Additional Information on Policy 1.4 & Stacked Degree FAQ – UW Graduate School Skip to content

Additional Information on Policy 1.4 & Stacked Degree FAQ

This page contains additional information on each requirement from Policy 1.4, as well as general FAQs on stacked degrees.

Additional Information on Policy 1.4

All graduate certificates must follow the policies outlined in Policy 1.2.” 

There is no distinction between a graduate certificate used as part of a stacked degree and a graduate certificate intended to be earned independently by a graduate student pursuing another degree or a student enrolled only in the certificate program. 

As such, the review and approval process is the same for all graduate certificates.

“There are no restrictions on credit sharing between a graduate certificate and a graduate degree program.” 

All requirements from a graduate certificate may be applied towards a stacked degree (applies to coursework as well as other components of the certificate). 

“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 Policy 3.1.” 

Since graduate certificate students are enrolled graduate students, academic units have full responsibility for providing the support and opportunities they provide all of their graduate students. It is critical that all students have access to appropriate staff and faculty advising, facilities and events, and any other opportunities provided to graduate students. 

“Stacked degrees and the graduate certificates they are comprised of will appear as credentials on the student transcript.” 

Once a student earns a graduate certificate, this will appear on the student transcript. It is the responsibility of the program to request conferral of the graduate certificate in a timely manner. This applies whether or not the student intends to pursue a graduate degree that contains the graduate certificate as a component of the degree. 

Once the student completes all graduate degree requirements, this is processed the same way as any other degree program. 

“A stacked graduate degree program must include a capstone or culminating experience.” 

Although Graduate School policy allows some applied professional master’s programs to be coursework only, all stacked degrees require a final culminating or integrated experience as described in Policy 1.1

“The title of a stacked graduate degree must clearly reflect the academic focus of the degree program.” 

The nomenclature of a degree title follows the principles articulated in Policy 1.3

“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.” 

Stacked degrees and the graduate certificates included in them adhere to the same expectations as any other degree program in terms of oversight and administrative support. The academic unit must assure specific guidance and advising resources for students enrolled in certificates that may be stacked towards a degree. 

Stacked Degree Frequently Asked Questions

No, stacked degrees will be approved as “bundles” of certificates with a culminating experience, like any other graduate credential, to ensure a coherent and rigorous program of study. 

Yes, this will allow units to test prospective student interest gradually and will have the added advantage of not burdening faculty with the task of envisioning and proposing a full degree program at once. Stacked degrees can also be proposed all at one time, that is, a proposal with both the degree and the component certificates.


Stacked degrees can be master’s degrees or practice doctorates, but not the Ph.D.

Stacked degrees will be just like other graduate degrees which can either be tuition-based or fee-based.

Components of a stacked degree must be approved graduate certificates as described in Policy 1.2. These graduate certificates consist of transcripted graduate coursework, and the graduate certificate appears as a credential on the student transcript. Students pursuing a stacked degree or a graduate certificate must be matriculated graduate students and thus must apply to a graduate program and meet Policy 3.1 admissions requirements.

UWC2 Professional and Continuing Education may offer non-credit certificates for the general public which do not go through the same approval process as University of Washington degrees and graduate certificates, and which do not appear on the student transcript. An academic unit intending to “convert” an existing UW Continuum College certificate to a graduate certificate must propose it as a new graduate certificate program following the graduate certificate proposal guidelines.

Prospective international students may be eligible for F-1 visas for approved graduate certificates. The Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs will work with International Student Services (UW Seattle and UW Bothell), International Student and Scholar Services (UW Tacoma), and faculty who want to develop graduate certificates available to F-1 visa holders.

F-1 status students in graduate certificate programs must maintain full-time enrollment of ten credits or more. F-1 status students are not eligible for all remote graduate certificates or stacked degrees. The program of study must have an in-person component.

In order to be eligible for F-1 students to apply for post-completion optional practical training (OPT) after completion of certificate programs, students must have maintained full time enrollment for three consecutive quarters and have not been granted post-completion OPT at a higher or the same level of education.

Stackable graduate certificates may be eligible for financial aid if the certificate leads to “gainful employment” and certain other requirements, and is approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The UW Office of Student Financial Aid is exploring federal rules governing certificates and assessing the resources necessary to manage aid for them. Faculty who want to develop graduate certificates eligible for financial aid should work with the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs who will be partnering with the Office of Student Financial Aid as we develop procedures and policies for this new type of curriculum.

As stated in Policy 1.4, continuous enrollment is not required. A stacked degree follows the time limits described in Policy 1.1 for all degree programs (six years for a master’s degree; ten years for a PhD). Exceptions to these time limits can be made at the academic unit level.

Units offering stacked degrees may determine that shorter time limits are needed and describe this information in the program proposal. 

Stacked degrees and their component graduate certificates must be under the oversight of one dean (for Seattle campus) or chancellor (Bothell and Tacoma campuses). For stacked degrees featuring graduate certificates from multiple units under one dean, the degree program code and official oversight will be housed at the school/college/campus level rather than in one unit.