Prior Coursework

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