Non-Approved Programs

Students submitting a sign-up for transfer credit services for non-approved programs must abide by the University International Travel Policy. Many locations remain under Department of State (DoS) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) warning levels that will require approval of a waiver for travel as outlined in the University International Travel Policy. Students should check if the location for intended study is under a Travel Warning or Alert from the U.S. Department of State or the Center for Disease Control.  Under this policy, students planning to transfer academic credit from participation on a non-approved program must submit a request for waiver, prior to travel, for any location that remains under a level 3 or 4 U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory or a level 3 CDC Travel Health Notice.  Additionally, any country listed as “Level Unknown: COVID-19 Unknown” by the CDC will require waiver approval.

Questions about the waiver process may be directed to

IAP offers a credit transfer service for undergraduate students who participate in a non-approved study abroad program that has not been vetted by UW-Madison and is not affiliated with any of the study abroad offices at UW-Madison. This includes international students returning to their home country and who enroll in classes at a higher education institution in that country.

Pursuing a non-approved study abroad program requires significant independence. UW-Madison has not reviewed the quality of these programs and credit is not guaranteed. You have the responsibility to ensure the quality of these programs and should keep in mind that not all programs or courses are eligible for transfer credit. On non-approved programs, you earn transfer credit (unlike UW-Madison study abroad programs where students earn resident credit).

If you participate in a semester or yearlong non-approved program, you are not considered a UW-Madison student for the duration of the program. You will need to apply for re-admittance in order to return to UW-Madison and continue your studies here.  Re-admittance is completed through your student center. Apply for re-admittance

You are strongly encouraged to consider the many programs offered by UW-Madison before pursuing the non-approved study abroad program process.

If you understand the academic risks associated with participating in a non-approved program and wish to proceed, the following steps will help to guide you through the process. To receive transfer credit services for work completed abroad on a non-approved program, you will need to sign-up for the service below.

1. Research Your Program Options

IAP, as well as other study abroad offices at UW-Madison, offer a number of study abroad program options for various durations, all around the world. Make sure you have thoroughly explored potential options through UW. Take advantage of online resources as well as in-person advising before deciding that a non-approved study abroad program is a better fit for you. Explore approved study abroad options on the following websites:

International Academic Programs
CALS International Programs
College of Engineering
Wisconsin School of Business, International Programs

Common Differences between a UW-Madison Program and a Non-Approved Program

UW-Madison Program Non-Approved Program
UW Enrollment Maintains continuous UW enrollment no matter length of time abroad For semester or longer programs, you are un-enrolled from UW-Madison for the duration of your program.  You then must apply for re-admittance to return to campus.
Course Transfer Guaranteed resident credit Transfer credit, if approved, though credit is not guaranteed
Program Site and Academics Review Program sites and academics fully reviewed Program site and academics unknown
Support Support provided by study abroad staff at all stages of program Support only provided by IAP for course transfer process
Financial Aid Usually aid eligible May not be aid eligible

2. Choosing a Non-Approved Program

  • When looking at other universities and study abroad program providers that offer opportunities to complete coursework abroad, be sure to review the organization’s web site. Is there clear information about academics, support staff, emergency procedures, orientation, housing, application process, and program fees?
  • Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss your degree requirements and how this program fits within them. Keep in mind that you will not receive UW-Madison in-residence credit for coursework completed on a non-approved study abroad program.
  • Check if the country where you intend to study is under a Travel Warning or Alert from the U.S. Department of State or the Center for Disease Control. Per UW-Madison Policy, students are not allowed to travel under University auspices to locations under a Travel Warning. “Travel Warning locations” are identified as locations that are under a U.S. Department of State Level 3 or Level 4 advisory and/or a CDC Notice Warning Level 3; or those locations additionally identified by the Provost as representing significant health or safety risks for the university’s travelers. Please note that locations within countries may be characterized with different advisories levels than the country itself, and that travel to locations that are characterized by a Level 3 or Level 4 within a country that is characterized as a Level 1 or Level 2 are also considered under a “Travel Warning.” Students who wish to receive transfer credit services for non-approved programs and have a compelling educational reason to travel to or remain in such locations may submit a Travel Warning Waiver Exemption prior to travel. Students who receive waiver approval will be eligible to sign-up for transfer credit services.
  • Note about China: Previously summer programs in China required certification from the China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (CHESICC) in order to be eligible for course transfer.  CHESICC is no longer providing certification for summer programs in China. For summer 2018 programs in China   students are required to provide a letter from their university of study verifying that the courses they took are part of a degree program.  After summer 2018 summer courses taken at Chinese universities will not be eligible for transfer credit.
  • Students choosing to do a UW-Madison program as a non-approved student, that is applying to the program directly instead of through IAP, are not eligible to  use the same course equivalencies listed on that program web page; all courses will need to be newly reviewed for transfer credit and are not guaranteed.

3. Academics of Transfer Course Equivalent Requests

  • Not all non-approved study abroad programs are eligible for transfer credit. Before applying for a non-approved program, you should do your best to ensure that courses are similar in credit, contact hours, and content to a UW-Madison course. In order to receive transfer credit, the non-approved study abroad program must issue an official transcript from an accredited tertiary-level, degree-granting institution. For program providers, transcripts are issued by the program’s school of record.
  • Review the Academics FAQs for more detailed information about:
    • Transfer Course Equivalent Requests (TCERs)
    • accreditation requirements
    • transferrable courses and your UW-Madison degree
    • credit limits for summer programs
  • Review approved and denied transfer credit equivalents: (This is a list of courses that have already been reviewed)
  • If you are a semester or academic year student and the course(s) you intend to take abroad are not listed on the above lists, you will not know your transfer course equivalents until IAP has received your final non-approved program transcript.
  • To have credit transferred to UW-Madison, you are required to have an official transcript issued by the school of record and sent to the following address:

Non-Approved Study Abroad Programs Transfer Credit Services
International Academic Programs
301 Red Gym
716 Langdon St.
Madison, WI 53706

An electronic transcript can be emailed directly to Note that some schools of record charge to issue an official transcript.

4. Applying to a Non-Approved Program

You must contact the foreign institution or sponsoring study abroad program directly for complete information and an application.

For questions about housing, arrivals, visas, course registration, etc., contact your non-approved study abroad program directly.

IAP cannot sign any program specific forms; the only form we can sign is the program approval request form below.

If your non-approved study abroad program requires you get approval from UW-Madison, print out the Program Approval Request form and complete as directed. Note, the program approval can only be signed once you have completed the sign up process below.

5. Sign-up to Receive Transfer Credit Services for Work Completed Abroad

All UW-Madison undergraduate students interested in receiving transfer credit for a non-approved program must sign-up through IAP. After you have applied to the foreign institution or sponsoring study abroad program, sign-up to receive transfer credit services. You do not need to be accepted by the non-approved study abroad program to start this sign-up process. Upon sign-up, IAP will review your non-approved program information and determine whether you are eligible to receive transfer credit. This does not guarantee that your courses will be approved for transfer credit.

Log In Here to Sign Up (With Your Netid Login)

****Notification of acceptance to this service will be sent to you within two weeks of receipt of all your sign-up materials. Acceptance to receive transfer credit services does not guarantee that you will receive transfer credit for every course you take on your non-approved study abroad program. You will receive access to an online portal where you will submit the course requests for the courses you wish to have reviewed for transfer credit. For semester and year programs, course requests will not be reviewed until the final transcript is received.

6. Financial Information

You will pay any non-approved program fees directly to the organization/university sponsoring the program.

You may or may not be eligible for financial aid for your non-approved program. Review student financial aid information and consortium agreement details provided by the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA). Please consult OSFA directly for more information.

You may research scholarship opportunities offered by your non-approved study abroad program. Consult the Scholarship Chart on the IAP website to identify national scholarships that you might be eligible for.

If you have questions about this process, contact IAP at

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