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Applicant Advice (Part 1 of 2): Digital Portfolio and Prerequisite Course Requirements

Date: January 10, 2019

Many of the most frequently asked questions from GIX graduate applicants relate to the digital portfolio and prerequisite coursework requirements.

Since the deadline to apply to the GIX MSTI and Dual Degree Programs is January 21st (less than two weeks away!), we asked our Admissions Committee to provide key information and tips that will help prospective students secure a place in one of GIX’s graduate programs.

Here’s how to check if you meet the coursework requirements and effectively showcase your work in your digital portfolio:

Digital Portfolio

All applicants are encouraged to submit a digital portfolio, and although it’s not required, we highly recommend it! Your portfolio gives you the opportunity to visually demonstrate your experience and skillset in a way that’s creative and tangible.

We recommend including three to four examples of your previous work or projects. To give you a few ideas, this could include screenshots from an app you built, a video of a project you worked on, show a prototype or concept, or an example of a Kickstarter campaign you launched.

Top tip:

Create the portfolio in a PDF format. You may include examples of your work directly in the PDF or embed links to other sites, such as your own website or a portfolio website like GitHub or Squarespace. Don’t submit any hard-copy materials – include photos, diagrams, or brief, short videos of your work instead.  Your PDF portfolio should be no larger than 30 MB.

What content should be included in my portfolio? Are there any example frameworks or templates I can follow?

Above all else, we expect you to demonstrate your ability to develop potential solutions to problems and challenges. We want to better understand why you believe GIX is a good fit for you, and what unique contribution you would bring to the program and offer your classmates.

Below, we’ve provided an example framework you could use to showcase your work and demonstrate your thought process and accomplishments prior to GIX.

  • CAR (Challenge, Action, Result):
    • Challenge/Circumstance: Provide context into the problem area, circumstance, or challenge. Was this an individual or group project? What was your task or what was your team’s task? Was this a work project or academic assignment?
    • Action: Outline what you did, either as a team or individually. If you worked as a team, what role did you have and how did you contribute to the project?
    • Result: What is the solution/outcome of this project? How can you demonstrate your project was successful or explain what you learned for the experience?

I did several projects at my previous company. However, I cannot share them in my portfolio due to confidentiality issues. What should I do?

Share what you can. There is often confidential information in professional projects, so don’t worry, your situation isn’t unusual.  Try to outline the premise and approach of your project without diving deep into the details or proprietary information. Remember, you’re trying to showcase both your process and the results of your project. Much of the other information – like names, companies, and specifics about the nature of your project – isn’t essential. The CAR framework is still a great way to outline what you did and how you did it.

Top tip:

After completing your portfolio, we recommend asking a trusted friend or professor to review your portfolio for feedback and suggestions. To be fair to all applicants, the GIX Admissions Committee CANNOT review your portfolio before the application deadline.

Prerequisite Coursework

To apply for a GIX graduate degree, you MUST meet the following requirements:

  1. Successful completion of at least two computing courses (equivalent of UW CSE 142 and CSE 143) covering basic programming skills and concepts, including procedural programming (methods, parameters, return, values), basic control structures (sequence, if/else, for loop, while loop), file processing and arrays OR evidence of your software programming abilities through examples of your work in your digital portfolio.
  2. Completion of one of the following: Calculus course equivalent to UW MATH 125 (functions of a single variable) or higher OR a probability and mathematical statistics course equivalent to a 200-level UW STAT course or higher.

How can I verify if the classes I have previously taken meet the prerequisite requirements or not?

If you took these courses at a community college in Washington State,  please check the UW Equivalency Guide to ensure your courses correspond with our prerequisite requirements.

If you took courses at an institution/s outside of Washington State, and you’re not sure they meet the prerequisite course requirements, please refer to the applicable UW computing and calculus OR statistics course descriptions (as listed above in the essential coursework requirements section) to see if they correspond with the classes you’ve already taken.

If you haven’t completed the prerequisite coursework yet and still want to apply to one of the GIX programs starting in September 2019, we recommend demonstrating your technology and mathematical skills in application materials like your digital portfolio. This will strengthen your application. Please keep in mind, there are many types of opportunities to learn the basic programming skills we are looking for other than a formal degree program. We’d be happy to make specific suggestions if you don’t currently meet these prerequisites and are interested in applying in the future.

 Interested in additional advice about your application materials?

Feel free to send an email to msti@uw.edu to connect with our Admissions Committee directly.