Ways to Earn Credit

UW-Madison awards credit through a variety of avenues, listed below in the Ways to Earn Credit table. Degree seeking students use credits to fulfill their requirements where the culmination of completing these requirements and minimum number of credits results in conferral of an award (degree, major, certificate, etc.). Consult the Ways to Earn Credit policy for details.

Table 1. Ways to Earn Credit

Course-Based Credit

Military Credit

Credit for Prior Learning

(at UW-Madison)
(from another institution)
(from the Joint Service Transcript)
Credit by Department Exam Retroactive Foreign Language Credit Third-Party Credit by Exam Portfolio Review
(not currently available at UW-Madison)

Guide is the official repository of in-residence credit, Credit by Departmental Exam, Retroactive Foreign Language Credit, and Third-Party Credit by Exam ways to earn credit at UW-Madison.

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In-Residence UW-Madison Coursework

Any for-credit course a student enrolls in at UW-Madison counts as a way to earn credit. All courses must be proposed and approved through governance using Lumen Courses (requires authentication and authorization for access). See the Course Proposal page for more information about this process.

Transfer Credit

Undergraduate Transfer Credit

Students may transfer credit from another institution or as military credit. For limitations on this type of credit, see the Ways to Earn Credit Policy. UW-Madison complies with UW-System’s policy on transfer credit and State Statues 36.31(4). For more information, contact the Credit Evaluation Services office in the Office of the Registrar who administers credit evaluation for transfer and military credit.

Graduate Transfer Credit

The Graduate School allows programs to transfer credits for previous coursework. A student’s program may decide to accept transfer credits toward fulfillment of minimum degree, minimum graduate coursework, graduate/professional certificate, and doctoral minor credit requirements. Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework Policy for information related to transfer credit types, limitations, and related policies. All prior coursework counting toward a degree that was earned outside of the Graduate career at UW-Madison must be entered in the Graduate Student Portal (My Grad Portal) by the program to be recorded in the Student Information System (SIS) and on a student’s transcript.

Departmental Placement Exam and Credit by Departmental Exam (Credit for Prior Learning)

Departments can offer students the opportunity to demonstrate their academic background in two separate ways, allowing for a reduced time-to-degree. See the related policies for appropriate uses of each exam.

All Departmental Placement Examinations and Credit by Departmental Exams must proposed in Lumen Exams (requires authentication) and approved through workflow. They must be reviewed and approved by the subject, school or college, and the University Curriculum Committee prior to implementation.

Departmental Placement Exams

Departments can propose placement exams that allow students to demonstrate the academic knowledge, skills or experience required for foundational coursework within their subject array. This allows students to bypass courses where they have already mastered the content freeing up space for students who may need a seat in those courses.

Credit by Departmental Exam

Departments can propose credit by exams that allow students to demonstrate acquired knowledge, skills, and competencies through experiences that are academic in nature but may not necessarily correspond to a setting in which UW–Madison awards traditional credit. The Credit by Department Exam is a way for students to demonstrate this in a way that provides credit to a specific UW-Madison course.

Third-Party Test Credits (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Advanced-Level, CLEP) (Credit for Prior Learning)

UW–Madison grants credits related to third-party test credits. These are traditionally completed during high school or other college-level knowledge acquisition outside of the classroom. See the policy for more information about adding or changing equivalencies, and recording credit on a student’s record. All new, change, or discontinuation of equivalencies must be reviewed and approved by the University Curriculum Committee.

Available Credit Equivalents