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Transfer from off campus

We’re excited that you’re considering transferring to the UW-Madison College of Engineering from your current college or university! If you’re coming to us from another Universities of Wisconsin campus or from Madison College, be sure check out the info about our transfer agreements with those institutions.

Transfer admission to our college is competitive, and you’ll want to make sure courses you’ve taken can transfer and apply toward our engineering degree requirements. We recommend reaching out to our College of Engineering transfer manager, to chat about your interests, academic background and admissions options.

A few things to keep in mind as you’re weighing your decision to transfer:

Ready to apply?

Make sure you indicate an engineering major as your first choice! You can apply for either fall or spring semester admission.

Transferring to our college in two steps

Step 1: Admission

At UW-Madison, the Office of Admissions and Recruitment makes admissions decisions. If you’re transferring from another college or university and want to be considered for direct admission into an engineering degree-granting program, you must indicate an engineering major as your first choice on your UW-Madison application. You also need to list a second-choice major that’s outside of the College of Engineering; transfer admission to our college is selective and not guaranteed. Also keep in mind that several engineering majors are especially popular and as a result are even more selective. Among these are biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering.

If you’re an off-campus student planning to transfer to UW-Madison, consider these expectations: You must establish a strong academic record in college that fulfills the UW-Madison transfer admission requirements, includes engineering-related coursework, and does not exceed the College of Engineering’s 80 credit limit. You should also be able to identify intended majors in engineering and in other UW-Madison schools or colleges.

(1) Fulfill the UW-Madison transfer admission requirements

You must meet the general requirements for transfer admission to UW-Madison—and that also means you must have studied a single world language for either two years in high school or two semesters in college. Know that the Office of Admissions and Recruitment considers your overall application in a comprehensive and holistic review process. Find out what UW-Madison looks for in transfer students!

(2) Demonstrate success in engineering-related coursework

Your college academic record must demonstrate a strong match for your intended engineering program, as well as a likelihood of success in full-time, rigorous engineering coursework you’ll take immediately after you transfer here. At UW-Madison, strong transfer applicants generally meet or exceed these guidelines:

Math, science, engineering coursework

  • Several semesters of rigorous 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.
  • An introduction to engineering course is optional but strongly recommended, if available.
  • Engineering courses related to the intended major, if available.

Other coursework 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 coursework (humanities, literature, and/or social science)
  • Coursework in biology, geology, etc., depending upon your intended engineering major

Academic performance

The transfer students we typically see selected for admission generally have:

  • 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) coursework
  • 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 coursework

The UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment requires that admitted transfer students maintain their current (pre-transfer) course enrollment and grades or they may cancel admission for the upcoming semester. Additionally, to ensure a successful transition to engineering studies, the College of Engineering expects a minimum 3.0 term GPA prior to transfer with no grades below a C (2.0 on 4.0 scale).

Supplemental factors

Admissions staff also may consider supplemental factors—such as a university application statement that addresses your 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

If you are considering transferring and have earned more than 80 semester credits at the time you apply, you are not eligible to apply for transfer admission to the College of Engineering. (See “notes” below for exceptions and other info.)

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 your application term)
  • Retroactive world 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 awards 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 Universities of Wisconsin schools and the College of Engineering (for more on this, see “Transfer agreement programs” below).

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

(4) Identify your intended majors

At the time you apply to UW-Madison, you should be able to specify your intended engineering major as your preferred major (first choice) on your university application, along with an alternate UW-Madison major of interest outside of the College of Engineering. If you are thinking about engineering at UW-Madison, you might also explore the Biological Systems Engineering program in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Step 2: Progression

If you’re directly admitted to your intended engineering major, you must meet engineering progression requirements within your first two semesters at UW–Madison to guarantee permission to continue in that program. After UW-Madison releases transfer admission decisions, the College of Engineering will request that you (if you’ve been directly admitted to engineering) submit a supplemental application so that your selected engineering department’s progression committee can consider you for progression at the point that you transfer.

When considering students for progression prior to transfer, our departments seek a strong match for their particular majors. They consider the transfer student’s overall application and materials, including transcripts and recommendation letters.

Each engineering committee also carefully considers:

  • Academic course preparation (including breadth and depth of subjects, rigor of coursework, and pattern and trend of grades). 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 progression consideration before transfer.
  • Personal essays on the supplemental application form.
  • Final grades for the term just completed.

Your academic record must indicate your likelihood of success in the coursework you take in your engineering major immediately after you transfer.

The College of Engineering will notify you whether you have satisfied the progression requirements for your degree-granting engineering program before transfer, or whether you must meet course/credit/GPA requirements to satisfy the progression requirements after transfer. If you must satisfy progression requirements after transfer, you must satisfy first year progression requirements within your first two semesters on campus (“in residence”) at UW-Madison. As a transfer student, you are not required to take Introduction to Engineering; however, you will take courses that fulfill progression requirements and your engineering degree requirements, including available engineering courses in your intended major.

Note: As a transfer student, you may apply to be considered for satisfying progression requirements after your first semester in residence if you are enrolled full-time and in two core courses, and if you are making progress toward fulfilling degree requirements for your engineering major. Because you will have only one semester of grades at UW-Madison on record for the progression committees to consider, we can’t guarantee progression approval even if you attain engineering major GPA requirements after one semester. If you have not met progression requirements after one semester, you may be considered again the following semester without any penalty; however, you will still be required to satisfy, within two semesters of residency, both the first-year progression requirements (including completion of a liberal studies course if you satisfied Communication Part A before transfer) and the major GPA requirements.

If you need to meet progression requirements after transfer, you should consult with advisors in your program about your interests, academic and career goals, and course planning. We encourage you to take advantage of College of Engineering student services and academic support such as tutoring and study groups—and also take time to explore the variety of engineering majors and other programs on campus.

Transfer agreement programs

Dual degree transfer agreements

The College of Engineering’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.

Madison College transfer agreement

The College of Engineering’s “STEP2UW” agreement with Madison College is designed to formalize a transparent transfer pathway and simplify the transfer process for eligible students from Madison College.

Transfer agreement programs note:

If you’re a student in a different transfer agreement program with UW-Madison, consult with the UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment team to talk about your options. These programs establish guidelines for transfer admission to UW-Madison; however, these programs do not guarantee admission to the College of Engineering (because the college’s majors are in high demand, admission is competitive and selective, and there are a number of additional transfer admission considerations for engineering). 

Transfer planning resources

UW-Madison’s Transfer Visit Day program provides an overview of UW-Madison and the transfer admissions process. If you’re a prospective transfer student, you’ll attend an admissions information session and a campus walking tour. You’ll also have the option to sign up for drop-in advising with the College of Engineering’s transfer manager. The College of Engineering Prospective Student Information Session includes details about opportunities within the College of Engineering and a tour of the engineering campus.

Explore and register for prospective transfer visit options.

The UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment will notify you of its admission decision, and then the UW-Madison Office of the Registrar’s credit evaluation services team prepares your transfer credit evaluation. You’ll receive an email when you can access that report through your MyUW Student Center.

Keep in mind that, in general, the Office of the Registrar won’t pre-evaluate courses for prospective students. Instead, you can identify possible transfer credit equivalencies even before you’re admitted:

After you find out you’re an admitted transfer student, we’ll work with you to ensure your transfer credits are applied to your engineering degree requirements in the most appropriate way. We might ask you to submit syllabi for the math, science and engineering courses you’ve taken that do not appear in Transferology.

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

The UW-Madison “Guide” contains detailed information about curriculum requirements, course descriptions, and a sample four-year plan for each engineering program.

If you’re a transfer student admitted to UW-Madison and the College of Engineering in the fall or spring semester, you will be considered for several transfer student scholarships. The Transfer Student Scholarship is renewable for up to four semesters, with an award amount of $2,000 annually.

To be considered for the Transfer Student Scholarship, you must complete a UW-Madison admissions application and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Selection is based on your UW-Madison admissions application materials (in other words, we don’t require you to complete an additional scholarship application), and the evaluation criteria include your academic merit, extracurricular activities, and essay responses. If you have been selected for a Transfer Student Scholarship, you’ll receive a notification about the Transfer Student Scholarship no later than May 15 for fall applicants or January 15 for spring applicants. Additionally, if you’re a transfer student admitted for the fall semester, you’ll be considered for STAR and LEED Scholarships. You’ll receive notification about these awards on the same timeline as the Transfer Student Scholarship. Learn more about these scholarships here.

We also strongly encourage (but don’t require) you to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to UW-Madison!

Jessica Regan
Jessica Regan
Transfer and Academic Program Manager

Off-campus transfer students are encouraged to discuss their interests, academic background, and admission options with the Transfer Manager in the College of Engineering, Jessica Regan.