Study Options for International Students

UW-Madison welcomes undergraduate and graduate level international students to study on our campus in nondegree University Special student status.

Credit study options at UW-Madison 

University Special students take regularly scheduled courses for credit, but are not earning an undergraduate or graduate degree from UW-Madison. Please find the category below that matches your plan of study.

English as a Second Language (UNES)—You want to study English as a second language full time while here at UW-Madison.

Formal Exchange Program (UNIS)—You are currently a student at a university abroad that has a formal exchange agreement with UW-Madison, and you wish to attend UW-Madison for one or more semesters.

Visiting International Student not on a formal exchange program (UIUL, UIGL, UIDL)—You are an international student wishing to study at UW-Madison for one or  more semesters and you are not part of a formal university exchange program.

Capstone Certificate Program (UNCS)— You are an international student interested in earning one of our capstone certificates.  For visa information please see our FAQ regarding international students and capstone programs.     

Undergraduate or Graduate Degree Program—You want to apply for a full undergraduate or graduate degree program at UW-Madison, and are not interested in becoming a short-term University Special student.       

Still unsure of which category you should choose? Please contact the advisors in Adult Career and Special Student Services (

Noncredit study option at UW-Madison

American Culture and English Program at UW-Madison (Noncredit)—During this 3 week program, pre-college participants reside in University Housing, receive English language instruction, and engage in activities and events in and around Madison.          

Visa Status Affects Study Options

United States visa requirements are an important issue you must understand as it is your responsibility to make sure you are studying legally in the U.S. The advisors in Adult Career and Special Student Services ( and at International Student Services can help you determine whether your current visa status allows for nondegree study on our campus.