University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Student Governance and Policies

Scholastic Regulations

Chapter 109

Continuing Education

1.  General Function

  A. Organization

The University of Washington provides access to the extensive resources of the institution in a broad range of credit, noncredit, and certificate continuing education courses and programs. The administration of continuing education at the University is organized as follows:
  • UW Continuum College;
  • Professional continuing education; and
  • Independent continuing education.
  B. Mission Statement

The mission of continuing education at the University of Washington is to extend knowledge and professional development, career advancement, and personal growth opportunities through teaching, research, and public service to the citizens of Washington State and the nation. The continuing education programs provide public access to educational opportunities not available through conventional degree programs as well as resources for professionals pursuing new knowledge and relicensure, persons seeking career development or change, and individuals who are committed to life-long learning. Courses, workshops, and conferences provide professionals and the general public with opportunities to learn about the latest developments in their fields of practice and to study established bodies of knowledge. Continuing education is a significant part of the University's ongoing relationship with its graduates, working professionals, and the general public.

S-B 159, April 1995 with Presidential approval; RC, December 3, 2013; RC, October 27, 2017.

2.  Continuing Education Programming Authority

  A. General Policy for Continuing Education Programming

    1) Continuing education programs are expected to be self-supporting.

    2) UW Continuum College retains programming authority for all continuing education courses offered to the public for fees, with the exception of those offered by professional schools and colleges or designated independent continuing education programs.

    3) New continuing education programs and any proposals to create new administrative units to coordinate continuing education programs will be reviewed by the Continuing Education Board of Deans and Directors to determine the independent status of the program and whether the proposed program duplicates an existing program or impinges on the programming authority of an existing continuing education unit. The board may recommend to the Provost that a particular new program be granted independent status.

    4) When disputes arise over programming authority, the units involved are encouraged to reach an agreement on responsibility for specific offerings. If the units do not reach agreement among themselves, the board will review the conflict and make recommendations to the Provost, who exercises final authority in the matter.

    5) Since it is important to maintain high academic standards for continuing education courses, all continuing education courses and programs should be reviewed and approved by the appropriate University of Washington academic unit or units. UW Continuum College, professional, and independent continuing education program administrators have the responsibility for seeking such approval or sponsorship.

    6) UW Continuum College and the professional and independent continuing education administrative units should regularly communicate and share programming and marketing information.

    7) The Continuing Education Board of Deans and Directors should remain conversant with the nature and scope of the continuing education programs offered at the University. To this end, it will review annual reports concerning continuing education administrative units.

  B. Curriculum Authority

    1) University of Washington Continuum College

      a) Continuing education programs and courses are developed and presented by UW Continuum College in close cooperation with the appropriate academic units of the University.

      b) UW Continuum College presents self-sustaining credit courses from the regular curriculum and serves as a catalyst for the development of new credit and noncredit courses. Credit courses bear departmental prefixes and must be reviewed and sponsored by the appropriate UW academic unit.

    2) Professional Continuing Education

      a) Courses or programs in professional fields are developed and administered by the deans, continuing education staff, and faculty in the appropriate professional schools and colleges or related professional units. The programming authority is designated by the dean or director of the school or college or by the appropriate academic officer.

      b) Programming authority for courses of a professional nature may be given to UW Continuum College by the dean or director of the appropriate professional school or college.

    3) Independent Continuing Education Programs

Courses or programs identified as "Independent Continuing Education" are developed and administered by appropriate staff and faculty.

  C. Administration

    1) UW Continuum College is administered by the Vice Provost for University of Washington Continuum College, who reports to the Provost.

    2) The UW Continuing Education Board of Deans and Directors is appointed by and reports directly to the Provost. The board provides guidance on continuing education policy as suggested by the Provost.

    3) All colleges and schools providing continuing education programs are represented on the board.

    4) Professional continuing education programs are administered by the dean or director of a school or college or his or her appointed representative, or by the appropriate academic officer.

    5) Independent continuing education programs are administered by the director of a unit or his or her appointed representative.

AI, May 1989; RC, December 3, 2013; S-B 180, February 27, 2014 with Presidential approval; RC, October 27, 2017.

3.  Credit Programs


Access on Space-Available Basis

Students may gain access to courses at the University of Washington on a space-available basis under special provisions.

    1) Graduate Nonmatriculated Status

      a) Graduate School Memoranda establish policy and procedures for graduate nonmatriculated (GNM) students to enroll in University courses.

      b) Individuals submit an application to the academic unit to which they seek admission as a graduate nonmatriculated student.

      c) The graduate program coordinator in the home department has final authority for approval or denial of admission. Registration occurs through UW Continuum College.

      d) Eligible students are classified as graduate nonmatriculated (GNM) and may apply a maximum of 12 graduate credits toward an advanced degree.

      e) Minimum Graduate School standards for scholarship apply to GNM students. Grades are entered on official University of Washington transcripts.

      f) Information and application materials are available from home academic units, the Graduate School, and UW Continuum College.


Nonmatriculated Student Status

      a) Individuals may also enroll in University courses as nonmatriculated (NM) students, on a space-available basis.

      b) Credits earned by nonmatriculated students cannot be applied toward a graduate degree.

      c) No more than 20% of the total enrollment of a course may be nonmatriculated.


DL Credit Courses

UW Continuum College, through its UW Online Program, also offers DL University credit courses to matriculated and nonmatriculated students.

    1) Distance learning courses are available to matriculated and nonmatriculated students.

    2) Students may apply a maximum of 90 credits of UW distance learning coursework towards the credit requirements for graduation.

    3) Official University of Washington transcripts will not differentiate between distance learning and classroom courses.


ACCESS Program for the Older Adult

    The University of Washington waives tuition for Washington residents 60 years of age and older who wish to participate in classes as auditors. The Office of the University Registrar registers the participants on behalf of the University.

    1) Registration is on a space-available basis.

    2) Students are limited to a maximum of two courses per quarter.

    3) As auditors, ACCESS students do not participate in laboratory work or examinations, nor do they receive grades.

    4) ACCESS students pay a registration fee.

    5) ACCESS students enroll for courses on the last day of registration.

AI, May 1989; S-B 167, November 26, 2001; S-B 173, April 6, 2007: both with Presidential approval; RC, December 3, 2013; S-B 180, February 27, 2014 with Presidential approval; AI, February 9, 2015; RC, October 27, 2017.

4.  Professional and Personal Development Programs


Professional Continuing Education

Professional noncredit continuing education consists primarily of courses for licensure, licensure maintenance, developing skills, and exploring new knowledge. Courses are offered by the professional schools through their own continuing education offices or through UW Continuum College.


Personal Development Courses

Personal development courses are offered by independent continuing education programs and UW Continuum College. These courses provide opportunities for individual growth and understanding which contribute to a quality of life.


Certificate Programs

Certificate programs are coherent courses of study in a specific area which culminate in the award of a certificate upon satisfactory completion of the required coursework and/or examination. Certificate programs are offered by the professional continuing education units and UW Continuum College.


Academic Conferences

Academic conferences are coordinated by professional and independent continuing education programs as well as by UW Continuum College.

AI, May 1989; RC, December 3, 2013; RC, October 27, 2017.

For related information, see:

  • Executive Order No. 49, "Continuing Education Fee Policy"