UW Graduate School

Memo 45: Practice Doctorates


A practice doctorate is intended as preparation for professional practice at the frontiers of existing knowledge (see Graduate School Memo 6). Except as described below, practice doctorates must adhere to the Graduate School Doctoral Degree Policies.

Minimum Requirements/Process

In order to qualify for a practice doctorate degree, it is the responsibility of the student to meet the Graduate School minimum requirements for doctoral programs and complete the program of study as planned by the graduate program coordinator in the student’s major department or college and the Supervisory Committee. This includes a minimum of 90 credits, including 12 credits of project or capstone credit  numbered 801(see Graduate School Memo 36).

It is the responsibility of the program to establish appropriate milestones towards the degree. Two milestones are formally recognized by the Graduate School: (1) admission to the program and (2) approval of the final project/capstone (through the warrant). As such, 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.

Practice Doctoral Supervisory Committees

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

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.

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.

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.

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 warrant) 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 warrant must be used.

Credit Policy for Graduate School Practice Doctoral degrees

With the approval of the graduate program, an appropriate PhD or master’s degree from an accredited institution may substitute for 30 credits of enrollment toward the 90 required minimum for a Practice Doctorate. Alternately, the graduate program may allow any number of credits from a completed UW master’s degree to count towards the doctoral degree requirements if the two degrees are within the same graduate program. Students must meet the Graduate School minimum requirements for the doctoral degree.

When a PhD 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 (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 requirements (18 credits 500 level and above, 18 numerically graded 400/500 level credits) for each degree.

Issued: June, 2010; revised March 2018; June 2018