Become a Student at UW-Madison

Do you want to become a student at UW-Madison? If you are a returning adult or other nontraditional student Adult Career and Special Student Services is a great place to start.

Take a class for enjoyment, audit a class (no tests or grades), or pursue a degree. Depending on your needs, the university has different requirements for participation, and different names for your student classification:

Become a University Special or Guest student

University Special students take classes for credit but are not currently part of a UW-Madison degree program. UW-Madison Special students include:

  • professionals updating their skills
  • visitors from both domestic and international colleges and universities
  • prospective graduate and professional school students completing prerequisites
  • individuals seeking personal enrichment
  • high school students

Guest auditors sit in on UW credit classes, without earning credit or grades, taking exams, or completing assignments.

Senior Guest auditors are the same as Guest auditors except are Wisconsin residents age 60 or older.

Questions about the options above? Contact Adult Career and Special Student Services, 608-263-6960 or advising@dcs.wisc.edu. Confused about the difference between University Special students and Guest auditors? See this comparison chart.

Become an undergraduate student

If you are a nontraditional student planning to pursue an undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin–Madison you should apply directly to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Adult Career and Special Student Services can help you with workshops geared toward easing the transition back to school. If you have coursework from another UW System campus or Madison College (MATC-Madison) learn about your transfer options here.

Become a graduate student

Nontraditional students planning to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison should apply directly to the Graduate School. If you need to fulfill prerequisites before applying to Graduate School or want to explore an academic interest you may apply to UW-Madison as a University Special student.

Become a noncredit continuing education student

Whether you're a professional, a senior, or an adult just looking to learn, there are intriguing and enriching noncredit opportunities for you at UW-Madison—and you don't have to be admitted to the University to enjoy them. View the Noncredit Continuing Education catalog online.