UW Graduate School

Guidance regarding graduate program adjustments during Extraordinary Circumstances Quarters

The Graduate School acknowledges that graduate programs may need to make adjustments to courses, program sequencing, or program requirements in response to COVID-19, the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy  Order, and the UW’s resulting shift in operations.

For any quarter designated an Extraordinary Circumstances Quarter, the accommodations below will apply to graduate programs. Indication of which quarters qualify as an Extraordinary Circumstances Quarter will be noted on the Office of the University Registrar’s website.

During Extraordinary Circumstances Quarters:

  • The Graduate School will accommodate changes to program requirements that are needed to support graduate programs in response to mandated online learning or stay-at-home orders.
  • Programs are required to provide written clarity to all students about accommodations such as allowable course substitutions, changes to the curriculum, changes to required practicum or internship experience, etc.
  • Programs are not required to notify the UW Curriculum Office or the Graduate School for temporary shifts of coursework or other curricular elements to online format. Permanent changes must go through the normal approval process.
  • If an accrediting body has provided waivers to specific requirements for an accredited program, the Graduate School will align its requirements with guidelines from the accreditor.
  • Students facing individual situations (such as personal or family illness) that keep them from completing or progressing through their program of study should work closely with their program GPA and GPC to devise an individual plan. Programs should make use of the existing support options for students which may include a revised plan of study, on-leave status, or other mechanisms that address the student’s situation and ability to progress through the program. 

Petitions for Exceptions to Graduation Requirements during Extraordinary Circumstances Quarters

The chart at the bottom of this document indicates what level of review and approval is required for different scenarios. 

Where Graduate School notification or approval is required, petitions for individual students or a cohort of students must be submitted to Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS). Petitions will be reviewed by GEMS who will consult with Academic Affairs & Planning (OAAP) whether the request compromises program-level goals and objectives. These petitions are temporary measures driven by current circumstances and should not be seen as repeatable in the future. If programs plan to make longer-term changes, they should follow the normal program change processes outlined at Creating/Modifying Programs.

  • Petitions for individual students are submitted in MyGrad and must include the following information:
    1. what exception to graduation requirements is being requested
    2.  quarter/year student is scheduled to graduate
    3.  statement of COVID-19 impact on student’s ability to graduate on time
    4. statement of how the proposed exception appropriately meets program outcomes/goals.
    5.  whether same exception is being petitioned for other students
  • Petitions for a cohort of students graduating in the same quarter are submitted to the attention of Nichole Fernkes, GEMS Interim Director at gemshelp@uw.edu and must include the following information:
    1. what exception to graduation requirements is being requested
    2. quarter/year students are scheduled to graduate
    3.  statement of COVID-19 impact on cohort of students’ ability to graduate on time
    4. statement of how the proposed exception appropriately meets program outcomes/goals
  • Petitions for a group of students graduating in different quarters should follow the process for individual students listed above.

The Graduate School recognizes changes may impact individual students or a cohort of students who are scheduled to graduate after the UW returns to normal operations. Programs should submit those petitions as early as possible.

Exceptions to Graduate School policies during Extraordinary Circumstances Quarters Program approval required? Graduate School petition required?If Yes, petition type to use in MyGrad Graduate School additional documentation and review may be required?
Remote course delivery (distance learning) No No No
Remote participation in doctoral exams No No No
Change to course sequencing Yes No No
Change to capstone requirement Yes Yes -Waive Graduate School requirements Yes
Course substitutions or other course-level requirement changes Yes No No
Waiver of graded credit requirement1(Memo 46 Yes Yes – Waive Graduate School requirements No
Lowering total dissertation credits (800) required (Memo 46) Yes Yes -Waive Graduate School requirements Yes
Lowering total credits required towards degree Yes Yes -Waive Graduate School requirements Yes
Extended the maximum time to degree (Memo 46) No Yes (1) Master’s degree – Extend six-year limit (2) Doctoral degree – Extend ten-year limit No

Courses offered during Extraordinary Circumstances Quarters that are changed from numerically graded to CR/NC may be allowed to reduce the number of graded credits required by the Graduate School. Satisfactory (S) grades for these quarters will count toward degree and graduation requirements. Graduate School petitions and DARS exceptions are not required for S grades during this time.