A guide to the graduate experience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Studying at UW
From enrollment to the day-to-day logistics of studying and conducting research, there are a few things you’ll need to know. This page helps you get acquainted with the enrollment timeline, the language campus uses to cover different types of funding and financial aid for graduate students, and some of the other resources that can help you succeed both academically and professionally.
When it comes time to register for courses, the Registrar’s Office will send you an email including your enrollment appointment time. You are only able to enroll in classes once your appointment time arrives, not before.
New student registration for fall 2023 courses begins June 26, 2023, and registration for spring courses happens in early- to mid-November. All enrollment happens in the Course Search and Enroll App.
You can prepare ahead of your scheduled enrollment appointment time by building a course schedule in the Course Search and Enroll App. To access the app, log in to MyUW and select the Academic Navigator widget, then select the Course Search & Enroll widget. When you find a class you want to enroll in, add it to your cart. It will store the class in your cart until you’re ready to enroll during your enrollment appointment.
After enrolling, you can also use the Course Search and Enroll App to drop or swap classes. For other changes, such as adding or removing credit/audit status, you’ll need to use the Student Center, accessed through MyUW. For more information, see the Registrar’s Office how-to website.
When do I get access to these campus services?
As a new student, it’s often confusing when you are able to get access campus essentials like your university email address and student ID card. These dates vary slightly each year, but generally follow this timeline for new students in the fall semester.
Email and calendar
About one to two weeks before your enrollment time, you will be able to access your WiscMail email account and calendar. This is usually in mid-June if you’re starting your program in the fall semester (June 16 for fall 2023). Find them in the Email widget in MyUW.
Campus ID card
After you are enrolled in classes and have arrived in Madison, you can get your Wiscard, or your campus ID card. Pick up your Wiscard in person at the Wiscard Office in Union South.
Campus bus passes are available to pick up at the beginning of each fall and spring semester, usually about one week before the start of classes. You must have your Wiscard first and bring it to pick up your bus pass.
Other campus services
After you enroll in classes, you are officially a graduate student at UW–Madison! At this point, all campus resources are available to you.
information regarding the release and withholding of private information under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
…and more. The Registrar’s Office also maintains a schedule of dates and deadlines for enrollment actions and tuition refunds.
Personal contact information
Keep your addresses current through the Personal Information section of Student Center in MyUW. Most university mail will be sent to your UW email address or to the U.S. postal mailing address you list in Student Center. You may specify different mailing addresses for mailing, home, and billing; student account invoices will be sent to your billing address, while refunds and other communication will be sent to your mailing address.
Tuition and fees
As a student, you pay tuition to cover the cost of your education, and segregated fees to cover the cost of student services on campus. Segregated fees at UW–Madison contribute toward the student bus pass program, University Health Services, University Recreation & Wellbeing, the Child Care Tuition Assistance Program, the Wisconsin Union, and more. Check the Bursar’s Office website for tuition and fee rates.
Note that tuition and fees do not cover all of the expenses you will have as a graduate student. The Office of Student Financial Aid offers an estimated Cost of Attendance breakdown.
Enrolled students receive tuition bills via email, which are payable via multiple methods. Students and authorized payers will also receive an email alert when a new tuition bill is available to view. Bills are sent in late August for fall term, early January for spring term, and late May for summer term. Students who enroll after the first notification will receive a bill shortly after they enroll.
UW–Madison offers the BadgerPay Payment Plan for students to pay tuition and fees through regularly scheduled payments. Students must enroll by the payment due date for each term to use the plan, and pay a nonrefundable $50 plan enrollment fee.
If a student is unable to meet the due date, they should contact the Bursar’s Office before the due date to explain the circumstances.
Many graduate students holding a Research Assistant (RA), Teaching Assistant (TA), Program/Project Assistant (PA), or Lecturer Student Assistant (LSA) appointment of 33.3% or higher (>13 hours per week) receive tuition remission; graduate students enrolled in service-based pricing programs, such as online and accelerated programs, are ineligible to receive tuition remission. Consult your graduate program and read your admission and appointment letters carefully to understand your benefits eligibility, including tuition remission eligibility.
Segregated fee payment
Unless you have a graduate assistantship, your segregated fee payment is due at the same time as your tuition payment. Students with graduate assistantships have until the first Friday in December (for the fall semester) and the first Friday in April (for the spring semester) before the due date to pay segregated fees and other fees not covered by tuition remission. For details and due dates for the current semester, see the Bursar’s Office policy on graduate assistant payment of segregated fees.
Scholarships and financial aid payments
The university will automatically apply financial aid checks it receives for you to your account. Funds are first applied against any outstanding tuition and fee charges. You will receive any remaining funds via mail at your current mailing address in Student Center.
If you receive a scholarship check payable to the university, bring the check and any instruction letter to the Bursar’s Office.
The date you drop a course determines if you will receive a tuition refund. Refer to the Registrar’s Office for official dates. You do not have to pay tuition and fees if you drop all of your courses before the 100% tuition refund deadline. Your name is not automatically dropped from the list of enrolled students if you do not pay tuition and fees or do not attend class. Once the term begins, your transcript will note enrollment for the term, and you would have to withdraw in order to terminate your enrollment.
For more information…
With so many different offices on campus that handle tuition and fees, here’s a quick guide to where you can find help.
• assesses tuition and fees
• sets tuition and fee payment due dates
• processes payments and refunds
• sends students the IRS 1098T tax form
• posts financial aid and scholarships toward tuition and fee charges
• handles third-party for tuition and fee payments
• places holds on student records and enrollments
• hears appeals of late enrollment fees
• assists with federal, institutional, and private student loans
• processes applications and payments for financial aid
• determines eligibility for financial aid awards
• authorizes emergency short-term loans
• can help you fill out the FAFSA for federal financial aid
• serves as the academic Dean’s Office for all graduate students
• assists with any form or action that needs Dean’s Approval (such as enrollment change requests)
• developed the Academic Policies and Procedures to help answer questions about Graduate School academic and administrative policies and procedures
Funding and finances
Students fund their graduate education in a variety of ways, and often, you’ll use more than one type of funding in your time as a student. The most important thing to know about finding funding is to be proactive. Explore your options early, and think ahead to what your situation will be a year, two years, or four years from now. Start by talking to your program, which may have guaranteed funding packages or program-specific opportunities. Beyond your program, here are some options to consider.
Teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and project assistantships – collectively called graduate assistantships – provide a stipend and optional benefits including healthcare coverage. Many students who hold graduate assistantships are also eligible for tuition remission. Note that graduate students enrolled in service-based pricing programs, such as online and accelerated programs, are ineligible to receive tuition remission – check your admissions and appointment letter or consult with your graduate program to understand your benefits eligibility.
You can find some graduate assistantships on the Student Jobs Center. However, not all departments advertise these positions. You can find out what your department offers by keeping in contact with your program coordinator and faculty. They can provide information about assistantship openings, letters of reference, and contacts beyond those listed on the job center.
Fellowships are monetary awards for students to pursue graduate study. In general, fellowships require no work obligation on the student’s part. The stipend depends on the type of fellowship. Most awards pay tuition and include eligibility for health insurance. Some awards also pay segregated fees.
University-Funded Fellowships: Individual graduate academic programs control almost all nominations for university-funded fellowships. Contact your program for funding information and don’t be afraid to be persistent. The Graduate School Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Funding administers University-Funded Fellowship funds.
National Fellowships/External Fellowships: Students apply directly to the granting agency for federal and national fellowships external to the university. Keep in mind that most deadlines are in early fall. Most programs control which fellowships they administer, so ask your program. The Graduate School Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Funding also payrolls students and handles information for federal and national fellowships.
Student Research Grants Competition: If you need financial support for conference travel, you can apply for Conference Presentation Funds. If you are traveling to conduct research supporting your dissertation, thesis, or final project, you may apply for the Research Travel Award.
Grants Information Collection: Memorial Library’s Grants Information Collection is the place to go to look for research, travel, or conference funding. You can schedule an appointment with the grants librarian or attend a workshop to help you find grants.
Graduate students are also eligible for student hourly positions on campus. The Student Jobs Center posts these listings in addition to graduate assistantships. Hourly pay rates vary. Unlike graduate assistantships, student hourly positions do not provide tuition remission or benefits.
Additionally, UW–Madison is right in the heart of vibrant, downtown Madison. Domestic students may be able to find off-campus jobs nearby. International students should be aware of visa limits on which jobs they can accept. Usually, international students may only work on campus. International Student Services can help with questions regarding work eligibility.
Money-saving tips for graduate students
Your computer broke, but you can’t afford a new one: For a short-term solution, many campus computer labs offer free rental laptops for three days. Students can also purchase personal computers through UW’s Dell and Apple campus partner websites, which sometimes offer additional discounts or promotions.
You need new software to complete a project: The software you need may be available at one of the campus computer labs or in the campus software library.
You need a few essentials to make your apartment feel like home: St. Vincent de Paul on Williamson Street offers a great selection of housewares as well as a spectacular selection of 50¢ paperbacks. The UW SWAP (Surplus with a Purpose) shop sells used furniture, computers and housewares.
You really need a haircut: If you have some time to spare, the MATC Cosmetology School offers inexpensive haircuts and other salon services. All services are performed by advanced student cosmetologists – which means that your haircut might take a while.
You can’t afford parking or car insurance: Zip Car rents fuel-efficient cars by the hour to its members, and offers special discounts to university students, and special pricing for Eagle Heights residents.
You want to bike to campus but don’t want to invest in a bike right away: Check out a free bike through the Red Bikes Project, or consider a student membership at BCycle which comes at a discounted rate.
You usually buy lunch on campus: Use your Wiscard as a debit card to get a 5% discount at Babcock Hall Dairy Store, University Housing, and Wisconsin Union dining locations.
UW–Madison values all individuals and commits to a shared responsibility towards designing inclusively and accessibly for people with disabilities. Visit Accessibility@UW–Madison to learn about disability rights, ableism, accessibility resources, and information faculty, students, and staff need to do their part in creating accessible events and content.
Computing at UW–Madison
The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) offers tech advice and expert consulting to help you select and purchase computers, software and other IT products and services. Check out the DoIT website for tech tips, cybersecurity information, and more.
DoIT provides full Help Desk services. Phone, email, and livechat support are accessible seven days a week, or you can go to the walk-in Help Desk in the Computer Sciences building. At Help Online, you will find answers to most common computing questions.
You’re never far from a computer on campus. More than 1,000 computers are available in general-access computer labs conveniently located across campus. Printers, scanners, DVD/CD-RW drives and digital editing resources are available in the labs.
Many labs also offer equipment checkout, including laptops with wireless connections, iPads, still and video cameras, projectors, and digital audio recorders. Anyone with a valid UW–Madison ID can check out this equipment for free for three days.
Internet Connection Options
With your NetID, you can sign onto the university’s wireless network, UW-Net, from any computer. If you live in Eagle Heights or University Houses, you will have access to the ResNet, University’s Ethernet connection.
Free Computer and Software Workshops
Take advantage of free workshops, taught by students for students. DoIT’s Software Training for Students (STS) offers classes that vary from basic desktop applications to advanced web design. Want to acquire some new software skills on your own time? Log in to the STS website with your NetID to access an enormous library of professional-quality online video tutorials that you can stream.
Be a good net citizen
As a UW student, you should adhere to campus IT guidelines on the use of the campus network and other electronic devices:
Download only from legal sources
Turn off file-sharing
Be civil in your electronic communication
Be respectful of others’ privacy online
Use computing resources legally
Never share your NetID or password with others
Protect your computer and identity
Keep your operating system up to date
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when accessing campus networks from off-campus locations or when using wireless networks
Back up important computer data on separate media (i.e., external hard drive, flash drive) and store it in a secure place
Log out of applications fully, especially on public machines, and quit web browsers.
Limit the amount and type of identity information you post on social networking and other websites
For more information and other tips, check out the IT News from the Division of Information Technology.
Libraries and study spots
UW–Madison is a treasure trove of study spots large and small. Below are a few campus libraries and study spots that grad students prefer. Many departments also have grad student lounges. These are great areas for group meetings or for interacting with other students in your program. If you’d like a change of scenery, explore off-campus locations to find some more great study spots.
The UW–Madison Libraries provide an enormous amount of resources to help you succeed. Whether it’s guidance in conducting a literature review, help organizing citations for a dissertation, advice on data management, quantifying the impact of your scholarship, or just a space that allows you to get your work done, the libraries are here to support you.
The campus libraries are some of the most popular places for grad students to study. Easy access to power outlets for laptops, high-speed internet, large tables on which to spread out, and good reading light – not to mention having key research resources and expert assistance nearby – make them attractive alternatives to local coffee shops. In addition to the spaces described below, most libraries also offer group study rooms that you can reserve online.
Memorial Library is the main library on campus for the humanities and social sciences. With more than 3.25 million volumes, it houses the largest single library collection in the state of Wisconsin. Personal study carrels, commonly known as “cages”, are also available at Memorial Library. Carrels and lockers are available for rental free-of-charge. Sometimes, locked carrels become available for graduate students to reserve for up to 24 months. Also, check out the Graduate Room (Room 464) in the Memorial Library, solely available to graduate students.
College Library is the main undergraduate library on campus. Providing a social, food-friendly study space, some grad students prefer it for its coffee-shop-like noise level and lovely views of Lake Mendota. The InfoLab on the second floor is a one-stop shop for many of your technology needs. On the first floor, the Open Book Café offers your coffee or tea fix and a quick bite to eat.
For a change of scenery, here are a few more libraries frequented by graduate students. All these locations have excellent study spaces and computers, as well as librarians on hand to assist you with your research.
Ebling Library for health sciences
Steenbock Library for agricultural and life sciences
Wisconsin Historical Society Library for North American history and government publications
The Art Library, nestled on the ground floor underneath the Chazen Art Museum, featuring a quiet, spot-lit, and cozy atmosphere
The Law Library, which attracts students who like the ample natural lighting and efficient, silent intensity
The Library & Information Studies Library, known for its quiet, relaxed surroundings and spectacular view of Lake Mendota
The Geology Library, another hidden gem for studying
Researching at the libraries
The UW–Madison Libraries‘ website is the gateway to its many digital and physical resources. Quickly find books, journals, or other items at any UW–Madison or UW System location. You can request to have an item from any UW System library delivered to a library closer to you for pick-up, or have a book chapter scanned and emailed to you as a PDF. If a UW System school doesn’t have what you need, you can request materials from all over the world through the Libraries’ Interlibrary Loan service.
The Libraries provide access to more than 1,400 online databases, where you can find everything from full-text articles in scholarly journals and eBooks, to newspapers and streaming audio or video. Subject librarians serve as liaisons to programs to provide specialized assistance with subject-specific research and course support. Find your program’s subject librarian and schedule a one-on-one research consultation.
Beyond its collections, the libraries offer seminars and workshops on a diverse range of research, data, and funding-related subjects, including the Graduate Support Series and online micro-courses on topics such as research data management, intellectual property, grants and funding, and copyright.
Photocopies and scanning
With all of the journal research that many grad students do, you will probably find yourself making lots of copies or scans. Campus libraries have copy machines that work using your Wiscard. Many allow you to scan your materials for free and email it to yourself. Since printing on campus is cheaper than photocopying, scanning is a good way to go, especially if you want a PDF backup anyway.
Other items at the libraries
Need a break from studying? College Library’s Open Book Collection includes popular fiction, board games, mainstream movies, music CDs, video games, and video game consoles you can check out.
Looking for more esoteric films? Explore the extensive collection at the Microforms/Media Center in Memorial Library (Room 443). For musical theater, opera, and concerts on DVD and VHS, try the Mills Music Library located in the lower-level of Memorial Library (Room B162). The Mills Music Library also contains aisles of sheet music, music scores, as well as an extensive behind-the-desk collection of CDs, LPs, and other audiovisual materials.
More study hangouts
Besides libraries, the campus abounds with other study-friendly public locations. The bright, well-kept, open spaces of Grainger Hall, the home of the Wisconsin School of Business, draw students from nearby departments. Its main attraction is the first-floor Capital Café, which has a coffee-shop-like environment during peak hours. Slightly quieter, the Crossroads Café and the main atrium of the School of Education building offer a comparable study space to the Capital Café. The Microcosm Café also offers coffee and grab-and-go snacks, and features seating options spread out over more space.
The Writing Center aids hundreds of graduate students every semester, as well as undergrads and professional students. Master’s and doctoral students working on theses and dissertations can sign up for an ongoing appointment for individual instruction or take classes to help with the thesis/dissertation process. The Writing Center offers workshops, many geared specifically for graduate students. Teaching assistants can also get advice on how to integrate writing into the classes they teach, or participate in the L&S program in Writing Across the Curriculum, which helps instructors and teaching assistants in all disciplines develop writing assignments that support student learning.
The Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning
The Delta Program in the Graduate School is a professional development program that prepares graduate students in the natural and behavioral sciences, engineering, and mathematics for success as future faculty. It serves students who want to become better teachers and mentors, seek a competitive edge in the academic or industry job market, desire deeper engagement in a community of people who care about teaching and learning, or want to learn about ways to address issues of diversity in their classrooms.