Roger Williams University


Roger Williams University (RWU) opened in 1919 as a branch campus of Northeastern University. The YMCA Board of Directors took over the school in 1940, closed its doors during World War II, and reopened the school as the YMCA Institute. The first associate’s degrees were granted in 1948.

In 1956, the YMCA Institute became Roger Williams Junior College and began conferring bachelor’s degrees. It moved to its own campus in Bristol in 1969 and was designated a university in 1992.

Today, RWU serves over 3,500 undergraduates with more than 40 majors to choose from. The school strives to provide a liberal arts education that represents the ideals of Roger Williams, the founder of the state of Rhode Island and a staunch advocate for religious freedom, tolerance, and democracy. In pursuit of this goal, students are encouraged to grow both inside and outside the classroom, with an emphasis on civil appreciation and clear communication.


Information Summary

Ranks 8th in Rhode Island and 1521st overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 72.6
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $54,642
Admission Success rate N/A
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 20 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 81% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 4,860


RWU offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of liberal arts subjects. Students can choose from more than 40 different undergraduate majors and at least a dozen graduate degrees. The course choices are organized into eight academic schools:

  • Feinstein College of Arts & Sciences
  • Mario J. Gabelli School of Business
  • School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation
  • School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management
  • School of Education
  • School of Justice Studies
  • School of Law
  • School of Graduate and Continuing Studies

Students at RWU enjoy the benefits of a small school with an average class size of 19 and a high degree of student-faculty interaction. Many students at RWU, both graduate and undergraduate, have the opportunity to do research projects, present at conferences, design their own majors, or assist professors in their work. There are no TAs, so every class is a chance to connect with a professor and possibly discover a new opportunity. There are also many opportunities outside of the classroom, including options for study abroad, internships, and volunteer services.

Honors Program

The Honors Program at RWU is a living/learning community, which means that every honors student gets the chance to interact and learn with their peers on many different levels. Honors students are able to enroll in more challenging courses that stress interdisciplinary understanding and depth of knowledge. Honors students are also encouraged to perform independent research and study abroad to expand their academic experience. RWU applicants who have a GPA of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale and a minimum SAT Math and Reading score of 1250 (ACT score of 28) are eligible to apply. The application is available online and requires one 500-word essay on a specific topic.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Conference Centre :: Roger Williams University
College Logo :: Roger Williams University


RWU has a competitive application process, so not every applicant is guaranteed a spot in the university. RWU participates in the Common Application (Common App), which is an online application that allows students to apply to many universities at once with one shared form. To apply to RWU, students should fill out this form, then complete the RWU Common Application Supplement, which includes sections for declaring a probably major and filling out additional personal information. Students should also submit their official high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, AP exam scores if applicable, an application essay, and one letter of recommendation. The application essay should be between 250 and 500 words.

Different programs may require additional materials or information. This is frequently the case with fine arts programs like Performing Arts, Graphic Design, Creative Writing, and Visual Arts. Please see specific program pages on the RWU website to learn more about these requirements.

Financial Aid

Students seeking financial aid should begin by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available online at This form determines eligibility for federal aid in the form of grants, loans, work-study programs, and subsidies. The FAFSA is also a required component of many third-party loan and scholarship applications. Students should fill out the FAFSA at the beginning of February.

There are also additional sources of aid that students may want to pursue if they don’t qualify for federal need-based aid. These sources include scholarships, grants, and loans from many different sponsors, including RWU itself. Over 90% of the 2011-2012 incoming class received some form of financial aid to help with tuition and academic fees.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 128th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Rhode Island.


RWU has a diverse and thriving student activity culture. It offers more than 60 clubs and organizations that give students the opportunity to get involved in everything from marine science to alternative entertainment and skiing. Aspiring talk show hosts and DJs will love getting involved in WGRI-FM, the campus radio station; upcoming journalists might want to write for the Hawk’s Herald, RWU’s student newspaper. These organizations offer real-world experience as well as a fun and close-knit club atmosphere. And who knows? This year’s freelance article writer may be next year’s section editor and senior year’s editor in chief.

Living On Campus

Many RWU students choose to live on campus in one of the school’s nine residence halls. Living on campus puts students right in the middle of the action, which makes it easy to get involved in impromptu campus events. Residence hall choices include both dorm-style and apartment-style living, with most students sharing a double occupancy bedroom with a roommate. Some residence halls even offer special amenities like pools or weight rooms.

There are also special accommodations for students that want to live near people who share their interests. Living Learning Communities are housing blocks that bring together like-minded students. Healthy U, a special interest residence that focuses on mind, body, and spiritual wellness, and PEACE, people enthusiastic about cultural experience, are two examples of the unique housing opportunities that you might choose to live in.


Every student is eligible for an on-campus dining plan, which offers access to the university’s eight dining halls, cafes, and convenience stores. Students with meal plans enjoy warm dinners, fresh salad bars, and even branded food like Starbucks and Quiznos. There are many tiered meal options available to meet the different needs of the diverse student body.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


RWU is an NCAA Division III school with 20 varsity men’s and women’s teams. The Hawks compete in basketball, sailing, tennis, lacrosse, and more.

RWU also offers six intramural sports, a number of club teams, and a recreation center with classes that are open to all students. Intramural options include basketball, dodgeball, volleyball, and wiffle ball. These are great opportunities to bond with friends or compete against classmates and faculty. Students also have full access to the RWU Rec Center, which includes a basketball court, squash courts, a pool, and a gym with weight and cardio equipment. If you’d like to try something different, sign up for one of the many classes that are offered in activities like spin, Zumba, yoga, and more. Finally, borrow a kayak from the Rec Center or join a watersport team to enjoy the beautiful RWU Waterfront.


  • Roger Williams University. Roger Williams University Honors Program Application. Print.
  • Roger Williams University. Roger Williams University Supplement to the Common Application. Print.
  • Roger Williams University. Web. 22 Sept. 2011.

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