Individuals who wish to enroll in a credit course, have at least a baccalaureate degree, and are not currently in a degree program at UW–Madison are eligible for admission as a University Special student in one of the two classifications listed below. These students are assessed tuition at the undergraduate student rate (Wisconsin resident or nonresident) unless a course has a nonstandard tuition rate. Note: Grades earned as a University Special student will not change a previous cumulative undergraduate or graduate degree GPA earned at UW–Madison, including if a course is repeated. 

Professional or personal enrichment (UNDS is the designation on the admissions application and course roster)—This includes:

  • teachers, social workers, and others seeking enrollment for professional development
  • graduate students from other US colleges and universities
  • individuals seeking personal enrichment
  • individuals wishing to explore an interest for further study
  • students graduating and who wish to enroll in a course in the next term

Preparation for admission to graduate or professional school (UNRS)—This includes:

  • individuals needing to complete required courses prior to applying to a graduate or professional school
  • individuals who have been advised by the graduate program to being their studies as a University Special student. (Consult with the graduate coordinator regarding the policy on whether the credits earned may apply eventually toward a graduate degree.)

Applications for admission will be accepted up to the beginning of a term, although it is highly recommended that submission is at least three weeks in advance in order to take advantage of earliest enrollment times.

How to Get in

There are two steps to become a student: (1) university admission and (2) course enrollment.


There is no application fee.  Applying at least one month before the start of the term (early August for fall; early December for spring) is recommended as it can take 1-2 weeks to review and process an application. Enrollment for summer term usually begins in early April so applying by early March is recommended.  With the listing of the degree completed, the institution, and the date, an official transcript is typically not needed.  An email confirmation of the application is sent by ACSSS.

There are two options for submitting a University Special Student application:

  1. First-time students use Applying via the University Special Student application
  2. Returning students may use the application above or apply as a reentry student via the Reentry application in the Student Center/My UW using a NetID. 

Once admitted, an admission letter from ACSSS is sent - typically within two weeks of providing all required information to ACSSS and the Office of the Registrar, Residence for Tuition Purposes .  The letter includes information regarding next steps and deadlines.


University Special students enroll via MyUW/Student Center at an earliest enrollment time - which is assigned at a date after most degree students have enrolled.  This typically is three weeks before the beginning of a term, except in April for summer term.  Admitted students receive enrollment information and find detailed instructions at the ACSSS enrollment page.  The most common enrollment questions and issues facing University Special students are addressed on the ACSSS FAQ page

As a University Special student you are eligible to enroll in any course for which you are qualified or receive instructor permission if there is space available.  This includes both undergraduate and graduate level courses. Undergraduate courses at UW-Madison are numbered 100 to 699. Graduate level courses number 300 to 999.