Withdrawal policy

Withdrawal indicates that a student intends to stop attending classes for the current semester. Submission of a withdrawal request in MyUW Student Center is required between the first and last day of the semester, when a student wishes to drop all classes in which he or she is enrolled for the current semester. The electronic withdrawal process will not require submission of a signed paper form. Instead, students will submit withdrawal requests via their MyUW Student Center, and the requests are then routed electronically to the Graduate School for review. Approval from the Graduate School, as well as from the Office of International Student Services for students on J-1 and F-1 visas, is required before a graduate student is formally withdrawn from the semester. For more information visit the Office of the Registrar’s Withdraw from UW-Madison webpage.

If students drop all courses before the first day of classes, they officially cancel their enrollment, owe no tuition or fees for that term, and have no semester entry on their transcript. In this case, it is not necessary for the student to submit a withdrawal request to the Graduate School. Students planning to withdraw from their academic program should contact their program directly.

Students are considered enrolled for a term if they have courses on their record on or after the first day of classes for that term regardless of whether they have paid tuition and fees. Failure to attend classes or leaving the university informally does not excuse a student from having to pay tuition and fees. If students withdraw after the transcript deadline, a notation with the date of withdrawal will appear on the transcript. Enrollment deadlines are posted by the Office of the Registrar on their Enrollment Deadlines webpage.

Failure to withdraw properly and promptly can be expensive. Before withdrawing, students should consult the Office of the Registrar’s Enrollment Deadlines webpage for specific deadlines and refund dates. If a student received financial aid from the university, they should consult the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine repayment responsibilities. If students withdraw and are receiving remission of tuition, they are responsible for their entire tuition assessment.

See RefundsTuition and Fee InformationTuition Remission

Variable Credit Courses

Variable Credit Courses policy

Some didactic courses are offered to both undergraduate and graduate students. Typically undergraduate students enroll for a higher amount of total credits than do graduate students. Courses of this nature are designated in the Schedule of Classes as variable credit courses. Students should consult the Course Search and Enroll App to determine the appropriate credits when enrolling for a variable credit course.

University Special Student Status

University Special Student Status policy

Students enrolled as University Special students are considered non-degree candidates and pay tuition and fees at the designated special student rate. See the Prior Coursework policy for information on how limited credits taken as a University Special Student may be accepted by a graduate program.  Students are not allowed to simultaneously enroll as a graduate student and as a University Special student.

Before beginning a graduate program, an international student may choose to study full-time English as a University Special student on an F-1 visa granted through the ESL program or on a J-1 visa with the sponsor’s approval. When the student begins a graduate program, the student’s status will be changed from University Special student to graduate student.

For more information visit the Adult Career and Special Student Services website or contact them at advising@dcs.wisc.edu.

See English as a Second Language (ESL)University Special Student Credit Conversion

Time Limits

Time Limits policy

Graduate degrees are awarded, in part, for completion of current coursework. Students who break enrollment from their graduate program may risk losing all credits earned prior to their absence.

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. Although the program may count the coursework students did before their absence towards the program requirements, the Graduate School does not count that work toward the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence, degree, and coursework (50%) credit requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within 5 years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

A student’s program may appeal these time limits through a written request to the Graduate School Degree Coordinator. The appeal must provide information demonstrating that the student has remained current in the field of study. This information may include a resume showing applicable work experience and/or official transcripts from other schools attended.

See Effective DatesMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit RequirementPreliminary ExaminationsReadmission to Graduate School (for previously enrolled graduate students)

Study Abroad

Study Abroad policy

The university creates an international context for education by providing opportunities for UW–Madison students to study overseas. Because of the variety of programs, students should coordinate their study abroad program with their graduate program, the Graduate School, and International Academic Programs (IAP).

Students intending to study abroad through a UW–Madison approved study abroad program can learn more about their options through International Academic Programs.

Graduate students who are interested in conducting research abroad can register for IAP’s UW Graduate Research, which allows students to stay continuously registered as UW–Madison students, receive research credit with their faculty advisor, international health insurance, and 24/7 emergency assistance through IAP. This is an individualized experience and is not tied to a specific study abroad program. Students will need to have a high degree of independence in arranging housing and logistics for themselves.

All graduate students traveling abroad are encouraged to acquire insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International. Additional information is available here.

See FellowshipsInsurance and Medical Benefits

Section Changes

Section Changes policy

Section changes include: changes in Lectures, Discussions, Labs and Instructors’ course numbers for research or independent study courses for which students are already enrolled. Always consult the Office of the Registrar for deadlines and procedures for section changes.

If a student’s name does not appear on the appropriate instructor’s grade roster at the end of the term, a Course Change Request to change sections and a letter of request from the instructor of the class must be submitted to the Graduate School Office of Academic Services. The instructor of the correct section must submit a Grade Change Form to assign a grade. The instructor of the incorrect section should submit no grade.

See Course ChangesGrade Change

Schedule of Classes

Schedule of Classes policy

The Schedule of Classes is available on the Course Search and Enroll App, and students can access the Schedule of Classes via their MyUW Student Center. The Schedule of Classes can be viewed using class search, the real-time online listing of course sections offered each term. Students are responsible for complying with enrollment deadlines, available at the Office of the Registrar’s Enrollment Deadlines.

See Authorization for CoursesEnrollment Accountability

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory Progress policy

Continuation in the Graduate School is at the discretion of a student’s program, the Graduate School, and a student’s faculty advisor.  A student may be placed on probation or dismissed from the Graduate School for not maintaining satisfactory academic progress.  In special cases the Graduate School permits students who do not meet these minimum standards to continue on probation upon recommendation and support of their advisor.

The Graduate School sets minimum standards that all graduate students in the university must meet. Many departments and programs have additional requirements that exceed these Graduate School minimum requirements. The definition of satisfactory progress varies by program.

Most programs require satisfactory progress to continue guaranteed funding support.

The Graduate Guide includes the Graduate School’s minimum degree requirements and satisfactory progress chart, as well as each program’s minimum degree requirements and satisfactory progress chart.

In determining satisfactory academic progress, the Graduate School monitors the following: cumulative grade point average, incomplete grades, English as a second language for some international students, the grades of students admitted on probationary status, enrollment in minimum required credits (underload), and unsatisfactory (U) grades.  Detailed information for each is below.

Low cumulative GPA

Graduate students must meet the Graduate School’s minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA in order to graduate. Some probationary admission conditions may require higher grades. When a graduate student’s cumulative GPA drops below a 3.0 for one semester, we notify them via email (copy to grad coordinator) that they are placed on academic probation, and we place a GSD LGR enrollment hold on the following semester. They cannot continue enrolling until the probationary semester’s grades are reported and their cumulative GPA is above a 3.0.

If a student is placed on probation due to low GPA, they receive an email notification with the graduate coordinator copied.

Incomplete (I) grades

If graduate students have not resolved incompletes by the end of the subsequent semester of enrollment, these grades are considered unsatisfactory. Graduate students are not permitted to graduate with incomplete grades on their record. The Graduate School issues warnings for incompletes that have not yet lapsed into bad standing, and for three or less credits of incompletes. The Graduate School places student on academic probation for having more than three credits of incompletes in bad standing and uses the GSD INC service indicator (enrollment hold) to ensure that this requirement is met before continued enrollment is permitted.

If a student is placed on probation due to incompletes, he/she receives an email notification with the graduate coordinator copied.

ESL required at admission to the Graduate School

International graduate students may be required to take the ESLAT upon arrival at UW-Madison. This requirement applies to the following test scores: TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580; TOEFL computer based test (CBT) score below 237; (TOEFL internet based iBT) test score below 92; IELTS score below 7; or MELAB below 82. The ESLAT is administered by the English as a Second Language Program (Sandy Arfa, Director). ESLAT results may indicate that a graduate student is exempt from taking an ESL course, or these results may indicate a recommended ESL course. Graduate students for whom the ESLAT was required and who are not exempt based on the test results must enroll in the recommended ESL course during their first semester at UW-Madison. The Graduate School monitors successful completion of the ESL course for these students. The GSD ESL service indicator (enrollment hold) ensures that this requirement is met before continued enrollment is permitted.

Admit on probation

Applicants who do not meet Graduate School admissions requirements may be admitted on probation, with program recommendation and GS Dean’s approval. They are admitted as G17 or G18 (probationary admit) codes, and receive an admission letter from the Graduate School, as well as message in OASIS, that notifies them they are being admitted on probation. These cases are monitored closely to ensure that the students achieve a 3.0 GPA during their first semester of enrollment. A hold is placed (GSD ADT), which prohibits them from enrolling in the following semester classes until their first semester grades are reported and the GPA is above a 3.0.

Underload (1 credit)

Graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum of 2 graded, graduate-level credits each fall and spring semester. Those who are enrolled in only 1 credit each fall and spring semester are notified by the GS that they are under-enrolled. They are required to correct their enrollment immediately, and a GSD UNL hold is placed on their record, prohibiting them from enrolling in the subsequent term, until they meet the minimum enrollment requirement.

Unsatisfactory (U) grades

If a course has been structured to offer the S/U grading option (such as research), a grade of S in that course would mean a grade of B or better. The Graduate School monitors U grades. Since these grades are very rare, cases are handled individually. Upon identification of a graduate student with a U grade in research, we contact the faculty advisor to find out more about the situation. GSD LGR holds are not automatically placed for U grades but may be if necessary.



See Grade Point Average (GPA) RequirementIncompletesProbation

Repeating Courses

Repeating Courses policy

Typically, courses where content can change (such as special topics, seminars, independent studies, and research and thesis) can be repeated within the semester or on a semester basis. Repeated courses may earn course credit and satisfy the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence, degree, and coursework (50%) credit requirements. Sometimes program authorization is necessary for enrollment.

Students are entitled to repeat any didactic course if they or their program feel it is necessary. Both grades will be used in calculating the student’s graduate grade-point average; however, the course will count only once toward the Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence, degree, and coursework (50%) credit requirements.

See FailureMinimum Graduate Coursework (50%) RequirementMinimum Graduate Degree Credit RequirementMinimum Graduate Residence Credit RequirementSatisfactory ProgressAppendix 4 – Grade-Point Average Calculation

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