UW Graduate School

Memo 50: The Stacked Graduate Degree

A “stacked degree” is a graduate program that includes as part of its degree requirements one or more earned graduate certificates. The intent of a stacked degree should be to provide for flexible entry to graduate education for students who would benefit from a graduate certificate credential and who may or may not ultimately pursue a graduate degree. Stackable graduate certificates may be earned independently from a degree or may be combined to apply towards degree requirements as described in the following policy. Master’s degree programs and practice doctorate degree programs may incorporate stackable graduate certificates. 

Review and approval of a stacked  degree is managed as part of the degree program approval or program change process overseen by the Graduate School and must adhere to the following: 

  • All graduate certificates must follow the policies outlined in Memo 43: Graduate Certificates 
  • There are no restrictions on credit sharing between a graduate certificate and a graduate degree program. 
  • Students who are admitted to the University of Washington through a graduate certificate are matriculated graduate students and must meet the admission standards described in Memo 3
  • Stacked degrees and the graduate certificates they are comprised of will appear as credentials on the student transcript. 
  • A stacked graduate degree program must include a capstone or culminating experience. 
  • The title of a stacked graduate degree must clearly reflect the academic focus of the degree program. 
  • Stacked degrees and the graduate certificates they are comprised of must have clear academic oversight by the graduate faculty of the proposing unit, as well as clear administrative support. This must be articulated as part of the program proposal process. 
  • The Graduate School does not mandate continuous enrollment for stacked credentials. However, the total time period to complete the degree must fall within the limits described in Memo 46: Graduate Degree Requirements. Program policy around time limits must be described in the program proposal, including: 
  • How students are protected from starting one or more certificates when they may not be able to complete the stacked degree within a reasonable time. 
  • Whether there should be a time-limit for specific coursework to apply towards degree requirements, considering that some content may become outdated.  

July 2022