Academics

Each school and college has unique academic communities, facilities, and resources as well as different requirements, policies, and expectations. To be successful, your son or daughter should be familiar with his/her school or college requirements. UW–Madison asks that parents and families discuss academic expectations before students arrive on campus and encourage their students to set personal academic goals.

Academics overview

Majors and Advising

There are eight undergraduate schools and colleges at UW–Madison offering 160 majors, over 50 certificate programs, and 4,200 course options.

Academic Advising

Advising is the process of reflecting upon and making plans for a student’s undergraduate education. Advising is more than selecting courses. Advisors help students create an academic plan, explore career options, select classes, understand policies and procedures, connect to campus resources, and more. A strong advising relationship provides students with a coach who can help them figure out how to make the best of their time at UW-Madison and be ready for the next step after graduation. As Marc Lowenstein (2000) said  “Good advising is to the whole curriculum as good teaching is to one course.”

All undergraduate students at UW-Madison are assigned at least one advisor based on their academic interests. Students have their first advising experience at the Student Orientation Advising and Registration (SOAR) program. Students are encouraged to meet with advisors at least once a semester until they graduate. Students can use the “Find an Advisor” website to locate the appropriate advising office to meet their needs.

Exploration Center for Majors & Careers

The Exploration Center, an extension of the Cross-College Advising Service, is available to all students, but it is designed to assist undecided students who are exploring their options related to choosing a major and planning potential career paths. The earlier a student starts to think about the process of choosing a major and subsequently a career, the more intentional and thoughtful the process can be. Phone: 608-265-4497; e-mail: ec@ccas.wisc.edu.

Learning support

Greater University Tutoring Service (GUTS)

GUTS peer tutoring program provides free help in a variety of subjects at introductory and intermediate levels, including Academic Match Program, Conversational English, Study Skills Counseling, and Drop-in Centers. Phone: 608-263-5666; e-mail: guts@rso.wisc.edu

Writing Center

The Writing Center offers free assistance on organization, style, and mechanics in writing projects for any course (except those that satisfy the Communication A requirement), and at any level. The center also offers short, noncredit classes on grammar, style, and composition planning and organization, as well as writing for exams, research papers, research posters, book reviews, literary critiques, and cover letters and résumés.

Mathematics Tutorial Program

The Mathematics Tutorial Program offers small-group tutoring for students enrolled in Math 95, 101, 112, 113, 114, 171/217, 211, 221, 222, and 234. The twice-weekly sessions focus on improving problem-solving techniques and have required attendance. Individual help is also available. Phone: 608-263-6817; e-mail: frooney@math.wisc.edu – Frank Rooney, 320 Van Vleck.

Science Tutorial Programs

The Chemistry Learning Center assists students who are enrolled in general and organic chemistry courses in becoming successful and independent learners. Offering a supportive learning environment where students meet in small groups with staff to work out effective strategies for mastering the chemical content. Phone: 608-265-5497; e-mail: chmiddle@wisc.edu.

The Physics Learning Center program offers small-group tutorials in Physics 103 and 104 to students from groups underrepresented in the sciences (such as students of color), to students with special learning needs (such as transfer students and returning adults), and to students who have dropped physics in the past. The program provides a supportive environment in which to learn physics. Students can join at any time during the semester and there is no fee. Phone: 608-262-9107; e-mail: nossal@wisp.physics.wisc.edu.

Academics in University Residence Halls

The Class Connections program in University Residence Halls helps students find classmates who live nearby, and provides study-group kickoff events to forge Class Connections. Last fall, about 1,000 students living in University Residence Halls attended study-group kickoffs. Undergraduate- and graduate-student tutors in chemistry, economics, math, psychology, Spanish, and writing are available on most weekday evenings throughout University Residence Halls.

Computing/Division of Information Technology (DoIT)

Everything needed for successful computing at the UW is provided by the Division of Information Technology (DoIT). DoIT provides expert advice on software or hardware, great prices, a network connection, training, help 7 days a week, warranties, or repair and installation. 608-264-4357

McBurney Disability Resource Center

The McBurney Disability Resource Center creates an accessible university community where students with disabilities can realize their full potential. The center’s staff collaborates with students, faculty, and staff to promote students’ independence and to ensure the assessment of their abilities—not disabilities. Students with physical, learning, sensory, psychological, or health-related impairments may benefit from the center’s services. Phone: 608-263-2741; e-mail: frontdesk@mcb.wisc.edu.

Libraries

UW–Madison has more than 40 campus libraries, 8 million volumes of books and journals, 6.2 million microfilm items, and hundreds of thousands of government documents, maps, musical scores, and audiovisual materials. In addition to searching for materials online, students may e-mail or use instant messaging to send reference questions through campus library links as well as participate in library tours and hands-on classes.

Additional library resources:

Opportunities to enhance the academic experience

Study/work abroad

International Academic Programs (IAP) serves as the primary study abroad office on campus offering more than 200 programs in over 60 countries around the world. IAP program offerings are available to all majors and range from short-term faculty-led opportunities, intensive language study, internships, study at a foreign university, service learning, and special theme programs. All classes taken abroad count for UW–Madison in-residence credit. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are available to assist with funding study abroad. More information for parents regarding international academic programs can be found at the UW Study Abroad website.

Additional study/work abroad programs and services:

Academic honors

UW–Madison has a number of different kinds of honors that a student might receive. They include:

  • Deanʼs list: At the end of each semester, each undergraduate school or college confers this honor on those students receiving a certain GPA for the graded credits they have received that semester. GPA requirements vary by college and can be found on each collegeʼs website.
  • Honors programs: Some undergraduate colleges grant honors degrees. These honors programs require application to the program and the completion of requirements specifically related to the honors degree. Each collegeʼs Web site provides information about these programs.
  • Degree honors: Each undergraduate college also grants honors based on the GPA of the student at the point of graduation. At UW–Madison (except for the Law School) we do not use the Latin terms (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude). Instead, we use the term “distinction” for this honor. A student may receive Distinction or Highest Distinction, depending on the college in which they are enrolled. Distinction is granted to the top 20 percent of the graduating class in each undergraduate college. Highest Distinction is granted to the top 5 percent of the graduating class in the College of Agriculture and Applied Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, the School of Human Ecology, and the School of Pharmacy.

Additional academic information

Degree Audit Report (DARS)

The UW–Madison Degree Audit Report (known as DARS) is a computer-generated report that matches the degree requirements of an undergraduate degree program with a studentʼs coursework. The audit identifies those graduation requirements completed, as well as those requirements needing completion prior to graduation. The purpose of the audit report is to provide students and their advisors with a degree-progress monitoring tool to assist in academic planning and appropriate course scheduling each semester. Students may obtain an audit of their current major or explore other majors by seeing how their completed coursework matches with the requirements of other majors. Students may obtain audits from My UW, advisors, the Office of the Registrar, and their academic department or college deanʼs office.

Academic probation

Students are placed on academic probation when they do not meet a minimum GPA within the school or college in which they are enrolled. Rules for when a student is placed on probation and when the probation is removed are set by each school or college and can be found on each collegeʼs Web site. Students are notified by the school or college when they are placed on probation, and this information is displayed for the studentʼs use on the student grade report, available online through the My UW Web portal. Academic probation is removed from a studentʼs transcript once the student has “cleared” probation.

Academic dismissal

Students who do not fulfill the obligations of their probation are dismissed (or dropped) from the university. Rules for dismissal are established by each undergraduate college and can be found on each school or college Web site. Any questions about dismissal need to be routed to the academic affairs office of each school or college. Since parents have no inherent rights to the student’s record (see FERPA regulations), any discussion must be carried out between the dean’s office and the student.

Disciplinary probation and dismissal

The Dean of Students Office, part of the Division of Student Life, is responsible for placing students on disciplinary probation and dismissal due to academic misconduct (i.e., cheating) and non-academic misconduct (i.e., misconduct toward other members of the university community or facilities).

Enrollment information

Information regarding adding, dropping, swapping, credit changes, and more, as well as details relating to enrollment appointment times, maximum credit loads, holds, modular classes, auditing classes, canceling enrollment, withdrawing from the university, and other policies can be found on the Registrar’s website.

Grades

Under FERPA (see below), parents do not have access to a student’s grades. If you are interested in knowing your student’s grades, we encourage you to ask your student.

The following information may be of interest to you:

  • Final grade reports are no longer automatically mailed at the end of each term. However, students may print a grade report using My UW.
  • Students may also request that a grade report be mailed to them using the same site.
  • Midterm grades for first-year students (only) are prepared at the end of the sixth week of classes. Grades are sent via e-mail to these students on the Monday of the eighth week.

Transcripts

UW–Madison policy on Confidentiality of Student Records is designed to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This federal law prohibits disclosure of student records information to a third party without written consent from the student. Access to a student’s academic record (including transcripts) is available only to the student. Students can designate any recipient to receive their transcript and/or forward their transcripts to whomever they choose. Your student can order his or her transcript online. Transcripts are available for delivery by in-person pickup, mail, or electronically (PDF).Transcripts are not faxed for several reasons: Official transcripts are printed on safety paper to prevent tampering, and the fax process eliminates this security measure. In addition, because the recipient cannot be assured from where the faxed transcript originated, there is no way to authenticate the transcript received.

Application for graduation

Students must apply to graduate and indicate their intention to attend the commencement ceremony in the Student Center in MY UW. Commencement ceremony information including schedules, attire, and parking can be found on the Commencement webpage.

Diplomas and degree conferral

Degrees are conferred after all grades from the student have been submitted by the faculty. Because grades are not finalized in time for graduation, empty folders are given to students during the ceremonies. Diplomas are processed approximately 12–14 weeks after commencement and are mailed to studentsʼ home addresses.

Registrar

The Office of the Registrar provides studePrivacy Act (FERPA), information on residency for tuition purposes, vnts with official transcripts, enrollment verifications, diploma, grade reports, course enrollment assistance, enrollment deadlines, tuition adjustment/refund deadlines, information regarding the release and withholding of private information under the Family Educational Rights and eterans services, and more. Phone: 608-262-3811; Address: 333 East Campus Mall #10101, Madison, WI 53715-1384.

FERPA

UW–Madison complies fully with and fairly with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the educational records of a student. When a student enters (is in attendance the first day of classes at) UW–Madison, regardless of age, all rights to inspect and review the educational record transfer from the parent to the student.

Under FERPA, the parent has no right to review the record unless the student grants it in writing. University staff members are not permitted to share any information, other than designated “directory information,” with anyone outside of the university system.

Restricted information includes but is not limited to grades, disciplinary history and action, health concerns, and balance on Wiscard debit card accounts, including the Housing Food Account. Exceptions to FERPA are allowed in life-threatening emergencies.


Students at UW–Madison may not be discriminated against in the university’s program and activities. Contact the Office for Equity and Diversity if you have any questions on the covered bases and the university’s procedures.