Guidelines for Changes to a Graduate Program

Proposing Significant Changes

Significant changes to graduate degree programs and graduate certificate programs require approval from the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs and Planning Prior to implementation. A “significant” change is one that impacts the core curriculum or otherwise substantively affects a student’s progression towards the degree.

Significant changes typically include changes to:

  • Core curriculum
    • Changing courses comprising the core, required curriculum
    • Increasing or decreasing the number of minimum credits required to complete a degree program
  • Completion requirements
    • Adding or changing a thesis or non-thesis requirement
    • Changes that impact students’ progression through a program when compared to requirements at the time of their admission
  • Learning outcomes
    • Changes that alter the program’s overall learning outcomes

To initiate review of proposed changes, unit representative must complete the Significant Change Proposal form. Units are encouraged to submit a draft version of the form prior to obtaining final approval and signatures from unit leadership. This allows Graduate School staff to offer guidance early in the process.

After communicating with the Graduate School Office of Academic Affairs and Planning, the unit will submit its finalized Significant Change Proposal.

Contact the Office of Academic Affairs and Planning ( if you have questions regarding the Significant Change Proposal form.

Making Minor Changes

Minor changes do not alter the core curriculum or other fundamental components of a graduate degree or graduate certificate program.

Minor changes are typically limited to:

  • Adding or eliminating courses that satisfy elective requirements. Elective course lists are locally maintained by academic units.
  • Updating course numbers and/or titles for core, required courses when course content and learning objectives have not changed.

The minor change process varies depending on if a program is encoded in the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS).

  • Programs already encoded in DARS must notify the DARS Office after faculty approval ( and should copy GEMS (
  • Programs not yet encoded in DARS must keep a record of any minor changes made.

No university-level approval is required for minor changes, and the academic unit is responsible for assuring there is no impact on current students in their progression towards the degree.

Prior to making or requesting a minor change, review the Significant Change Proposal form and significant change description to verify that the requested change is minor. Refer all inquiries to the Graduate School Office of Academic Affairs and Planning:

Changes to Admission Requirements

No Graduate School approval is required to change admission requirements for a program with an existing application. For new applications see Creating an Admission Application in MyGrad.

Academic Unit Name Changes

The Provost’s Office notifies the Graduate School when units are renamed at the college/school or departmental level. If unit renaming will involve degree title changes, contact the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs & Planning before submitting documents for approval.

Degree Title Changes

The Graduate School processes changes to graduate program titles when reflected in the degree or graduate certificate title, as well as to degree option titles reflected in the transcripted credential.

Changes to degree program titles may require a 14-day tri-campus graduate faculty comment period, and require approval by the Graduate School. Final approval by the Board of Regents is also required. Changes to the transcripted area of focus in a degree option do not require review by the Board of Regents and are reviewed and approved by the Graduate School. For example, in Doctor of Philosophy (Applied Mathematics: Advanced Data Science), the degree program title is Doctor of Philosophy (Applied Mathematics) and the degree option/area of focus is Advanced Data Science. For more information about degree programs and credentials, see Graduate School Policy 1.3.

Any change to the degree title, graduate certificate title, or any other change impacting the transcripted credential (e.g., degree option title) requires a memorandum from the unit Chair/Director/Dean to the Graduate School Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Planning in the Office of Academic Affairs & Planning outlining the following:

  1. Description of the proposed title change(s), including any related program changes. If significant changes to program requirements, see section on proposing significant changes above.
  2. Rationale for the change
  3. Timeline for implementation of the new graduate program title(s) or credential.
  4. Transition plan for students currently in the program(s)
  5. Confirmation of faculty review and approval of changes (department level and school/college level, if appropriate)
  6. Accompanying documentation (e.g., of action by the Provost)

The Graduate School will take the title change request to the Board of Regents, if necessary, and the Provost will notify the unit in writing of the approved title change. At that time, Academic Affairs and Planning will initiate with the Office of the Registrar the creation of new degree codes.

Change of Administrative Location

Contact your dean’s office to change the administrative location of an existing graduate degree program (e.g., moving a graduate degree program from one department to another). Depending on the nature of the change, approval is by the Dean, Provost, or Board of Regents.

Changes to Funding or Delivery Model

Contact the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs & Planning for information on changing funding models (fee-based vs. state funded) or delivery model (e.g., adding an online only option to an existing graduate degree). Include a brief description of the anticipated changes when emailing  The Graduate School is involved in approval only when changes are made to the program requirements or curriculum/outcomes, graduate program (degree) title, or transcripted credential.

In addition to working with Academic Affairs and Planning, the following changes require coordination with the Office of Student Financial Aid: Changing a program’s delivery model; changing funding models; providing instruction off of the three UW campuses; changing instruction frequency for distance learning programs; and changing instruction outside of UW’s regular academic calendar.