Application Tips

Your application will receive a thorough review from a professional admissions counselor. Admission to our university is holistic, competitive, and selective. We consider your performance in rigorous course work, written statements, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and an optional letter of recommendation. Counselors are also looking for sustained involvement in activities in or out of school, leadership, community involvements, research, or any special gifts or talents that you would bring to our university.

Here are a few tips to help you get started, but contact our office if you have questions along the way.

Provide a current email address

We need to have an accurate email address on file for you to share important reminders. We also deliver you a notification by email when your admissions decision is available. Our office prefers to communicate directly with applicants throughout the admissions process, so we ask parents and family members to sign up with the Parent Program to get information about the university.

Apply online

We strongly recommend using the electronic application. You can begin the application once it becomes available after September 1st, and save your progress as you complete each section.

Know your deadlines

Keep track of admission deadlines and make sure required materials arrive in a timely manner. Any application submitted by the deadline and completed in a timely manner will be reviewed, so be sure to plan accordingly using the dates posted for freshmen and transfer students. If all required materials are not received in a timely manner, your application may not be reviewed.

Develop strong written statements

As part of our holistic review, we refer to the written statements 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.

Your statements might also be used for campus program and scholarship review. Remember to stand out from other applicants and help us to know you beyond your GPA and test scores. Here are the two questions that all applicants must answer:

Statement One:
Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it's important to you.

Statement Two:
Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, share with us the academic, extracurricular, or research opportunities you would take advantage of as a student. If applicable, provide details of any circumstance that could have had an impact on your academic performance and/or extracurricular involvement.

Keep these tips in mind as you work on your writing:

  • Develop your thoughts before you begin the writing process, and create an outline.
  • About 300-500 words for each statement should be sufficient.
  • Do not type directly into the web form. Instead, work on your draft in word processing software.
  • Allow time to develop and revisit your writing.
  • Check for spelling mistakes and ask someone to proofread your final version.
  • Be genuine and honest in your writing.

Request transcripts early

When you apply, we require official transcripts for all high school and college-level work you completed. Students applying for fall will be reminded in spring about submitting midyear or trimester grades. See what we need to receive for transfer students, homeschooled students, and reentry students.

Request test scores to be sent

Freshman applicants must submit test scores from the ACT or SAT. Please note that the writing portion of the ACT is no longer required. Our test code is 4656 for the ACT and 1846 for the SAT. We receive all scores electronically on a daily basis so there is not an advantage to rush or priority delivery.

Transfer students are not required to submit scores, but they will be considered if submitted.

International applicants should review our requirements for submitting either a TOEFL or IELTS score.

Get a letter of recommendation

While not required, we encourage you to submit one or two letters of recommendation. A letter written by someone who can attest to your academic ability can be helpful in our review of your application. Consider asking a school counselor, teacher, employer, coach, research mentor, or community leader. Remember to have a discussion with them first to see if they are willing and able to provide a letter.

Start by accessing our online Recommendation Form. This system allows you to request letters from each of your chosen contacts. By creating a log in and entering your information, your recommender(s) will receive an email with a link to upload a letter to our office. By using this system, you can also track the status of letters we receive on your behalf.

Check your application status

Once we receive your application for admission, we will send you an application acknowledgment email with instructions on how to monitor the status of your application. This online system will allow you to:

  • Check that we have received all of your application materials
  • Update your mailing address, phone number, and email address
  • View your admission decision
  • Monitor the status of your financial aid application
  • Accept or decline an offer of admission

If you do not submit an email address, you will receive the acknowledgement letter in the mail. This acknowledgement will include your campus ID number, which can then be used to activate your UW NetID and ultimately check your application status.

Ask questions and stay informed

Our office is available to help you through the process, and we welcome you to call or email. If you have a general question, reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Remember: never post your Student ID number, birth date, or government ID number online when asking your question.

Join our mailing list to receive reminders about our application deadlines, information about visiting campus, and to get the latest announcements from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.