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UW-Madison Degree Credit for ESL Courses

The following provides information about earning ESL credit for undergraduate students who are required to take the English as a Second Language Assessment Test (ESLAT) during the admission process.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison eliminated the limit on the number of English as a Second Language (ESL) course credits included in an undergraduate degree effective Fall 2018.   Prior to Fall 2018, students could only count six (6) credits of ESL courses toward their degree, even if students took more than six credits.   Effective the week of September 10, 2018, students'  DARS reports will allow them degree credit for all of the ESL courses they have taken.   These courses will generally count as elective (free elective) credit for L&S undergraduate students.   This new rule may reduce the number of credits a student may need to graduate.  

If an L&S undergraduate student who matriculated at UW-Madison prior to Fall 2018 finds that the new ESL rule is having a negative impact on them graduating, the student or the student's advisor should send an email to L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services for more assistance.  Students and/or their advisor should make sure they include the following information in their email when communicating with Academic Deans' Services:

  1. Student's full name (as appears on the student's official UW-Madison records)
  2. Student's UW-Madison ID number
  3. The description of the issue/problem and the ESL course(s) in question
**Please note that L&S undergraduate students who matriculated in Fall 2018 onward must follow the new rules and cannot opt to follow the ESL rules in place prior to Fall 2018.  More detailed information comparing old ESL rules with the new rules effective September 2018 can be found at what's up with ESL.

Removed the rules restricting the transfer of introductory composition credits for ESL students.

Prior to Fall 2018, incoming ESL students with transfer credits may have been denied credit for Communications A and other introductory composition courses if they were required to satisfy ESL 118 (Academic Writing II).   If a student matriculated at UW-Madison prior to Fall 2018 and was denied credit for transfer courses or AP/IB English credits, the student should use the following link to request reevaluation of their credits:

The reevaluation process can take up to two (2) weeks.

Who is required to satisfy ESL 118?

Students who were required by the admission process to take the English as a Second Language Assessment Test and either complete or test out of ESL 118 are still required to do so.  Information about the Madison English as a Second Language Assessment Test can be found at:

General information about ESL courses can be found at:

For general questions, please contact the L&S Academic Dean's Office
Phone: (608) 262-0617


KeywordsEnglish as a Second Language, ESL, ESL 118, English language proficiency, Comm A, TOEFL, IELTS, ESLAT, MSN-ESLAT   Doc ID85642
OwnerTori R.GroupL&S KB
Created2018-09-12 19:16:23Updated2021-06-07 13:28:37
SitesL&S KB
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