University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Student Governance and Policies

Scholastic Regulations

Chapter 114

Degrees, Graduation, and Commencement

1.  Depth Requirements

  A. Minimum Depth Requirements

The various schools and colleges of the University will be responsible for establishing criteria to ensure adequate depth in the program of studies of each student seeking a degree.

  B. Residence Requirement

To be recommended for a first or subsequent Bachelor's degree, a student must complete 45 of their final 60 credits as a matriculated student in residence at the University of Washington campus where the degree is to be earned. Exceptions to this rule are as follows:

    1) Of the 45 resident credits required for a UW undergraduate degree, no more than 10 credits may be waived by the dean of the college or school awarding the degree and only on a case-by-case basis.

    2) A unit desiring to develop a provisional undergraduate distance-learning degree may petition the college or school and the appropriate campus undergraduate program governance body for a waiver of the 90-credit course limit. Such petitions should identify the reasons why the offering needs to waive the requirement, based on audience, access, or unit academic mission, describe the relationship of the new program to existing degrees, justify the methods of content delivery, and describe the goals and oversight needed to meet institutional standards. If the petition is approved, the degree may be implemented with a repetition of the above mentioned review required in the sixth year for continuance.

S-B 92, May 1964; S-B 105, March 1969; S-B 151, January 21, 1991; S-B 167, November 26, 2001; S-B 173, April 6, 2007; S-B 195, May 29, 2020: all with Presidential approval.

2.  Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree

  A. Required Grade Point

To be eligible for the bachelor's degree, an undergraduate student must achieve a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.00. Only resident credits and credits from DL courses will be used to compute the graduation grade-point average.

    1) Cumulative Grade Graduation Requirements:

      a) Programs may establish a requirement that students achieve a minimum 2.00 cumulative grade-point average for courses required for their major.

      b) Programs may establish a requirement that students achieve a minimum cumulative grade-point average of higher than 2.00 for courses required for their major only if the program provides sufficient documentation and justification. Programs may establish a minimum cumulative grade-point average requirement higher than 2.50 only if the program provides exceptionally strong justification.

    2) Minimum Grade Graduation Requirements in Individual Courses:

      a) Programs may establish a requirement that students achieve a minimum grade in the range of 0.8 to 2.0 in each course of a subset of the courses required for a major or for every course required for a major only if the program provides sufficient documentation and justification.

      b) Programs that request a minimum grade requirement exceeding 2.0 in each course of a subset of the courses required for the major or for every course required for a major must provide extraordinary justification.

  B. Required Credits

To be eligible for graduation from the University with the Bachelor's degree, a student shall satisfy all other specific requirements and shall offer a minimum of 180 academic credits.

    1) The General Education requirements for graduation shall include:

      a) Areas of Inquiry. To ensure that students may develop a foundational understanding of what kinds of questions can be asked and what kinds of problems can be addressed through a range of disciplines and fields of study, no fewer than 40 credits of general education courses in three Areas of Inquiry (Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences), to include no fewer than 10 credits in each Area;

      b) Writing. To ensure that students may learn to practice and use writing, broadly conceived, to solve problems, develop critical thinking, and deepen learning, no fewer than 12 credits of courses to include 5 credits of English Composition and two additional courses designated as writing-intensive ("W") (the latter may be satisfied through several options: "W" courses or courses for which students and faculty contract for a substantial amount of writing);

      c) Reasoning. To ensure that students may learn to critically evaluate and effectively use information through the application of symbolic and/or numeric methods, or the theoretical study thereof, no fewer than 5 credits of courses expressly focused on the development of such reasoning skills;

      d) Diversity. No fewer than 5 credits of courses, approved by the appropriate school or college, which focus on the sociocultural, political, and economic diversity of human experience at local, regional, or global scales. This requirement is meant to help the student develop an understanding of the complexities of living in increasingly diverse and interconnected societies. Courses focus on cross-cultural analysis and communication; and historical and contemporary inequities such as those associated with race, ethnicity, class, sex and gender, sexual orientation, nationality, ability, religion, creed, age, or socioeconomic status. Course activities should encourage thinking critically on topics such as power, inequality, marginality, and social movements, and effective communication across cultural differences.

    2) Courses taken to fulfill the Writing, Reasoning, Diversity, and major requirements may apply as appropriate to the Areas of Inquiry requirements.

    3) The University Committee on General Education (UCGE) is charged and authorized with: reviewing and approving proposals for new courses and course revisions involving General Education designations; guiding evaluations and assessments of the General Education program; maintaining working documents inclusive of expanded definitions and criteria associated with each requirement; and making recommendations to the Senate Executive Committee for potential revisions to General Education policies and procedures. The committee is chaired by a faculty representative nominated jointly by the chairs of the Faculty Council on Academic Standards, the Faculty Council on Teaching and Learning, and the Faculty Council on Tri-Campus Policy and approved by the Senate Chair. UCGE membership is comprised of multiple faculty from each campus who regularly teach GE courses.

  C. College Requirements

Any college may make additional requirements for graduation.

  D. Extension Credits

No more than 90 extension credits may be counted toward the bachelor's degree. No more than 45 credits gained in extension courses offered by other institutions may be counted toward the bachelor's degree.

  E. Effective Date for Graduation Requirements

    1) If fewer than ten years have elapsed since a student's admission into her or his major program, she or he may choose to graduate under the major program requirements in effect at the time of admission, or under any subsequent requirements. The choice shall be subject to approval of the student's departmental chair and dean, according to the procedures established in Chapter 23, Section 23-48 of the Faculty Code.

    2) If a student wishes to obtain a degree after a lapse of more than ten years from the date of admission to the major program, she or he must meet the requirements in effect at the time of graduation unless permission to use an earlier catalog is granted, either as a general policy or expressly for the individual student, by the academic unit (department, school, or college) whose requirements are in question.

    3) These provisions do not apply to the requirements for teaching certificates, which are prescribed by the College of Education at the time the certificate is to be granted.

  F. Time Limit for Exceptions to Graduate Requirements

An exception from an all-University graduation requirement which is granted by the Board of Admissions, Scholastic Standards, and Graduation shall be void at the end of two calendar years from the date such exception is granted if all degree requirements have not been completed within that period.

  G. Applications for Degrees and Majors

A student should file with the Registrar a written application for his or her degree or major no later than the third Friday of the quarter of his or her expected date of graduation. Students shall be notified by the Registrar of the acceptance or rejection of his or her application. Each quarter the Registrar shall transmit the accepted list of candidates for degrees and majors to be conferred at the end of that quarter to the dean of the appropriate college or school for his or her faculty's approval and recommendation to the Board of Regents. The list as approved by his or her faculty shall then be forwarded by such dean to the Registrar with a recommendation to the Board of Regents that all who fulfill their outstanding requirements for graduation will be awarded their respective degrees, majors, or certificates. No student shall receive a bachelor's degree, major, teaching certificate, or other certificate unless approved by the faculty of the appropriate school or college during the quarter in which the degree or certificate is to be granted.

  H. Degrees with Minor

Departments, schools, and colleges are authorized to provide a course of study leading to an undergraduate academic minor. Requirements are within the purview of the department, school, or college.

    1) The minor shall consist of not less than 25 credits. Interdisciplinary minors are encouraged. Courses taken to fulfill the minor may also apply as appropriate to the general education, writing and reasoning requirements. Completion of the minor will appear on the permanent record.

    2) Distance-learning minors (whether entirely new, or a distance-learning version of an existing minor) must be approved by the same process as non-distance-learning minors. Modes of content delivery must be described and approved at all levels, including unit, college, and Faculty Council on Academic Standards.

  I. Degrees with Double Major

Generally admitted students may choose to earn bachelor's degrees with double majors. Majors may be earned within the same college or from different colleges. A single degree with a double major is appropriate when both majors lead to the same degree objective (e.g., BA or BS). If students desire to pursue double majors, they shall complete all degree requirements in accordance with the satisfactory progress policy (Scholastic Regulations, Chapter 116, Satisfactory Progress). The student must submit an application for each major that is to be approved by the department, school, or college granting the major. Both majors will appear on the student's permanent record.

  J. DL Course Credits

Students may apply a maximum of 90 credits of DL coursework towards the credit requirements for graduation. DL-designated courses are not considered extension credits.

S-B 15, January 1944; S-B 41, June 1949; S-B 60, March 1953; S-B 74, April 1957; S-B 79, May 1958: all with Presidential approval; HB, 1958; HB, 1966; S-B 105, March 1969; S-B 111, June 1970; S-B 113, April 1971; S-B 142, December 1983; S-B 156, November 1993; S-B 157, April 1994; S-B 167, November 26, 2001; S-B 173, April 6, 2007; S-B 177, April 14, 2010; S-B 178 and S-B 179, May 24, 2013; S-B 180, February 27, 2014; S-B 192, April 13, 2020; S-B 207, April 29, 2022; S-B 211, April 10, 2023; S-B 212, June 2, 2023: all with Presidential approval.

3.  Two Bachelor's Degrees at the Same Time

Two differently named bachelor's degrees may be granted at the same time to a generally admitted student, but the total number of academic credits shall reach a minimum of 45 credits in excess of the number normally awarded for the first bachelor's degree. Two bachelor's degrees will not be awarded when both majors lead to the same degree objective (e.g., BS or BA); in these cases a single degree with a double major will be awarded. Exceptions to this rule are at the discretion of the dean of the college or school awarding the degree and only on a case-by-case basis; if the two majors are in two different colleges or schools, both deans must approve.

S-B 105, March 1969; S-B 177, April 14, 2010; S-B 179, May 24, 2013; S-B 180, February 27, 2014: all with Presidential approval.

4.  A Second Bachelor's Degree

  A. Additional Credits

A second bachelor's degree may be granted to a generally admitted student, but there shall be required for this degree a minimum of 45 additional credits in residence.

  B. Undergraduate Registration

Students who wish to obtain a second bachelor's degree register in the college from which they expect to obtain the degree, not in the Graduate School.

S-B 105, March 1969; S-B 167, November 26, 2001; S-B 173, April 6, 2007; S-B 179, May 24, 2013: all with Presidential approval; RC, December 3, 2013; S-B 180, February 27, 2014 with Presidential approval.

5.  Advanced Degrees

  A. Requirements at Time of Award

A graduate student must satisfy the requirements for an advanced degree which are in force at the time the degree is to be awarded.

  B. Degrees Sought by UW Faculty

Ordinarily, no member of the faculty with the rank of assistant professor or above shall be granted any advanced degree at this University. However, with prior approval of his or her chair, dean, and the Provost, such degrees (outside the faculty member's department) may be granted. This regulation shall not be applied to any member of the military services officially assigned to this campus.

  C. Petition to Transfer Credits

Students pursuing a graduate program leading to the master's degree may submit a petition to the Dean of the Graduate School requesting permission to transfer up to 6 graduate quarter credits taken while a graduate student in another recognized graduate school to be applied toward the Master's degree here. The petition must be accompanied by a recommendation from the student's graduate program.

HB, 1966; S-B 63, November 1953 with Presidential approval; AI, March 1966; S-B 158, April 7, 1995 with Presidential approval; RC, December 3, 2013; AI, February 9, 2015.

6.  Master's Degrees

  A. Minimum Qualifications

Master's degree requirements must include a minimum of 36 credits. Credits earned at the University of Washington and applied towards degree requirements must include at least 18 graded credits at the 400 and/or 500 level and at least 18 credits at the 500 level and above. A student must complete all work for the master's degree within six years.

  B. Application for Degree

The student must submit a master's degree request to the Graduate School the quarter in which the student expects the degree to be conferred. Based on academic unit recommendation, the Graduate School will review and process all requests on a quarterly basis.

HB, 1966; RC, December 3, 2013; AI, February 9, 2015.

7.  Advancement to Candidacy

  A. Advancement to Candidacy

Advancement to the status of candidate for the doctoral degree is evidence of substantial attainment beyond the Master's degree. The attainment of candidacy is verified by the Graduate School based on academic unit recommendation indicating successful completion of the general examination and all other requirements for the doctoral degree except satisfactory completion of the dissertation and the final examination. Practice Doctorate programs do not include candidacy status.

  B. Degree Designations

For the doctoral degrees currently offered by the University in the Graduate School the identification of achievement of candidate status may be expressed in the following manner in relation to the designation of the doctoral degree:

    1) Doctoral Designation
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)
    2) Candidate Designation
  • Candidate in Philosophy (Ph.C.)
  • Candidate in Education (Ed.C.)
  • Candidate in Musical Arts (C.M.A.)
  C. Degree Completion

Satisfactory completion of the general examinations and all prerequisites thereto constitutes advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree and is taken to mean recognition by the faculty that the candidate is qualified and encouraged to proceed to the completion of the dissertation and the awarding of the doctoral degree.

AI, November 1968; RC, December 3, 2013; AI, February 9, 2015; S-B 210, April 10, 2023 with Presidential approval.

8.  Doctor's Degrees

In order to qualify for a doctor's degree, the student must pass creditably a final examination usually devoted to the dissertation and the field with which it is concerned, and complete all work for the doctor's degree within ten years. Applicable work from the master's degree must fall within the ten-year period. A complete list of master's and doctoral degree policies may be obtained from the Graduate School website.

HB, 1966; AI, February 9, 2015.

9.  Scholarship

A grade-point average of 3.0 or above in all numerically graded courses numbered 400 and 500 is required for a degree in the Graduate School. Students exhibiting unsatisfactory progress may be placed on probation, final probation, or dropped from the graduate program by the Dean of the Graduate School at the recommendation of the graduate program. On the quarterly grade report and on each student's permanent transcript, all courses numbered 100 through 800, with the grades earned, are listed. However, grades earned in 100-, 200-, and 300-level courses, as well as in 600-, 700-, and 800-level courses are not included in quarter or cumulative grade-point averages.

HB, 1966; AI, June 1976; AI, February 9, 2015.

10.  Theses and Dissertations

If a thesis or dissertation is required for the degree sought, the candidate shall submit the thesis or dissertation to the Graduate School by the posted deadlines for the quarter in which the student expects to earn the degree. Instructions for preparation and submission of theses and dissertations may be obtained from the Graduate School.

HB, 1966; AI, February 9, 2015.

11.  Commencement Exercises

  A. Formal Exercises

Formal commencement exercises shall be held only at the close of the Spring Quarter.

  B. Diplomas

Diplomas shall be issued at the end of each quarter to such students as have completed graduation requirements at that time.

HB, 1946; RC, December 3, 2013.

For related information, see:

  • Board of Regents Governance, Regent Policy No. 31, "Revocation of Degrees"