FAQs - Counselors
- How does a student apply and what is needed?
- What are your strongest programs?
- What is the area like?
- How can I visit campus?
- What sort of student is a good fit for Puget Sound?
- How do students from sunny parts of the country do with the weather in the Pacific Northwest?
- What distinguishes Puget Sound?
- How is your institution weathering the current economic climate? Are you cutting faculty or programs, or dealing with over-crowded classes?
- What kind of financial aid and scholarships do you offer?
- Who's not a fit for Puget Sound?
How does a student apply and what is needed?
- $50 application fee
- Puget Sound supplement
- Official transcript
- Official test scores (ACT or SAT)
- School Official’s Report
- Teacher Evaluation
- Interview (encouraged, but not required)
The common application includes the admission essay, activity log, and space for additional information. For transfer requirements, click here.
If you have any questions about the application process or the status of an application, feel free to contact us!
What are your strongest programs?
Puget Sound is a liberal arts college with a wide variety of academic programs in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. Our most popular majors are International Political Economy, Biology, English, Business & Leadership, and Psychology. Puget Sound also has strong programs in Asian Studies, Music, Environment Policy & Decision-Making, Neuroscience, and many more. About 30% of our students double-major and many more add minors or emphases to their primary program of study. Learn more about our academic programs here.
What is the area like?
Tacoma is a vibrant, mid-sized city about 35 miles south of Seattle. Downtown you’ll find a museum district, a theater district, restaurants, shops, and the Thea Foss Waterway. Tacoma is right on the Puget Sound and within two hours of Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks. Visitors and locals enjoy exploring Tacoma’s diverse neighborhoods and natural wonders.
Our campus is located in residential North Tacoma within walking-distance of neighborhood business districts (Proctor, 6th Avenue, and Old Town). A 10-minute trip will take you to the 702-acre Point Defiance Park, which includes a zoo & aquarium, gardens, forest, Owen Beach, and stunning views. A 10-minute trip in the other direction will take you to Tacoma’s busy downtown. Public transit and bike lanes surround the campus, so it is easy to get around town without a car.
How can I visit campus?
We love showing off our campus to our colleagus on the other side of the desk! We offer student-led tours on weekdays and some Saturdays. You can take a tour and chat with an admission counselor about the best ways we can collaborate in serving your students. Contact an admission counselor to schedule a visit. Can't make it to campus? Try our virtual tour.
What sort of student is a good fit for Puget Sound?
In terms of "fit," the typical Puget Sound student has two or three interests or passions that they plan pursue in college (e.g. pre-med and music; chemistry and philosophy; history and basketball; foreign language and community service; journalism and amnesty international). We're designed to serve the multi-dimensional student, rather than the student interested strictly in science or the arts. Our graduates are well-rounded and apply their degrees to a broad range of career tracks. Many Puget Sound graduates go on to pursue seek a career that will effect positive change. In 2007, we had more alumni in the Peace Corps than any other small school in the country, and we're consistently in the top five.
How do students from sunny parts of the country do with the weather in the Pacific Northwest?
The climate in the Pacific Northwest is mild: our summers aren’t too hot, and our winters aren’t particularly cold. In the winter, we do see a fair amount of rainy gray days. But students at Puget Sound tend to do just fine. They are active, engaged, and generally pretty busy. Even if they’re headed into the city or up to the mountains, the weather doesn’t hold them back. About a third of our students come from sunny regions, and love it here. What students from sunny places don’t always anticipate is that they’ll be back home during the darkest and rainiest weeks of the year. From mid-December to mid-January, they can go back home and soak up the vitamin D for a month before our spring semester.
What distinguishes Puget Sound?
Outstanding undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences. We’re able to offer a wider range of courses and majors than most small liberal arts colleges. All our classes are taught by outstanding faculty, who have won more Washington State Professor of the Year awards than any other institution. Our location is distinctive as well, offering a residential campus, outdoor recreation, urban amenities. And while our campus is incredibly beautiful and our academic facilities are top notch, anyone who attends Puget Sound (or works here) will tell you that it’s the community on campus that makes the Puget Sound experience as amazing as it is. Students are intellectually ambitious, but the academic culture on campus is more cooperative than competitive. Faculty set a high bar for students while remaining supportive and accessible. The workload is heavy, yet students are happy and make time for many co-curricular activities while maintaining a social life. The culture is laid back and students are friendly, but graduates consistently land top jobs and gain acceptance to top graduate programs in the country.
How is your institution weathering the current economic climate? Are you cutting faculty or programs, or dealing with over-crowded classes?
We’ve managed very well. Our average class size is still 18, our student to faculty ratio remains at 11:1, and it’s still the case that all of our classes are taught by professors, not teaching assistants or graduate students. We have worked hard to keep tuition increases low and to provide financial support to students, and we have focused on being as efficient and effective as possible. 90% of our graduates continue to finish their degrees in four years.
While many colleges and universities froze tenure-track hiring in the spring of 2009, we were able to continue as planned. We were featured in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education for this distinction. Also, as many institutions postponed construction projects, we were able to continue building as scheduled on our Center for Health Sciences, which is on schedule to open in the fall of 2011.
The excerpt below comes from President Ronald R. Thomas, in University of Puget Sound’s most recent financial report:
“[In 2009,] We recorded our second highest annual fund total on record, secured significant capital gift commitments, and saw our senior class—entering a very tough job market—give to the annual fund at a record high rate…And at a time when many colleges were forced to make painful layoffs, cut academic programs, impose furloughs, and assume debt to cover operating costs, we balanced our budget and added to endowment for financial aid. Our credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, reviewed our creditworthiness and reaffirmed our A1/A+ ratings, respectively.”
What kind of financial aid and scholarships do you offer?
As an independent college, we recognize our responsibility to help meet the financial need of students who want to invest in a rigorous liberal arts education. Award packages typically combine scholarships and grants, loans, and student employment. Our academic merit scholarships range from $15,000 to $19,000. We also offer scholarships in music, art, forensics (i.e. speech and debate), and community leadership. Scholarships based on academic interests are available as well. As our athletic programs are NCAA Division III, we do not offer any athletic scholarships or preferential aid awards for varsity athletes.
The total cost for room, board, tuition, and mandatory fees last year combined was about $50,000. More information is available on our Student Financial Services website.
Who’s not a fit for Puget Sound?
Puget Sound is a small liberal arts college. Typically, a student who’s a good fit for a small liberal arts college will enroll full-time, live on campus or within walking distance of campus for all four years, and take advantage of academic and co-curricular resources beyond minimum graduation requirements. The student who isn’t interested in co-curricular and extra-curricular aspects of their education (such as research with faculty or joining clubs and organizations) is probably not a fit for a residential liberal arts college like Puget Sound.
In applications, we look for students who are intellectual, adventurous, multi-dimensional, independent, friendly, autonomous, hard-working, mature, open-minded, beneficent (driven to effect positive change in the world), internationally interested, and excited about ideas.
We’re also looking for students who are a match for an education in the liberal arts and sciences. Some of the most popular majors on campus are biology, English, psychology, international political economy, and politics and government. We also offer programs of note in fields traditionally less served by liberal arts colleges, such as Asian Studies, Business and Leadership, and music.