Answers to frequently asked questions
for undergraduate students
What classes do students take within their first year on campus?
During your first year on campus, you will take several general math and science courses as prerequisites for your intended department. You also will take one of several introductory engineering courses, a freshman composition course, and an additional social science or humanities elective. You will receive more information and advice about these requirements at Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR).
How large is a typical engineering class?
Lectures for first-year student generally include 300-350 students. Large lecture courses include discussion sections with 20-25 students. Once you are admitted to a particular engineering department, class sizes will become much smaller, on average 35-90 students. Generally those classes are proportional to the department size.
Where do first-year students typically live? Which locations are closest to campus?
There is no residence hall specifically for engineering students, though there is a Women in Science and Engineering floor that rotates dormitories year to year and a number of other special interest housing options are available. Lakeshore dorms are physically closer to the College of Engineering campus, though every dorm on campus is home to some engineering students. Visit University Housing for more information about the campus housing options available. First-year students are not required to live in campus housing.
What type of laptop computer should I purchase?
There is no formal recommendation from the College of Engineering for particular laptops. Visit the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) for a student guide to computing on campus or visit Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) for their guide on computers.
How do I apply to the College of Engineering at UW-Madison?
UW-Madison undergraduate admissions are handled centrally through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Direct admission to the College of Engineering is a part of the UW-Madison application process. When completing your UW-Madison application, you must select a College of Engineering major (designated as ENGR) as your preferred major to be considered for direct admission into the College of Engineering. We encourage you to learn as much as you can about engineering ahead of applying to UW-Madison. The “Choosing your major” button on the College of Engineering homepage is a great place to start.
Students directly admitted into the College of Engineering are able to change their engineering major at SOAR. During their first year, students must meet progression requirements for their chosen engineering major. An advisor in your program will guide you through the process of meeting the General College Requirements that will allow you to move forward in your program.
What if I change my mind during my first year on campus?
Students directly admitted into the College of Engineering are able to change their engineering major at SOAR. If you are unsure if your major is the best fit for you, be sure to take advantage of the major exploration activities offered throughout the school year. An advisor in your program will guide you through the process of meeting the General College Requirements (GCR15). More information about this process is available on the General College Requirements page.
Can undergraduate students participate in research on campus?
Research opportunities are among the greatest advantages in attending UW-Madison. Professors often hire undergraduate students to participate in research projects, so be sure to check with professors in your area of interest. Lab positions are sometimes listed on the UW-Madison Student Jobcenter.
Are internships and co-ops available?
An internship means working for an engineering company during your summer break. Internships are available as early as the summer after your first year. A co-op position means taking a semester off of school plus a summer to work for an engineering company. Co-ops are available once you are in your engineering degree-granting program. A co-op generally lasts eight months, while internships last an average of three months. In engineering, both internships and co-ops are paid positions. Engineering Career Services hosts a career fair, called Career Connection, at the beginning of each semester to help students meet hundreds of employers seeking engineers for a variety of positions.
How long will it take to graduate?
Most students typically graduate in nine or 10 semesters. Co-op semesters and pursuing extra course work, such as certificates or double majors, often contribute to this average.
Is there a foreign language requirement for the College of Engineering?
No, there is no foreign language requirement for the College of Engineering, though special language opportunities for engineering students exist through the Certificate in Japanese Studies and the Certificate in International Engineering.
Does the College of Engineering offer scholarships?
For first-year students, the College of Engineering offers the Freshman Achievement Award, a one-year merit scholarship that ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. You can apply to the scholarship by visiting your MyUW account and clicking the Finances tab.