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Apply as a Transfer Student

Transfer Application and Material Deadlines

Decision Plan Application & Materials Deadline Decision
Spring Regular Decision October 1** By December 31
Fall Priority Decision February 1* By March 31
Fall Regular Decision March 1* By April 30

*If deadline falls on a weekend, it is extended to the next business day.

**We understand that many extenuating factors may have played a role in students being able to meet our October 1 Spring 2021 application and materials deadline. As a result, we are extending the deadline to October 15 to allow you an additional two weeks for you to submit the application and required materials to complete your application.


Prior to applying for transfer admission, students must have completed (or be completing) at least 24 semester hours of transferable course work. This essentially equates to one year of college-level study. We do not accept transfer students at the freshman level.

When reviewing applications, we pay particular attention to the college-level course work you have completed, and specifically:

  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA). Competitive not only for admission to the university, but for your intended major as well. Please note: GPA calculations will include all grades received for repeated courses; the initial grade, as well as grades received in second and subsequent attempts will be included in the GPA calculation.
  • Rigor of course work. Appropriate for continued study at UW–Madison and increasing in difficulty.
  • Course breadth. Showing a combination of English, math, science, literature, social science, and foreign language.
  • Grade trends and patterns. Steady or improving trends and patterns that show consistency across all academic areas.
  • Required courses. Applicants must have completed one year each of high school algebra, plane geometry, and college-preparatory math, and two high school years or two college semesters of a single foreign language.


Your academic performance in high school will be more or less important to us depending on how many college credits you have earned. Generally speaking, students who are in their first two years of college-level coursework will have their high school records more carefully analyzed. The more college-level work you have completed, the less we will rely on high school performance criteria such as rigor of coursework, academic GPA, grade trends, and class rank.

Regardless of the number of college credits earned, your high school transcript (supplemented in some cases by your college transcript) must show that you completed the following required course work:

  • Algebra: One year in high school
  • Plane Geometry: One year in high school (cannot be modified, basic, or informal)
  • College-Preparatory Math: One year in high school, or one college course at the level of Algebra 2 or beyond
  • Single Foreign Language: Two years of the same language in high school or two semesters of the same language in college*

* Students who have studied a foreign language using only Rosetta Stone have not fulfilled the foreign language requirement.
American Sign Language (ASL) may be accepted to meet the foreign language requirement for admission if it is taken through the student’s school and is reflected on an official transcript.

Required Transfer Application Materials

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Transfer students can apply using the UW System Application.

Please note that we do not start processing fall term applications until September 1.

You will be asked to identify both a first and second choice major when completing the application for admission. If selecting a major in the School of Business or College of Engineering as your first choice major, you must select a second choice major outside of the School of Business or the College of Engineering. If we are unable to offer you admission to your first choice major, your second choice will be considered in our application review. Due to the competitive nature of some of our programs, admission expectations may be different for students pursuing majors in business, engineering, dance, and music. We encourage you to visit our direct entry page to learn more.


The application fee is $60.00 US and is non-refundable.

Electronic payment is preferred. If you apply using the UW System Application, the fee can be paid by check or money order, drawn on a US bank and payable to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Send the check or money order to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Please include the applicant’s name with payment. Do not send cash.

Application fee waivers are available for applicants with financial hardship. Eligible student can request a fee waiver as part of their application.

The application fee is not required if your last school attended is a UW System institution and it is within one year of enrollment as a degree seeking student at that institution.


As part of our holistic review, we refer to the essays you submit to understand more about you. What you choose to share gives us an idea of who you are and what you want to accomplish as part of our community. Tell us about you and your unique story to help us know you beyond your GPA and test scores. Your essays might also be used for campus program and scholarship review.

You will need to answer the following prompts:

  • This part is all about you. Tell us about something you’ve done — academically or personally — and what you’ve learned from it. Was it a success or a challenge? Did it represent a turning point in your life? How did this particular moment in your life influence you, and how will it continue to influence you as you pursue your college education?
  • Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided, please describe your areas of possible academic interest.

If you are applying to transfer from another UW System institution, you will only be required to submit the second essay.


College Transcripts:

We require course and grade information from your enrollment in any and all colleges and universities. This should include all college-level coursework completed to date, including your current term in progress, and (if applicable) college classes taken while in high school.

You must submit an official transcript from all institutions(s) in which you were enrolled to meet the course and grade information requirement to complete your application for admission.

Official transcripts should be sent directly from each school attended.

Electronic transcripts must be sent through a secure, approved document sending service to Transcripts sent through email, as an attachment, will NOT be accepted as official and should not be sent to this email address. Paper transcripts sent to our office must bear an official school seal or be printed on the school’s custom watermarked/security paper.

If your school is unable to send your application materials by postal mail or a secure electronic sending service, a drop box is available at 333 East Campus Mall, for your convenience. The drop box is located in the main lobby of the building, on the first floor near the elevators. Items placed in the drop box will not be returned unless approved by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment in advance. If you only have one copy of your official document(s), please contact us at BEFORE dropping off your documents.

Applicants that are currently or were previously enrolled at UW College, a UW System branch campus, or UW Colleges Online must submit their transcripts according to the UW System guidelines.

Students applying from outside the United States can find country-specific official transcript requirements here.

High School Transcripts:

We require official high school transcript(s), sent to us by your school. We review your high school record to check for proof of graduation, the completion of core preparation requirements, and to learn more about your educational background. High school grades will play a more important role in the admission review for applicants who have completed fewer transferable college credits. If you earned your General Educational Development (GED) certificate or a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED), submit your official score report in addition to all high school or home school transcripts.

Electronic transcripts must be sent through a secure document sending service to Transcripts sent through email, as an attachment, will not be accepted as official. Paper transcripts sent to our office must bear an official school seal or be printed on the school’s custom watermarked/security paper.


We require you to submit one letter of recommendation written by someone who can attest to your academic ability, such as a teacher, school counselor, or faculty member. Students with an interest in engineering are encouraged to obtain a letter of recommendation from a math or science teacher. Remember to have a discussion with your chosen recommender first to see if they are willing and able to provide a letter.*

We encourage applicants who have been away from formal classroom teaching for an extended period to request a letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to their academic potential, such as an employer (preferably a supervisor or manager), a program or departmental trainer, or some other individual in an official instructional capacity.

*While we would prefer to receive a letter from the most recent year/semester, many students are taking courses virtually due to COVID-19 and making connections virtually may be challenging for some students. If you think a letter from a past high school teacher, high school counselor, college teacher, or academic advisor can speak to your current strengths as a student, we will accept those letters to make admission decisions.

Recommendations that are mailed to our office must include the applicant’s full name, birth date, and campus ID number (if known). Additionally, letters of recommendation from a school staff member may also be sent through Naviance. Please note that letters of recommendation expire after one year from the date it is written.


Scores from either the ACT or the SAT are not required of transfer applicants. However, you are welcome to provide us your scores. Your results will be considered as supplemental academic information and may help strengthen your application. Test scores can be sent directly from the testing service. Our test code is 4656 for the ACT and 1846 for the SAT. Do not send your results rush (SAT) or priority (ACT); we receive all scores electronically on a daily basis so there is not an advantage to rush or priority delivery.


Transfer applicants whose native language is not English must submit a TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo English Test (DET) score (effective for 2021) unless English was the primary language of instruction in all four years of secondary school or a college level English composition course was successfully completed at an accredited US institution.

English proficiency exam scores can be self-reported. You may also self-report test scores through the MyUW Student Center (beginning September 1 and after your application is received and processed).

Note: Official test scores will be required prior to enrollment. Incorrect reporting of test scores may result in your admission offer being revoked.

Our TOEFL test code is 1846. TOEFL must be submitted electronically from the testing service. We do not accept the IELTS electronically. Please have a paper copy of your results sent directly from the testing agency to our office through the mail. Be sure to give additional time for this process. Duolingo scores should be sent to us electronically through the DET testing site by selecting “University of Wisconsin-Madison” in the undergraduate category. The DET should be sent with sub-scores.

If you feel that you qualify for a TOEFL, IELTS, or DET waiver based upon the requirements above, please submit all required transcripts to our office. Other test scores such as ACT or SAT score do not meet the requirements for a waiver. Once your transcripts are received in our office (are no longer displayed on your to-do list in your Student Center), we will determine your waiver eligibility. Waivers will not be processed prior to receipt of both the admissions application and transcripts.