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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.

Yes!

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.

Policy 4.4: Interdisciplinary Committees and Degree-Offering Groups

Certain fields of knowledge or inquiry may be of interest to members of the graduate faculty associated with two or more academic units across different schools, colleges, or campuses. To facilitate collaboration, the Dean of the Graduate School may establish two types of faculty organizations under the Graduate School’s administrative structure: non-degree-offering interdisciplinary committees or degree-offering interdisciplinary groups.

Deans of colleges or schools other than the Graduate School may support interdisciplinary activities within those units according to local policies and established faculty governance. Policy 4.4 applies exclusively to interdisciplinary committee and degree-offering groups within the Graduate School.

The Dean of the Graduate School appoints Graduate School interdisciplinary committees and Graduate School interdisciplinary groups at the request of a group of graduate faculty. Interdisciplinary committees and groups may be established when the interests of participating faculty cannot easily be represented by a single chair, dean, or chancellor, and when a single college, school, or campus cannot provide the administrative structure required to support related educational activities. Interdisciplinary committee and group membership is limited to members of the graduate faculty. These faculty serve as committee or group members, nominate a chair who is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School, and identify additional members. Faculty members active in these committees and groups retain primary association and faculty appointment in the home academic unit.

Graduate School interdisciplinary committees do not offer graduate degrees or certificates, while Graduate School interdisciplinary groups serve as qualified academic units that have been authorized to offer a graduate degree and/or graduate certificate. The Graduate School serves as the college-level administrative location for any resulting academic programs.

4.4.1     Interdisciplinary Committees

Graduate faculty members from more than one school, college, or campus who wish to establish an interdisciplinary committee concerned substantially with research or graduate education may ask to be designated as a Graduate School interdisciplinary committee.

  • Among the purposes of such committees may be to formalize coordination across institutional boundaries of research projects, proposal submissions, graduate student recruitment, consulting, seminars, or graduate curricula.
  • An interdisciplinary committee does not offer its own graduate degree, certificate, coursework, or independent curriculum; graduate students associated with such a committee must be enrolled in and meet all requirements of an authorized degree program.
  • Interdisciplinary committees may initiate development of a new graduate degree or graduate certificate program.

4.4.1.1     Establishing an Interdisciplinary Committee

A request to establish an interdisciplinary committee is made by letter from participating graduate faculty to the Dean of the Graduate School.

  • The letter should describe the purpose of the committee and list the proposed members along with faculty ranks and units of primary appointment.
  • The letter should also identify the committee chair or co-chairs who will serve for the duration of the committee’s activities or until the committee formally elects another chair.
  • The committee chair leads the committee and reports to the Dean of the Graduate School regarding committee activities.

Committees are initially appointed for up to three years, coinciding with the academic calendar.

The Graduate School normally does not offer financial support for committee activities.

4.4.1.2     Committee Administration

  • At the end of the appointment period, the committee chair must inform the Graduate School as to whether reappointment of the committee is desired.
  • Changes to either committee membership or the committee chair are by the following process: (1) nomination by a committee member or chair; (2) quorum majority vote endorsing the new chair or committee member (in person, electronic, or paper); (3) submission of vote results from the committee chair to the Dean of the Graduate School via the Office of Academic Affairs and Planning; and (4) confirmation from the Graduate School.
  • Members are removed from the committee when: (1) the faculty member resigns from the committee; (2) the faculty member’s graduate faculty appointment ends; (3) the defined appointment term on the committee ends; or (4) the committee members vote to remove the member according to the voting process described above.

4.4.2     Interdisciplinary Groups

If faculty wish to create an interdisciplinary graduate degree or certificate program under the Graduate School Dean’s Office, the first step is formation of an interdisciplinary committee. Following approval of the interdisciplinary committee, its faculty may propose a graduate degree or certificate program following the same process as a new degree or certificate proposal from any department, school, college, or campus.

If the Board of Regents grants authority to offer the new degree, the interdisciplinary committee is designated as a qualified degree-offering interdisciplinary “group” and is administered through the Graduate School. The chair of the interdisciplinary committee becomes chair of the newly formed interdisciplinary group on an interim basis. The chair’s appointment must be re-confirmed by vote of the faculty group according to the procedures below and be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School for formal appointment.

4.4.2.1     Authority of the Interdisciplinary Group

A Graduate School interdisciplinary group functions as the degree-offering academic unit authorized to offer a graduate curriculum and to supervise graduate students associated with its graduate degree program.

  • The interdisciplinary group recommends admission to and graduation from its degree program.
  • It may administer an operating budget and space when these are available from cooperating schools and colleges; normally the Graduate School does not allocate such funds or facilities.
  • A group may administer research grants and contracts associated with the graduate program.
  • A group does not maintain primary appointments of its faculty; these are held in departments, schools, colleges, or campuses.

4.4.2.2     Interdisciplinary Group Membership

  • Members of an interdisciplinary group must be members of the University graduate faculty (see Policy 4.1).
  • Changes to group membership, group chair, or academic program director are by the following process: (1) nomination by a group member or group chair; (2) quorum majority vote by the faculty group regarding endorsement of the new member, chair, or director (in person, electronic, or paper); (3) submission of vote results from the group chair to the Dean of the Graduate School via the Office of Academic Affairs and Planning; and (4) confirmation by the Graduate School of new group members or formal appointment by the Dean of the Graduate School for a new chair or director.
  • Members are removed from the group when: (1) the faculty member resigns from the group; (2) the faculty member’s graduate faculty appointment ends; (3) the defined appointment term on the group ends; or (4) the group votes to remove the member according to the voting process described above.

4.4.2.3     Interdisciplinary Group Chair

The interdisciplinary group chair reports to the Dean of the Graduate School in the same manner that the chair of a department reports to the dean of a departmentalized school or college with regard to the academic program offered by the interdisciplinary group (Executive Order I.4). The chair is selected by the interdisciplinary faculty group as described under 4.4.2.2.

  • The chair has the additional responsibility of furnishing information regarding program details and coordinating support for the program with other chairs, directors, and deans who are directly concerned with the operation of the program.
  • The interdisciplinary group chair is responsible for monitoring the program’s budget and resources in coordination with program staff and the Graduate School.
  • The interdisciplinary group chair normally serves as the academic program director and Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC). In some cases, the role of the interdisciplinary group chair may be separate from the role of the academic program director. When these roles are distinct, either the chair or the program director may serve as the GPC. The academic program director must be a member of the graduate faculty and a member of the interdisciplinary group.

4.4.2.4     Group Administration

An interdisciplinary group may be continued indefinitely in the Graduate School, subject to periodic review by the Graduate School in the same manner as all graduate degree programs and at least once every ten years, or the degree program may be moved to another degree-offering unit following the appropriate university-level process. If the degree program is moved to another academic unit, the graduate faculty of that unit will have oversight of the degree program and the Graduate School interdisciplinary group will be dissolved.


Policy 4.4 revised: December, 1985; Updated: June 2010, October 2014; Revised: September 2017

Policy 2.1: Graduate Course Numbers, Titles, and Audience

Graduate courses numbered in the 500s through 800s are intended for and ordinarily restricted to either students enrolled in the Graduate School or graduate non-matriculated students who meet the requirements of Policy 3.3.

Graduate courses should be presented at a level that assumes enrolled students bring to the class a background at least equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the field or a related interdisciplinary field. Graduate courses must not be used to correct deficiencies in the student’s undergraduate work; courses normally expected to be part of undergraduate preparation for graduate study must be identified by undergraduate course numbers.

Some courses at the 300 and 400 levels are open to graduate students; see Policy 1.1 for using these courses for graduate degree requirements. 

2.1.1     Course Numbers and Titles

In order to maintain as much breadth as possible in the course offerings of a graduate unit, graduate level courses normally will carry the prefix designation of the academic unit authorized to offer the graduate program, e.g., English, Drama, Education, etc. However, in certain fields identification of specializations in graduate courses may be necessary or desirable. To propose special designation, the faculty in that unit may transmit to the Dean of the School or College the request to identify the field of specialization in the prefix. Special designation, if approved by the Dean of the College and the Registrar, may be established.

The following standardized course numbers and course titles have been established for graduate courses in all disciplines numbered 600, 601, 700, 800. Courses numbered 801 may have alternate course titles. Descriptions for all courses below are at the discretion of the proposing unit.

  • 600 – Independent Study or Research: Used for individual readings or study, including independent study in preparation for doctoral examinations, research, etc. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 601 – Internship: Used for Internships. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 700 – Master’s Thesis: Used for research for the master’s thesis, including research preparatory and/or related thereto. Limited to graduate students who have not yet completed the master’s degree in the student’s program of enrollment at the University of Washington. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 800 – Doctoral Dissertation: Used for research for the doctoral dissertation, including research preparatory and/or related thereto. Limited to those who have completed the master’s degree or the equivalent and have been admitted into a doctoral degree program, or candidate-level graduate students. Pre-master students initiating doctoral dissertation research should register for 600. Prerequisite: permission of Supervisory Committee Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, or Graduate Program Coordinator’s designee.
  • 801 – Practice Doctorate Project/Capstone: Used for the culminating project/capstone experience for practice doctorate degree programs (see Policy 1.1.5). Course title may vary to reflect the specific nature of the project/capstone (e.g., project, practicum, portfolio, applied dissertation, clinical work, etc.).

2.1.2     Course Delivery Location

Graduate courses are offered on campus except for courses where all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The course is equivalent in quality to courses offered in residence at the University, as judged by consideration of course content, assignments, examinations, performance expected from students, grading practices, assignment of graduate faculty, etc.
  • It is designed for and presented mainly to students who have been admitted to and are enrolled in the Graduate School of the University of Washington or who have been enrolled by units as graduate non-matriculated students.

2.1.3     Course Enrollment

Under certain conditions, qualified graduate non-matriculated students may be enrolled in graduate courses and earn credit later applicable towards a graduate degree. These conditions are outlined in Policy 3.3.

Postbaccalaureate students, undergraduate students, and non-matriculated students who do not meet Graduate School admission requirements may enroll in 500-level courses provided that permission has been obtained in advance from the faculty member who will teach the class, and from the unit Chair/Director or designated representative. Permission should be granted only when the student appears to be exceptionally well prepared for entrance into the course so that the tempo and quality of the graduate instruction is not adversely affected. Such students should not constitute more than 20% of the total number enrolled in the class.


Policy 2.1 revised: August 2021; December 2022

Policy 1.9: Suspension of Admissions

The Graduate School approves suspension of admissions for graduate degree programs, graduate certificates, and graduate degree options that offer direct admissions. Policies for suspension of admissions are contained in this Policy 1.9; process details are available at Guidelines for Suspending Admissions

Suspension of admissions may be used to address short-term or long-term program needs. Any suspension must be designed to fully accommodate the curriculum, advising, and support for currently enrolled and admitted students. Programs offering regular admission every other year do not need to suspend admissions for non-admission years. 

In all cases, suspension of admissions must be limited in duration and must not be used as a substitute for formal program termination.

1.9.1     Duration of Suspension of Admissions

Admissions may be suspended for one or two years to allow for planning and to ensure long-term success of the program. Examples of reasons to suspend admissions include the following (not an exhaustive list):

  • over-enrollment or under-enrollment
  • curricular re-design
  • temporary financial pressures
  • faculty hiring/staffing issues
  • re-assessment of the purpose and goals of the program
  • long-term structural issues

Programs not intending to reopen admissions should proceed with program termination in coordination with their dean’s office or chancellor’s office.

1.9.2     Mechanisms for Suspension of Admissions

In most cases, suspension of admissions is initiated when the graduate faculty of the academic unit offering the graduate program vote to suspend admissions to a graduate program or program option. After vote of the faculty, the unit must communicate outcomes with the college/school dean or chancellor and must follow any process required by the college/school or campus. 

In exceptional cases, one of the following mechanisms may be used to suspend admissions to a graduate program or program option. Examples of appropriate use of these two mechanisms are: the fundamental violation of a program’s obligations to its students; the inability of a program to maintain essential institutional standards; a loss of program accreditation; or a critical lack of alignment between the delivery of a program and its approved academic structure. These apply only to a temporary suspension of admissions. Any consideration of permanent program termination must adhere to the Guidelines for Terminating a Graduate Program or Program Option

  • The dean or chancellor of the school, college, or campus where a program is located may petition the Dean of the Graduate School to suspend admissions to a graduate program or program option. The Dean of the Graduate School will consider this request in consultation with the Graduate School Council. Program suspension in this case requires a supporting quorum majority vote of the Graduate School Council.
  • The Dean of the Graduate School may suspend admissions to a graduate program or program option after consultation with the college/school dean or chancellor and following a supporting quorum majority vote by the Graduate School Council.

1.9.3     Timeline

A suspension of admissions should be initiated far enough in advance for the Graduate School and other administrative units to take action early in the application cycle. This includes opportunity for review and approval of the request by the Graduate School, including possible consultation with the Graduate School Council, and ample time for implementation. Admissions will not be suspended after students have been admitted to the program. 

Once approved, the graduate program is responsible for placing a notice of suspended admissions on its website and in any other program materials. Towards the end of the suspension, the program must notify the Graduate School of its intent to reopen admissions and describe changes that have been implemented to allow for sustained delivery of a quality graduate program. If the program is not ready to open admissions, the program should initiate program termination. 


Policy 1.9 created: May 2022 

Policy 1.8: Periodic Review of Existing Degree Programs

University of Washington Executive Order 20.4 mandates the review of all degree-offering academic units on a regular basis, including the undergraduate and graduate degree programs they offer.

Although academic program review is the joint responsibility of the Dean of the Graduate School and the Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, the University has designated the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs and Planning for overseeing and facilitating the academic program review process.

New degree programs initially are authorized by the Board of Regents with provisional status and should be reviewed at least once every five years until they are given continuing status.


Policy 1.8 created: February, 1985. Revised: June 2010; January 2017; October 2022

Policy 1.7: Authorization of New Graduate Degree Programs

Graduate education consists of post-baccalaureate programs of study and research leading to master’s degrees, doctoral degrees (exclusive of medical, dental, pharmacy, and first legal doctorates), graduate certificates, and intermediate certified status such advancement to candidacy. The Graduate School is responsible for supervising the content and level of programs leading to graduate degrees (Executive Order VII). In general, the Graduate School adheres to the spirit of standards for graduate education set by the University of Washington’s accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. There are two principal types of graduate degree programs.

1.7.1     Research-oriented graduate degrees

Research-oriented graduate degrees lead to the master’s or doctoral degree with emphasis on preparation for the creation of new knowledge through research or through the development of new modes of thought or expression. Completion of the program usually is signified by the award of Master of Arts, Master of Science, or Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

1.7.2     Professional or practice-oriented graduate degrees

Professional or practice-oriented graduate degrees are intended as preparation for professional practice at the frontiers of existing knowledge. Completion of the program usually is signified by the award of a degree of Master or Doctor of a professional field, e.g., Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Health, Doctor of Musical Arts.

1.7.3     Proposing a new degree

The review and approval process for new graduate degree programs is coordinated by the Academic Affairs and Planning Office in the Graduate School.

A graduate degree program may not be offered off campus without review and recommendation of the Office of the Provost.

See detailed information on the program proposal process


Policy 1.7 revised: February, 1985; June 2010; December 2022

Policy 1.5: Concurrent Degree Programs

Concurrent programs are defined as a pair of programs that may be pursued at the UW by a post baccalaureate student resulting in completion of the requirements for either two graduate degrees or a graduate and a professional degree as defined in Executive Order VII. Rather than sequentially completing first one degree and then the other, the student’s time and the University’s resources may be conserved by arrangements that permit the student to proceed in a coordinated way toward completion of the degree programs. Graduate School policy allows for both formal and informal concurrent degree programs, as described below. A student may also pursue other options to combine study in two or more fields.

Concurrent enrollment in two or more degree programs may have significant impact on student tuition and fees. See Student Fiscal Services for more information on tuition and fees when students are concurrently enrolled.

1.5.1     Formal Concurrent Degree Programs

Graduate School policy defines a formal concurrent degree program as a curriculum established by two participating academic units resulting in completion of two graduate degrees or a graduate and a professional degree. Formal concurrent degree programs must be reviewed and approved by the Graduate School, and students in formal concurrent degree programs are designated by unique program codes.

There are two types of formal concurrent degree programs: Graduate/Graduate Concurrent Degrees and Graduate/Professional Concurrent Degrees.

1.5.1.1     Graduate/Graduate Concurrent Degrees

The Graduate School allows formal concurrent degree programs which lead to the awarding of two graduate degrees. The Graduate Program Coordinators in the two programs involved are the primary representatives and are responsible for providing information and assistance to students engaged in concurrent programs.

1.5.1.1.1      Admission

An applicant who is not currently a student at the University of Washington must submit an application and fee for each program. Both programs must offer admission before admission into the concurrent degree program is granted.

Students who are currently enrolled must submit an application and fee for the second program, indicating on the application that the intent is to complete both degrees rather than to transfer to the second program.

1.5.1.1.2      Registration

After initial registration, a student must maintain continuous enrollment by (1) registering as a full-time or part-time student each quarter or (2) applying for on-leave status.

1.5.1.1.3      Requirements

To earn two master’s degrees in a formal concurrent degree program, a student must complete the equivalent of two Graduate School minimum degree requirements of 36 credits each for a minimum total of 72 credits. If one or both of the participating programs require more than the minimum of 36 credits, those additional credits may be “shared” and applied to both degrees. Further, a maximum of 12 credits from one master’s program, earned beyond the 36 credit minimum, may be applied in the second master’s program towards the Graduate School minimum of 36 credits required. In this case, the minimum number of additional credits for the second degree, with the 12 approved credits, is 24. In all cases the total minimum required credits remains 72. For formal concurrent degree programs, both programs must approve the shared credits counting toward both degrees. A formal concurrent degree program may allow a shared thesis as described within the formal concurrent degree proposal. The proposing programs should follow the best practices guidelines developed by the Graduate School Council (Concurrent Degrees Shared Thesis Best Practices) and articulate these in the proposal sent to the Graduate School.

For formal Ph.D./master’s degree concurrent programs, up to 12 credits earned toward a Ph.D. degree may be counted toward a master’s degree in another program with the approval of both degree offering units.

It is the responsibility of the student to submit a written list of courses which apply toward each respective degree at the time the student files an application for the master’s degree or schedules the general examination. This list must be approved by both programs.

1.5.1.2     Graduate/Professional Concurrent Degrees

The Graduate School allows formal concurrent degree programs which lead to the awarding of a professional degree and a graduate degree. The professional degrees referred to in this section are those defined in Executive Order VII: the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.); Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S); Juris Doctor (J.D.); and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.).

The Graduate Program Coordinators are the primary representatives of the professional schools and the graduate-degree offering units. The Graduate Program Coordinator is responsible for providing information and assistance to the student engaged in a concurrent program. Another source of information may be the Graduate Enrollment Management Services Division of the Graduate School.

1.5.1.2.1      Admission

An applicant who is not currently a student at the University must apply for admission to both the professional school and the Graduate School.

A student currently in a professional program at the University of Washington must submit a Graduate School Application and fee.

A current graduate student must submit an application and fee for the professional program as required by that program.

1.5.1.2.2      Registration

After initial registration, a student must maintain continuous enrollment by (1) registering as a full-time or part-time student each quarter or (2) by applying for on-leave status.

1.5.1.2.3      Requirements

All graduate program and Graduate School minimum requirements must be met by appropriate graduate courses. It is the responsibility of the student to submit a written list of courses which apply toward the graduate degree at the time the student applies for the graduate degree. This list must be approved by both programs.

1.5.2     Informal Concurrent Degree Programs

Students may pursue two degrees from different departments simultaneously in an informal concurrent degree program. These programs have not been approved as formal concurrent programs and do not have unique program codes, but students have flexibility to ‘share’ coursework, given the approval of both programs.

1.5.2.1     Admission

Current graduate students wishing to pursue an informal concurrent degree program must go to the Graduate School online application and submit an application and fee for the second program.

1.5.2.2     Registration

After initial registration, a student must maintain continuous enrollment by registering as a full-time or part-time student each quarter, OR applying for on-leave status.

1.5.2.3     Requirements for students first enrolling prior to Autumn Quarter 2023 and maintaining continuous enrollment

To earn two master’s degrees, a student must fulfill Graduate School degree requirements for each degree for a minimum of 72 credits. If one or both of the individual programs require more than the minimum of 36 credits, those additional credits may be ‘shared’ and applied to both degrees. However, the total number of credits must be at least 72 and both programs must approve the shared credits counting toward both degrees. Theses and thesis credits may not be shared.

With the approval of both degree-offering units, up to 12 credits earned toward a PhD degree may be counted toward a master’s degree in another program.

It is the responsibility of the student to submit a written list of courses which apply toward each respective degree at the time the student files an application for the master’s degree or schedules the general examination. This list must be approved by both programs.

1.5.2.4     Requirements for students first enrolling Autumn Quarter 2023 or later

To earn two master’s degrees, a student must fulfill the existing degree requirements for each degree. If one or both of the individual programs require more than 36 credits, up to 12 of the credits beyond 36 may be ‘shared’ and applied to both sets of degree requirements. The total number of credits must be at least 72 and both programs must approve the shared credits counting toward both degrees. Theses and thesis credits may not be shared.

With the approval of both degree-offering units, up to 12 credits earned toward a PhD degree may be counted toward a master’s degree in another program.

It is the responsibility of the student to submit a written list of courses which apply toward each respective degree at the time the student files an application for the master’s degree or schedules the general examination. This list must be approved by both programs.


Policy 1.5 revised: June 1996; April 2022; January 2023

Policy 1.5.1.1 revised January 2023

Policy 1.5.1.2 revised January 2023

Policy 1.4: 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 Policy 1.2.
  • There are no restrictions on credit sharing between a graduate certificate and a graduate degree program for a stacked degree. See Policy 1.2.1 for credit sharing policies between a graduate degree and graduate 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.
  • 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 Policy 1.1. Exceptions to time to degree will be made at the program level. Program policy around time limits must be described in the program proposal, including:
    • How students are protected from starting one or more certificates when the students 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. 

Policy 1.4 created: July 2022; revised: December 2022

Policy 1.3: Graduate Programs and Credentials

Policy 1.3 defines the relationship between a graduate degree program or graduate certificate program and the transcripted credentials associated with it. This policy applies only to new and significantly revised graduate programs after June 2019. 

The Graduate Programs and Credentials Companion Document provides additional information on policy implementation, including review and approval roles of the Graduate School and the Graduate School Council.

1.3.1     Definitions

For the purposes of Policy 1.3, the following definitions apply:

Academic unit. The administrative entity such as a department, school, college, or interdisciplinary group that is ‘qualified’ (Executive Order No. VII) to offer a graduate degree program or graduate certificate program.

Graduate Degree Program. A set of defined activities and outcomes under the authority of the graduate faculty of an academic unit that results in completion of a graduate degree as defined in Policy 1.1. The graduate degree program title generally indicates the type of degree (Master of Arts; Master of Science; Doctor of Philosophy; etc.) plus a the general area of study (Classics; Chemistry; Immunology); or graduate degree program title may indicate a designated degree title only (Master of Business Administration; Master of Supply Chain Management; Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies; etc.). Upon creation, a graduate degree program is reviewed by the Graduate School Council and approved by the Board of Regents.

Graduate Certificate Program. A set of defined activities and outcomes delivered by the graduate faculty of an academic unit that results in completion of a graduate certificate, as defined in Policy 1.2. The graduate certificate program title normally indicates the certificate title only (Graduate Certificate in Real Estate; Graduate Certificate in Textual and Digital Studies; etc.). Upon creation, a graduate certificate program is reviewed by the Graduate School Council and approved by the Board of Regents.

Graduate Program. Collective term that encompasses both graduate degree programs and graduate certificate programs.

Diploma Title. Upon completion of a graduate degree program, the degree title without the general area of study appears on the diploma (e.g., Master of Arts, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Business Administration, Doctor of Nursing Practice). Graduate Certificates do not appear on the diploma.

Credential. The credential is the outcome of a specific program of study and is what is noted on the student transcript. The credential title will include indication of the overarching graduate program designation (e.g., Master of Arts (Classics); Master of Science (Chemistry); Master of Business Administration; Doctor of Philosophy (Immunology); Graduate Certificate in…), and may include an additional area of specialization. The program of study leading to each unique credential must be distinct, but it must also share substantial curricular components with all other credentials associated with the overarching graduate program as described below. The transcript may reflect an abbreviated credential title.

Program of Study. A program of study encompasses the academic requirements leading to a specific transcripted credential.

1.3.2     General

A graduate degree program or graduate certificate program as described above must have at least one, but may have multiple, transcripted credentials associated with it. Each unique credential must correspond to a program of study with distinct academic outcomes. The overarching graduate program title will be assigned to any curriculum or credential associated with that program. 

For example, a unit with multiple graduate programs and the associated credentials:

  • Academic Unit  [e.g., Foster School of Business]
    • Graduate Program A      [e.g., Doctor of Philosophy]
      •  Credential A1   [e.g., Doctor of Philosophy (Business Administration)]
  • Graduate Program B      [e.g., Master of Science in Information Systems] 
    • Credential B1   [e.g., Master of Science in Information Systems]
  • Graduate Program C     [e.g., Master of Business Administration]
    • Credential C1 [e.g., Master of Business Administration]
    • Credential C2 [e.g., Master of Business Administration (Information Systems)]
    • Credential C3 [e.g., Master of Business Administration (Environmental Management)]
  • Graduate program D    [e.g., Graduate Certificate in…]
    • Credential D1   [e.g., Graduate Certificate in…]
  • etc.

1.3.3     Common Elements: Minimum Similarity of Programs of Study Associated with a Graduate Program

All programs of study under an approved graduate degree program or graduate certificate program must share a set of common elements which define core components of the overarching graduate program. The graduate faculty of the academic unit authorized to offer the graduate program must define these common elements and how these common elements relate program outcomes when creating or when significantly changing a graduate program or the program of study leading to a distinct credential under that program.

1.3.3.1     Common Elements for a Graduate Certificate Program

For a graduate certificate program, the common elements included in each credential associated with the certificate must constitute a minimum of 9 course credits.

1.3.3.2     Common Elements for a Master’s Degree Program

For a master’s degree program, the common elements included in each credential associated with the graduate degree program must constitute a minimum of 50% of the program of study, as evidenced by one or more of the following:

  • shared course or credit requirements; 
  • shared learning outcomes; 
  • shared competencies. 

The common elements may be defined by any portion of the program of study with the exception of: 600 Independent Study or Research; 700 Master’s Thesis. The common elements need not contain the coursework used to fulfill the Graduate School minimum requirements (graded coursework; 500-level coursework; transfer credit; etc.). Likewise, transfer or other credit may be applied to any portion of the degree requirements, independent of their inclusion as part of the common elements, if otherwise deemed acceptable by the program and the Graduate School.

1.3.3.3     Common Elements for a Doctoral Degree Program

For a doctoral degree program, the common elements included in each credential associated with the graduate degree program must constitute at least 50% of the program of study, as evidenced by one or more of the following:

  • shared course or credit requirements; 
  • shared learning outcomes; 
  • shared competencies. 

For doctoral programs with a dissertation, the dissertation must significantly overlap with the overall goals of the doctoral program as well as reflect the distinct academic focus of the specific credential. The common elements may be defined by any portion of the program of study with the exception of: 600 Independent Study or Research; 700 Master’s Thesis; 800 Doctoral Dissertation; 801 Practice Doctorate Project/Capstone. The common elements need not contain the coursework used to fulfill the Graduate School minimum requirements (graded coursework; 500-level coursework; transfer credit; etc.). Likewise, transfer or other credit may be applied to any portion of the degree requirements, independent of their inclusion as part of the common elements, if otherwise deemed acceptable by the program and the Graduate School.

1.3.4     Minimum Distinction of a Graduate Certificate Credential

A unique credential associated with a graduate certificate program must include a coherent curricular focus that constitutes a minimum of 6 credits. This curricular focus and the associated credits (1) must lead to a defined set of distinct learning outcomes or competencies; (2) must not be part of the defined common elements for that graduate program; and (3) a minimum of 6 credits must not be a required component of the course of study leading to any other credential under that graduate program.

1.3.5     Minimum Distinction of a Graduate Degree Credential 

A unique credential associated with a graduate degree program must include a coherent curricular focus that constitutes a minimum of 9 credits, or the equivalent of 9 credits measured by learning outcomes or competencies. This curricular focus and the associated credits (1) must lead to a defined set of distinct learning outcomes or competencies; (2) must not be part of the defined common elements for that graduate program; and (3) a minimum of 9 of the credits that define the credential must not be a required component of the course of study leading to any other credential under that graduate program. 

1.3.6     Credit Requirements and Relationship between Credentials under a Single Graduate Program

Requirements for different credentials under a graduate program may lead to the same total credit requirements (e.g., if specific requirements for one credential replace elective requirements for another credential). Alternately, requirements for one credential may lead to a larger number of required credits than for another credential. 

1.3.7     Multiple Credentials under a Graduate Program

Note: There is currently a moratorium on dual transcripting of multiple credentials under a single degree program for an individual student, as described in this Policy 1.3.7, beyond those already approved as of Spring Quarter 2016.

When multiple credentials exist under a graduate degree program, these may be structured by the graduate program to allow for completion and transcripting of multiple programs of study that are normally each associated with a single credential. In this case, the multiple areas of academic content will be reflected on the student transcript as part of a single graduate degree. This requires review and approval by the Graduate School at the graduate program level, such that multiple credentials will not be awarded to individual students unless the program has been previously approved to offer this.[5]


Policy 1.3 created: June 2019

Policy 1.2: Graduate Certificates

A graduate certificate program is a linked series of credit bearing graduate courses that constitutes a coherent body of study and culminates in a capstone or equivalent unifying experience. Graduate certificates are intended to enhance the education of matriculated graduate or professional students beyond their regular course of study, or to provide students access to graduate education as a standalone credential or as a stacked credential that can lead to a graduate degree. Graduate certificates are not open to undergraduate students. See Policy 1.4 for policies on stackable graduate certificates and the stacked graduate degree program.

Completed graduate certificates are recorded on the student’s UW transcript. Note, however, that matriculated graduate and graduate non-matriculated (GNM) students may also pursue approved UW certificates that are not recorded on the UW transcript, for example certificates offered by UW Continuum College. These non-transcripted certificates are distinct from graduate certificates and are not under purview of the Graduate School.

1.2.1     Requirements

Requirements for the certificate must include a minimum of 15 credits, nine of which must be earned in courses numbered 500 and above, and nine of which must be from graded courses. The curriculum must constitute a coherent body of study that culminates in a capstone or equivalent unifying experience.

Graduate certificate requirements normally consist primarily of graduate-level coursework at the 500 level. Courses at the 300 level and 400 level may be part of a student’s course of study and applied toward graduate certificate requirements when acceptable to the student’s graduate program and the Graduate School.

A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 is required for courses applied to a graduate certificate, and a minimum of 2.7 is required in each course that is counted toward a graduate certificate.  Courses at the 300 level are not included in the calculation of grade-point average (GPA).

There are no restrictions on credit sharing between a graduate certificate and a graduate degree program. This is intended to support the structure of stacked degrees (Policy 1.4). For graduate certificates that are not part of a stacked degree, credit sharing is not intended as a mechanism for students enrolled in a graduate degree program to incidentally receive a certificate in addition to the earned degree as part of their regular course of study towards the degree. Thus, a student may earn a graduate certificate that shares coursework with a non-stacked graduate degree only when the student completes a distinct graduate certificate capstone or equivalent unifying experience. Units are responsible for ensuring that each credential earned is representative of a distinct body of academic work.

No credit sharing is allowed between multiple graduate certificates.

1.2.2     Review and Approval of Graduate Certificate Programs

The review of graduate certificate program proposals is similar to that of new graduate program proposals and is coordinated by the Office of Academic Affairs in the Graduate School. This process includes review by Academic Affairs and by the Graduate School Council. The approval of proposed graduate certificates resides with the Board of Regents. For details, see the Graduate School’s Graduate Certificate proposal page. In a proposal for a new graduate certificate, program faculty must clearly define and describe the program’s governance, budget, curriculum, admission standards, admission process, and minimum completion standards.

Similar to new graduate degree programs, new graduate certificate programs are initially authorized by the Board of Regents with provisional status. Such programs are to be reviewed at least every five years until the programs are granted continuing status. Continuing programs are reviewed at least every ten years.


Policy 1.2 created: March 2008. Revised: June 2012, July 2022

Policy 1.2.1 revised November 2023