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) Requirement, Incompletes, Probation