events included banquets (1929-1955), intercollegiate playdays, and leadership opportunities. These organizations were the driving force behind most of the women’s activities, including such specialized events as hiking outings (Tramps), college ice skating nights at local rinks (Icicles), and school spirit building (Peppers/Pep Council). For a long time, dance was a central part of the athletic program and many visiting dance companies were invited to campus through the sponsorship of these organizations. Later, the dance department would form and become an independent entity in the University.
Throughout its history, the women’s athletic program offered the female student the opportunity to participate on different competitive levels ranging from club to intramural to varsity. Recognition for outstanding performance ranged from the accumulation of points to awards in the form of tokens such as chevrons and bracelets to the highest honors in membership in the various athletic honoraries which have existed since the 1910s (Sigma Lambda Epsilon, “W” Winners, and Phoenix).
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S ATHLETICS COME TOGETHER
The academic year 1977-78 saw the creation of the Department of Sports and Recreation (renamed Department of Athletics in 1983-84) that would serve both as the administrative entity for physical education classes, intramurals, recreation, and the intercollegiate athletic program for both men and women. The seeds were planted to bring equality to both programs under one administrative structure.
It was in 1979-80 when several milestones in the women’s program were achieved. Two female full-time coaches were hired to coach in the women’s program; female teams were provided full access to the training room and the equipment room; and basketball and cross country were added as varsity sports.
The major addition to the men’s intercollegiate program occurred in the 1981-82 academic year with the reinstatement of men’s basketball. Both men’s and women’s basketball as well as all the teams in the intercollegiate program would benefit from a change in our “independent” status to one involving “conference” membership.
Following several years of discussion and planning — eight leading independent research universities announced on June 25, 1986 that they had joined together to compete in varsity sports under a new league called the University Athletic Association. These eight institutions (Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Chicago, Emory Univesity, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, University of Rochester and Washington University), represent some of the leading research institutions in the nation and all have strong undergraduate programs. Brandeis University was accepted to the Association in Fall 1987 and has been an active member since. Johns Hopkins left the UAA after the 2000-01 season. Competition between nine members in 15 varsity sports began in fall 1987.
At a time when university athletics are under tremendous criticism for player and coach irregularities, we are affirming that sports have an important role to play in the lives of students,” said William H. Danforth, then Chancellor of Washington University. “We believe that the philosophy of playing without athletic scholarships has high merits academically and ethically.”
“As nationally prominent universities we support the philosophy of NCAA Division III athletics which emphasize the joy of competing within a quality academic environment without the threat of compromising principles for the sake of victory.”
The eight current UAA institutions compete in a single round-robin format for football, men’s and women’s soccer, and a double round-robin format men’s and women’s basketball. For all other sports, the schools schedule league tournaments or championships at one of the eight UAA campuses.
One of the most unusual aspects of the UAA is the geographic location of the eight institutions. Washington University’s farthest opponent, Brandeis University, is situated 1,141 miles from St. Louis, and the closest opponent, University of Chicago, is 289 miles from St. Louis. With these distances, the UAA is the most expansive athletic league in NCAA Division III.
“Division III is a commitment to athletics without financial rewards — not a synonym for third rate,” said Harry Kisker, then dean of student affairs and a chief organizer of the association along with former Chancellor Danforth. “Furthermore each of the institutions have made the necessary financial commitment to cover the added transportation costs.”
“The rationale for considering an athletic association among such a geographically diverse group of institutions was based on a number of compelling factors. Some of the factors were external to the institutions while others were internal considerations.”
“Among the external factors were the current state of college athletics nationally, the differences which exist in the approach to athletics and student-athletes among Division I, II and III institutions, and the public perceptions about the proper role of athletics in institutions of higher education.”
“Internal factors include such concerns as providing a consistent and challenging level of competition for both men and women in intercollegiate play, visibility of athletics programs among active students, alumni and the general public, issues of morale and institutional identity, and desire for association with institutions of similar, high quality.”
Home of the Washington University Department of Athletics
The Athletic Complex consists of several facilities: the Field House, Francis Gymnasium, Francis Field, and the Tao Tennis Center. Francis Field and Francis Gymnasium were used for the 1904 Olympics, the third Olympic games of the modern era and the first to be held in the Western Hemisphere. The Field House was the site for presidential debates during the 1992, 2000, and 2004 presidential campaigns. The Athletic Complex was also one of the venues for the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival.
Athletic facilities include a recreational gym with adaptable basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts; an eight-lane, 25-meter swimming pool with diving well; eight handball/racquetball courts; two squash courts; indoor and outdoor tracks; a full weight room and sauna; and the McWilliams Fitness Center.
Home of Washington University men’s and women’s track and field
Surrounding historic Francis Field is Bushyhead Track, an eight-lane 400-meter synthetic surface track named for James Butler Bushyhead. Bushyhead Track, site of the 1904 Olympics and the 2004 Olympic Global Torch Relay, is the home of the Washington University men’s and women’s track and field teams. Built in 1902, Bushyhead Track featured a third-of-a-mile track—a track that was used through the early 1980s.
While a student at Washington University, Bushyhead (1914-82) was a sprinter on the track team. He graduated in 1938 with a journalism degree and served in the FBI during World War II. After a 40-year career with Moog Industries in St. Louis, Bushyhead retired as President.
Home of Washington University football and men’s and women’s soccer team
Washington University’s tradition-rich Francis Field, now 105 years old, is one of St. Louis’ registered historic landmarks. The field’s first use came in 1904 for the Third Olympic Games, the first international games to be held in the Western Hemisphere. Built in 1902, Francis Field’s permanent stands represented one of the first applications of reinforced concrete technology. Francis also featured a third-of-a-mile track—a track that was used through the early 1980s.
Following the 1904 Olympics, Francis Field became the home for Bear football contests. During the University’s halcyon days of pigskin—the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s—the Bears played major college football as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. There were even floodlights back then, an innovation quite revolutionary at the time. At the height of its day, Francis Field seated close to 20,000 fans with a large section of wooden stands erected on the north side of the field.
Francis Field has been the site of several great football contests, including the St. Louis University-Washington U. Turkey Day games, which drew thousands of fans. It also has been the home for the NASL’s St. Louis Stars in the ’70s, the 1986 AAU/USA National Junior Olympic Games, the First and Second National Senior Olympic Games, and the 1985 NCAA Division III National Men’s Soccer Championship. In July 1994, Francis Field served as a centerpiece for the U.S. Olympic Festival as 3,000 athletes were housed on the Danforth Campus for the country’s top amateur sporting event.
In 1984, Francis Field underwent its first major facelift in nearly 80 years when the distinctive old wings of the stadium, which jutted out on an angle from either end, were demolished. The seating was reduced to 4,000, and a new press box, a concession stand and ticket window, and a synthetic, eight-lane, 400-meter track were added.
In 2003, Francis Field underwent a major renovation. The stadium was resurfaced with new concrete on top of the existing structure, improving its appearance. The stadium was made accessible to the disabled with the addition of two ramps and a new seating area, and the press box was expanded with the roof being repaired. In 2004, FieldTurf was installed as the artificial playing surface for the Bears football and men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Home of Washington University baseball
Kelly Field is the home of the Washington University baseball team. It was the home of the 2006 NCAA Division III Baseball Regionals.
Washington University dedicated the newly constructed baseball press box at Kelly Field in memory of Justin “Shef” Sheftel on Saturday, April 1, 2005. Sheftel’s life ended prematurely in late spring 2005 when a car struck him only 30 hours after graduating from Parkland High School in Allentown, Pa. He was just 18 years old. A January Scholar and avid baseball fan, Sheftel was accepted to Washington University in St. Louis and planned to major in business and play baseball for the Bears.
I.E. MILLSTONE POOL
Home of Washington University men’s and women’s swimming and diving
The I.E. Millstone Pool, built in 1985, is also located in the Athletic Complex. The eight-lane, 25-meter swimming pool also is equipped with a diving well. Home of the Washington University men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, the I.E. Millstone Pool is also utilized for water aerobics classes, swim lessons and general lap swimming.
I.E. Millstone received a B.S. in engineering and architecture in 1927 and an honorary degree in 1994. He became a member of the Washington University Board of Trustees in 1964. He had a successful construction company in St. Louis, and the company built some of the residence halls on the South 40. In 1970, the Millstone Lounge and Plaza were also named in his honor.
TAO TENNIS CENTER
Home of Washington University men’s and women’s tennis
With a major renovation in the summer of 2006, the Tao Tennis Center can now be considered one of the top college tennis facilities in NCAA Division III. Among the many improvements, the courts were resurfaced with post-tension concrete and were painted to reflect the school colors, red and green. The six courts are red and the outer boundaries are green. In addition, new lights, fences, windscreens, nets, bleachers, and a second storage shed were installed.
The Tao Tennis Center served as the host facility for the 2008 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Central Regional and the practice facility for the 2007 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championships, hosted by Washington University at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park. Named in honor of William K.Y. Tao, the Tao Tennis Center was originally refurbished in 1985 in conjunction with the renovation of the Athletic Complex.
Tao is a 1950 graduate of Washington University, and currently holds the title of affiliate professor in the schools of engineering and architecture.
Born in Peking, China, he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Washington University, and has taught at Washington U. since 1960. He is also the founder and President of William Tao and Associates, Consulting Engineers, and the national chairman of the Energy Advisory Committee of the Illuminating Engineering Society.
WASHINGTON UNIVERISTY FIELD HOUSE
Home of Washington University men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball
After a major renovation of athletic facilities 22 years ago, the Washington University Field House is considered one of the finest small college facilities in the nation. The facility was completely renovated in 1984 when a new field house was built from the original structure.
The Field House can accommodate seating for 3,000 fans and has a floor size of 17,250 square feet. The Field House has a rich and storied past, as it was the site of several NBA games and outstanding Missouri high school state championships, not to mention the numerous Bear games with Illinois, Missouri, Princeton, Harvard, Purdue, Arkansas and others. The Field House hosted the first presidential debate of the 1992 campaign, the third and final debate of the 2000 presidential campaign, and the second debate of the 2004 presidential campaign.
The WU Field House is also home to the Teri Clemens Volleyball Invitational, the Lopata Basketball Classic and the McWilliams Classic, two of the most prestigious basketball tournaments in the nation.
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SOFTBALL FIELD
Home of Washington University softball
The Washington University Softball Field is the home of the Washington University softball team.
GATEWAY NATIONAL GOLF LINKS
Home of Washington University women’s golf
Gateway National Golf Links offers St. Louis golfers the rare opportunity to return to the rich traditions of the game. Rolling links, separated by gentle mounds, meander through lush, green pasturelands. Tall grasses, lakes, wood-tie bunkers, and occasional giant cottonwoods complete the landscape.
In view of the Gateway Arch, you will cross occasional stone bridges, glide on raised boardwalks through quiet wetlands, and enjoy play on the only public course bentgrass fairways within hundreds of miles.
Gateway National Golf Links was born from the need for a uniquely stunning course, which would cater to individuals who work in or travel to the downtown St. Louis area. Gateway National is located just five minutes from the Arch. Locker rooms with showers and complete dining facilities are available.
For more information, please call (800) 482-8856.
Directions from Washington University:
Take Big Bend North to Highway 64/40 east; Cross the Poplar Street Bridge into Illinois and continue east on Interstate 55/70, follow I-55/70 to Exit #4 (Highway 203), turn left to go North on Highway 203 and go to the second stoplight (Eagle Park Road) and turn left again, then make an immediate left into Gateway National Golf Links.