aerial view of the UW–Madison campus and Lake Monona

How to apply

Who is eligible to apply?

To be considered for UW–Madison Online you must be a transfer or reentry student.

Freshman applicants are not eligible for admission to UW–Madison Online. A freshman is anyone who is currently a in high school or who has not taken college courses since graduating from high school.

Learn more about applying as a:

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Transfer student

A transfer student is anyone who has attended another college or university after graduating from high school and wishes to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at UW–Madison.

In order to be eligible for transfer admission, you must have completed or will complete at least 12 transferable semester hours of college-level work. Advanced Placement (AP); General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level (A-Level); International Baccalaureate (IB) and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams cannot be used toward the 12 transferable credit requirement.

Non-native English speakers must demonstrate English language proficiency through completion of all 4 years of secondary education in English or the completion of a college level English composition course at a U.S. institution.

If you are a transfer student, connect with a UW–Madison Online enrollment coach to discuss your eligibility and have your questions about the program answered.

Transfer agreement

Reentry student

A reentry student is someone who previously attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison as an undergraduate and would like to complete their first undergraduate degree. Reentry students are those who have not been enrolled in courses for a semester or more.

Reentry students should email a UW–Madison Online academic and career advisor at oss@advising.wisc.edu to begin the process and find out more information.

All interested students should see each program for additional eligibility requirements, such as eligibility for second degree students.

How to apply to UW–Madison Online

You can apply to UW–Madison Online through the Common Application for transfer students.

UW–Madison Online maintains the same competitive and selective admissions standards as our residential programs.

At UW–Madison, our holistic application process is designed to help us find remarkable students—students who will add to the legacy of UW–Madison. We read each application thoroughly and we don’t use formulas or charts, and there is no required minimum grade point average (GPA).

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UW–Madison Online offers multiple start dates, providing students with flexibility to meet their goals and needs. A mix of 8-week and 16-week courses are offered, with most courses in an 8-week format. 

Contact an enrollment coach to plan your path.

Academic course preparation

Prior to applying for transfer admission, students must have completed at least 12 semester hours of transferable coursework. This essentially equates to one year of college-level study. We do not accept transfer students at the freshman level.

When reviewing applications, we pay particular attention to the college-level coursework you have completed, and specifically:

  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA). Competitive not only for admission to the university, but for your intended major as well. Please note: GPA calculations will include all grades received for repeated courses; the initial grade, as well as grades received in second and subsequent attempts will be included in the GPA calculation.
  • Rigor of coursework. Appropriate for continued study at UW–Madison and increasing in difficulty.
  • Course breadth. Showing a combination of English, math, science, literature, social science, and foreign language.
  • Grade trends and patterns. Steady or improving trends and patterns that show consistency across all academic areas.
  • Required courses. Applicants must have completed one year each of high school algebra, plane geometry, and college-preparatory math, and two high school years or two college semesters of a single foreign language.

High school record

Your academic performance in high school will be more or less important to us depending on how many college credits you have earned. Generally speaking, students who are in their first two years of college-level coursework will have their high school records more carefully analyzed. The more college-level work you have completed, the less we will rely on high school performance criteria such as rigor of coursework, academic GPA, grade trends and class rank.

Regardless of the number of college credits earned, your high school transcript (supplemented in some cases by your college transcript) must show that you completed the following required coursework:

  • Algebra: One year in high school
  • Plane geometry: One year in high school (cannot be modified, basic, or informal)
  • College-preparatory math: One year in high school, or one college course at the level of Algebra 2 or beyond
  • Single foreign language: Two years of the same language in high school or two semesters of the same language in college*

*Students who have studied a foreign language using only Rosetta Stone have not fulfilled the foreign language requirement. American Sign Language (ASL) may be accepted to meet the foreign language requirement for admission if it is taken through the student’s school and is reflected on an official transcript.

Required application materials

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Admissions application

Transfer students can apply to UW–Madison Online using the Common Application for transfer students.

Application fee

The application fee is $60 U.S. and is non-refundable.

Electronic payment is preferred.


As part of our holistic review, we refer to the essay that you submit to understand more about you. What you choose to share gives us an idea of who you are and what you want to accomplish as part of our community. Tell us about you and your unique story to help us know you beyond your GPA and test scores. Your essay might also be used for campus program and scholarship review.

You will need to answer the following prompt:

Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the selected major.

Official transcripts

We require official high school transcripts, which need to be sent to us by your school. We review your high school record to check for proof of graduation, the completion of core preparation requirements, and to learn more about your educational background. High school grades will play a more important role in the admission review for applicants who have completed fewer transferable college credits. If you earned your General Educational Development (GED) certificate or a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED), submit your official score report in addition to all high school or home school transcripts.

Request official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you attended. The transcripts should include all college-level coursework completed to date, including your current term in progress, and (if applicable) college classes taken while in high school.

Electronic transcripts must be sent through a secure document sending service to etranscripts@admissions.wisc.edu. Transcripts sent through email, as an attachment, will not be accepted as official. Paper transcripts sent to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment must bear an official school seal or be printed on the school’s custom watermarked/security paper.

Students applying from outside the United States, please review country-specific official transcript requirements.

One letter of recommendation

We require you to submit one letter of recommendation written by someone who can attest to your academic ability, such as a teacher, school counselor, or faculty member. Remember to have a discussion with your chosen recommender first to see if they are willing and able to provide a letter.

We encourage applicants who have been away from formal classroom teaching for an extended period to request a letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to their academic potential, such as an employer (preferably a supervisor or manager), a program or departmental trainer, or some other individual in an official instructional capacity.

Select the link that best describes your situation and share that with your recommender:

Recommendations that are mailed to our office must include the applicant’s full name, birth date, and campus ID number (if known). Additionally, letters of recommendation from a school staff member may also be sent through Naviance. Please note that letters of recommendation expire after one year from the date it is written.

Official test scores

Scores from either the ACT or the SAT are not required of transfer applicants. However, if you’ve taken either test, we encourage you to provide us with your scores. Your results will be considered as supplemental academic information and may help strengthen your application. We do not require the writing portion of either the ACT or the SAT. Test scores should be sent directly from the testing service. Our test code is 4656 for the ACT and 1846 for the SAT. Do not send your results rush (SAT) or priority (ACT); we receive all scores electronically on a daily basis so there is not an advantage to rush or priority delivery.

How will my college credit transfer?

Credit can be awarded to any admitted student who has completed coursework at a college or university, for high achievement on AP, A-Level, IB, Cambridge Pre-U, International Baccalaureate (IB), and CLEP exams, or for military credit.

Once you are admitted, we will begin working on an evaluation of your transfer credits and will email you when your evaluation is available to view in your Student Center. To be awarded credit at UW–Madison, enrolling students must have their official college-level transcript(s) sent to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Learn more about the transfer credit process through Credit Evaluation Services.