Information for International Students

Over 4,000 international students from more than 130 countries choose to study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and our university is consistently ranked among the top 20 universities in the United States with the largest number of international students. In 2014, the University of Wisconsin–Madison ranked 24th among world universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The information provided for international students is for those who have completed some or all of their secondary schooling outside of the United States and/or need visas in order to study or live in the United States. This includes anyone who is not a US citizen, permanent resident, or refugee.

Admission Application Process

Information regarding the admission process, deadlines, and application instructions is different for freshman students and transfer students. Use the following information to determine whether or not you should apply as a freshman or transfer student.

Freshmen: Have completed secondary-level education (equal to a US high school diploma) and have not yet enrolled at a college or university. Begin the freshman application process.

Transfer students: Have completed secondary-level education and have earned credits from a college or university (post-secondary) program of study. Begin the transfer student application process.


Generally, admitted students have an Internet-based TOEFL score in the 95-105 range (587-620 on the paper-based test) or an IELTS score of 6.5-7.5. 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 to our office through the mail.

Freshmen: Freshman applicants from non-English speaking countries must submit a TOEFL or IELTS score, unless English was the language of instruction for all courses in all years of secondary school.

Transfer students: Transfer applicants from non-English speaking countries must submit a TOEFL or IELTS score, unless they have completed a college level English composition course at a U.S. college or university.

If you feel that you qualify for a TOEFL or IELTS waiver based upon the requirements above, please submit all required transcripts to our office as soon as possible. Once your transcripts are marked as "Received" on your Student Center, please send an email to our office and a counselor will determine if the waiver criteria are met.

Financing Your Education

The cost of attendance is the total amount of tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, and other estimated school expenses. Students on F-1 or J-1 student visas are not eligible to receive federal financial aid from the university. Information on funding and scholarships for international students is provided by International Student Services. Scholarships@UW–Madison also features a list of academic and merit opportunities offered by schools and colleges within the university and all students that submit an admissions application are eligible to apply for these scholarships.

Financial Verification Form

Students applying for the fall term do not need to submit financial documentation at the time of application. If admitted to the university, students will need to submit the Financial Verification Form PDF with an official bank letter showing funds on deposit for one year of study.

U.S. immigration law requires international students to document their ability to pay the cost of attending (tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies and travel expenses) equal to one year of study. Admitted students will also receive more information about required financial documentation once they have been admitted.

Visa Information

A visa is required to enter the United States PDF, and most international students enter the country on an F-1 student visa. F-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas that are granted to applicants who want to pursue a full course of academic study at a US university. Some students may be required to hold a J-1 student visa by their sponsoring agency.

After you have been admitted, submit the Financial Verification Form PDF (Financial Verification Form Instructions PDF), provide proof of financial support, and a scanned copy of your passport. The university will review and process your financial documentation and send you the appropriate form, which is needed to apply for (or maintain) an F-1 or J-1 visa.

Upon receiving the I-20, students need to make an appointment to apply for a student visa at a US embassy or consulate in their home country. Changes in US visa laws and regulations have increased the amount of time it can take to get a visa so processing times will vary. Typically they will require your letter of admission, I-20 form, official copies of your financial support documents, and other supporting materials as needed.

Transfer Credit

Our international admissions counselors review all international academic records for transfer credit. Once a student has been admitted and has confirmed enrollment, our counselors evaluate international course work and appropriately transfer all transferable credit to UW–Madison. Admitted international students requesting transfer credit must submit detailed course descriptions in both the original language and English when confirming their enrollment.

All incoming international transfer students, including those who have completed an English course that has been deemed equivalent to our Communication A requirement, will be asked to complete our ESLAT (English as a Second Language Assessment Test) placement test before attending orientation. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment will only grant credit for previously completed English coursework if the student tests into or places out of our English 118 course, which fulfills our Communication A requirement. Our office has implemented this policy to ensure all international students are proficient enough in English to be successful in their academic coursework.

Please note that any English coursework or native language coursework completed at a non-U.S. institution is not transferable to UW–Madison, as this type of coursework is not offered at university-level in the United States.

Please be sure to read the Transfer Credit section of our website for more information on transfer credit policies.

Health Insurance

UW–Madison requires that all international students on nonimmigrant visas have adequate medical insurance during all periods of enrollment. Students may choose the university's Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) or another comparable insurance plan approved by UW Health Services. For more information about SHIP, including enrollment forms, rates, and waiver guidelines, visit the Student Health Insurance Plan website.

International Student Services

The International Student Services website provides information about on-campus programming, family resources, the student handbook, and newsletters that showcase the latest events and important announcements. Explore the guide for international students, which features students discussing international student life, information about obtaining a visa and maintaining your status, and helpful details about academics, student life, and life in the City of Madison.