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Graduate School Representative (GSR) Eligibility

In order to serve as a Graduate School Representative (GSR), the proposed candidate:

  1. Must be a Graduate Faculty member with an endorsement to chair (check Graduate Faculty Locator).
  2. Must be clear of any conflicts of interest (see below).  The GSR is responsible for ensuring that no such conflicts of interest, or appearance of conflicts of interest, exist, and must attest to this upon request.
Primary Appt. Joint Appt. Affiliate Appt. Adjunct Appt.
Proposed GSR has appt in student’s/committee chair’s dept No No No Yes
Proposed GSR does not have appt in student’s/committee chair’s dept Yes Yes Yes Yes
Proposed GSR has conflict of interest* No No No No

Yes = eligible to serve
No = not eligible to serve

  • Budgetary relationships, personal relationships, or research and/or publication relationships between the GSR and either the student or the committee chair are examples of possible conflicts of interest.

Policy 4.2: Supervisory Committee for Graduate Students

This section outlines the policy for the supervisory committee of master’s students and doctoral students.

As a general principle, each student working toward a graduate degree at the University of Washington is guided by a faculty supervisory committee. This committee serves an important evaluative and mentoring function for the student throughout the student’s graduate career.

Questions about the timeline and process for appointing a supervisory committees for master’s or doctoral students should be directed to the Graduate School’s Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS) office. All other questions about supervisory committee appointment or function, as well as concerns about the proceedings of an exam, should be directed to the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Affairs.

4.2.1     The Master’s Supervisory Committee

Appointment of a supervisory committee for students aspiring to the Master’s degree is determined by the Graduate Faculty in the degree-offering unit or program. The Graduate Program Coordinator, in consultation with the student and appropriate faculty members, appoints a committee of two to four members. The Chair and at least one-half of the total membership must be members of the graduate faculty.

For any thesis project that may include human or animal subjects, the GPC or GPA must advise the student of the need to  comply with the University of Washington Human Subjects Division and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee’s requirements, as appropriate, and the student and committee chair must complete the Use Of Human And Animal Subjects For UW Graduate Student Theses And Dissertations form.

4.2.2     The Doctoral Supervisory Committee other than Practice Doctorates

The appointment of a doctoral supervisory committee indicates that the Graduate Faculty in the student’s field find the student’s background and achievement a sufficient basis for progression to the next stage of a program of doctoral study and research.

Doctoral supervisory committee member responsibilities include the approval of a course of study which will fulfill the general course requirements of the student’s major and supporting fields, conducting the student’s General Examination and, when appropriate, recommending advancement to Candidacy.

The doctoral supervisory committee approves the Candidate’s dissertation proposal and guides the student in carrying out appropriate research for the dissertation. The Graduate School does not stipulate the content of the dissertation; guidance on the dissertation is the responsibility of the supervisory committee.

For doctoral committee responsibilities for the General Exam and Final Exam, see Policy 1.1.4.

4.2.2.1     Timeline and Process

  • In order to allow time to identify a suitable Graduate School Representative (GSR), it is suggested that the doctoral supervisory committee be established at least four months prior to the intended date of the General Examination.
  • The appointment of a committee is initiated by the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) after consultation with appropriate Graduate Faculty members in the student’s field and with the student.
  • The GPC recommends members of the supervisory committee to the Dean of The Graduate School by entering this information into MyGradProgram (MGP).
  • For any dissertation project that may include human or animal subjects, the GPC or GPA must advise the student of the need to comply with the University of Washington Human Subjects Division and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee’s requirements, as appropriate, and the student and committee chair must complete the Use Of Human And Animal Subjects For UW Graduate Student Theses And Dissertations form.

4.2.2.2     Committee Composition

  • The doctoral supervisory committee consists of a minimum of four members, at least three of whom (including one Chair and the GSR) must be members of the Graduate Faculty with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees.
  • A majority of the members must be members of the Graduate Faculty.
  • The GSR must be a productive scholar in the GSR’s own research area that may differ from that of the student’s dissertation project.
  • The members outside the GSR must be identified by the student’s appointing department or program as productive scholars in the student’s major field and/or subfields.

4.2.2.3     The Committee Chair

  • The Chair(s) of a committee must be able and willing to assume principal responsibility for advising the student. In addition, the Chair(s) should have adequate time available for this work and should expect to be accessible to the student.
  • Emeritus/a and affiliate faculty may serve as Chair(s) if the above conditions are met.
  • If a committee has Co-Chairs, both serve with equal importance on a student’s supervisory committee and equally share the responsibility for the student’s progress. In the case of Co-Chairs, the first Co-Chair must have a Graduate Faculty appointment with doctoral endorsement. The second Co-Chair may be appointed without Graduate Faculty status if the individual has a qualified UW faculty appointment. Qualified faculty appointments in this case are those appointments eligible for continuous or five-year graduate faculty roles. A Co-Chair without qualified UW faculty appointment may be appointed only by petition to the Dean of the Graduate School or the Dean’s designee.

4.2.2.4     The Role of the Graduate School Representative (GSR)

The GSR represents the broad interests of the Graduate School with respect to high standards of scholarly performance. The GSR is a voting member of the dissertation supervisory committee, and as such provides an important service function to the Graduate School and the University.

In all cases, the GSR must meet the following Graduate School requirements:

  • attest to the validity of examinations and indicate approval of the process by which examinations are conducted;
  • ensure that the student is treated in an unbiased manner; and
  • represent the Graduate School in ensuring university-wide standards of scholarly performance.

In addition, any graduate program may choose to define the role of the GSR to include one or both of the following:

  • ensure that the student’s mastery of the subject matter is broad and comprehensive;
  • provide additional support for the student as the student navigates the exam and dissertation process.

If a graduate program sets additional expectations for the GSR beyond the Graduate School requirements, the graduate program must clearly articulate these expectations, and the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) or designee must communicate them in writing to all parties (student, chair, committee members, GSR) upon appointment of the GSR. The minimum role of the GSR must be defined consistently across all committees in the graduate program.

The GSR’s signature on the committee signature form affirming the decision of the committee communicates to the Dean of the Graduate School that the Graduate School and program-level responsibilities have been met.

4.2.2.5     Graduate School Representative (GSR) Eligibility

  • As with all doctoral supervisory committee members, the GSR is proposed to the Graduate School by the Graduate Program Coordinator in the student’s degree-offering unit and must be a member of the Graduate Faculty with an endorsement to Chair.
  • Faculty members with a primary, joint, or affiliate appointment in the student’s degree-offering unit or the committee chair’s department are not eligible to serve as the GSR.
  • It is vital that a conflict of interest in the selection of the GSR be avoided. Budgetary relationships, personal relationships, or research and/or publication relationships between the GSR and either the student or the committee chair are examples of possible conflicts of interest. (See GSR Eligibility for more information.) The GSR is responsible for ensuring that no such conflicts of interest, or appearance of conflicts of interest, exist, and must attest to this upon request.

4.2.2.6 Reading Committee Timeline and Composition

  • After the General Examination, the Graduate Program Coordinator informs the Dean of The Graduate School of at least three members of the supervisory committee who will serve on the reading committee.
  • At least one of the members of the reading committee must hold an endorsement to chair doctoral committees. The reading committee is appointed to read and approve the dissertation.

4.2.2.7 Function of the Reading Committee

It is the responsibility of the reading committee to:

  • Ensure that the dissertation is a significant contribution to knowledge and is an acceptable piece of scholarly writing.
  • Determine the appropriateness of a candidate’s dissertation as a basis for issuing the Committee Signature Form for a Final Examination.

4.2.3 The Practice Doctorate Supervisory Committee

The appointment of a practice doctoral supervisory committee indicates that the Graduate Faculty in the student’s field finds the student’s background and achievement a sufficient basis for progression in the doctoral program.

Responsibilities of the practice doctoral supervisory committee include: approval of the student’s program of study; criteria for progression, which may include a general examination, certification, or other requirements set by the graduate program; approval and oversight of the student’s project proposal; and approval of the completed project.

4.2.3.1 Timeline and Process

The practice doctoral supervisory committee should be established as soon as possible during the student’s training. The Graduate Program Coordinator initiates the appointment of the committee after consultation with appropriate Graduate Faculty members in the student’s field and with the student. The Graduate Program Coordinator recommends members of the supervisory committee to the Dean of The Graduate School by entering this information into MyGrad Program.

4.2.3.2 Committee Composition

The practice doctoral supervisory committee consists of a minimum of three members. At least two committee members, including the Chair, must be members of the Graduate Faculty with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees, and at least half of the total number must be members of the Graduate Faculty. The following applies to all practice doctoral supervisory committees:

  • Any committee members who are not Graduate Faculty must be identified by the student’s appointing department or program as productive scholars or practitioners in the student’s major field and/or subfields.
  • Co-chairs may be appointed when both serve with equal importance on a student’s supervisory committee and equally share the responsibility for the student’s progress. If co-chairs are appointed, each must be a member of the Graduate Faculty with endorsement to chair.
  • The Chair or Co-chairs of a committee must be able and willing to assume principal responsibility for advising the student. In addition, the Chair or Co-chairs should have adequate time available for this work and should expect to be accessible to the student. Emeritus faculty may serve as a Chair if the above conditions are met.
  • A Graduate School Representative (GSR) is not required.

Policy 4.2 revised: October 2021, March 2022; May 2022; December 2022

Policy 4.2.1 and 4.2.3 revised March 2023

Policy 4.2.3.6 and 4.2.4 revised March 2023

Policy 4.2.3.7 and 4.2.3.9 were deleted March 2023, with content moved to Policy 1.1

Policy 4.2 revised October 2023

Policy 1.1: Graduate Degree Requirements

Policy 1.1 describes general policies on minimum degree requirements and allowable credits for graduate degrees. Degree requirements for specific graduate programs are managed by that program and may be in excess of the minimum requirements described here.

A graduate degree program consists of a coherent body of study beyond the baccalaureate degree that includes a meaningful progression of coursework and, for most programs, includes a final culminating experience or an integrated experience across the curriculum. Examples of culminating experiences include a thesis, dissertation or other creative work, capstone project, comprehensive examination, or supervised field experience. Integrated learning experiences connect concepts and experiences across the curriculum to form a meaningful whole. If included as part of the degree requirements, a program may offer multiple culminating experience options, provided that the overall level of achievement for the degree remains the same. See Policies 1.1.2, 1.1.3, 1.1.4, and 1.1.5 for requirements specific to each degree type.

The Graduate School defines minimum degree requirements for all University of Washington graduate programs. Individual graduate programs may have degree requirements that exceed the Graduate School minimum requirements.

The Graduate Faculty with oversight of a graduate program have primary responsibility for assuring that students recommended for graduation have satisfactorily fulfilled the degree requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.

A student must satisfy the requirements for the degree that are in force at the time the degree is to be awarded. Exceptions may be made for programs that have undergone changes to degree requirements.

1.1.1     Requirements Applying to All Graduate Degree Programs

  • Credits applied towards graduate degree requirements must include University of Washington coursework of (1) at least 18 credits at the 500 level and above; and (2) at least 18 numerically graded credits of 400- and 500-level coursework, excluding 499 and transfer credit.
  • For CR/NC courses, submission of a CR grade indicates that the student has met course expectations at a level such that the course may be applied towards graduate degree requirements.
  • For S/NS courses, an S grade indicates that the student has met course expectations at a level such that the course may be applied towards graduate degree requirements. A graduate program may restrict S courses from counting towards program requirements.
  • Graduate degree 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 degree requirements when acceptable to the student’s graduate program and the Graduate School. Coursework at the 300 level may not be applied towards the minimum 18 graded credits and may not be applied towards more than one-third of total degree requirements, except as previously approved by the Graduate School.
  • A student must be registered for credit the quarter in which any required exam or presentation occurs. A student must maintain registration as a full-time or part-time graduate student for the quarter the degree or certificate is conferred.
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 is required to earn a graduate degree, and a minimum of 2.7 is required in each course that is counted toward graduate degree requirements.  Courses at the 300 level are not included in the calculation of grade-point average (GPA).
  • With the approval of a student’s graduate program and the Graduate School, up to 6 credits of 400-level or 500-level coursework, taken as a senior while an undergraduate at the University of Washington, may be applied towards graduate degree requirements.
  • With the approval of a student’s graduate program, a restricted amount of Graduate Non-Matriculated (GNM) credit may be applied towards degree requirements, as described in Policy 3.3.
  • Credit taken while enrolled as a non-matriculated (NM) student or while matriculated as a post-baccalaureate student at the University of Washington may not be applied towards graduate degree requirements. Credit by independent study or advanced credit examination is not transferable.

1.1.2     The Master’s Degree

In addition to the requirements listed under Policy 1.1.1 that apply to all graduate degree programs:

  • Master’s degree requirements must include a minimum of 36 credits. A master’s program may require more than this minimum.
  • A student must complete all work for the master’s degree within six years from the time of first enrollment. Periods spent on leave or out of status are included in these limits. Exceptions to time to degree will be made at the program level.
  • A master’s program generally should require a final culminating or integrated experience, with the exception of applied professional programs where a coursework-only program can be thoroughly justified in the program proposal (e.g., a coursework-only program is the standard in the field).

1.1.2.1     Coursework that may be applied towards master’s degree requirements

A maximum of 6 quarter credits of graduate-level coursework taken at another recognized academic institution may be transferred and apply to UW master’s degree requirements, when acceptable to the graduate program and the Graduate School.

No more than 12 credits derived from any combination of GNM credits and transfer credits may be applied towards the total degree requirements. Transfer credits may not be applied towards the thesis or culminating experience requirement.

1.1.2.2     Thesis Programs

The master’s thesis provides evidence of the graduate student’s ability to carry out independent investigation and to present the results in clear and systemic form.

A thesis program must include a minimum of 9 thesis credits (700).

Thesis credits (700) will not apply to requirements for a non-thesis master’s degree.

See Policy 4.2.1 for any thesis that will include human or animal subjects.

1.1.2.3     Final Examination

If a master’s program requires a final examination, it may be either oral or written. A majority of the supervisory committee must approve for satisfactory completion, and all members of the supervisory committee must certify examination results. If the examination is not satisfactory, the committee may recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School that the student be allowed to take another examination after a period of further study.

1.1.3     The Educational Specialist Degree

In addition to the requirements listed under Policy 1.1.1 that apply to all graduate degree programs:

  • Educational specialist degree requirements must include a minimum of 54 credits. An educational specialist program may require more than this minimum.
  • Degree requirements must include at least 6 credits of capstone experience (course number 750).
  • A student must complete all work for the educational specialist degree within six years from the time of first enrollment. Periods spent on leave or out of status are included in these limits. Exceptions to time to degree will be made at the program level.

1.1.3.1     Coursework that may be applied towards educational specialist degree requirements

A maximum of 6 quarter credits of graduate-level coursework taken at another recognized academic institution may be transferred and apply to UW degree requirements, when acceptable to the graduate program and the Graduate School.

No more than 12 credits derived from any combination of GNM credits and transfer credits may be applied towards the total degree requirements. Transfer credits may not be applied towards the capstone experience requirement.

1.1.4     The Doctoral Degree other than Practice Doctorates

In addition to the requirements listed under Policy 1.1.1 that apply to all graduate degree programs, the following requirements apply to all doctoral degrees other than practice doctorates. For practice doctorate requirements, see Policy 1.1.5. For the composition and responsibility of the doctoral supervisory committee, see Policy 4.2.

  • Doctoral degree requirements must include a minimum of 90 credits beyond the baccalaureate. A doctoral degree program may require more than this minimum.
  • Doctoral programs require a culminating experience, with PhD programs requiring original research reflected in the dissertation.
  • All work applied to the doctoral degree must be completed within ten years, including credits counted from a master’s degree at UW. Periods spent on leave or out of status are included in these limits. Exceptions to time to degree will be made at the program level.

1.1.4.1     General Examination

The student must successfully pass a general examination.

Prior to the General Examination:

  • At least 18 credits of coursework at the 500 level and above must be completed prior to scheduling the general examination.
  • At least 18 graded credits of 400- and 500-level coursework, excluding 499, must be completed prior to scheduling the general examination.
  • At least 60 credits must be completed before taking the general exam. Some of these credits may be taken the same quarter of the exam.
  • All members of the supervisory committee must approve that the student’s background of study and preparation is sufficient to schedule the General Examination.

The General Examination:

  • Registration as a graduate student is required the quarter that the General Examination is taken.
  • At least four members of the committee (including the Chair(s), GSR, and one additional Graduate Faculty member) must be physically or virtually present at the General Examination.
  • If the General Examination is satisfactory, the supervisory committee members who participate at the examination sign the committee signature form.
  • If an examination is unsatisfactory, a supervisory committee may recommend that the Dean of the Graduate School permit up to a maximum of two additional reexaminations after a period of additional study.
  • Any members of a supervisory committee who do not agree with the majority opinion are encouraged to submit a minority report to the Dean of the Graduate School.

1.1.4.2     Advancement to Candidacy

Advancement to Candidacy indicates successful completion of the general examination and all other requirements for the doctoral degree except satisfactory completion of the dissertation and the final examination. This is recognized for the Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Musical Arts, and Doctor of Education degrees that are not practice doctorates. See also Scholastic Regulations Chapter 114.7.

1.1.4.3     Dissertation

Requirements must include preparation of and acceptance by the Dean of the Graduate School of a dissertation that is a significant contribution to knowledge and clearly indicates training in research.

The dissertation must be written in the English language. If there are circumstances that warrant a dissertation in another language, the program may petition the Graduate School.

The student must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 27 credits of dissertation (800) over a period of at least three quarters, with at least one quarter occurring after the general examination.

With the exception of summer quarter, students are limited to a maximum of 10 credits per quarter of dissertation (800).

See Policy 4.2.3 for any dissertation that will include human or animal subjects.

1.1.4.4     Final Examination

The student must pass a final examination usually devoted to the dissertation and the field with which it is concerned.

  • When the reading committee has read a draft of the entire dissertation and the members of the doctoral supervisory committee agree that the Candidate is prepared to take the Final Examination, all members of the doctoral supervisory committee must give the student approval to schedule the Final Examination.
  • The General Examination and Final Examination cannot occur during the same quarter.
  • At least four members of the committee (including the Chair(s), GSR, and one additional Graduate Faculty member) must be physically or virtually present at the Final Examination.
  • At the Final Examination the dissertation is evaluated and, if a majority of the supervisory committee members in attendance agree that the evaluation is positive, the recommendation is made to the Dean of the Graduate School (via the committee signature form) that the degree be awarded.
  • If members of the doctoral supervisory committee do not agree with the majority recommendation concerning the examination, the minority report portion of the committee signature form must be used.

1.1.4.5     Coursework that may be applied towards doctoral degree requirements

With the approval of the graduate program and the Graduate School, a master’s degree in a relevant field of study from an accredited institution may substitute for up to 30 of the required 90 credits. No other transfer credits are allowed for doctoral programs. Transfer credits may not be applied towards the dissertation or culminating experience requirement.

With the approval of the graduate program, any number of credits applied to a UW master’s degree in the same program may be counted towards doctoral degree requirements. These credits may not be applied towards the dissertation or culminating experience requirement.

1.1.5     The Practice Doctoral Degree

A practice doctorate is intended as preparation for professional practice at the frontiers of existing knowledge (see Policy 1.7.2). A practice doctorate involves extensive coursework and a culminating project/capstone that is in lieu of a traditional PhD dissertation. The nature of this project/capstone may be specific to each program (e.g., project, practicum, portfolio, applied dissertation, clinical work, etc.). The project/capstone is not filed with the Graduate School.

In addition to the requirements listed under Policy 1.1.1 that apply to all graduate degree programs, the following requirements apply to all practice doctorates. For the composition and responsibility of the practice doctoral supervisory committee, see Policy 4.2.

  • Practice doctoral degree requirements must include a minimum of 90 credits beyond the baccalaureate.
  • The practice doctorate requires successful completion of 12 credits of project or capstone credit (801 Practice Doctorate Project/Capstone).

It is the responsibility of the program to establish appropriate milestones towards the degree. Two milestones are formally recognized by the Graduate School:

  • admission to the program
  • approval of the final project/capstone (through the committee signature form)

There is no formally recognized candidacy status for practice doctoral students. Requiring a general exam or other milestones is at the discretion of the program and is not reported to the Graduate School.

After the practice doctoral supervisory committee has evaluated the final project/capstone, if a majority of the supervisory committee members agree that the evaluation is positive, the recommendation is made to the Dean of The Graduate School (via the committee signature form) that the degree be awarded. If members of the practice doctoral supervisory committee do not agree with the majority recommendation, the minority report portion of the committee signature form must be used.

1.1.5.1     Coursework that may be applied towards practice doctoral degree requirements

With the approval of the graduate program and the Graduate School, a Ph.D. or a master’s degree in a relevant field of study from an accredited institution may substitute for up to 30 of the required 90 credits.

With the approval of the graduate program, any number of credits applied to a UW master’s degree in the same program may be counted towards doctoral degree requirements.

A maximum of 10 quarter credits of graduate-level coursework taken at another recognized academic institution may be transferred and apply to UW practice doctorate degree requirements, when acceptable to the graduate program and the Graduate School.

No more than 12 credits derived from any combination of GNM credits and transfer credits may be applied towards the total degree requirements.

No more than 30 credits derived from any combination of GNM, transfer, and substituted credits may be applied towards the total degree requirements.

No GNM, transfer, or substituted credits may be applied towards the capstone requirement.

When a Ph.D. and practice doctorate are earned concurrently, departments may petition the Graduate School to count 30 specified credits toward the total minimum credit count of each degree, for a total minimum of 150 credits. Core credits for either degree, as (defined as part of the core curriculum by the graduate program) may not be included in these 30 credits applied to both degrees, and this option may not be used on top of previously waived credits for either degree. It is the responsibility of each unit to assure that the credits applied toward its degree are relevant to that degree. The student must meet Graduate School minimum requirements (18 credits 500 level and above, 18 numerically graded 400/500 level credits) for each degree.


Policy 1.1 revised: October 2021; October 2022; November 2022

Policy 1.1.2.2 and 1.1.4.3 revised March 2023

Policy 1.1.4, 1.1.4.1, and 1.1.4.4 revised March 2023

Policy 1.1.1 revised April 2023

Policy 1.1.1 revised July 2023

Policy 1.1.5 revised October 2023

Policy 1.1.1 revised November 2023