Off-Campus Transfer Students

Requirements and Resources for Off-Campus Transfer Students

The College of Engineering (CoE) welcomes off-campus transfer students who have completed coursework at another college or university after graduating from high school. Off-campus transfer students may apply for fall semester or spring semester admission. Transfer admission to one of the thirteen CoE undergraduate majors is a two-stage process.

Two-Stage Transfer Admission Process to CoE Programs

To be considered for direct admission to an engineering degree-granting program, off-campus transfer students must select an engineering program as their first-choice major on their application to UW-Madison. Applicants must also list a second choice major outside of the College of Engineering. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment selects off-campus transfer students for direct admission to the College of Engineering (Stage 1).

After admission decisions are released, the College of Engineering instructs directly admitted off-campus transfer students to submit a supplemental application for evaluation of program progression (Stage 2). CoE notifies students whether they have satisfied the progression requirements for their degree-granting engineering program before transfer, or whether they must meet course/credit/GPA requirements to satisfy the progression requirements after transfer.

Stage One: Admission to CoE With an Intended Engineering Major

Off-campus transfer students must establish a strong academic record in college that (1) fulfills the UW-Madison Transfer Admission Requirements, (2) includes engineering-related course work, and (3) does not exceed the College of Engineering’s 80 Credit Limit. They should also be able to (4) identify intended majors in engineering and in other UW-Madison schools or colleges.

(1) Fulfill the UW-Madison Transfer Admission Requirements.

Students must meet the general requirements for transfer admission to UW-Madison, including the study of a single foreign language for either two years in high school or two semesters in college. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment considers the student’s overall application in a comprehensive and holistic review process. For more details, see

(2) Demonstrate Success in Engineering-Related Course Work.

A student’s college academic record must demonstrate a strong match for their intended engineering program and a likelihood of success in full-time engineering course work to be taken immediately after transfer. Although admission is not guaranteed, strong applications include factors such as the following (these are guidelines, not a checklist):

Math, Science, Engineering Course Work

  • Math and science courses common to most engineering curricula—such as calculus, chemistry with lab, calculus-based physics with lab, calculus-based statistics, and computer programming. Recommended for strong preparation: at least four courses on the list of Core Math and Science Courses in the General College Requirements for Off Campus Transfer Students.
  • An introduction to engineering course is optional but strongly recommended, if available.
  • Engineering courses related to the intended major

Other Course Work, for Breadth of Experience

  • English composition, equivalent to Communication Part A
  • TOEFL or IELTS score, most successful international applicants have at least 105 TOEFL or 8.0 IELTS
  • Liberal studies course work (humanities, literature, and/or social science)
  • Course work in biology, geology, etc., depending upon the intended engineering major

Academic Performance

The Office of Admissions and Recruitment requires that admitted students must maintain their current course enrollment and grades, or admission for the upcoming semester may be canceled.

To ensure a successful transition to engineering studies, CoE expects a minimum 3.0 term GPA prior to transfer with no grades below a C (2.0 on 4.0 scale), in addition to the following: 

  • At least 24 transferable credits, including courses in progress at the time of application
  • Grades of B or better in all math, science, and engineering courses
  • At least one semester of grades on record at time of application
  • At least one semester of full-time (at least 12 credits) course work.
  • A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (most successful applicants have at least 3.2-4.0).
  • A sustained pattern of term GPAs of at least 3.0.
  • Consistent success in increasingly challenging course work.

Note:  Due to high student demand, several CoE majors have been especially selective and competitive in recent semesters: biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering.

Supplemental Factors

Supplemental factors may also be considered, such as a university application statement that addresses interest in engineering; co-curricular activities, work, and/or military service; projects or research; and engineering-related experience.

(3) Do Not Exceed the 80 Credit Limit.

80 Credit Limit. Students who have earned more than 80 semester credits at the time of application are not eligible to apply for transfer admission to the College of Engineering.

The 80 credits include:

  • All course credits earned at the time of application, including UW-Madison credits and transferable credits from other colleges and universities

The 80 credits do not include:

  • Credits earned in the Spring 2020 semester
  • In-progress credits (credits taken in the semester or trimester immediately preceding application term)
  • Retroactive foreign language credits
  • Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
  • GCE Advanced Level (A-Level) credits
  • UW-Madison calculus credits awarded by examination
  • Credits from Community College of the Air Force or from Military Services Schools awarded on a Joint Services Transcript

Transfer students who have only taken coursework at two-year institutions will not exceed the 80 credit limit because UW-Madison will award a maximum of 72 degree credits for coursework from a two-year institution.

The credit limit does not apply to eligible candidates in the dual degree transfer agreement programs between select UW System universities and the College of Engineering (please see Transfer Agreement Programs below).

The credit limit does apply to second degree candidates who have already completed a Bachelors degree. Please review options for Returning Adults and Second Degree Students.

(4) Identify Intended Majors.

At the time of application to UW-Madison, students should be able to specify their intended engineering major as their preferred major (first choice) on their university application, along with an alternate UW-Madison major of interest outside of CoE. For a list of all undergraduate majors, visit .

After transfer to CoE, students have a very limited time to explore engineering majors. Students must identify an engineering major within one year (two semesters) of residency.

Ways to explore engineering prior to transfer:


To apply, students must submit the online transfer application and application materials to UW-Madison’s Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Application Process:

(1) Submit the online transfer application to UW-Madison by the official deadlines.

Submission of this application begins the first stage of admission to a CoE major. Note the application deadlines carefully: . CoE will later notify admitted students when the supplemental application can be submitted to begin the second stage.

Online transfer application:

  • Specify intended College of Engineering major (identified by ENGR).
  • Specify alternate UW-Madison School or College; applicants will not be able to select a second CoE major, but can select Biological Systems Engineering (CALS) or majors in any other school or college at UW-Madison.

(2)  Submit all application materials directly to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

See “Transfer Application Materials”:

When applying, submit the following materials and information.

  • Application fee
  • Official transcripts from all high schools and colleges attended.
  • Exam scores, if any. Applicants should submit all scores if they want the exam credits to fulfill engineering admission and degree requirements. If Advanced Placement (AP), GCE Advanced Level (A-Level), or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams or the International Baccalaureate (IB) were taken, have the official grade report submitted to UW-Madison. Consult College Board to submit AP scores: . The UW-Madison AP code is 1846.
  • A recommendation letter from a recent math, science, or engineering instructor. The letter may be mailed or emailed to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment or submitted online.
  • A statement of interest about engineering. In the application statement section or in a separate attachment, applicants can explain their interests, relevant experiences if any, and reasons for transferring to pursue their intended program. They may also explain circumstances that may have affected their academic record.

The Office of Admissions and Recruitment reviews students holistically, makes the admission decision, and notifies students accordingly. Students should check the preferred email address provided on the university transfer application for communication from UW-Madison.

Students admitted to CoE will then move to stage two of the process and evaluation of their progression toward their intended major.

Students not admitted to CoE will be considered for admission to the second-choice major that they had indicated on their university application. There is a process for cross-campus applicants to be considered for admission to the College of Engineering after transfer (, but admission remains very competitive and is not guaranteed. Cross-campus applicants must complete course, credit, and grade requirements at UW-Madison, and students are not eligible to apply after exceeding the 80 Credit Limit. This leaves some transfer students few, if any, opportunities to apply as a cross-campus applicant. Therefore, students should only accept admission to their second-choice major if they would be very satisfied pursuing this program through graduation.

Transfer students who choose to accept their offer of admission must follow the guidelines on the Transfer Admitted Student Checklist:


Stage Two: CoE Program Progression

Students must satisfy specific course, credit, and GPA requirements for progression.  This can be done by completing specific requirements either before transfer or after transfer and within one year (two semesters) of residency in CoE.

(1) Before Transfer

Students may complete and preferably exceed as fully as possible the General College Requirements for Off Campus Transfer Students at their current campus before transferring.

NOTE: Fulfilling the General College Requirements for off-campus transfer students does not guarantee that students will be approved to have completed progression requirements prior to transfer.

(2) After Transfer

If it is determined that they have not met progression before transfer, students must meet progression requirements within one year (two semesters) of residency in CoE after transfer.


All admitted CoE students will receive an email from the College of Engineering requesting that they submit the supplemental transfer progression application and an unofficial transcript with final grades by the specified deadlines: in December for spring admission, and in May for fall admission.

Submission of this supplemental application starts the evaluation process for program progression.

To make the progression determination, committees seek a strong match for their particular program. To that end, they consider the transfer student’s overall application and materials, including transcripts and recommendation letters. Students’ transferable credits must fulfill the General College Requirements for Off Campus Transfer Students.

Each engineering committee also carefully considers:

  • Academic course preparation (including breadth and depth of subjects, rigor of course work, and pattern and trend of grades). NOTE: the Core GPA of most successful transfer applicants ranges from 3.2-4.0. Grades for all transferable courses, including the first grade for repeated courses, will be included in GPA calculations for departmental admission and progression consideration before transfer.
  • Personal essays on the supplemental application form.
  • Final grades for the term just completed.

The academic record must indicate a student’s likelihood of success in departmental course work taken immediately after transfer.

The CoE will notify students by email in late-January for spring admission, or July for fall admission. The email will confirm that they will begin in their selected program.  The email will also confirm their progression status in that program.  The progression decision will be one of the following:

  • (1) Progression requirements were satisfied before transfer. Students will begin in their selected program knowing that they may continue in the program having to meet only graduation requirements.
  • (2) Progression requirements must be satisfied after transfer. Students will begin in their selected program; however, to continue in the program, they must meet progression requirements within two semesters in residency.

NOTE:  Students should plan to work with the College of Engineering’s advising unit at the Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) program regardless of whether they are in group 1 or 2 described above.

Students who must satisfy progression requirements after transfer will work on satisfying first year progression requirements within two semesters of residency at UW-Madison. Transfer students are not required to take Introduction to Engineering. They take courses that fulfill the progression requirements and engineering degree requirements, including available engineering courses in their intended major. They should also take time to explore the variety of engineering majors and other programs on campus.

  • NOTE: Transfer students may be considered for satisfying the progression requirements during their first semester in residence if they are enrolled full-time and in two core courses, and if they are making progress toward fulfilling degree requirements for the specified major. Because they will have only one semester of grades at UW-Madison on record for the departmental committee to consider, progression approval cannot be guaranteed even if the engineering major GPA requirements are attained. If not found to have met progression requirements within one semester, they may be considered again the following semester without any penalty; however, the requirement to satisfy within two semesters of residency both (1) the first year progression requirements (including completion of a liberal studies course if Communication Part A was satisfied before transfer) and (2) the major GPA requirements will still be in effect.

CoE students satisfying progression requirements should consult with advisors in their program about their interests, academic and career goals, and course planning. They are also encouraged to take advantage of CoE student services and academic support such as tutoring and study groups.

After transfer: Students must meet course/credit/GPA requirements in order to continue in their department. Because of program capacity limitations, progression can become more competitive if demand trends change. Students who must satisfy progression requirements must achieve high grades at UW-Madison. Transfer credits but not grades are included in the departmental admission review, and only UW-Madison grades are computed in GPA calculations. To keep their options open, students who must meet progression after transfer must expand their interests and also make parallel plans toward at least one major outside CoE.  They are responsible for knowing the progression requirements for their intended engineering program and for alternate engineering programs of interest.


Transfer Planning Resources

UW-Madison’s Transfer Visit Day program provides an overview of UW-Madison and the transfer admissions process. Prospective transfer students attend an information session and a campus walking tour. They also have the option to attend the College of Engineering Information Session and/or sign up for drop-in advising with CoE’s Transfer Coordinator.

The College of Engineering Information Session includes details about opportunities within the College of Engineering and a tour of the engineering campus.

Prospective transfer students can register for these events at

CoE’s dual degree transfer agreements with UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, and UW-Whitewater are designed to provide an opportunity for Wisconsin residents to access limited enrollment engineering programs and earn two bachelor’s degrees with undergraduate student status.

Minimum eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a Wisconsin resident (for tuition purposes)
  • Must have first enrolled at UW-Eau Claire/UW-La Crosse/UW-Oshkosh/UW-River Falls/UW-Whitewater as a freshman
  • Must major in Physics (all campuses), Chemistry (UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, and UW-River Falls) or Mathematics/Computer Science (UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse)
  • Must meet minimum transfer admission requirements (including two units of foreign language); complete Communications Part A; and earn direct equivalents for MATH 221-222, CHEM 103-104 or CHEM 109, and PHYSICS 201/207 or EMA 201.
  • Must meet or exceed the Core GPA (comprised of physics, mathematics, computer science, and chemistry coursework required by the program) and Overall GPA benchmarks for progression effective at the time of their application:
  • Must receive a positive recommendation letter from dual degree designee at partnering campus
  • May apply to CoE a maximum of two times

Eligible dual degree candidates have the opportunity to be considered for admission to the College of Engineering after completing 80+ transferable semester credits but before completing all degree requirements. Admission to the College of Engineering is not guaranteed, and dual degree applications are evaluated among the off-campus transfer pool in a holistic review process. Students who do not fit the eligibility criteria may decide whether to apply to UW-Madison’s College of Engineering as a general off-campus transfer student before exceeding the 80 Credit Limit.

Students in CoE’s transfer agreement programs submit the same the online application form and transcripts as for all transfer applicants, and follow the same application deadlines. They must regularly consult with the agreement coordinator at their campus for additional program requirements and application procedures. They may also consult with the CoE Transfer Coordinator.

NOTE: Students in other transfer agreement programs with UW-Madison should consult with the Office of Admissions and Recruitment about their options. These programs establish guidelines for transfer admission to UW-Madison; however, these programs do not guarantee admission to CoE because CoE has limited enrollment programs and additional transfer admission considerations.

The Office of Admissions and Recruitment notifies students of the admission decision, and then the Office of the Registrar’s Credit Evaluation Services team prepares the transfer credit evaluation for admitted students. Students will receive an email when they can access the report via their MyUW Student Center:

General practice is that the Office of the Registrar does not pre-evaluate courses for prospective students. To identify possible transfer credit equivalencies before admission, consult these resources:

Courses that are remedial, technical, vocational, or doctrinal in nature are not transferable and therefore will not fulfill CoE degree requirements.

To ensure that transfer credits are applied to engineering degree requirements in the most appropriate way, admitted transfer students may be asked to submit syllabi for math, science and engineering courses that do not appear in the  databases listed above. Upon request, students must be prepared to submit the syllabus provided by the instructor in the term the course was taken. The syllabus must have details about the textbook, weekly topics, assignments, and evaluation methods.

Note: Transfer courses must have a final grade of C (2.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better to fulfill CoE degree requirements.

The Guide contains detailed information about curriculum requirements, course descriptions, and a sample four-year plan for each engineering program:

Questions? Please consult:

Office of Admissions and Recruitment

702 W. Johnson Street

College of Engineering 

Jessica Regan, Transfer Coordinator

Transfer Coordinator
Jessica Regan