University Special Students

If you are not currently enrolled in a UW-Madison degree program, but want to take UW-Madison courses for credit, admission as University Special student may be the best option for you.

Explore our Schedule of Classes using the Public Class Search.

Don’t want or need credit? Learn more about Guest auditing.

About University Special student status

University Special students fully participate in all aspects of courses including assignments and exams plus discussion and labs when applicable. Special students receive credits and grades on an official UW-Madison transcript. Special students may enroll in any open class for which they meet prerequisites except courses ending in -90 to -99, medical school, law school, vet school, and MBA classes. Special students have limited access to some courses.

Tuition and fees

University Special students pay the Undergraduate/Special student rate per credit. Special students have full access to all university services including campus libraries, computer labs, free bus pass, recreational facilities, and University Health Service. Students enrolled in at least 5 credits may purchase the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). Read more about the tuition and fee increases in effect since fall 2015.

Application process for University Special students

There are several classifications of University Special students, and the application process is different for some of them. Review the options below to find which best fits your needs. Follow the links to get more information, or to apply online. Please review the online application instructions and then complete all sections of the application. Once we receive your application, you will get a confirmation email from Adult Career and Special Student Services. See our application FAQ's.

  • Professional development or personal enrichment (UNDS)—Advance professionally or pursue a personal interest (for those who have already earned an undergraduate degree). Visiting graduate students should use this classification. Apply.
  • Preparation for admission to graduate or professional school (UNRS)—Fulfill prerequisite courses for graduate or professional school. Check with specific graduate or professional school advisor regarding necessary prerequisites and use of special student credits toward an eventual degree. Use our Advising Form as a guide for conversations with advisors in programs of interest to you. Apply.
  • Visitor (undergraduate) from another college or university (UNVS)—Take classes to transfer back to your college or university. Must be in good standing with minimum GPA of 2.0 (transcript required) and plan to return to your college or university. One semester only. Apply.
  • Capstone Certificate (UNCS)—For returning adult students who wish to acquire specialized training to meet current and future job requirements. Learn more.
  • Farm and Industry Short Course (UNFS)—This 16-week program is designed for students interested in operating a farm, running an agricultural business, or gaining employment in the agribusiness sector. Learn more or Apply.
  • International Student Option—UW-Madison welcomes undergraduate and graduate level international students from all countries and backgrounds to study on our campus in nondegree University Special student status. There are three classifications under which International students fall including, visiting international, formal exchange student, and ESL student. Learn more.
  • High school students (UNHS)—Qualified high school juniors or seniors may apply to take one course each term through the Traditional, Youth Options, or Course Options Programs.
  • Exploring future career or educational goals (UNOS)—Take courses for one term to help clarify academic needs and career goals. Contact Adult Career and Special Student Services by phone (608-263-6960) or email to discuss whether this classification is right for you.