This policy establishes and centralizes the various means by which students can earn credit at UW-Madison. The consistent application of course credit, regardless of source, is important in reducing time-to-degree, improving graduation rates, and minimizing the cost of attendance.
A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than:
(1)One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
(2)At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
Alternatively, a credit hour is defined as the learning that takes place in at least 45 hours of learning activities, which include time in lectures or class meetings, in-person or online, laboratories, examinations, presentations, tutorials, preparation, reading, studying, hands-on experiences, and other learning activities; or a demonstration by the student of learning equivalent to that established as the expected product of such a period of study.
In all cases, learning in for-credit courses is guided by a qualified instructor and includes regular and substantive student-instructor interaction.
All degree-seeking students enrolled at UW-Madison. Some sources of credit may not apply to all students.
There are several ways a student can earn credit toward a UW–Madison degree. While different policies guide the determination of course equivalencies for different types of credit, once an equivalency is established, it holds true for all undergraduate students regardless of program.
UW–Madison follows UW System and Board of Regent policies in the awarding of test credit and transfer credit. These policies place responsibility for determining course and credit equivalencies at the institutional level.
Following is a summary of the various ways that students earn credit at UW–Madison:
|Course-Based Credit||Military Credit||Credit for Prior Learning|
|In-Residence (at UW-Madison)||Transfer (from another institution)||Transfer (from the Joint Service Transcript)||Credit by Department Exam||Retroactive Foreign Language Credit||Third-Party Credit by Exam||Portfolio Review (not currently available at UW-Madison)|
In-Residence at UW–Madison
Course credit is earned by completing for-credit courses offered by UW–Madison. These courses are approved through the curricular governance process and follow the credit hour policy.
Transfer from another institution
Transfer credit equivalency is determined by the faculty in the relevant academic unit in consultation with the Credit Evaluation Service offered through the Office of the Registrar. UW-Madison approved credit equivalencies are available online so that all prospective and current students can make decisions and plan accordingly. For undergraduate students, credit is awarded for college-level coursework completed at institutions accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Foreign institutions must be recognized by the Ministry of Education in that country. Courses must be similar in nature, level, and content to a course at UW-Madison and applicable to one of the university's academic programs. Continuing education courses, graduate-level courses, and courses that are remedial, technical, vocational, or doctrinal in nature are not transferable. No more than 72 credits from two-year institutions may be transferred into UW–Madison and applied to degree requirements.
The Graduate School allows academic programs to transfer credits for previous coursework under certain conditions. Any prior coursework accepted must have been rigorous and meet the expectations of graduate work for the degree.
Some credit earned by students who serve(d) in the military can be transferred into UW–Madison when the credit is granted by an accredited institution or is transcripted on the Joint Services Transcript, per Wisconsin statutes, specifically Chapter 36.31(4). This method of earning credit applies only to undergraduates.
Credit by Department Exam
Academic units may offer credit by departmental examination to students who acquire knowledge, skills, and competencies through experiences that are academic in nature yet exist outside the traditional means of transfer, e.g., course credit or third-party tests.
Retroactive Foreign Language Credit
The university may award degree credit for foreign language work successfully completed in high school if an additional foreign language course is successfully completed at UW–Madison. Students cannot earn retroactive foreign language credits simply by taking placement tests or other exams. Students must take the appropriate UW–Madison language class at UW–Madison to earn retroactive credits. Students who qualify for retroactive credits after successfully completing the appropriate language course will automatically receive retroactive credits. This benefit is available only to undergraduate freshmen (first-year students).
Third-Party Credit by Exam
At UW-Madison, test credit equivalency is determined by the relevant academic unit and approved by the University Curriculum Committee. The university grants advanced credit for the successful completion of college-level coursework while in high school and for high achievement on exams offered by College Board (Advanced Placement and College-Level Examination Program); International Baccalaureate (IB); Oxford, Cambridge, and Royal Society of Arts (OCR); Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA); Pearson; Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), Welsh Joint Education Committee (General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (A Level)). Credits earned may be counted toward undergraduate general education requirements, degree requirements, or elective credits.
UW–Madison currently does not award credit for portfolio review.
Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit (from American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the American Council on Education, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation)