FAQs

Courses

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Can I take any online course as a UW-Madison Online student?

During the fall and spring terms, students can take any online courses that are offered on the Online Undergraduate Degree program offering schedule. At this time, UW-Madison Online students are not able to take courses outside of this schedule. You can utilize the ‘OUD Reserved Section’ filter under Reserved Sections in the course search and enroll app to find most courses available to you. You can also view the upcoming course offerings webpage to see which classes are offered during the next semester for both sessions. 

For the summer term, UW-Madison Online students are able to select any open, online-only courses that are offered by the College of Letters & Science and the School of Human Ecology, assuming course prerequisites are met.

If you have any questions about courses, please reach out to your academic/career advisor. 

How do I find the dates and deadlines for my specific course(s)?

Class dates and deadlines vary based on the session(s) you are enrolled for. To view the specific deadlines for your course(s), please click on “Section dates & deadlines” of your selected course section in Course Search and Enroll. You will also be able to see your course session code at the top. 

Similar to add/drop deadlines, tuition refund deadlines vary. To view the specific refund deadlines for your course(s), please visit the Registrar’s Office session dates webpage and follow the instructions below:

  • Select the appropriate term under “term drop down” (note that the list may take a few seconds to load)
  • In the ‘session’ column of the chart, please look for the specific session codes for your course(s)

Are campus instructional breaks applicable to online coursework?

It depends on which term(s) and session(s) you are enrolled for. For students enrolled in any second 8-week session course(s) in the fall, the last day of instruction is December 22, 2022. For students enrolled in any course(s) in the first 8-week session in the spring, the last day of instruction is March 19, 2022. Therefore, the institutional spring break (March 11-March 19) is not applicable to students taking courses at this time.

For more information about instructional dates, please visit the Registrar’s Office session dates webpage and follow the instructions below:

  • Select the appropriate term under “term drop down” (note that the list may take a few seconds to load)
  • In the ‘session’ column of the chart, please look for the specific session codes for your course(s)

8-week sessions

Starting in Fall 2022, UW-Madison Online will offer courses in 8 and 16-week sessions during the fall and spring semesters. For the purposes of this FAQ, Session A refers to the first 8-week session in a semester and Session B refers to the second 8-week session. Note: Students in School of Human Ecology majors will take mostly full semester classes until Fall ’23. 

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What’s the difference between ‘terms’ and ‘sessions’?

At UW-Madison, the academic calendar is made up of three terms: fall semester, spring semester and summer term. Sessions are a subset of time within a term in which specific courses are taught. For UW-Madison Online students there are two 8-week sessions in the fall semester, two 8-week sessions in the spring semester and a variety of 3 to 8 week sessions in the summer term.

What are the benefits of 8-week sessions?

Research shows there are several benefits of 8-week sessions, particularly for returning adult students. Benefits include:

  • Allows you to focus your attention on individual courses for shorter periods of time
  • Intensity of pace allows you to spend more time with course material per week
  • Flexibility to enroll in sessions that align with non-academic responsibilities
  • Ability to enroll in 5 sessions per academic year, rather than the traditional 3
  • Stay on track to graduate sooner (varies by program and student)

Do 8-week sessions help me finish my degree faster?

Research has shown that returning adult students who take 8-week courses are able to stay on track easier and ultimately graduate faster. They also are encouraged to continue with coursework over the summer months, and this fifth term/year works toward faster graduation.

Do I have to take only 8-week session courses? Can I take full semester courses if I prefer?

UW-Madison Online coursework offered by the Wisconsin School of Business and the College of Letters & Science will only be offered in 8-week sessions in the fall and spring semesters. Summer session course lengths will vary.

How many classes can I take each 8-week session?

Students may enroll in up to 9 credits per session.

When should I enroll for B session courses?

You are encouraged to enroll for both Sessions (A and B) when enrolling for the upcoming semester. For example, when enrolling for spring semester, it is recommended that you enroll for your Session A and Session B courses before the semester begins. You can make changes to your Session B enrollment up until the start of the session as capacity allows.

Can I take an 8-week session off if I need to?

Yes, however, taking a session off may delay your graduation date or impact your financial aid. Talk to your advisor before deciding to take a session off.

Do I need to take a course in both the A and B session?

You are not required to enroll in courses in both A and B sessions, however, not enrolling in both sessions may impact your degree progression as many courses are not offered each session or term. You should talk with your academic advisor to determine the impact of taking a session off.

How do I find out the deadlines (drop, add. etc.) for my classes?

Find the right dates for your enrolled classes in Course Search & Enroll. In the app, select “Session dates & deadlines” in the section details of a class — this opens a page showing the add and drop dates for that class.

If I am taking an 8-week course, when are the final exams?

Final exams will occur at the end of the session during the final week of instruction.

How do I know if a course is in an A or B session (or is a full semester class)?

You can see the dates for a class when you look it up in Course Search & Enroll.

When is graduation?

There are 3 graduation dates each year: fall, spring, and summer. If eligible, you can graduate at the end of the fall, spring, or summer term. Commencement ceremonies only happen at the end of fall and spring term, there is no commencement ceremony at the end of the summer term. Summer graduates may participate in the May or December commencement ceremony. 

What if I do not pass a Session A course that is a prerequisite for my Session B course?

If you do not pass a Session A course that is a prerequisite for a Session B course you should meet with your advisor as soon as possible to discuss your options. You may need to drop your Session B course and work with your advisor to select a different course for Session B. You will need to retake your failed course in a future session.

Are my 8-week courses going to be accelerated?

Due to the condensed timeframe of the course, material will be accelerated compared to a full semester course.

How many hours/week should I expect to spend on course work?

You can expect to spend about 45 hours per credit on course work over the length of a course. 

This means a 3 credit course taken over 8 weeks will average about 17 hours a week: 

3 credits x 45 hours = 135 total hours; 135 hours/8 weeks = 16.875 hours per week  

This is similar to taking 6 credits in a full 15-week semester:

6 credits x 45 hours = 270 total hours; 270 hours/15 weeks = 18 hours per week

Can I start anytime after I am admitted? For example, if I am accepted for fall's A session, can I delay my start until the fall B session?

When you apply, you apply for a term (fall, spring, summer). You can enroll in any session within the term you are admitted to. It is important that you enroll in a session in the term you are admitted to, or you will need to reapply to a future term. Once you are admitted, you should connect with your academic advisor regarding course enrollment. 

Do 8-week sessions have an impact on my financial aid and/or scholarships?

There is no impact on financial aid and/or scholarships for students who are enrolled in both the first and second 8-week sessions within a term as long there are no enrollment changes.

Students who only enrolled in either the first or second 8-week session within a term will have a cost of attendance that only reflects 8 weeks of educational costs instead of 16 weeks.   The Federal Pell Grant will be prorated based on 8 weeks.  Students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits during the 8-week session to be eligible for Federal Direct Loans.

What is the impact to my financial aid if I withdraw from the semester or drop a class?

We strongly encourage students to meet with a financial aid advisor to discuss the implications of withdrawing or dropping a class. 

If you choose to withdraw from the semester, federal regulations require the financial aid office to determine if any of your financial aid must be returned.

The Office of Student Financial Aid OSFA (OSFA) will calculate the amount that needs to be returned.  You will receive a letter stating that, because of your withdrawal,  you now owe money to your student account, and that you will receive a separate bill from the Bursar’s Office.

OSFA reduces your aid in the following order:

  1. Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  2. Direct Subsidized Loan
  3. Parent PLUS Loan
  4. Pell Grant
  5. SEOG

Dropping class(es) may also impact the amount of federal aid you are eligible to receive.   If you drop a class, federal regulations may require us to reduce your financial aid, which may result in a balance on your student’s account.

When do I need to have my FAFSA in if I am starting for the Session B?

We recommend completing FAFSA at least 30 days prior to the start of the B session to aid in the timely disbursement of funds.  Students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA in conjunction with the admissions application.   The University of Wisconsin -Madison’s school code is 003895 – this school code is required when completing the FAFSA.

However, as long as your FAFSA is submitted by the federal deadline, you may be qualified to receive federal loans, grants, and other financial aid.

General Program Questions

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UW-Madison Online has multiple start dates per year. Are there also multiple graduation dates?

There are 3 graduation dates each year, at the end of each fall, spring, and summer term. Graduation, or degree conferral, happens at the end of each term. When students apply for graduation, they can also indicate if they would like to participate in a commencement ceremony. Commencement happens at the end of fall and spring term, there is no commencement in summer. Commencement and graduation are different things, and for some students happen at different times. Below are important definitions to be aware of:

Graduation means meeting all your degree requirements after your academic dean’s office has confirmed your progress toward a degree and conferred a degree to you.

Commencement is the ceremony at the end of the fall and spring terms, celebrating graduating students.

It is also important to note that it takes some time for your degree to be posted and appear on your transcript after your date of graduation. Learn more about graduation and commencement here and degree posting here.

Are current, residential/on-campus students allowed to change their major to a UW-Madison Online program?

Current, residential (on-campus) students seeking a change of major to a UW-Madison Online program will be handled on a case-by-case basis.  Students interested in this option should contact the Office of Online Student Success to ensure they are eligible and have a thorough understanding of UW-Madison Online requirements, attributes and policies.

Are current, UW-Madison Online students allowed to change their major to another online program?

Current UW-Madison Online students may request to change their major to a different Online Undergraduate Degree program. Students interested in this option should schedule an appointment with their academic/career advisor to learn more about the program of interest and to discuss degree progress and planning.

Financial Aid

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Do 8-week sessions have an impact on my financial aid and/or scholarships?

There is no impact on financial aid and/or scholarships for students who are enrolled in both the first and second 8-week sessions within a term as long there are no enrollment changes.

Students who only enrolled in either the first or second 8-week session within a term will have a cost of attendance that only reflects 8 weeks of educational costs instead of 16 weeks.   The Federal Pell Grant will be prorated based on 8 weeks.  Students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits during the 8-week session to be eligible for Federal Direct Loans.

What is the impact to my financial aid if I withdraw from the semester or drop a class?

We strongly encourage students to meet with a financial aid advisor to discuss the implications of withdrawing or dropping a class. 

If you choose to withdraw from the semester, federal regulations require the financial aid office to determine if any of your financial aid must be returned.

The Office of Student Financial Aid OSFA (OSFA) will calculate the amount that needs to be returned.  You will receive a letter stating that, because of your withdrawal,  you now owe money to your student account, and that you will receive a separate bill from the Bursar’s Office.

OSFA reduces your aid in the following order:

  1. Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  2. Direct Subsidized Loan
  3. Parent PLUS Loan
  4. Pell Grant
  5. SEOG

Dropping class(es) may also impact the amount of federal aid you are eligible to receive.   If you drop a class, federal regulations may require us to reduce your financial aid, which may result in a balance on your student’s account.

When do I need to have my FAFSA in if I am starting for the Session B?

We recommend completing FAFSA at least 30 days prior to the start of the B session to aid in the timely disbursement of funds.  Students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA in conjunction with the admissions application.   The University of Wisconsin -Madison’s school code is 003895 – this school code is required when completing the FAFSA.

However, as long as your FAFSA is submitted by the federal deadline, you may be qualified to receive federal loans, grants, and other financial aid.

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)?

Federal law dictates that students receiving financial aid must make “minimum satisfactory progress” toward a degree in order to retain financial aid eligibility. The satisfactory academic progress rule states that undergraduate students must:

  1. maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000.
  2. successfully complete a cumulative 2/3 (67%) of all credits for which they enroll.  For example, a student enrolled for a total of 30 credits over the course of an academic year must complete a minimum of 20 degree credits.
  3. not enroll for more than 150 % of the number of credits needed to complete their undergraduate degree.

For more information, please refer to satisfactory academic progress (SAP) on the Office of Student Financial Aid website.

What happens if I do not meet SAP?

You have the following options:

  • Follow the steps to complete the appeal process
  • If you did not meet the GPA requirement, bring your cumulative GPA up to a 2.0.
  • If you did not meet the 2/3 completion rate, enroll and complete a high enough percentage of your classes to bring your cumulative rate up to 2/3 (67%).

Once you make up your deficient GPA and/or increase your completion rate notify our office in writing by emailing satisfactory.progress@finaid.wisc.edu – always include your Campus ID Number.

Not meeting SAP means you are not eligible for financial aid without an approved appeal and financial aid is not retro-active if you choose not to appeal or your appeal is not approved before the semester ends.

If you continue to enroll in classes while not meeting SAP, you are responsible for paying any expenses on your own. There are a few private loan lenders that will loan to students on SAP but pay careful attention to their conditions.