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What is the senior residence requirement?
The L&S senior residence requirement states that all students must earn a minimum of 30 degree credits in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison after they have earned 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree. Credits are considered “in residence” if they are earned for UW-Madison course work, including courses taken online or on a UW-Madison administered study abroad program.
This requirement intends to ensure that the student’s depth of study–which should occur in more advanced-level courses within the major with faculty instruction, and in areas of research — are uniquely UW-Madison experiences. These credits do not have to be contiguous for the requirement to be met.
Because the requirement begins with the 87th credit, students have the flexibility to take four (4) credits out of residence in the senior year without needing to obtain special permission. Exceptions to the senior residence requirement may be granted in cases where a student is in good academic standing and has a specific need to take fewer than 30 credits in their senior year.
Courses that do not count as “in residence” include:
UW Extension and other transfer credit
courses completed at other UW System schools
courses taken through non UW-Madison administered study abroad programs
courses taken abroad through another institution
credit by examination
retroactive credits (retrocredits)
Why do colleges have a residence requirement?
Colleges use residence requirements to determine who earns a degree from their institution. In other words, colleges/universities want to make sure that students take a minimum number of credits at their institution to certify that a student has earned a major/degree at their institution. Without residence requirements, it would be possible for a student to earn a degree from an institution at which the student has only taken a single course.
Does the College of Letters & Science only have this one residence requirement?
No. The College also requires that a student complete 15 credits of upper level work “in residence” AND 15 credits “on campus” in each major a student has declared. There are no exceptions to these requirements.
“In residence” courses refer to both courses listed in the Course Search and Enroll app and courses taken while studying on a UW-Madison administered study abroad program regardless the mode of course instructions (in-person, remote, and hybrid). However, “on campus” courses refer to courses listed in the Course Search & Enroll app only regardless of their modality. Courses may be taken at any level to meet the 15-credit “on-campus” requirement in the major.
How do I know if the course I select will transfer to UW?
Any student who plans to take a course out of residence after he or she has earned 86 credits will need a residence exception. Because the requirement begins with the 87th credit, students have the flexibility to take four (4) credits out of residence in the senior year without needing to obtain special permission. Exceptions to the senior residence requirement may be granted in cases where a student is in good academic standing and has a specific need to take fewer than 30 credits in their senior year.
There are three common cases, where students request a residence exception:
A student who plans to take one or two courses during the summer at another institution, often requests a residence exception.
Students who study abroad on a non-UW Madison program during the second term/semester of their junior year often request a residence exception.
Students who need to take a single course to complete their graduation requirements and also need to leave Madison often request a residence exception.
Do courses taken abroad count as residence credit?
Courses taken on a UW-Madison sponsored study abroad program do count as residence credit. Courses taken on a non-UW Madison sponsored study abroad program do not count toward the L&S/UW-Madison residency requirement.
What happens if I do not request an exception or take more credits than the exception allows?
A student’s credits will be transferred to UW-Madison through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment based on their criteria. (See transfer credit for more information.) However, a student’s transfer credits will not reduce the number of credits s/he needs to meet the residence requirement until a formal request has been made for a residence exception.
Example: Sally has 85 degree credits when she goes abroad in a non-UW Madison program. She earns 15 credits while abroad. One of these credits will bring her up to 86. If she does not request an exception, the other fourteen credits will be transferred to her record, but she will still need 30 residence credits to complete the requirement. If she is allowed a 6 credit exception, she will only need 24 residence credits to complete the requirement.
What if I already fulfilled the senior residence requirement, but want to take a course out of residence to complete my degree?
Once a student has completed the senior residence requirement, s/he may take courses out of residence to complete his/her degree. Note, however, that courses taken out of residence will not have an impact on a student’s GPA or remedy any GPA deficiencies.
How soon will I receive a response?
Students will normally not receive a response to their online residence exception request unless there is a problem. Students will be able to see at the end of their DARS report within fourteen (14) business days if their residence exception has been approved. If a student does not receive an email or cannot see any special annotation at the end of his/her DARS regarding the residence exception, the student should call the L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans’ Services at 608.262.0617 for more assistance.