UW–Madison launches UW–Madison Online, first fully online bachelor’s degree

a woman studying in her living room

The University of Wisconsin–Madison introduced a new initiative to increase access to education — UW–Madison Online. The program’s first fully online bachelor’s in consumer finance and financial planning* started in fall 2020, with more bachelor’s degree options in subsequent years.

UW–Madison Online increases opportunities for students who can’t attend in person and want to balance work, family or other obligations. Online undergraduate degrees are designed for people who have earned some college credits or an associate degree and want to complete their bachelor’s.

Increasing access through a fully online bachelor’s

UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank has talked about the importance of strengthening educational outcomes and increasing access. The addition of a fully online undergraduate degree program by 2020 helps accomplish this. UW–Madison Online expands on the university’s mission to reach students across the state and around the world, allowing more people to reach their potential and their goals.

“Online options expand access and allow us to bring a UW–Madison degree within reach for more nontraditional undergraduates,” Blank said.

Provost John Karl Scholz said the long-term goal is to grow UW–Madison’s online presence in a way that advances its public mission to remove barriers to a college degree for more Wisconsin students while maintaining excellence, a hallmark of the UW–Madison campus.

“We have a real opportunity to help people build a better future for themselves and improve degree attainment in the state of Wisconsin,” Scholz said.

Holistic approach

Eligible students can ask questions and apply for UW–Madison Online. Students can start the fully online bachelor’s program in fall, spring or summer. All program courses are online so students can learn from anywhere in the world. UW–Madison Online degrees are designed to be flexible, so students can choose their course load and keep career and family commitments.

“The School of Human Ecology was a natural place to launch this online degree, and we were proud to lead on this initiative,” said SoHE Dean Soyeon Shim.

UW–Madison is not new to the online arena. For more than 20 years, the university has offered online master’s degrees and certificates. Professional Degrees and Certificates currently has 83 certificates, master’s and doctoral degrees available as flexible options for working adults—27 of them online. In the 2018-19 academic year, nearly 3,500 students were enrolled in these programs with nearly 1,000 online students. Online enrollments have grown 69 percent in the past five years. UW–Madison also offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing that is primarily online through the BSN@Home program, a partnership with University of Wisconsin System.

UW–Madison Online has added degree options to increase the number of fully online degrees available.

*This online program started out as a BS in Personal Finance. The Consumer Finance and Financial Planning online BS will no longer enroll new students after spring 2024.