American Culture and English Program

Learn while having fun at a world-class university this summer

Improve your English and enjoy American life at one of the world’s best public universities, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. American Culture and English (ACE) is a three-week residential program for international high school students who want exceptional instruction in the classroom and an enriching experience outside of class. You’ll meet new friends in a warm and welcoming city, engage in fun activities, and take day trips to nearby metropolitan areas.

At a glance

What: American Culture and English Program

When: Last offered Jul 8, 2017. Check back for next offering.

Where: UW-Madison campus, Madison, WI

Cost: $4,700

Continuing education credit: 100 hours (10.0 CEUs)

Coordinator: Christine Inthachith

Register by 5/15/2017

For additional information, contact Christine Inthachith at or

2017 ACE English Language Proficiency Exam

This time-lapse video showcases the beauty and diversity of the city of Madison, Wisconsin, and our flagship university.
Madison, Wisconsin was recently ranked the United States’ fourth safest city, so students can feel comfortable walking the clean streets and scenic lakeshore. U.S. News & World Report also recently named one of the most fun places to live in the United States.

Experience American life in a charming Midwestern city

Madison, Wisconsin, is regularly chosen as one of the best places to live in the United States. It is a midsized city of 250,000 people in a beautiful setting, with pleasant summer weather, award-winning restaurants, and an abundance of recreational activities.

The top-ranked University of Wisconsin-Madison is situated near the Wisconsin State Capitol, between two lovely lakes. According to the 2014-15 Open Doors Report, UW-Madison is among the top 25 U.S. universities with the largest number of international students during the traditional academic calendar year. UW-Madison is committed to helping students make significant achievements in the world through the lessons they learn both inside and outside of the classroom.

As a participant, you will study to improve your English skills and learn from faculty and staff what it takes to succeed at an American university.

Instructors in the American Culture and English program are well qualified and have extensive experience working with international students. The atmosphere is fun and casual, and the content relates to the activities and field trips.

General information and schedule

Typical Daily Schedule

9am Communications class
10:05am Grammar and Writing class
1-4:45pmBusiness or Science special classes and workshops
7pmEvening activities
9pmEvening check-in and snacks
11pmLights out

Program requirements and registration

  • Registration is open. The last day to register is May 15, 2017 (space permitting after deadline).
  • Participants must be at least 14 years old (born before July 7, 2003) and no older than 17.
  • At least an intermediate level of English is required for this program. Our free online test can help you determine your language level.
  • Register for ACE online»


  • $4,700. This includes tuition, a double room, instruction, meals, activities, health insurance, local transportation, and transportation to and from the airport. A $500 nonrefundable deposit is due at the time of registration, and the rest is due by June 9.
  • Participants are responsible for their own airfare to and from Madison.
  • In the unlikely event that not enough participants enroll, ACE could be cancelled. Because of this, please buy travel insurance.
  • Refund policy: Participants may withdraw by June 8 and receive a refund, minus an administrative fee. No refunds will be given as of June 9. In the unlikely event that ACE is cancelled, it will happen by June 1, and 100% of the registration fee will be refunded.

What to bring

  • Clothing: In Madison, people tend to dress casually, so formal dresses and suits are not needed. During the summer, the weather is usually warm or hot during the day and cool at night. Casual pants or jeans, shorts, T-shirts and other informal tops, and comfortable shoes or sandals are all appropriate. You will do a lot of walking around Madison and the university campus, so athletic shoes are ideal.
  • Camera and phone: Bring a camera and/or cellphone. You may also need a travel alarm clock. You can buy a prepaid SIM card if you need cellphone service while in the United States.
  • Spending money: Bring enough money to buy things you need, and to spend on shopping trips and other excursions. The suggested minimum amount for this program is $300 USD. Madison is a safe city, but you should take normal precautions to safeguard your money.
  • Passport and visa: Bring your passport, visa, and travel documents.
  • Medications: If you take any medications, you should bring enough medicine for your visit, and bring information about your prescriptions. If you wear glasses and have an extra pair, you should also bring those.
  • Toiletries: The residence halls provide pillows, sheets, towels, toilet paper, and soap. It’s easy to buy shampoo, toothpaste, sunscreen, and other toiletries after arrival.

Travel before and after the program

Madison is centrally located in the heart of the Midwest. That makes it easy for students and their parents to use the city as a base for taking trips before or after the program. The nearby metropolitan area of Chicago is accessible by car, bus, and plane.

After registering for ACE, you will receive an email confirming your deposit, plus additional information. Make sure you have received this email before making travel plans. Parents interested in visiting Madison should consult with Christine Inthachith at or 608-262-1156 about student schedules before arranging travel.

Visa requirements

Participants from countries that are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program will need to get a B-2 Tourist Visa before coming to the United States. Visa rules change regularly. It is important to pay attention to these rules and consult with your local American embassy or consulate if you have questions.

When you register for ACE, you’ll receive a welcome letter from UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies. The letter contains information about obtaining a visa. This letter is helpful during your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I get to Madison?
Airports: There are two airports where most international students arrive.

1) MSN—Madison, WI—Dane County Regional Airport. MSN is a small airport about seven miles from UW-Madison.

2) ORD—Chicago, IL—Chicago O’Hare International Airport. ORD is 3 hours and 36 minutes away from Madison. There are many direct international flights to Chicago each day.

Will someone meet me at the airport?
Yes, the program includes pick-up and drop-off service. Students flying into Chicago O’Hare International Airport will need to arrive within a select time frame. For example, in 2016 the arrival window was between noon and 5pm to participate in the shuttle service. Please consult with us at prior to booking your airline ticket.

May a parent or chaperone accompany me to Madison?

ACE parents may visit Madison with their children or use chaperones to accompany their children. Parents and chaperones receive information about housing options and things to do while in Madison, but they are responsible for their own expenses.

Chaperones are not required to attend classes and events with students since UW-Madison has advisors who accompany students on trips and in residence halls. Chaperones are also invited to participate in a day trip to Chicago and any activities that involve UW-Madison faculty and staff.


What are you looking for in an applicant?
We are looking for young people ages 14-17 who want to experience life on an American university campus, learn about other cultures, and improve their English. Applicants should also have at least an intermediate level of English. Our free online test can help students determine their English level. The applicant should score at the high beginning level or above to participate in the program. In addition, applicants will also write a short personal statement in English as part of the registration process.

Should I expect additional mailings after my welcome letter arrives?
Yes, you will receive several forms via email after submitting registration materials and a $500 nonrefundable deposit. This includes a parental authorization-to-participate form, a health information form, a risk management form, and a photo release form. No mailings will be sent via postal mail.

Will participating in ACE help me gain admission to UW-Madison?
No, ACE participants need to follow the university’s admission application procedure. ACE is a noncredit course that offers a certificate of completion. Participation in this program does not affect future UW-Madison admission for degree or credit programs.


Is UW-Madison a safe place?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently ranked Madison as the fourth safest city in America, and both the city and the university are strongly committed to safety. University Police officers make frequent visits to the residence halls and other campus buildings; they are a friendly and welcome presence. Of course, you should use common-sense precautions during the program.

How secure are the residence halls?
All residence hall exterior doors contain an electronic locking system, and the buildings are monitored by security cameras. Doors are locked at all times, and no one is allowed in without a UW-Madison ID card. Students are issued room keys upon checking in, and they are asked to account for their whereabouts after 7pm by signing in and out of the residence hall.

Parents and guardians are allowed in the residence halls only during check-in and checkout, when they are helping students move.


May I check into the residence hall before the check-in dates, or check out after the checkout dates?
It is not possible to check in early or check out late. It is possible to leave the night before checkout by following the standard overnight sign-out procedure.

If I am late for check-in, where should I go?
Go to the front desk. A university staff member will be there to assist you.

Can I be away from the residence hall overnight?

Is there a curfew for students staying in the residence halls?
The curfew for ACE students is 11pm, unless they are participating in a supervised activity. This curfew is strictly observed, and students who do not abide by it will be dismissed from the program.

Are the residence halls air-conditioned?

Are there telephones in the rooms?
The rooms are not equipped with phones.

Where should my mail and/or packages be sent during the program?
Send the items to:
Summer Program for High School Students
Madison, WI 53705

For best delivery times, students are encouraged to send mail via UPS or FedEx.

Who are the resident advisors?
Live-in resident advisors are undergraduate and graduate students representing universities all over the United States. They have demonstrated a strong interest in working with secondary-school students and have completed intensive training. In addition to supervising ACE students in the residence halls, resident advisors lead extracurricular activities and staff the High School Program Office.

The ratio of students to resident advisors is approximately 10 to 1.


Where are classes held?
Classes are held on the UW-Madison campus.

Do ACE participants have access to campus facilities?
ACE participants have access to the university’s classrooms, on-campus cafes, libraries, computer labs, fitness centers, the campus bus, and the student activities center. They do not have library borrowing privileges.

Is there access to computers and wireless Internet?
ACE students have access to computer clusters and laboratories throughout the campus. These facilities range from informational kiosks to high-end workstations. Most residence halls have their own computer labs.

Working in the labs after curfew is not allowed, so it may be useful to bring a smartphone or tablet. Most of the campus, including the residence halls, has wireless access.

Are there accommodations for students with disabilities?
The university provides a full range of services and accommodations to assist students with disabilities. Upon acceptance into the ACE Program, students seeking assistance should contact the Disability Resource Center.

What is the schedule for the dining hall?
Meals are served three times a day, seven days a week, according to the following schedule:

Breakfast: 7:30-8:30am
Lunch: 12-1pm
Dinner: 6-7pm

Are there vegetarian and vegan meal options?
The meal plan features a wide variety of food that is served cafeteria-style. Vegetarian and vegan options are included.

Are there ATMs on campus?

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For more information
Contact Christine Inthachith at or 608-262-1156 with questions or comments about ACE.

View all English Language Program courses»