Readmission to Graduate School (for previously enrolled graduate students)

Readmission to Graduate School policy

If graduate students do not continuously enroll during a fall or spring semester, they are required to apply for readmission to the Graduate School through the online application. The readmission process accomplishes two goals: (1) assures the Graduate School that graduate students are in good standing with their academic program; and (2) activates their enrollment eligibility. Further information about readmission for previously enrolled graduate students can be found here. To apply for readmission, graduate students must also contact their program for further details of the readmission process at the program level.

A returning student who is completing another same level degree within five years must comply with double degree requirements, including the 25% overlap rule.

Any student being readmitted to a graduate program must adhere to the requirements in the most current Academic Policies & Procedures and Graduate Guide.

See Double DegreesEffective DatesInternational Students Maintaining Legal StatusLeave of AbsenceTime Limits

Probation

Probation policy

Students must be in good academic standing with the Graduate School, their program, and their advisor. The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who received grades of BC, C, D, F, or I in courses numbered 300 or above, or grades of U in research and thesis. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment, and the student may be suspended from graduate studies.

The Graduate School requires that students maintain a minimum graduate GPA of 3.00 in courses taken as a graduate student (excluding research, audit, credit/no credit, and pass/fail courses). The Graduate School also considers Incomplete (I) grades to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the subsequent semester of enrollment; however, the instructor may impose an earlier deadline. The Graduate School may also put students on probation for incompletes not cleared within one term. All incomplete grades must be resolved before a degree is granted.

If students were admitted on probation and they satisfy the conditions outlined at the time of admission, probationary status will be removed automatically. Once their studies have begun, students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward their degree.

See Grade Point Average (GPA) RequirementHoldsIncompletesSatisfactory ProgressSatisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) Grades

Prior Coursework

Prior Coursework policy

The Graduate School does not transfer credits for previous coursework.  However, a student’s program may decide to accept coursework completed outside of the student’s graduate career at UW–Madison under the conditions detailed below.  Any prior coursework accepted under these parameters must have been rigorous and meet the expectations of a graduate work for the degree. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Satisfying Requirements with Prior Graduate Coursework from Other Institutions
A student’s program may decide to accept graduate coursework completed at another institution (earned post-baccalaureate) toward fulfillment of minimum degree, minimum graduate coursework, and minor credit requirements. This work will not appear on a UW–Madison transcript nor count towards the graduate career GPA. The Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison. The only exception is graduate-level coursework taken as a Big Ten Academic Alliance Traveling Scholar.

Satisfying Requirements with Coursework from Undergraduate Career at UW–Madison
For well-prepared advanced students, a student’s program may decide to accept up to seven credits numbered 300 or above of required or elective courses from the undergraduate work completed at UW–Madison towards fulfillment of minimum degree and minor credit requirements. However, this work would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above. This work will not appear on the graduate career portion of UW–Madison transcript nor count towards the graduate career GPA. The Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison.

Satisfying Requirements with Coursework from Undergraduate Career outside of UW-Madison (Policy on Exceptions for Specialized Accreditation to Allow Undergraduate Credits Towards a Graduate Degree)

When considering the undergraduate category of prior coursework, the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC) restricts the seven credits of undergraduate work to UW-Madison courses because of the challenges associated with assessing the rigor of courses taught at other institutions.

Accredited programs may request an exception to this policy to allow up to seven credits of undergraduate coursework from other institutions to count toward a graduate degree based on specialized accreditation.  The process for requesting an exception was approved by the GFEC in 2014 and is as follows in italics:

An exception to allow up to seven credits from an undergraduate degree earned at a non UW- Madison institution to count toward a UW-Madison graduate degree can be requested on a program-by-program basis when the following two conditions are met:

1) students have received their undergraduate degree in the same discipline as they are pursuing graduate work, and 

2) the undergraduate degree has been granted from a program which is accredited by the same accrediting body as the UW-Madison program.

Should a program decide to request an exception to this policy, it must provide the Graduate School with information requested on the undergraduate credit exception form to be eligible for consideration. Please note submission of an exception request does not provide assurance of its approval.

If a program believes a student situation meets these criteria, it must request this exception by completing the steps as outlined in the undergraduate credit exception form.  A request may be made at any time, but please note that the earliest date for implementation is the term AFTER Graduate School approval.  Please direct any questions to Emily Reynolds at emily.reynolds@wisc.edu.

Transfer from University Special Student Career at UW–Madison
After admission to a graduate program, the student’s program may decide to accept up to fifteen University Special student credits as fulfillment of the minimum graduate residence, graduate degree, or minor credit requirements on occasion as an exception (on a case-by-case basis). In all these cases, the student would have to pay the difference in tuition for the terms in question. Those credits earned in a University Special student semester still appear in the transcript history as “University Special” student, but the Registrar’s Office will add a statement in the beginning of the transcript “All credits taken in [term] as a University Special student have been accepted by the Graduate School toward a degree program” after the student has paid the difference in tuition. UW–Madison coursework taken as a University Special student would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above. This work will not appear on the graduate career portion of the UW–Madison transcript nor count towards the graduate career GPA.

**Prior Graduate Coursework from Other Institution(s) ** Coursework from Undergraduate Career at UW–Madison (up to 7 credits total) **Transfer from University Special Student Career at UW–Madison (up to 15 credits total)
Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement No No *Allowed up to 15 credits numbered 300 or above
Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement *Allowed *Allowed up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above  *Allowed up to 15 credits numbered 300 or above
Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement *Allowed *Allowed up to 7 credits numbered 700 or above *Allowed up to 15 credits numbered 700 or above

*Fulfillment of requirements is allowed in these instances only if approved by the student’s graduate program.

**Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Programs may decide to count previous graduate work from another institute toward fulfillment of degree credit requirements; however, this work will not appear on a UW–Madison transcript, and it does not count toward the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence credit or graduate coursework (50%) requirements.

Prior coursework can be used toward the minor requirement in accordance with the Prior Coursework policy chart.

The credits used towards a master’s degree and the prior coursework used toward it may also be applied to a related doctoral degree. However, if the prior coursework credit maximums were already reached for the master’s degree (seven UW–Madison undergraduate credits and/or fifteen University Special student credits), then no more prior coursework credits are permissible for the doctoral degree.

Students should be aware that some programs may require more rigorous credit requirements than the Graduate School’s minimum requirements. Students should contact their graduate program coordinator for further information.

See Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

Preliminary Examinations

Preliminary Examinations policy

The preliminary examination is a significant milestone in a doctoral student’s academic career. It is given to assess knowledge of areas within the academic discipline. Passing of the preliminary area exam, obtaining approval of the minor if the major program requires it, and completing all the major course requirements culminate in admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

Students’ eligibility to take the prelim examination(s) is determined by their program. The program notifies the Graduate School of a student’s admission to candidacy on the preliminary warrant, which must be requested 3 weeks prior to the exam date. The number of examinations and their content vary from program to program. A student’s program administers the examination(s).

After passing the preliminary examination, students have 5 years to take the final oral examination and deposit their dissertation.  The 5 year clock starts on the first day of instruction of the term (Fall, Spring, or Summer) immediately following the completion of the preliminary examination.  Failure to complete their degree within this period may result in students having to retake the preliminary examination and be re-admitted to candidacy.

Time limit extension for dissertators impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

To offer flexibility amidst the major disruption that COVID-19 may have had on doctoral candidates’ research and scholarship progress, students who achieved dissertator status by the end of the 2020 summer term have automatically had the 5-year time limit extended by 8 months. Dissertators given this 8-month extension who need more time due to continued COVID-related disruption to their progress may request a further extension from the Graduate School. Decisions to extend the deadline beyond the additional 8 months are made on a case-by-case basis upon request of the student and their advisor. Students requesting an extension need to submit the request, along with a letter of support from their advisor, to gsacserv@grad.wisc.edu.

See Certificate of Doctoral CandidacyDissertator StatusTime LimitsWarrants

Named Option

Named Option policy

A named option is a formally documented sub-major within an academic major program. Named options appear on the transcript with degree conferral. The Graduate Faculty Executive Committee approves official named options. Many programs may also have unofficial specializations, concentrations, or tracks; unlike named options these do not appear on the transcript. Find more information here.

See Addition/Change of Program, Plan, or Named OptionChange of Degree Level (Plan)Change of Degree Named Option

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement policy

The Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence credit requirement for graduation can be satisfied only with courses numbered 300 and above taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison (this includes but is not limited to online, thesis/research, independent study, practicum/internship credits).

Graduate Residence Credit Minimums:

Master’s degree: 16 credits
(except MFA)

MFA/Specialist certificate: 24 credits
(may include Master’s degree credits taken at UW–Madison)

Doctoral degree: 32 credits
(must be completed prior to achieving dissertator status; may include master’s degree credits taken at UW–Madison)

In rare circumstances, courses taken as a University Special student maybe allowed to count toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. These credits generally are not allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum.

Credits applied to the minimum graduate residence credit requirement must be earned while enrolled as a graduate student at UW–Madison and can also count toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement.

Students should be aware that some programs may require more rigorous credit requirements than the Graduate School’s minimum requirements. Students should contact their graduate program coordinator for further information.

See Dissertator StatusGrading SystemMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementPass/FailPrior CourseworkProgress (P) GradesTime LimitsTraveling Scholar Program

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement policy

The Graduate School’s minimum graduate degree credit requirement is a degree requirement instituted by the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee to ensure that a graduate degree meets institution accreditation standards (this includes but is not limited to online, thesis/research, independent study, and practicum internships credits).

Graduate Degree Credit Minimums

Master’s Degree: 30 credits
(except MFA)

M.F.A. /Specialist Certificate: 42 credits
(may include master’s degree credits taken at UW–Madison)

Doctoral Degree: 51 credits
(may include master’s degree credits taken at UW–Madison and credits take while a dissertator)

The doctoral degree minimum graduate degree credit requirement may be achieved with credits earned before or after dissertator status. The credits applied towards a master’s degree, a doctoral minor, or taken as a dissertator shall count towards the related doctoral graduate degree credit requirement.

Students should be aware that some programs may require more rigorous credit requirements than the Graduate School’s minimum requirements. Students should contact their graduate program coordinator for further information.

See Dissertator StatusMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit RequirementPrior CourseworkTime Limits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy

The minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement states that at least 50% of credits applied toward the program’s graduate degree credit requirement must be courses designed for graduate work (this includes but is not limited to online, thesis/research, independent study, and practicum/internship credits).  Courses taken as a University Special student are not allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.

For students taking coursework through the fall 2015 term, the official university record which identifies programs documented “graduate level” coursework is each program’s Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress chart in the 2014-2016 Graduate School catalog.  The official University documentation of “graduate level” coursework is identified with the graduate course attribute (G50%) in the University’s Course Guide and Class Search. More information regarding the course attribute can be found on the Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) website.

Students should be aware that some programs may require more rigorous credit minimums than the Graduate School’s minimum. Students should visit their program’s Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress chart and contact their graduate program coordinator for program specific degree requirements.

See Minimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementPrior CourseworkUniversity Special Student StatusTime Limits

Leave of Absence

Leave of Absence policy

The Graduate School does not have a formal policy on leave of absence for pre-dissertators. Students should notify their graduate program of their intention to take a leave of absence.

If students have pre-enrolled for a future term and plan to take a leave of absence, they must be sure to drop all courses before the first day of class.

Previously enrolled students who wish to return to Graduate School should follow the instructions for Readmission to Graduate School. Any student who does not enroll for a fall or spring term is considered to be a reentry and must pay the Graduate School online application fee. Any student granted readmission must adhere to the most current requirements as listed in the Graduate School Academic Policies & Procedures. Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; however that coursework will not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Non-dissertators: The Graduate School has no formal policy regarding a leave of absence at the pre-dissertator level, although some programs do. Therefore, it is critical that students contact their major programs before considering a break in enrollment of one or more terms.

Dissertators: A candidate for a doctoral degree should be aware that failure to take the final oral examination and submit the dissertation within 5 years after passing the preliminary examination may require another preliminary examination and admittance to candidacy a second time. In addition, the Graduate School requires all dissertators to maintain continuous enrollment. In rare circumstances when this is not possible, a degree completion fee is assessed to recognize the inevitable use of university facilities (including faculty and staff time) up to and including the successful defense of the dissertation.

International Students: International students considering a leave of absence should check on their visa status with International Student Services.

Graduate Appointments: Students with Teaching Assistantships (TA), Program Assistantships (PA), or Research Assistantships (RA) should consult with their program, their PI and/or advisor. Students with Fellowships or Traineeships should contact their funding source.

See Degree Completion FeeFamily LeaveInternational Students Maintaining Legal StatusReadmission to Graduate School (for previously enrolled graduate students)Time Limits