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Your Guide to University of Wisconsin–Madison Admissions

17 Mar, 2023
Your Guide to University of Wisconsin–Madison Admissions

UW–Madison is a world-renowned academic institution that is known as one of America's 'Public Ivy' universities.

The flagship campus of the UW system (University of Wisconsin system), it prides itself on making the college experience attainable and affordable for every talented student.

In this post, we explore the university, its admissions process and requirements, and what you can expect life to be like as a student there.

Table of Contents

An Overview of the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Admissions Process and Requirements

International Students

Student Life


How Kings Can Help You Study at UW-Madison

An Overview of the University of Wisconsin - Madison

Located in Madison, the vibrant state capital of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) is a public university that was founded in 1848. It is currently #38 in the National Universities category of the US News and World Report education rankings.

Home to 13 colleges and schools, the university’s main campus stretches over 900 acres along the southern shore of Lake Mendota. Its student body of 40,000 collectively represents 50 states and almost 120 countries

University of Wisconsin-Madison homepage screen grab
Image source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

One of the university’s longest traditions is the ‘Wisconsin Idea’ – the principle that the university should enhance people’s lives beyond the classroom. The Idea has been synonymous with Wisconsin for over 100 years and has become the primary ethos of the university’s outreach efforts across the globe.

A research university, UW has been home to number of pioneering achievements, such as the discovery of vitamins in the early 20th century and the cultivation of embryonic stem cells in the late 20th century. Since its inception, over a dozen Nobel Prize awards have been awarded to faculty and alumni of UW.

Other notable alumni include former US Vice President Dick Cheney, aviator Charles Lindbergh and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Academic programs

The student-faculty ratio at UW-Madison is 18:1, and the school has 46.3% of its classes with fewer than 20 students (US News and World Report).

There are 13 schools and colleges. The largest is the College of Letters and Science, which enrolls around half of the undergraduate population. This college covers areas as diverse as economics, linguistics, and zoology.

The University offers some 600 undergraduate and graduate majors and more than 9,000 courses. The most popular majors for undergraduates are biological/life sciences, business/marketing, engineering, and social sciences.

Campus life

Bascom Hill is the iconic main quadrangle that forms the historic core of the 900-acre University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. It is named after John Bascom, former president of the University of Wisconsin. At the top of the hill sits Bascom Hall, the main administration building for the campus, with a statue of President Abraham Lincoln at the entrance.

Kings GO: Madison student Chanwoong pictured in front of Bascom Hall.

UW-Madison has a very engaged and active student population, so there is no better place to experience a true American college campus. There are a host of rich campus traditions that connect current and former ‘Badgers’ (UW-Madison students and alumni) all over the world.

Outside of the classroom, Wisconsin has the reputation for having a very lively social life. With over 1000 student organizations, students can definitely find activities that interest them.

Individuals can also participate in school publications; University of Wisconsin is the only university with two daily newspapers: The Daily Cardinal (founded in 1892) and The Herald. The Journal of Undergraduate International Studies (JUIS) is also one of only two US undergraduate international studies journals in the country.

The University of Wisconsin competes as the Badgers in 22 NCAA Division I sports. The school competes in the B1G, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges.

Its on-campus stadium, Camp Randall, is the oldest and fifth largest stadium in the Big Ten Conference, with a capacity for 80,000.

Admissions Process and Requirements

UW–Madison Admissions considers a range of factors when reviewing applications, including high school GPA, standardized test scores (ACT or SAT), class rank, and the rigour of the high school curriculum. The university also considers extracurricular activities, leadership experience, and other achievements.

Even though some general guidelines may apply, specific requirements may vary by program, degree level, and individual circumstances.

The current acceptance rate for UW-Madison is 60% (US News and World Report).

More information on UW-Madison admissions requirements, including information on the application essay, letter of recommendation, and application fee, can be found on the university website

Deadlines & admissions notification

As a first-year applicant, students can apply using either the Common Application or the UW System Application.

Application deadlines for first year students at UW-Madison are as follows:

Decision Plan Application Deadline Materials Deadline Decision Released
Spring regular decision October 1* October 8* On or before December 31
Fall early action November 1* November 8* On or before January 31
Fall regular decision January 15* January 22* On or before March 31

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

Financial aid & scholarships

The estimated cost of attendance for the academic year 2023-24 at UW- Madison is $58,912 for non-Wisconsin residents (out-of-state). This includes Tuition & Fees, Required Course Material & Educational Supplies, Housing & Meals, and Transportation. The estimated cost for in-state students is $28,916.

UW–Madison offers both need- and merit-based aid, although students who are undocumented or international cannot submit a FAFSA. They may however be eligible for partial tuition scholarships.

International Students

Over 6,000 International students from more than 112 countries choose to study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, including over 3,000 undergraduate students. The university is consistently ranked among the top 20 universities in the United States with the largest number of international students.

International students need to apply as either a first-year or a transfer student. There is not a separate application process for an international student. Applications, required materials, and additional common international curricula must arrive with the university Admissions team by the same published deadlines as domestic students.

For those international students who feel they need academic or linguistic advancement prior to applying to UW-Madison, Kings can help.

Through our Guaranteed Outcome program (GO: Madison), students are able to begin their university studies at our partner institute (UW Oshkosh), before transferring to UW Madison to complete their degree.

Student Life

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an exciting and vibrant campus community. Student life is a huge part of any college experience and both the UW - Madison campus and wider Madison community offers thousands of ways for students to feel fulfilled in this regard.

Student organizations

There are over 1,000 student organizations and leadership opportunities, offering many ways to become involved on campus. A full list is available on the university website, but categories include: academic/career/, activism/advocacy, agricultural/environmental, arts/music, cultural/ethnic, health/wellness, media/publication, political interest, religious/spiritual, service/volunteer, Greek (sorority/fraternity), and sports/recreation.

A particularly popular club is the Wisconsin Hoofers - one of the oldest societies on campus, which offers students the chance to get involved in outdoor pursuits such as mountaineering, sailing and skiing.


The arts are an integral part of UW campus life, and students have access to a range of art and theater venues including the Chazen Museum of Art (home to the second-largest collection of art in Wisconsin), Red Gym Design Gallery, Atrium Gallery, Mandelbaum & Albert Vision Gallery, Skylight Gallery and the Wisconsin Union Theater.

Sports and recreation

The Badger athletics teams represent UW- Madison in the varsity sports. Sports clubs and intramurals are also offered to keep students active outside of study; there are currently more than 40 different sport clubs―student-run organizations that practice and compete at the local, regional, national, and international level. Wisconsin's loveable mascot, Bucky Badger (Bucky), has always ranked high in fan appeal!

Health and well-being

University Recreation & Wellbeing offers students the opportunity to use workout facilities, swim, join sports clubs, or even take a noncredit group fitness course such as Zumba or Cardio.

All fee-paying students have access to University Health Services (UHS), a student health clinic located on campus. Health professionals at UHS offer routine health care, mental health counseling and psychiatry, personal wellness, and more. Most of the services provided by UHS are free.


Living on campus is an essential part of the undergraduate experience at UW-Madison. There are currently over 20 residence halls, including learning communities and affinity communities spread across two distinct neighborhoods, and with some of the lowest on-campus housing rates in the Big Ten.

Madison’s unique geography means that campus, downtown, and off-campus student housing are all located in the same area (central).

The city of Madison

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash

Madison itself is rated highly and frequently tops "best" lists for quality of life, including the #3 Best Place to Live, #1 Greatest College Town, and #1 Nicest City in America, Madison offers the perks of a big city and the comfort and friendliness of a small town. There are endless options for entertainment and recreation here - whatever the season.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is UW-Madison hard to get into?

In the state of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin is one of the most selective schools. The current acceptance rate for UW-Madison is 60% (US News and World Report).

2. What’s a GPA?

A grade point average is the sum of all course grades throughout a student's high school career divided by the total number of credits. Most high schools (and colleges) report grades on a 4.0 scale. The top grade, an A, equals a 4.0.

3. What GPA do you need to get into the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

Applicants for first year entry are expected to achieve a high level of performance in their course work and an increasingly strong academic record. They typically see unweighted, academic GPAs between a 3.8 and a 4.0.

4. What are the average SAT scores at UW-Madison?

According to the US News and World Report half the applicants admitted to the University of Wisconsin have a SAT score between 1340 and 1510 or an ACT score of 28 and 32.

However, in light of the limited availability of ACT and SAT testing because of COVID-19, the University of Wisconsin–Madison received authorization from the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to waive the requirement for applicants to submit an ACT or SAT test score as a part of their application to the university through the spring 2025 term.

How Kings Can Help You Study at UW-Madison

At Kings, we have designed our GO (Guaranteed Outcome) programs specifically to offer streamlined paths to the very best universities in the USA.

UW students

Students begin their university life at one of our partner schools, then with on-campus guidance and support from experts, apply as a transfer student in their second or third year to a Top 50 or Top 100 school, such as the University of Wisconsin - Madison. It’s from one of these prestigious institutions that they graduate.

We also offer a GO: Wisconsin program, which enables students to complete their whole 4 year degree at UW-Oshkosh.

Learn more about how Kings can help you graduate from the University of Madison, or another top ranked US university

If you would like to receive more detailed information about our programs and locations, please get in touch with us at