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One Old Ferry Road
Bristol, RI 02809-2921
p. 401-253-1040
w. www.rwu.edu

Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University Rating: 4.0/5 (6 votes)

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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.


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


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 fafsa.gov. 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 328th 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.

Information Summary

Ranks 8th in Rhode Island and 1282nd overall
See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list

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Campus Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 2 0.04
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 5 0.10
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 6 0.12
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest 41 0.85

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 9 0.04
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Forcible Rape 2 0.01
Robbery 1 0.00
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 57 0.25
Larceny 252 1.10
Vehicle theft 2 0.01

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near Bristol, RI 02809-2921
Surrounding communityLarge suburb (inside urban area but outside city, pop. over 250,000)
Total Population22,469 (22,270 urban / 199 rural)
Households8,314 (2.45 people per house)
Median Household Income$43,689
Families5,650 (2.99 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Master's Colleges and Universities (smaller programs)
UndergraduateBalanced arts & sciences/professions, some graduate coexistence
GraduatePostbaccalaureate professional (other dominant fields)
Undergraduate PopulationFull-time four-year, selective, lower transfer-in
EnrollmentVery high undergraduate
Size & SettingMedium four-year, highly residential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringMaster's degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District4401

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 277th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $29,976 $29,976 $29,976
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $1,692 $1,692 $1,692
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $1,249 $1,249 $1,249
FT Graduate Tuition $17,388 $17,388 $17,388
FT Graduate Required Fees N/A N/A N/A
PT Graduate per Credit Hour $966 $966 $966
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $49,394 $49,394 $49,394
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $39,148 $39,148 $39,148
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $34,822 $34,822 $34,822

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $30,908 $31,618 $30,908 $31,618 $30,908 $31,618
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $900(N/C)
On-Campus – Room & Board $13,220 $13,990
On-Campus – Other Expenses $2,540 $2,628
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $4,010 $4,150
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $2,368 $2,292
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $2,390 $2,188

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$50
Graduate Application Fee$50
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 9,021 (4,148 male / 4,873 female)
Admitted 7,305 (3,172 male / 4,133 female)
Admission rate 81%
First-time Enrollment 1,104 (495 male / 609 female)
FT Enrollment 1,102 (494 male / 608 female)
PT Enrollment 2 (1 male / 1 female)
Total Enrollment4,732

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /   / 
College Prep. Completion
Formal competency demo
Admission test scoresN/A
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NCAA
NCAA Basketball Conference Commonwealth Coast Conference
NCAA Baseball Conference Commonwealth Coast Conference
NCAA Track & Field Conference Commonwealth Coast Conference

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity2,995
Meals per Week50
Room Fee$7,610
Board Fee$6,510

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

Total 26 23 33 15 1 791 186 1,091
Accounting 27 8 36
American/United States Studies/Civilization 2 2
Architecture 3 1 6 3 110 19 144
Art History, Criticism and Conservation 2 1 3
Art/Art Studies, General 1 5 2 9
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 1 1 18 7 27
Business Administration and Management, General 2 1 43 10 56
Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other 1 1
Chemistry, General 1 1 2
Communication and Media Studies, Other 1 1 1 1 51 19 76
Computer Science 1 1
Construction Engineering Technology/Technician 1 1 1 27 4 34
Corrections and Criminal Justice, Other 1 1
Creative Writing 1 1 2
Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration 1 2 3 1 71 10 89
Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism 10 2 12
Dance, General 5 1 6
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 3 1 5
Economics, General 3 3
Education, General 2 1 3
Elementary Education and Teaching 1 36 5 42
Engineering, General 2 1 20 8 32
English Language and Literature, General 1 11 3 16
Environmental Health
Environmental Science 9 2 11
Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
Finance, General 1 1 28 10 41
Foreign Languages and Literatures, General 1 5 6
Forensic Psychology 2 8 1 12
Graphic Communications, General 1 8 4 13
Health Teacher Education
Health/Health Care Administration/Management 3 1 5 4 13
Historic Preservation and Conservation 8 8
History Teacher Education 1 3 1 5
History, General 12 2 14
International Business/Trade/Commerce 3 10 3 16
International/Global Studies 2 6 1 9
Legal Assistant/Paralegal 4 2 14 4 24
Legal Professions and Studies, Other 1 14 5 22
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities, Other 2 1 3
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 1 1 2
Management Information Systems, General 3 1 1 6 1 12
Manufacturing Engineering Technology/Technician 2 2
Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography 1 1 24 5 31
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 1 2 37 11 51
Mathematics, General 3 1 5
Mental and Social Health Services and Allied Professions, Other 2 4 6
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other 2 4 2 8
Musicology and Ethnomusicology 1 1
Operations Management and Supervision 1 12 2 15
Philosophy 2 1 3
Political Science and Government, General 1 12 1 15
Psychology, General 1 4 1 48 10 64
Public Administration 3 3 2 1 27 8 44
Reading Teacher Education 9 9
Social Sciences, General
Social Sciences, Other 1 11 3 15
Teacher Education, Multiple Levels 1 1 5 7
Visual and Performing Arts, General 1 1 2

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 224th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $99,407 ($102,904 male / $92,078 female)
Number of FT Faculty 206 (120 male / 86 female)
Number of PT Faculty 466
FT Faculty Ratio 0.4 : 1
Total Benefits $10,068,000

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