University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering

Frequently asked questions

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When is graduation?

Students can graduate at the end of the Winter (December), Spring (May), or Summer (August) term. Students intending to graduate in May are allowed to participate in December commencement, and students intending to graduate in December are allowed to participate in May commencement. Because there is no August commencement ceremony, students graduating at this time may attend either the May or December commencement.


For information regarding the Commencement schedules, ordering attire, and parking please visit the following website:

How do I know if everything is set for me to graduate?

It is the student's responsibility to ensure that graduation requirements have been met. All students should regularly consult their DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) document in conjunction with their faculty advisor and/or academic advisor to ensure that all of the following requirements are met:


1. Have fulfilled the published graduation requirements of the appropriate BSCE curriculum, with all substitutions formally approved.


2. Have a PCR1 of at least 2.0 for those semesters and sessions containing the last 60 credits taken at UW-Madison or for all credits taken at UW-Madison if fewer than 60.


3. Have a PCR of at least 2.0 for all courses taken in the CEE department that count toward graduation.


4. Have completed at least 30 credits in residence in the College of Engineering, including 15 credits of work in the CEE department.


5. Have completed the last two semesters in residence in the College of Engineering as a full-time student.


6. Have a GPA of at least 2.0 for the last semester, combined last two semesters, and for all work completed at UW-Madison.


NOTE: In order to graduate your DARS report must say “All Requirements Complete” in your last semester it should say "All Requirements Complete - In-progress Courses Used." If your DARS report has any minus signs(-), see an advisor immediately!

How long will it take me to graduate; how much time do I have left?

It depends! While it is possible to graduate within four years (eight semesters), many students graduate within five years (nine or ten semesters). There are many factors which play a role in how long it takes a student to fulfill the requirements of his or her degree. Some of these factors include: credit load per semester (taking 12-15 per semester versus taking 16-18 credits), working on or off campus, involvement in UW or community organizations, study abroad programs, enrolling in summer courses, and working at a co-op or internship.


How do I find an internship or co-op?

The Cooperative Education Program allows for students to undertake full-time supervised paid engineering positions, interspersed within their period of full-time study, as part of the undergraduate education and degree program. Civil Engineering students typically work either January through August or May through December.


One academic degree credit is given for each semester of co-op work. A maximum of three co-op course credits (CEE 001) are acceptable as Applied Engineering electives toward the BS degree. The experience the student receives must be submitted in a four to five page work report to the co-op office to determine the assignment of the grade. The Department will consider a portion of the co-op credits for Design credits. The student’s CEE advisor (or another CEE faculty person) must evaluate the portion of the work that is Design in order for it to receive credit. A copy of the work report should be in the advisor’s student file if Design is awarded.


Students are strongly encouraged to pursue academic credit for their co-op assignment, regardless of whether it is necessary or not for their degree. It will be applicable toward satisfying requirements for PE licensing.


To participate in the co-op program, students must register the semester before the desired work period (no retro credits will be accepted). Engineering Career Services (M1002 Engineering Centers Building) coordinates the program. Students must go through John Archambault, the Director of the Cooperative Education and Internship Program in order to sign up for a co-op.


The typical recruiting timeline is shown below:

Fall Spring Activity
September January Career Services — first week of classes, on-going throughout the semester.
Career Fair — Typically over 200 employers participate to identify student for on-campus interviews.
October February On-campus interviews.
November March/April Second interviews, offers received
December May Pre-work meetings



Who is my advisor?

As a CEE student, students are assigned two advisors: one faculty advisor and one academic advisor. You can find the names of your advisors either in your MyUW account or in the top-left corner of your DARS report.


Think of your faculty advisor as a career advisor or mentor; one who can help find research opportunities, explore career options, and provide information about and assistance in applying to graduate school. Your academic advisor can help you with planning for graduation, enrolling in courses, and discuss issues relating to DARS reports. You can also ALWAYS see an academic advisor in 2304 Engineering Hall.

Study Abroad

Will my time to graduation be extended if I go abroad?

Credits earned on our programs are counted towards this requirement the same as if the students were physically in Madison during the time they are abroad. For this reason, in most cases, studying abroad does not delay graduation (depending on specific degree requirements in the major). It is a good idea to discuss your study abroad plans with your academic advisor.

How do I know what courses I take abroad count for credit at UW?

Before participants in a UW College of Engineering study abroad program depart for their program overseas, they are encouraged to review established course equivalencies for their specific program site. If engineering majors enroll in and complete courses in the course equivalency tables while abroad, they will receive the UW course credit with pass/fail marks on their official UW record.


See Course Equivalents in order to determine which courses from your abroad program have already been approved for UW credit. If you wish that a course which has not been previously approved to count for UW credit, please complete the Request for Course Equivalency Form and return to Student Services, room 2304 EH.


Part time

Can I take less than 12 credits?

The minimum credit load is 12 enrolled credits per semester. The maximum credit load is 20 enrolled credits per semester. For summer sessions and other sessions, there is no minimum credit load and the maximum credit load equals the number of weeks in the session. A student may freely choose to carry any number of credits between a minimum credit load and a maximum credit load, provided that the student is not on academic probation. A student may carry more than a maximum credit load, but only with the recommendation of an advisor and with written approval of the Dean.


A student who wishes to carry less than a minimum credit load must request written permission from the Dean to become a part-time student. To do so, schedule an appointment in 1150 EH to see Dean Woolston. Permission can only be requested for definitive reasons. Such reasons may include but are not limited to having one or more of the following:

  • - a documented disability.
  • - a necessity of employment or other outside obligation exceeding 15 hours per week.


If you don’t apply for specific part-time permission and you take less than 12 credits, you will be put on academic probation.


Pass Fail

Which courses can I take pass/fail?

CEE students can take up to two liberal studies courses pass/fail, except the required Economics and Environmental Issues Courses. NO other courses can be taken pass/fail. Note that an ethnic studies class taken P-F will fulfill the Ethnic Studies requirement for any degree in the College of Engineering, but may not do so for degrees in another UW-Madison school or college.

How do I take a course pass/fail?

Instructions for adding or canceling P-F requests on the online Course Change Request form can be found at the Registrar's Office. A student may change the grading option of a full-semester course to or from P-F only during the first four weeks of classes.


Design Credit

Where can I get a list of design credits?

A current list of design credits is located within the CEE Student Handbook on pages 25-26 and 35-38.


How do I know if I have enough design credits?

There are a few ways to determine how many design credits you have fulfilled or need to complete. First, you can look at your DARS report on the first page. Or you can determine your amount of design credits by completing the Curriculum Checklist, either with your advisor or independently. Required courses account for 13.5 of the required 16.0 design credits. Thus, students only need to find a minimum of 2.5 design credits in their applied engineering electives.



How do I declare an option?

The CEE Department offers three undergraduate option programs:

  • - Construction Engineering Management (CEM)

  • - Environmental Engineering (EV)

  • - Fluid Systems Engineering (FSE)


Once students have been accepted to the CEE Department they may choose to apply to one of the option programs. Students are not required to join an option program. Students who complete an option program still receive an accredited BS Degree in Civil Engineering and the transcript will show that the student has completed the option.


For more information or to apply to an option, please see Katie Bleier in 2304 Engineering Hall. For the EV option, admission is limited to 20 students per year. Applications to join the EV option are typically accepted in early October and early March. Due to the limited enrollment, admission to the EV option is based on a student’s academic performance. Enrollment in the CEM or FSE options may be done at any time. For the Construction Engineering Management option, complete the Option Declaration Form and return to Katie Bleier in 2304 EH.


How do I cancel an option program?

Complete the Option Cancellation Form and return to Katie Bleier in 2304 Engineering Hall.



Where can I get an official transcript?

Transcripts are ordered on-line at and cost $8.00. If you are looking for an unofficial transcript, you may print one from your MyUW portal.


Comm B

I’ve taken many writing courses/Communication B courses – do I still need to take EPD 397?

All CEE undergraduates need to take EPD 397. Exceptions are SOMETIMES made for second-degree students who have already graduated from college and are coming back for another degree in Civil Engineering. All appeals for second-degree students are made through the Chair of the EPD department, Laura Grossenbacher,



I want to take a CEE course next semester, but it is already full – can I get into the class?

In any given semester, courses may fill up quickly depending on demand. If a student has sufficient reason for enrolling in the closed section, and would like to be placed on a waiting list, he or she should contact Sherry Liantonio (email:, office: 2304a Engineering Hall) with the following information: 1) Reason for wanting to enroll in the closed section, 2) the five-digit section number, and 3) his or her campus ID number. The department will do whatever it can to assist students in enrolling for the courses they need. However, it cannot be guaranteed that students will be allowed in to the closed section.


What happens if I fail a course?

No matter what: if the course failed is a required course for the degree program, the course must be taken again and passed. There are a few other situations to consider:


The College of Engineering requires all students to maintain a Point Credit ratio or PCR of 2.0 in all courses taken within the CEE department. The PCR is calculated by the most recent grades in each class taken within the department from which a student is going to graduate. So, if a student were to take CEE 330 three different times, the grade from the third time would only be counted in the PCR.


As far as Grade Point Average (GPA) goes, all courses taken at UW-Madison will count towards this calculation.


If a student is not yet admitted into the CEE department and are completing the General College Requirements, the College of Engineering will allow him or her to replace a grade in one class which counts towards to required math/science GPA of 2.5. The students GPA will not change as a result of this policy, as it is enforced solely within the College of Engineering.


FE Exam

What is the FE Exam? Do I have to take it in order to graduate? When should I take it?

The FE exam focuses on the material you learned in your undergraduate degree program. A passing score is required in order to obtain a license as a Professional Engineer in the state of Wisconsin (as well as many others). CEE students should plan to take the FE exam during their senior year. The FE Exam is held twice per year, once every April and October. Registration for the test must be completed at least ninety days prior to the exam (mid-January for the April exam and mid-July for the October exam). To register for the exam online, go to the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing web page at:


Once you are on this web page, go to Section 2a and click on the link to Engineering Examination Services (EES) for detailed instructions.