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Admissions and New Student Communication
This resource provides an overview of admissions steps, timeline, and various communication that new fall semester admits receive from the university. The steps and timing are relevant to spring and summer admits too, although dates will be different.
Click the plus (+) icons to read details about each step.
Applicant receives email to activate their application account that they just created. View a sample of this email.
After submitting the application, applicant receives an email confirming successful submission. View a sample of this email.
A campus ID is generated by SIS that evening and an email containing the campus ID number is sent to the applicant the next day. The upload runs Monday through Saturday in the PM. Those who apply on Sunday will not receive an email until Tuesday morning. View a sample of this email.
Applicant will appear in SIS after the nightly upload.
Programs set their own application deadlines by term.
Most fall deadlines are late December or January.
Applicant Status Check states that the application is under review. (See COVID-19 guidance encouraging flexibility in admissions decisions.)
Applicant will not receive any communication from the Graduate School until program recommends for admission.
After program enters recommendation code of G60, the automated G02 code triggers an email instructing applicant to provide official transcripts. View a sample of this email.
If an applicant already has official transcripts in Applicant Review (e.g. if applicant sent official transcripts early), he/she will not receive the G02 code or transcript email. Graduate School staff will determine if the G02 code needs to be manually added to trigger the transcript email.
Graduate School transcript processing takes two weeks for processing during busy season; there are no further delays if everything is correct.
The Graduate School receives the official transcript and uploads the transcript in Applicant Review under Documents. The document type will be official transcript and programs can also review it or download the transcript for their records.
The Graduate School reviews official transcripts.
After admitting the applicant, the Graduate School begins the process of creating an I-20. This generally will take 2-3 business days. When the I-20 is ready for shipping, the Graduate School contacts the applicant by email through applicant review to make arrangements and waits for the applicant's response.
Funding is collected after the student is admitted. They are sent a link to log in to Terra Dotta, where they upload financial information and choose how the I-20 will be shipped. The program needs to send the student a funding letter, which the student uploads into Terra Dotta.
Admission is not complete until the Graduate School makes the official admission decision.
Newly admitted graduate applicants are not able to enroll in classes until early July. This leaves them in "limbo" during this time, since they are through the application process but not quite yet a graduate student.
Onboarding emails begin May 26, 2021. First is a welcome from the Dean.
Matriculation date is June 21, 2021 for fall 2021. Usually this is 2 weeks before enrollment.
The last step of the admissions process is matriculation. Matriculation occurs two weeks before the enrollment appointment date. At this point, admission panels grey out so admission staff can no longer make changes. The admissions stack is made available to the Registrar’s office so they know who is coming. The Registrar’s office runs term activation, which is the eligible to enroll file.
At term activation O365 (WiscMail) email address is assigned. Students can begin using O365 email and calendar, which will automatically appear for them in MyUW. No notification is sent to them about this.
The Office of the Registrar posts the enrollment appointment dates on their website. View the Office of the Registrar's email that is sent at matriculation.
The Bursar places Terms and Conditions enrollment holds, which inform graduate students of their financial responsibilities associated with enrolling for classes and explains consequences of not meeting obligations. Enrollment holds are removed automatically when students complete the agreement in their Student Center.
Second onboarding email sent in late June.
Enrollment date is June 28, 2021, varies slightly each year.
ISS emails new international students several times; for example, in 2018, July 12, July 27, August 3, and August 21.
New Graduate Student Welcome (TBD whether in-person or online) invitation sent July 20, 2021, reminder August 10.
Graduate students are held accountable to all Office of the Registrar and Graduate School deadlines after enrollment.
When students enroll in classes, they are able to get their Wiscards.
Students can pick up their bus pass the week before the semester begins, but must have their Wiscard first.
At this point they are Badgers! All campus resources are available to them.
New Graduate Student Welcome (TBD whether in-person or online) is the Wednesday before fall semester begins.
Other common questions:
- When are graduate students eligible for financial aid? Does the Office of Student Financial Aid contact them?
There is no typical timing for graduate students when it comes to financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) becomes available each year on October 1st for the following academic year. For example, the 2021-2022 FAFSA became available October 1, 2020. Students could then submit that FAFSA throughout the entire academic year the funding is for. This means a graduate student first attending during the 2021-2022 academic year could wait until April 2022 to submit their FAFSA and still get financial aid for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Many graduate students wait to submit the FAFSA until they know whether they have been awarded other funding like assistantships. Graduate students are also much more likely than undergrads to submit the FAFSA after they’ve gotten their tuition bill and sometimes even after the academic year has begun. The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) recommends that if you need financial aid for the fall tuition deadline, to have it submitted by July at the latest.
The OSFA does not reach out to prospective graduate students to prompt them to submit the FAFSA. They do remind continuing graduate students when the FAFSA becomes available each fall, as well as remind them of other resources the office provides.
If a graduate student submits the FAFSA to apply for financial aid, OSFA will communicate with them in the following ways: an email PDF of the financial aid offer; and an email notification that first time federal loan borrowers are required to complete a Master Promissory Note and typically Entrance Counseling.
- When can newly admitted graduate students can apply for jobs on the Student Jobs portal?
The Student Jobs portal is public access, so anyone can view posted positions at any time. UW-Madison students will be able apply for UW-Madison opportunities within the portal utilizing their NetID once they have enrolled at UW-Madison or by creating an account. However, HR has some more specifications for when they can begin working:
Semester Eligibility. A student may not be employed prior to the first payroll calendar day of the student's first semester of enrollment. Summer eligibility is the only exception (see below). Students who graduate, or complete an academic semester and will not be enrolling in the following semester may continue to be employed as a Student Hourly only through the last day of the student hourly pay period of the completed semester. Students who withdraw from school during a semester are no longer eligible for Student Hourly employment as of the date of withdrawal.
Summer Eligibility. Any student who has been accepted for fall enrollment, or is continuing in the fall semester after completion of the spring semester or is enrolled during the summer is eligible for summer employment. For non-UW–Madison students, the unit must confirm the individual’s eligibility as stated above.
Note that each job will have different application deadlines and start dates.
- When can newly admitted graduate students access and apply for funding through the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH)?
Anyone will have access to view the various funds offered through WiSH. But a student needs to have activated his/her NetID and password to be able to access the application and tracking portion of the website.