The operation of a fee-based degree program must adhere to all applicable University of Washington policies. If your academic unit offers or is considering offering a fee-based degree, the following information can help guide your planning process.

If you have questions, contact your Partner Success Lead at UW Continuum College (UWC²) for assistance. The Partner Success Lead can connect you with the appropriate resource(s).


  • Fee-based degrees are part of the general strategic plan of the campus, college, school and department.
  • Fee-based degrees cannot lead to a decrease in opportunities for tuition-based students.
  • Fee-based and tuition-based degrees will be treated the same by the faculty, department or college, who will maintain quality educational programs regardless of funding source.
  • Fee-based programs should be considered an integral part of the UW.
  • The UW depends upon a strategic mix of funding sources, including the fee-based educational model, to reach its goals.
  • The fee-based degrees will enhance rather than detract from the brand name of the specific academic units and the UW.
  • A fee-based degree should cover direct costs such as instructional and administrative expenses as well as marginal costs, and indirect costs such as overhead.
  • Fee-based degree programs are subject to the same academic review process as tuition-based degrees.


  • The academic purview, including degree-granting authority, remains with the department, school or college offering the degree. This purview includes decisions regarding the program’s faculty, curriculum, advising and student admission.
  • Fee-based degree programs must be evaluated like any other degree program at the UW. Programs must be approved by the departmental faculty, the campus, college or school, and either Undergraduate Education or the Graduate School. If the program is new, it must also be approved by the UW Board of Regents. For details about graduate degree approval processes, see the Graduate School website on Creating and Modifying Programs.
  • A new fee-based degree shall have a plan, outlined in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The plan must be approved by the dean of the college, school or the chancellor of a campus, the department chair and the vice provost of Continuum College.
  • The decision to hire new tenure-track faculty positions in a fee‐based degree program must be based upon the willingness and ability of the campus, college or school to guarantee these positions on a long-term basis through retirements, vacancies and other means. The campus, college or school must demonstrate an exit strategy to manage the risk of funding tenure-track faculty in case of program termination.
  • The program should have a defined audience substantiated by market data.
  • The academic unit will establish the course or student-credit-hour fee (tuition) for the program according to academic goals and prevailing market conditions.
  • If UW Continuum College shares financial risk or oversight, the Continuum vice provost or their delegate must approve fiscal year budgets and the fees (tuition) for the program or course.
  • Fee‐based degree programs that offer classes during the summer term are not formally part of Summer Sessions, which has a separate fee structure in partnership with the provost.


  • It is the policy of the University of Washington that existing tuition-supported programs will not be converted to fee-based degree.
  • If a proposed fee-based degree fits the core requirements of an existing fee-based degree and requires no material change in operations, the fee-based degree program can be considered part of the existing degree.
  • A new version of an existing fee-based degree program (e.g., a new option within a degree, an evening version of an existing degree, etc.) requires formal approval from all the following: the academic department, the campus, college or school and the Graduate School. Formal approval from the UW Board of Regents is not needed in this scenario.
  • If a department, school, college or campus proposes a new version of an existing tuition-supported degree as a fee-based option, it should be distinguished by some element such as curricular concentration, time of day (e.g., evening), format (e.g., distance, intensive) or audience (e.g., executive).