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The Graduate School

G-1 Communications Building
Box 353770
Seattle, Washington 98195-3770

Phone: 206.543.5900
Fax: 206.685.3234

Guidelines for Graduate Certificate Program Proposals

A graduate certificate program is a linked series of graduate courses that constitute a coherent body of study. It is designed to enhance the education of matriculated graduate and professional students beyond the requirements for a graduate degree, or to provide continuing education to graduate non-matriculated (GNM) students. A proposal to offer a new Graduate Certificate program must include the items below. Contact the Office of Academic Affairs and Planning in the Graduate School with any questions you may have about the guidelines.

Cover Letter

The proposal should include a cover letter that indicates confirmation of faculty review and approval of the proposed certificate program (unit level and dean's level, if appropriate).


Provide a summary description of the proposed new graduate certificate program, including the rationale for the program and the name of the program as it should appear on the student transcript. State the certificate program's administrative location and indicate the desired timeline for implementation.

Relationship to Institutional Role, Mission, and Academic Unit Priorities

Describe how the proposed graduate certificate program reflects the educational mission of the University of Washington and how it supports the unit's academic priorities and resources commitments.

Documentation of Need for Graduate Certificate Program

Briefly describe how the proposed program responds to current trends in the field, including available data that demonstrates student and employer demand.


Describe the student population to be served. Indicate the projected enrollment for the first five years. In addition, the proposal should describe the plan to advertise and recruit students to the program, including traditionally underrepresented minority students. Provide information on any student financial support made available by the program.


A graduate certificate program requires a minimum of fifteen student credit hours, nine of which must be earned in courses numbered 500 and above. Nine student credit hours must be earned in graded courses. The certificate must consist of a linked series of credit-bearing graduate courses that constitutes a coherent body of study and culminates in a capstone or equivalent unifying experience.

Indicate the total credit requirements for the graduate certificate program, provide a list of the required courses and a brief description of each, and articulate how the curriculum is structured to provide a coherent course of study. Describe whether the certificate program will be developed from existing courses or if new courses will be developed. Briefly describe expected student learning outcomes and how they will be measured. Describe the relationship of the program to the academic unit's existing graduate programs and whether there is potential overlap of the certificate program with the degree program.

Certificate programs must not be composed of a subset of courses required for a student's graduate degree. The overlap of coursework applied toward both a certificate program and a graduate degree program must not exceed 6 credits and is limited to elective coursework in each program.

Governance and Faculty Involvement

The faculty overseeing the certificate program defines target audiences, admissions standards, the curriculum and, on an ongoing basis, monitors the progress and quality of the program. An advisory board consisting of faculty from the University and representatives of the professional community, where appropriate, may provide input to the faculty offering the program.

Describe the academic oversight of the graduate certificate program, including the faculty director and any faculty committees overseeing the program in addition to the general faculty of the unit. Clearly articulate function, expectations, and appointment policies for the certificate program director, core faculty group, and any faculty committees specifically overseeing the certificate program. As with all graduate programs, faculty closely involved in the program must be members of the Graduate Faculty.

Admission Process

Describe the admissions process through which participants identify themselves as certificate students before fulfilling the requirements of the program. The admissions policy should encourage students to apply to the program prior to beginning the certificate coursework. This will ensure that students have an appropriate background to profit from the program and to participate in the capstone project. In some circumstances, and at the discretion of the program, students may be admitted the certificate program after beginning certificate coursework. In every case, students must apply and be admitted to the program prior to completing the capstone.

Students may complete more than one graduate certificate program. However, no more than 6 credits may overlap between certificate programs, and those credits must be electives in each program. Transfer credits cannot be applied towards certificate requirements.

Admission Standards

Describe the minimum admission standards. These must be designed to reflect the knowledge and skills needed for success in the program. Graduate, professional, or graduate non-matriculated student status is required for admission to graduate certificate programs. Graduate non-matriculated students must meet minimum requirements for admission to the Graduate School.

Grading/Assessment and Minimum Standards

Each participant will be assessed in each course by standards approved by the appropriate academic units. Describe any grading criteria unique to the program, as well as specific expectations for the successful completion of ungraded activities required for the program (e.g., submission of a portfolio, poster presentation).

Successful completion of a Graduate Certificate Program requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for courses required for the Certificate and a grade of 2.7 or higher for each course counted toward the certificate. State any standards in excess of these minimums.

Each course in a graduate certificate program should be evaluated periodically by students and peers to ensure the high quality of the program. Describe the evaluation and feedback process used to assure course and program quality. For courses not dedicated to the certificate program, how will the program assure the course content remains appropriate to the program?


Upon completion of a graduate certificate program, students' grades will be recorded on their transcripts, as will the title of the graduate certificate program. State the requested transcript title for the graduate certificate (60 characters maximum, including spaces).


Office of Academic Affairs and Planning
301 Loew Hall  |  Box 352191  |  Seattle, Washington 98195
Phone: 206.685.3519