Non-Approved Programs

Non-approved programs are those that have not been vetted by UW-Madison and are 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. You are strongly encouraged to consider the many approved programs offered by UW-Madison before applying to and participating on a non-approved study abroad program.

Important Information for UW-Madison Students Participating on Non-approved Program

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What choices do I have for UW-Madison approved programs?

UW-Madison offers study abroad program options for various durations, all around the world. 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

What is the difference between a UW-Madison approved program and a non-approved program?

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

Difference 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 reentry to return to campus.
Course Transfer Guaranteed in-residence 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 Students work directly with their program provider or host institution. Study Abroad staff at UW-Madison does not provide advising for non-approved programs.
Financial Aid Usually aid eligible May not be aid eligible
Scholarships Access to UW-Madison study abroad scholarships May not apply or use UW-Madison scholarships towards study abroad costs

I received a UW-Madison scholarship to support my student abroad and I want to participate on a non-approved program, can I do that?

For students receiving an NSEP Boren, Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) or Brittingham Viking Organization scholarship and who are considering a non-approved program instead of an approved program, please contact our office for further information about our UW Undergraduate Scholarship Program. If you received a different scholarship then those lists please contact the program advisor for the Undergraduate Scholarship Program for further guidance.

Should I meet with my major academic advisor if I want to study on a non-approved study abroad program?

Yes, you should meet with your major Academic Advisor to discuss your degree requirements and how and if credit from a non-approved program can or cannot fulfill those requirements. Keep in mind that you will receive Transfer Credit and not UW-Madison In-Residence credit for coursework completed on a non-approved study abroad program. Academic advisors should not sign any program related documents for your non-approved program.

Can I meet with a study abroad advisor at UW-Madison to talk about my non-approved program and preparations to go abroad?

No. Our staff can only provide advising for our approved study abroad programs. For all questions about your non-approved program or pre-departure preparation, you should contact your program staff directly.

How do I request transfer credit for a non-approved program to be evaluated?

UW-Madison’s Office of the Registrar evaluates transfer credit for students who have completed coursework on a non-approved study abroad program. This evaluation is completed only after receiving the official college transcript. For more information on the process and necessary steps, please visit the Registrar’s website.

How do I get approval forms signed for my non-approved program?

Your program may ask for approval from your home institution. You should let program staff know that you are doing this program independently of UW-Madison. If you need verification of your UW-Madison enrollment for your program application, you can obtain an official PDF letter certifying enrollment status (full-time, half-time, etc.) through Academic Records in your Student Center. The PDF version is an official letter. Forms requiring verification of academic or disciplinary standing can be sent to the Registrar’s Office at

UW-Madison study abroad staff and academic advisors will not sign these forms.

Am I considered a UW-Madison student when I participate on a non-approved program?

If you participate in a fall/spring 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 reentry in order to return to UW-Madison and continue your studies here.  Reentry is completed through your student center. Apply for reentry

If you are participating on a non-approved program during summer term, though your participation is wholly unaffiliated with your status as a UW-Madison student, your enrollment status at UW-Madison does not change and you DO NOT need to apply for reentry.

Who do I pay for my non-approved program fees?

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

Can I use my financial aid to pay for my non-approved program?

You may or may not be eligible for financial aid for your non-approved program. It is solely your responsibility to confirm this. Please consult OSFA directly for more information.