Studying at UW

A Bucky Badger pendant rests on a red and white graduation tassle, with a Wisconsin diploma cover in the background.

Student Records

The Office of the Registrar provides student records, including:

  • official transcripts
  • enrollment verifications
  • diplomas
  • 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 My UW. 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 for graduate students.

Tuition payment:

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.

Graduate students holding a Research Assistant (RA), Teaching Assistant (TA), Program/Project Assistant (PA), or Lecturer Student Assistant (LSA) appointment receive tuition remission.

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 three months of paychecks each term to use toward payment of segregated fees and other fees not covered by tuition remission. This means segregated fees are usually due for graduate assistants in early December for fall and early April for spring terms. 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.

Tuition refunds

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…

Students cross an intersection of a pedestrian mall, with the Wisconsin crest visible in the background.
Pedestrians cross University Avenue as they walk past the University Square complex and the student services building at 333 East Campus Mall.

With so many different offices on campus that handle tuition and fees, here’s a quick guide to where you can find help.

The Bursar’s Office:

The Office of Student Financial Aid:

  • 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

The Graduate School Office of Academic Services:

  • serves as the academic Dean’s Office for all graduate students
  • assists with any form or action that needs Dean’s Approval (such as paper enrollment change requests)

Enrollment

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 2020 courses begins June 22, 2020, and registration for spring term 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. You also access the Student Center by logging in to MyUW. For details on where to complete these class management actions, see the Course Search and Enroll help site section on “Which enrollment tool should I use?”

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 Wiscard (your student ID card). The dates vary slightly each year, but generally follow this schedule for new students starting in the fall term. (The timing of this schedule is similar for new students starting in the spring and summer term, but the months will be different.)

After you’re admitted to graduate school: Congratulations, you can start planning for this exciting next step! However, you are not officially a graduate student until you enroll, so you will not be able to fully access the tools in Student Center or MyUW. You cannot get a Wiscard yet.

Mid-June: You will receive an enrollment appointment time. Once you enroll in classes, you are officially a graduate student at UW–Madison! You now have access to your Office365 WiscMail email account and calendar. You can also get your Wiscard, which you pick up in-person at the Wiscard Office.

At this point, all campus resources are available to you.

One week before the semester begins: Campus bus passes are available to pick up. You must have your Wiscard first to receive your bus pass.

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.

Graduate Assistantships

Students cluster around a table with open laptops while a graduate student stands and leads a discussion.
A graduate student teaching assistant works with undergraduate students during a class discussion section.

Teaching assistants, research assistants, and project assistants – collectively called graduate assistantships – provide tuition remission, a stipend, and optional benefits including healthcare coverage. 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

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.

Resources for finding fellowships are available on the Graduate School’s fellowships webpage.

Grants

Student Research Grants Competition: If you need financial support for conference travel, you can apply for Conference Presentation Funds, awards of between $300-$1,200 available to graduate students. If you are traveling to conduct research supporting your dissertation, thesis, or final project, you may apply for the Research Travel Award, with awards ranging from $300-$1,200 with a limited number of $1,500 awards for international research travel. Dissertators and final-year MFA students are especially encouraged to apply for these awards. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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.

A man wearing a black coat and two students in white coats stand behind a see-through glass board with chemistry notations.
Chemistry professor Tehshik Yoon holds a discussion with two graduate research assistants, both members of Yoon’s research group.

Other Employment

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.

Computing at UW–Madison

DoIT: 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 at any of its three locations. At Help Online, you will find answers to most common computing questions.

Cloud Storage: UW–Madison offers unlimited, free online storage through your MyUW page: G Suite (formerly Google Apps), Box, and Microsoft OneDrive. Use these spaces to publish a personal home page, store important files, or do team projects online. You can retrieve and store files at any time from any computer with Internet access.

Computer Labs: 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 3 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 policies governing the use of the campus network and other electronic devices. If you don’t follow these policies, you may lose access privileges.

  • Respect copyright
  • 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

  • Install the free security software available to students
  • 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
  • Choose strong passwords and do not share them with others
  • Do not open email or attachments from unknown sources
  • Never give out passwords, personal information or account numbers (e.g., Social Security number) in response to suspicious requests or phishing attempts
  • Adjust your spam filters to ward off spam
  • Back up your computer data on separate media (i.e., external hard drive, flash drive) and store 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

Rows and rows of books frame a corridor, with a student sitting at a desk at the end.
A student uses his laptop computer while working amid the quiet aisles of the north stacks at Memorial Library.

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 to find some great study locations.

The UW–Madison Libraries provide so many resources to help you succeed. Whether it’s guidance in conducting a literature review, help organizing citations for a dissertation, advice on data management, 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. After your first year of study, you can apply for one of the personal study carrels, commonly known as “cages”, at Memorial Library. Carrels and lockers are available for rental free-of-charge. Also, check out the Graduate Room (Room 464) in the Memorial Library, solely dedicated 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. In addition to high-resolution scanning, video-editing, and large-poster printing capabilities, it has a vending machine that sells everything from flash drives to rain ponchos. On the first floor, the Open Book Café offers your coffee or tea fix, a quick bite to eat, and a well-stocked vending room featuring a notoriously elusive campus commodity: a microwave oven.

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

Rows of study tables are dwarfed by high ceilings and grand windows in this reading room and library.
A favorite place for UW–Madison students to study, the Wisconsin Historical Society library reading room features ornate ceiling details and use of 1900s-era style light fixtures.

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. A vending machine alcove near the cafe provides a microwave oven for public use. 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 time-honored Memorial Union Terrace can be a good place to knock back an article or two when the weather is pleasant, while other students have discovered the hushed study nooks at the Student Activity Center.

The Writing Center

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.

Planning Ahead

A woman stands behind a podium next to a powerpoint presentation, while a group of students listen and take notes.
Graduate students listen to Torsheika Maddox, administrative project manager and researcher in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement, during a “Building Your Networking Confidence” workshop at Union South held by the UW Graduate School Office of Professional Development.

Graduate Student Professional Development: In addition to opportunities provided by your program and discipline-specific professional organizations, the Graduate School Office of Professional Development (OPD) coordinates, develops, and promotes learning opportunities for you to foster your academic, professional, and life skills. OPD provides many options for advancing your professional and personal development. It also maintains the campus-wide calendar of skill-building and professional development events for graduate students.

The Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning: The Delta Program 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, 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.