OFFICE OF ADMISSIONS AND RECRUITMENT
Students seeking to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison will apply for admission through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Undergraduate admission is competitive and selective; professional admissions counselors review applications using a holistic process. We focus on academic excellence, reviewing high school and college coursework (when applicable), the courses students have chosen to take, the rigor and breadth of the curriculum, and how the student has performed in their coursework. We also consider written essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular involvement.
Our review process is designed to help us identify students who are not only academically stellar but also have qualities such as leadership, concern for humanity, and achievement in the arts, athletics, and other areas. We also seek diversity in personal background and experience for potential contribution to the University of Wisconsin–Madison community.
We invite and encourage all students considering the University of Wisconsin–Madison to join us on campus for a tour. There are many options to explore and discover what UW–Madison has in store.
To submit an application for admission review the application dates and deadlines as well as the required application materials listed on our website.
Dates and Deadlines
Competitive freshman applicants have taken advantage of the rigor offered at their high schools, performed well in challenging courses, and have strong ACT or SAT scores. Beyond academic excellence we are looking for students who demonstrate leadership, community engagement, and passion.
Students are considered freshman applicants if they have not yet completed high school (secondary-level education); have not earned a GED/HSED (but will by the time they enroll at UW–Madison); or have not enrolled in a college or university in a degree-granting program since graduating high school or earning a GED/HSED. For more information about admission requirements and expectations of freshman applicants please see our website.
Successful transfer applicants will have a consistently high or upward grade trend; a strong cumulative grade point average; and rigorous coursework in English composition, college-level math, science, social science, humanities, literature, and foreign language. Admission to the university does not guarantee acceptance to an intended major, which is a separate process from the undergraduate admission process.
Students are considered transfer applicants if they have enrolled in an accredited college or university in a degree-granting program after graduating from high school or earning a GED/HSED. Students must have 24 transferable credits earned at a college or university after high school graduation to be eligible for admission as a transfer applicant. For more information about admission requirements and expectations of transfer applicants please see our website.
Prospective transfer students can begin satisfying UW–Madison general education and degree requirements before transferring. For more information on selecting courses for the purpose of satisfying UW–Madison requirements, see Transfer Admissions. Transfer credit is generally given for college-level courses taken at a degree-granting institution accredited by a CHEA-recognized organization. Courses must be similar in nature, level, and content to UW–Madison undergraduate courses and apply to a UW–Madison academic program. Students may wish to consult the UW–Madison Transfer Credit Policy for more details.
Students previously registered at UW–Madison in an undergraduate degree program who wish to resume undergraduate study after an absence of a semester or more are considered reentry students. Reentry students must file an application for readmission but are not subject to the application fee.
To guarantee an early enrollment appointment time, reentry students should submit the complete application by February 1 for the fall term or by October 1 for the spring term. In addition to submitting an application, reentry applicants must submit official transcripts for any work completed elsewhere since last enrolled at UW–Madison, a list of courses in progress (if applicable), and an academic action from the dean's office if they are in "dropped" or "must obtain permission to continue" status.
NONDEGREE UNIVERSITY SPECIAL AND GUEST STUDENTS
Undergraduate students visiting from other universities or recent UW–Madison graduates may desire to enroll at UW–Madison as nondegree University Special and Guest students. Contact the Division of Continuing Studies, Adult Career and Special Student Services.
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Each student comes to UW–Madison with a unique set of skills and academic preparation. To asses where each student stands in beginning to meet their General Education Requirements, placement tests provide academic advisors with the tools to help determine in which courses students should enroll. Placement tests are required of all incoming freshman and some transfer students depending on college course work. Other exams such as ACT, SAT, SAT II, TOEFL, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), etc. do not satisfy the requirement of placement tests, however, scores on these exams may assist in appropriate course enrollment advising.
UW Placement tests are developed by faculty and instructional staff from various UW System campuses and led by Testing and Evaluation Services (T&E). T&E conducts studies to support the development of these tests and effectively uses the results to place incoming students into appropriate levels of English, math, and foreign language.
Outlined below are the situations typical for requiring placement tests. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment determines which placement tests are required. After students are admitted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, they will receive an email from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment indicating which placement tests are required.
LANGUAGE PLACEMENT EXAMS
The UW System offers placement exams for French, German and Spanish that are available through the Regional Placement Testing Program. Students are encouraged to take a foreign language placement test if they plan to continue studying a foreign language they have already taken in high school or college. If no placement exam is taken, students may enroll in the first semester course. UW–Madison offers language instruction in more than 30 languages. For additional information about placement, see Languages at UW–Madison.
MATH PLACEMENT EXAMS
This examination is required for students admitted to undergraduate degree granting programs who:
1. Are admitted as first-year students
2. Are admitted as transfer students and
A. Have not previously completed the UW System math placement exam.
B. Do not have credit for the UW–Madison direct equivalent of MATH 112, MATH 113, MATH 114, MATH 211, or any MATH course that is numbered higher than 211.
(For students who have a course in progress at the time of admission, it is assumed they will complete the course, so they are not asked to take the placement test; if they do not complete or pass the course, they may be required to take the placement test to demonstrate minimum math proficency.)
C. Have completed the equivalent of MATH 96 at a UW System institution.
Students must demonstrate minimum math proficiency before they enroll in a Quantitative Reasoning Part A course. Satisfaction of Quantitative Reasoning Part A from a math course that is transferred in does not automatically exempt students from the UW math placement test.
MATH 101 equivalents will be converted to MATH 96, and/or will be reviewed by the math department for possible MATH 96.
See also the Mathematics Placement Chart.
ENGLISH PLACEMENT EXAMS
Two exams—the UW English Placement Test (UWEPT) and the UW–Madison English as a Second Language Assessment Test (MSNESLAT)—are used to place students into courses focused on development of skills needed for success in college-level communication tasks.
UW English Placement Test (UWEPT)
The UWEPT is taken by students admitted to undergraduate degree-granting programs who:
1. Are admitted as first-year students and are not required to take the MSNESLAT (see next section)
2. Are admitted as transfer students and are not required to take the MSNESLAT (see next section) and
A. Have not previously completed the UW System English Placement Exam.
B. Do not have credit for the UW–Madison equivalent of a Communication Part A course.
UW–Madison English as a Second Language Assessment Test (MSNESLAT)
The MSNESLAT is taken by all students who are required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score for admission to UW–Madison.
The MSNESLAT is designed to evaluate English language proficiency, and to place students into English as a Second Language courses that help students improve skills in the written and spoken English used in academic contexts. Students who take the MSNESLAT and obtain a score that does not exempt them from ESL 118 must satisfy the university’s expectation of college-level English language proficiency. This can be done by taking ESL 118 or by achieving a score of exempt on the MSNESLAT.
RETROACTIVE LANGUAGE CREDIT
In some schools and colleges at UW–Madison, it is possible to earn retro credits for prior work completed in a foreign language. To earn these credits, students must take a course above the first-semester level on the UW–Madison campus in French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, or any other language in which they have some proficiency and the course is also offered on the UW–Madison campus. The course must be designated with the Foreign Language attribute of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th semester language course and must be the first foreign language course taken by the student after enrolling in the university. Students who take a college-level language course while still in high school may still pursue retro credits at the university.
Students interested in earning retro credits should plan to take the foreign language placement test and consult with the foreign language advisor at SOAR. Students must enroll in the language course prior to earning 30 degree credits (including credits transferred from other colleges but not including AP, CLEP, IB or retro credits in another language) and earn a grade of B or better. UW–Madison honors retro credits earned at previous UW institutions as long as the student enrolled in the course prior to earning 30 credits and earned a grade of B or better. Native speakers of a language are not eligible to earn retro credits in that language. For more information, see Retroactive Credits in the College of Letters & Science section of the Guide.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) AND INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE (IB)
Both Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Higher Level examinations offer the possibility of receiving credits at UW–Madison. Many high schools offer courses through the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) program or the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. UW–Madison offers degree credit based on a student's performance on the AP and IB exams administered in high schools. (AP and IB exams must be taken before entering UW–Madison.) Students who receive credit for a particular course through AP or IB and take the same course at UW–Madison will not receive degree credit twice; however, the grade in the UW–Madison course will be included in the overall grade point average.
GCE ADVANCED LEVEL (A-LEVEL)
In many cases, students may receive advanced-standing credit for some A-level exams. After a student has been admitted, the Office of Admissions and Recruitment will perform an official evaluation of credit for A-Level exam results. In order to grant the credit, we require an official copy of the A-Level exam certificate from the examination board. Credits will not be posted from Results Slips or internal school transcripts. Review the chart to see how A-Level credit will be awarded. Examinations not listed in this chart will be evaluated by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment for appropriate advanced standing credit.
COLLEGE-LEVEL EXAMINATION PROGRAM (CLEP)
The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows students who have gained college-level knowledge outside the classroom to take examinations for possible college credit. Each exam is 90 minutes long and is made up primarily of multiple-choice questions. Some exams include an essay; however, UW–Madison does not require the essay for any CLEP exam. Credit will be granted only to those students who have completed fewer than 16 semester hours of college credit when the examinations are taken. Students must earn a minimum score of 65 to receive credit. The scores for awarding credit at the University of Wisconsin–Madison do not necessarily match those recommended by the American Council on Education.
CREDIT BY DEPARTMENTAL EXAMINATION
Students may acquire knowledge, skills, and competencies through experiences that are academic in nature but may not necessarily correspond to a setting in which UW–Madison awards traditional credit. Credit by department examination is one opportunity for undergraduate students to demonstrate mastery of material that is equivalent to what would be learned in a specific UW–Madison course. The course credits granted through departmental examination are based on a student’s demonstration that they have mastered the learning outcomes equivalent to those for the specified course. Examples of circumstances that will lead students to seek credit by examination may be: they completed preparation for advanced placement exams in high school but were unable to take the AP test; they have placement test scores that place them in a course lower than what they think they are prepared for; they did not get transfer equivalency for a course but they judge that they have completed the material in a course at another university.
To learn more about obtaining credit by departmental examination including eligibility and fees, review the policy here.