Apply to Running Start

Running Start
Phone: (509) 963-1351
Fax: (509) 963-1690

Running Start Admission & Testing Information

Running Start is available to local high school students at the main campus in Ellensburg, at CWU Sammamish, and online. Below, you can learn more about our admission requirements, placement testing for specific courses, and apply to the program.

Upcoming Important Application Dates:

  • Winter 2023 applications are now closed.

  • Spring 2023 applications are being accepted through March 15, 2023.

  • Fall 2023 applications will be accepted from February 1, 2023 - September 13, 2023.

We encourage all students to apply and complete any required testing early.

  • Admission Requirements

    Applicants must be a junior or senior enrolled through a public school district in Washington State. Homeschool and private school students should contact their local school district office for information about enrolling in the district to access Running Start.

    • Applicants with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher* have met the admissions requirements.
    • Applicants with a 2.00 - 2.99 cumulative GPA will be considered for admission through a comprehensive review process, which takes into consideration: high school GPA, placement recommendations for English and/or mathematics, personal statement, high school grade trends and course rigor. For those with a 2.00 - 2.49 GPA, a personal statement is required.
    • Homeschool students are evaluated on an individual basis and must submit both homeschool transcripts and appropriate test scores.

    To be considered for admission, students must have at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA in high school and any applicable college work.

    *Placement recommendations for English and/or math placement are required for all students with a cumulative GPA below 3.0. Please be aware that regardless of GPA, students are required to take the self-directed placement survey to enroll in English 101 and are required to take a math placement exam to enroll in math classes. Please see the testing section below for more information.

  • Testing Requirements

    In order to register for a particular class, students must meet the eligibility requirements as stated in the CWU Course Catalog. Requirements usually vary between classes, but two common requirements are either successfully passing previous coursework and/or placement testing. Please see the CWU College Catalog for a full listing of appropriate placement tests and scores.

    Testing and Placement Information

    English Placement

    CWU uses directed self-placement for English courses. You can learn more about that and access the directed self-placement survey on the Directed Self-Placement page. Students need to take the directed self-placement survey and email their recommendations to their Running Start advisor if they plan to enroll in English 101.

    Math Placement

    For math testing, students should choose between Accuplacer or ALEKS testing. Please read below to choose the test that will work best for you.

    Please note - the Running Start office can provide testing vouchers for Accuplacer Math Placement Exams to students who qualify for the Running Start Testing Fee Waiver & Book Loan Program. We cannot provide vouchers for ALEKS testing. If you are eligible and need a waiver, you will want to plan to take the Accuplacer test. You need to apply to the program, be approved, and let your advisor know that you need a waiver BEFORE scheduling your Accuplacer test.

    Accuplacer Math Placement Exam

    The Accuplacer Math Placement Exam consist of three different math tests: 1) Arithmetic, 2) Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics (QAS), and 3) Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF). The exam is an adaptive test that starts in Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics (QAS). If a student answers enough questions correctly, the student will then move in to the Advanced Algebra and Functions (AAF) exam. If a student answers too many questions in QAS incorrectly, the student will move in to the Arithmetic exam.

    This exam is not timed. See study guides:

    Next Generation Arithmetic Sample Questions
    Next Generation Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra, and Statistics Sample Questions
    Next Generation Advanced Algebra and Functions Sample Questions

    ALEKS Math Placement

    The ALEKS exam gives students five attempts to get their best score. The first attempt is taken from your computer at home and is not used for placement. This is a diagnostic tool that reveals your strengths and areas for improvement. Based on your performance on the diagnostic attempt, you will then have access to practice modules to prepare you for attempts 2-5. These will help to prepare you to get your first best score on the proctored attempts. You must wait 48 hours after your first attempt and complete 3 hours of practice modules before your second attempt.

    Attempts 2-5 must be proctored and can be at taken at home. Testing Services has information on their website for how to take the proctored test from home.

    Testing fees and directions for scheduling testing are available on the Testing Services website. If you have questions about scheduling math placement testing, please contact Testing Services at 509-963-1847 or

    World Language Placement

    CWU offers classes in American Sign Language (ASL), Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean Russian, Spanish, and Heritage Spanish. Please see the Language Placement Testing page for information about how to find the best placement for the language you want to enroll in. If you have questions about language placement testing or need help scheduling a placement test for world languages, please contact that office at 509-963-1218 or

  • Apply Now

    Students can apply by creating an account and completing the online Running Start application. Students will need to provide all information requested and submit a copy of their high school transcript before submitting the application. Students with appropriate test scores should also submit a scanned copy of their test scores in the online application.

    NOTE: You cannot be logged into a CWU account of any kind (MyCWU, Outlook, or Canvas) and complete the application. If you receive an error message, please clear your browsing history and open the application in a new window.

    Students will be notified via the email they provided in their application of their status and whether any additional information is needed.

    If you have questions about your application, please email us at