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Graduate Student Continuation Policy

Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) is committed to helping students successfully complete their graduate studies at the University of Washington. Satisfactory progress for graduate students relates primarily to remaining in good academic standing and successful continuation of coursework until degree completion.

Approved Leave

HCDE students may take no more than four consecutive quarters of leave during their graduate program. To be approved for On-Leave status, HCDE graduate students must get approval from their chair and the Graduate Program Coordinator. To access the on-line petition, please visit the Graduate School's page on the on-leave process.

If a student does not register for On-Leave status by the 5th day of the quarter they risk losing access to UW IT services including Productivity Platforms such as, G Suite or Outlook 365. Students must submit an On-Leave request or register for a minimum of two UW credits no later than the end of the third week of the quarter (excluding summer) to remain active. Any student not enrolled by the third week and not on-leave automatically is withdrawn from the program.

Academic Progress and Performance

The Graduate School provides UW departments with a quarterly report that lists the names of students whose GPAs fall below 3.0 either cumulatively or for that quarter. Review of students listed in the report is coordinated at the departmental level by the Director of Academic Services and HCDE's Graduate Program Coordinator, as needed. In addition, in accordance with Graduate School Policy 1.1, a minimum of 2.7 is required in each numerically graded course that is counted toward a graduate degree, and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for graduation.

In accordance with Graduate School Policy 3.7, students whose cumulative or quarterly GPA has dropped below 3.0, or those who are not meeting performance expectations related to milestones, annual review, research capability or other academic progress measures, will be notified with written explanation of performance expectations and a timetable for correction of deficiencies. Ratings of progress include:

  • Warn / Interim Check-in: A warning letter will be issued to students whose cumulative or quarterly GPA has dropped below 3.0 for one quarter, or those who are not meeting performance expectations related to milestones, annual review, research capability or other academic progress measures. 
  • Probation: A probation letter will be issued if a student has a cumulative or quarterly GPA less than 3.0, or if they are deficient in performance expectations for two consecutive quarters. A Probation status may be issued without prior Warning.
  • Final Probation: After at least one quarter of probation, a recommendation of final probation will be issued if a student has a cumulative or quarterly GPA less than 3.0 and/or has not met performance expectations for three consecutive quarters.
  • Drop: After at least one quarter of final probation, HCDE may recommend a student be dropped from the program if performance expectations remain deficient. If the Graduate School approves the decision, the student will be immediately dropped from the HCDE PhD program. 

An action of "Warn" will not appear on the student's permanent record/transcript. Only actions of "Probation," "Final Probation," and "Drop" will appear on the student's permanent record. "Final Probation," and "Drop" will appear on the student's transcript.

Questions regarding satisfactory progress should be addressed to the Director of Academic Services.

Academic Progress Measures

  • Preliminary Exam: All HCDE PhD students participate in the preliminary exam during the autumn quarter of their second year in the program.
  • Committee Chair Declaration: PhD students may select their committee chair—a faculty member with a primary appointment in HCDE and who holds a graduate faculty appointment with endorsement to chair—as early as they wish, but they must have a committee chair in place within one quarter of completing their Preliminary Exam.
  • Doctoral Committee: Doctoral committees support and oversee student progress through the doctoral program. The UW Graduate School requires that the entire doctoral supervisory committee be established at least four months before the request for the General Examination is submitted.
  • General Exam: The student must successfully pass a general examination. Advancement to Candidacy indicates successful completion of the general examination.
  • Dissertation Proposal: After passing the General Exam, the HCDE PhD student is expected to develop, with supervision from their dissertation committee chair(s), a proposal characterizing the work they intend to do for their dissertation.
  • Final Exam (Dissertation Defense): The student must pass a final examination devoted to the dissertation and the field with which it is concerned. Dissertation defense takes place in the student's final quarter. All degree requirements must be in progress or completed.