The School of Nursing, established in 1924, is the leading nursing research institution in Wisconsin and a crucial part of the state’s health care system.
The school offers a full array of degree programs enrolling more than 1,000 students—the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), the doctor of nursing practice (DNP), and the doctor of philosophy in nursing (Ph.D.), along with several graduate-level certificate programs.
At the undergraduate level, degree options include the Traditional BSN, a four-year degree program; the Accelerated BSN, a 12-month program for second-degree candidates; and the RN to BSN (BSN@Home) program, for registered nurses who hold an associate's degree in nursing and wish to earn the baccalaureate degree. Options exist for honors study in the major, as well as joint programs whereby students can earn the master of public health along with the BSN or transition directly to the Ph.D. program via the Early Entry Ph.D. Option.
Student life pairs the educational and social resources of a large, world-class university with a supportive environment at the school. Students receive comprehensive support services related to advising, program planning, clinical placements, career services, financial aid, and post-graduation credentialing.
World-renowned facilities for clinical practice and research are available in and around Madison. These include University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, American Family Children's Hospital, UW Carbone Cancer Center and William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital; hospitals and clinics in urban and rural settings; nursing homes; day-care centers; and public health agencies. The university’s location in Wisconsin's capital offers additional opportunities in state government and policy making.
On campus, Signe Skott Cooper Hall, the School of Nursing's new facility, has state-of-the-art classrooms, simulation labs, meeting and research facilities, and social gathering spaces in an environment dedicated to the health and wellness of students, faculty, staff and the communities and populations we serve.
The school's mission is to develop leaders for the profession and society—we make discoveries, enhance systems, and improve health through research, education, and practice.
Office of Academic Affairs
Linda D. Scott, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Dean and Professor
Earlise Ward, PhD
Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs (Academic Dean)
Karen D. Solheim, PhD, RN
Undergraduate Program Director, Clinical Professor
Advising and Student Services
Director of Advising and Student Services
Undergraduate Advisor and Academic Support Coordinator
Admissions and Recruitment
Director of Admissions and Recruitment
Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator
Director of Clinical Practica
Student Information and technology
Student Information and Technology Manager
Laura Linde Turnes
Curricular Representative and Student Compliance Coordinator
Admission to UW–Madison
All prospective UW–Madison nursing students must apply through the central Office of Admissions and Recruitment.
Students who indicate interest in the nursing major on their UW–Madison application will be admitted to the School of Nursing as pre-nursing (PRN) students. In addition, students may indicate interest in the nursing major when registering for Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR). The School of Nursing is the academic home for pre-nursing students, providing orientation, academic advising, academic support, etc., while students complete nursing prerequisite courses and general education requirements in preparation to apply to the nursing major. Most pre-nursing students apply to the nursing major midway through their sophomore year to enter the two-year Upper Division nursing program as juniors.
Students may transfer into UW–Madison as pre-nursing students. As with pre-nursing freshmen, transfer students have an academic home in the School of Nursing as they work to complete prerequisites and general education requirements in preparation to apply to the Upper Division Traditional BSN program.
Students seeking to earn a second degree in nursing can apply directly to either the Traditional BSN program or the Accelerated BSN program upon completing necessary admission requirements (see details below). Second-degree candidates must be admitted directly into the nursing program; they cannot enter UW–Madison as pre-nursing students.
Admission to the Nursing Program
As students complete the requirements to be eligible to apply to the nursing program, they apply to the Upper Division Traditional BSN program. To be eligible to apply, students must complete the necessary prerequisite courses and have the minimum 2.75 cumulative and prerequisite GPAs; complete details on the Upper Division Traditional BSN admission requirements and application process can be found on the Traditional BSN admission page of this Guide.
Accelerated BSN for Second-Degree Candidates
Second-degree candidates can apply for the Accelerated BSN program. This is a 12-month intensive baccalaureate program that offers the quickest route to licensure as a registered nurse (RN) for students who have already completed a bachelor's degree or graduate degree in a non-nursing discipline. Students must complete nursing prerequisite courses and the university General Education Requirements, and have the minimum GPAs, to be eligible to apply. Complete details on the accelerated BSN admission requirements and application process can be found on the Accelerated BSN admission page of this Guide.
RN to BSN (BSN@Home)
Registered nurses who have an associate's degree or diploma in nursing can apply to enter the BSN@Home program to earn their bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). There are GPA minimums and course requirements necessary for admission eligibility. These details are included on the BSN@Home admission page of this Guide.
Current UW–Madison Students
Students with at least a 2.75 cumulative and nursing prerequisite GPA may transfer into the School of Nursing as pre-nursing (PRN) students. Students who are not in the School of Nursing may also apply for the Upper Division Traditional BSN program without being pre-nursing students. Transfer requests (i.e., classification changes) must be made before the twelfth week of the semester in order to be applied to that semester. Requests made after the twelfth week will take effect at the start of the following semester. For more information and to request a classification change to PRN, students should contact the nursing Office of Academic Affairs at 608-263-5202.
The students, faculty, administration, and staff of the School of Nursing are part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison's academic community, and as such, are subject to the policies, rules, and regulations of the university. In addition, the school and its respective programs may, as deemed necessary, develop their own policies and procedures to augment those of the university. Following are the specific School of Nursing policies and regulations that expand upon or differ from the policies of the university as a whole.
Academic Actions (Warning, Probation, Drop)
Every student (pre-nursing and nursing) is expected to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA on all work carried, whether passed or not, in each semester or summer session. Students who maintain this average are considered in good standing. Failure to earn this minimum GPA will result in the academic action of warning, probation, or dropped (academically dismissed). Students must be in good academic standing in order to be eligible for graduation.
If not on warning and:
- Earns a GPA in a semester or summer session of 1.75–2.49 = warning
- Earns a GPA in a semester or summer session of less than 1.75 = probation
If on warning and:
- Earns a GPA in a semester or summer session of 1.75–2.49 = probation
- Earns a GPA in a semester or summer session of less than 1.75 = dropped from the program
If on probation and:
- Earns a GPA in a semester or summer session of 2.5 or above but cumulative GPA remains under 2.5 = continued probation
- Earns a GPA in a semester or summer session of less than 2.5 or a nursing cumulative GPA below 2.5 = dropped from the program
In addition to the academic actions detailed above, nursing (NUR) students are placed on probation if they:
- Earn a grade of F or NC in any nursing course, and/or
- Earn a nursing cumulative GPA below 2.5
Any student on academic action will automatically be cleared of action status when the semester GPA is 2.5 or above and the cumulative GPA is 2.5 or above; and if NUR or NCP (i.e., BSN@Home) classification, the nursing cumulative GPA is at least 2.5 or above.
Dean's Honor List
The purpose of the Dean's Honor List is to recognize superior academic achievement of undergraduate students. Students must achieve a minimum GPA of 3.75 on a semester load of not fewer than 12 credits in order to be placed on the Dean's Honor List. A notation of Dean's Honor List will appear on the student’s grade report and transcript. Students who earn a semester GPA of 3.25–3.74 on 12 or more credits will receive a congratulatory statement on their end-of-semester grade report form.
English as a Second Language
All nursing students must be proficient in English to provide safe patient care and to be successful academically. Students facing challenges in these areas may be referred by self-identification, a faculty member, or advisor to support services. Although limited English proficiency in itself is not a reason for dismissal, it can interfere with a student’s ability to complete course requirements, leading to failure to progress or meet program requirements.
To be in good standing, students must maintain:
- a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above, and
- a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above on all nursing courses completed, and
- a GPA of 2.5 or above in the semester just completed
Graduating with Distinction
Graduation with Distinction will be noted on the transcript of students who earned 60 or more credits at UW–Madison and a GPA that places them in the top 20 percent of those graduating from the School of Nursing that term.
Satisfactory Academic Progress
The time required to complete the program depends on the sequence of courses, plan of study, and placement availability in nursing courses. Students may complete the program in four years; however, additional semesters or summer sessions may be needed to fulfill requirements. If requirements for the degree have not been completed within five years after admission to the nursing major, the student's academic record will be reviewed by the Office of Academic Affairs to establish additional requirements, if appropriate.
Appeals, grievances, and Petitions
Appeals are limited to requests to continue in the nursing program after being dropped from the program for academic reasons. A written appeal must be filed with the assistant dean for academic affairs within 10 working days of the date of the letter notifying the student of the decision to discontinue the student in the program. Details on the appeal process can be found in the Student Appeals and Grievance Procedures.
Any student who believes that he or she has been treated inequitably is encouraged to resolve the matter informally. The student should first talk with the person or group at whom the grievance is directed in an effort to resolve the issue informally. A grievance procedure is available to resolve student concerns regarding inequitable treatment that have not been satisfactorily resolved through the informal resolution process or where the student believes that informal resolution would not be productive. Details on the appeal process can be found in the Student Appeals and Grievance Procedures.
Petition for Special Consideration
Nursing students may use the Petition for Special Consideration to request an alternative or exception to an academic rule, regulation, procedure, or requirement.
Clinical/Experiential Learning Courses
All nursing students are required to complete credit hours in the clinical setting under the supervision of a nursing professional. In the School of Nursing, the term experiential learning is used to describe the clinical course experience. These clinical experiences support the mission of the School of Nursing, integrating practice and coursework, to provide a comprehensive nursing education. There are some policies specific to experiential learning courses:
The School of Nursing is committed to ensuring all nursing students are compliant with national and state guidelines for personnel providing nursing care, as well as additional/specific requirements mandated by the school’s clinical affiliates as set forth in the clinical affiliation agreements. Therefore all nursing students are required to be in full adherence to the school’s compliance program while enrolled in the nursing program. The school’s compliance program includes immunizations, trainings, and a background check. Students will be held accountable for complying with the clinical eligibility requirements prior to entering the program and throughout their program of study. All students are required to keep their compliance documents up to date as an essential part of their professional responsibility for patient safety. Review the Nursing Student Compliance Program for complete details.
Students are assigned to clinical placement sites based on the faculty’s selection of clinical sites specific to the learning objectives of the course, site characteristics, and availability. Students need to be prepared to travel up to 90 miles from the School of Nursing and have varied schedules including evenings, nights and weekends. Clinical shifts may be 4-12 hours long. The School of Nursing secures clinical placements for all students who are eligible. Students are not asked to nor allowed to arrange their own clinical placements.
The School of Nursing recognizes that students need educational experiences beyond those available in hospitals in Madison, Wisconsin. In answer to this educational need, and in order to secure enough clinical sites for all students, the school places its students in a variety of venues in and beyond Madison. This includes ambulatory sites, clinics, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, geriatric facilities, school districts, nursing homes, etc. This gives our students comprehensive exposure to a broad range of patients, illness, and care. Nursing students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from their clinical sites. First-year clinicals are accessible by public transportation from Signe Skott Cooper Hall and other points in Madison. Second-year clinicals require travel to and from an agency, as well as to and from homes, schools, and other sites. Locales may be up to 90 miles from Madison. Therefore, second-year nursing students are required to have (1) a valid driver’s license, and (2) individual access to a car. Students are responsible for all transportation costs incurred, including gas and parking fees. Students with extenuating circumstances that have an impact on their clinical transportation options (e.g., driving/medical restrictions) should use the Petition for Special Consideration to request an accommodation or exception to the transportation policy. The petition must be submitted on/by March 1 for clinical placements during the next fall term and on/by November 1 for the next spring term placements. These deadlines are firm, as a petition must be reviewed in advance of clinical assignments. There is no guarantee the school will be able to honor such requests/conditions, and exceptions are granted in very rare circumstances.
Nursing students are required to purchase the approved School of Nursing uniform. The uniform consists of a white top and navy pants. The white top, embroidered with the School of Nursing logo, is available in two styles and the pants will be available in three styles. Lab coats embroidered with the school logo are also required and are worn when students are on their clinical units doing clinical preparation and during most community clinical experiences. In addition to the uniform requirements, there are also professional appearance guidelines for students.
Courses and Enrollment
In order to meet course and/or clinical objectives, students are expected to be present and engaged in both the classroom and/or clinical learning environment. Excessive absences impede a student’s ability to meet course objectives resulting in an unsuccessful completion of a course. Students are expected to attend and participate in all classes and clinical rotations unless excused by the course faculty prior to being absent. Faculty may request documentation regarding the nature of the absence (health provider note, proof of emergency, etc.), particularly if absences become excessive. For clinical courses, students who miss more than 12 supervised hours will be dropped from the course.
Credit/No Credit Courses
Some courses are designated as being offered on a Credit/No Credit basis. The transcript for the course will indicate either CR (meaning the student earned credits for the course) or N (meaning the the student did not earn any credit for the class). Students may not take such courses on any other basis.
Concurrent Registration and Enrollment
In some rare circumstances, and only with prior approval of the academic dean, students may enroll to earn degree credit concurrently at UW–Madison and any other accredited postsecondary school, including the UW–Extension. Requests for approval should be made prior to the end of the second week of classes of the semester in which dual registration is desired. Courses must be completed during the semester in which concurrent enrollment is allowed. To request permission for concurrent enrollment, submit the Petition for Special Consideration.
The Drop (DR) notation appears on students' records if they drop a class or classes after the last day to drop courses or withdraw without a DR or W grade notation appearing on students' transcripts. For the specific deadline for dropping classes so a DR will not appear on a student's records, see Deadlines at a Glance on the Office of the Registrar website. Please note that the School of Nursing does not backdate drops to erase them from a student's academic records or extend the drop deadline so that the DR will not appear.
Dropping a Nursing Course
A student who drops a nursing (N#) course may reenroll in the course when space is available. A student who drops a nursing course a second time is not eligible for the course a third time.
Students are responsible for identifying their area of interest or question, establishing objectives for their learning experience, and developing a learning contract with the faculty member. All independent study requires the consent of the instructor. Approval forms are available on the Forms Page within the School of Nursing StudentNet.
The Office of the Registrar publishes university deadlines for adding and dropping individual courses, withdrawing (from all courses), and selection options such as pass/fail and audit. Changing enrollment can have consequences for academic standing, tuition, progress toward degree, etc. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with an academic advisor or the academic dean in the School of Nursing prior to initial enrollment and before making any changes to enrollment. Exceptions to or extensions of the university deadlines may only be requested via the Petition for Special Consideration.
Any student who leaves the School of Nursing and wishes to return after an absence of one semester or more must file a reentry application with the UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Permission to reenter is dependent on program capacity, previous academic standing, and length of absence. Immediate placement in required nursing courses is not assured. Students seeking reentry to the baccalaureate program who have left on academic action must be reviewed by the Office of Academic Affairs. If readmission is granted, academic requirements may be specified to insure currency in nursing knowledge and skills prior to enrolling in clinical nursing courses. These requirements may include remediation and/or repetition of courses, depending on academic standing or length of time since leaving the program. The remaining program will be planned as considered best for the student and according to the current curriculum.
Each individual required nursing course may be repeated only once with a maximum of two repeated courses in the curriculum. Students who do not successfully complete a course after two attempts or who must repeat more than two different courses will be dis-enrolled from the nursing program. A course for which a student earned a grade below C (or NC in a clinical course) must be repeated within the next two semesters in residence. All grades earned will be used in calculating the student’s cumulative and nursing grade point averages, but credits will be counted only once toward the minimum nursing and degree credit requirements.
Didactic/Theory Courses: Undergraduate students may repeat any required didactic/theory course once without special permission from the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs.
Clinical Courses: To repeat a clinical course, an appeal must be made to the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs who will determine if the appeal merits approval. Upon a successful appeal, a student may repeat a clinical course based upon course schedule and program capacity.
A nursing student who finds it necessary to withdraw during a semester or summer session must talk with an academic advisor and complete the withdrawal process. Failure to do so may result in a recording of failure for all courses. Any student may withdraw from the program without grades being recorded during the first 12 weeks of a semester. After the 12th week, a student may withdraw only with the permission of the Office of Academic Affairs.
30-Credit residence requirement
Students must complete at least 30 credits at UW–Madison. Baccalaureate students must complete at least 15 credits in nursing courses from the School of Nursing, including one required clinical nursing course at the 400 level or above.
A full-time program is 12 to 18 credits for a semester. Students who wish to carry more than 18 credits per semester must obtain permission from the Office of Academic Affairs. Students will be assessed additional tuition per credit on all credits carried over 18.
The School of Nursing grants retroactive foreign language credit to students for foreign language skill developed in high school or elsewhere. To earn retroactive credits for language, students must enroll in a higher level language course at UW–Madison before the end of the first two semesters in residence. Transfer students must enroll in the course on the UW–Madison campus before they earn 30 degree credits (including credits transferred from other campuses but not including AP, CLEP, IB, or retro credits in another language). Students must earn a grade of B or better. If these conditions are met, retroactive credits should appear automatically on a student’s transcript by the beginning of the following semester. Students will receive credit for the UW course completed and for all lower level courses in that language up to 16 retroactive credits maximum. These retroactive language credits may be used to meet degree requirements of the college or department, but may not be used to meet humanities requirements. They will be counted as electives only.
Second Undergraduate Degree
Second undergraduate degree candidates are considered for admission to both the pre-nursing and nursing classifications. Students who apply as second undergraduate program candidates must meet the admission and transfer grade point requirements of the university in place at the time they apply for admission. If admitted, an action is taken granting permission to pursue a second degree.
Students may request permission to pursue a second major along with the nursing degree. Students must complete the nursing school’s Petition for Special Consideration to make the request.
The school has a standard grading scale in nursing courses that are graded A-F, as noted below. Some clinical courses are graded Credit/No Credit.
An incomplete may be reported for a student who has carried a subject with a passing grade until near the end of the semester and then, because of illness or other unusual and substantiated cause beyond the student's control, is unable to take or complete the final examination or is unable to complete some limited amount of term work. An Incomplete is not given to a student who stays away from a final examination except as indicated above. In the absence of substantiated cause, the grade shall be F. Even with such proof, if the student's work has convinced the instructor that s/he cannot pass the course, the grade shall be F. Any Incomplete taken by a School of Nursing student must be completed by the end of the student's next semester of residence (specifically, by the last day of classes), excluding summer sessions. If the work is not completed by this deadline, the Incomplete will lapse into a Failure unless the time limit has been extended in writing by the Office of Academic Affairs.
Minimum Grade Requirement
Students must earn a grade of C (2.0) or higher in each required nursing (N#) course, including didactic/theory and clinical courses. Students must receive credit (CR) in any clinical course that is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis. Any student who earns a grade below C or does not receive credit for a clinical course must repeat the course and earn a C or higher (or CR in a clinical course) in order to progress in the program in accordance with subsequent course prerequisites.
The total number of ungraded credits (i.e., pass/fail) applied to graduation requirements may not exceed 24. Students who plan graduate study are advised to consult with graduate studies departments to determine acceptance of credits taken under the pass/fail option. Students eligible for the pass/fail privilege are continuing students with NUR, NCP (BSN@Home), or PRN classifications who have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA on all courses completed and have no end-of-semester academic actions on their current record. Newly admitted students in these classifications are also eligible for the pass/fail privilege. Only one course can be carried on pass/fail basis during each semester or summer session; or 3 or 4 credits of 1-credit modular courses. No required courses may be carried under the pass/fail option. The registrar's office will convert final letter grades reported by the student's instructor to an S (pass) grade if the letter grade is C or higher or to a U (fail) if the final letter grade is below C. Course credits in which a student obtains a U grade cannot be counted toward the minimum of 124 credits required for graduation. Students interested in the pass/fail option must contact their nursing academic advisor to determine eligibility.
Signe Skott Cooper Hall
In fall 2014, the School of Nursing moved to the new Signe Skott Cooper Hall. This $53.3 million nursing building features world-class technology and innovative educational spaces that will allow the nursing school to address health care’s new standard of excellence—high-tech and high-touch methods and practices that result in better patient outcomes and greater satisfaction with care.
Advising and Student Services
office of Academic Affairs
The Office of Academic Affairs is the undergraduate dean's office for the School of Nursing. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; make exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise prospective and current students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate compliance; facilitate the program's admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.
Academic advising is an essential component of undergraduate education. The primary advising mission in the School of Nursing is to help students identify and clarify their academic pathways and educational goals, and to help them develop meaningful plans to ensure academic success. Advising is an ongoing, caring, and collaborative relationship between advisor and student that provides meaning, guidance, and support throughout the educational process. Every pre-nursing (PRN) and nursing (NUR) student is assigned a professional advisor in the nursing school. Advising is offered in individual appointments, group advising, and graduation checks for seniors.
In addition to professional academic advisors, the School of Nursing has career advising available to help students prepare for a successful career in nursing. Services include resume and job search assistance, online job postings, information sessions, and nursing career fairs.
Academic Support Services
The Nursing Learning Center in Cooper Hall is a place where students can gather with other like-minded, focused, and enthusiastic students to improve not only their understanding of the course material but of their own learning styles. Sessions are designed to assist pre-nursing and nursing students in weekly small-group study formats. Current courses supported include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology, as well as courses in the nursing curriculum. Workshops and other sessions help students with test preparation, study skills, time management, etc.
The School of Nursing encourages and supports students to pursue their interests and form social networks. In addition to numerous associations available to students on the broader campus (including the Aspiring Nurses Association [ANA] for pre-nursing students), there are a number of student-run groups established specifically for current nursing students. These include the Student Nurses’ Association, the Multicultural Student Nurses’ Organization, the Nurse’s Christian Fellowship, the Global Health Interest Group, the Holistic Nursing Group, the Perinatal Interest Group, and the Student Geriatric Interest Group. The purpose of these groups is to give students the opportunity to enhance their experiences related to professional development, social circles, political action, community service, and academic achievement, as well as foster connections between faculty, staff, and students.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
The School of Nursing awards more than $400,000 in scholarships each year to admitted undergraduate nursing students. Awards are based on both academic merit and financial need. Students are invited to apply to nursing specific scholarships, as well as campus-wide or non-nursing scholarships, through the Scholarships@UW–Madison system.
The School of Nursing offers an Honors Program for those high-ability students seeking early research involvement with a faculty mentor. Students who successfully complete the Honors Program graduate with distinguished academic performance and receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with Honors. In addition, students of the Honors Program acquire an enriched view of nursing science.
Each student in the Honors Program has an active role in identifying a faculty mentor. Once a student is assigned a faculty mentor, the mentor will help the student understand the research process and provide research-related resources. The mentor will also assist with identification and implementation of a senior honors thesis.
Qualified students with a cumulative undergraduate GPA at or above 3.5 are invited to apply for admission to the Honors Program when they are admitted to the nursing program. Admission to the Honors Program is judged on past academic work, a short essay, and a letter of reference.
Review the Honors Program page of the StudentNet for complete details.