University of Wisconsin–Madison
Summer high school students begin their tour of campus.

High School Students

High school students can earn college credit at UW-Madison this summer

You can apply to take UW–Madison classes during Summer Term during your junior or senior year of high school. You can be admitted as a University Special student. You’ll earn college credit for face-to-face and online courses. To apply, your GPA must be at least 3.0 overall and in the most recent semester of high school. Your guidance counselor must also recommend you for Summer Term. University Housing is accepting high school students taking Summer Term courses in 2018.

• What is Summer Term?
• Is Summer Term right for you?
• How to Succeed During Summer Term
• Next steps
• Noncredit programs for high school students

What is Summer Term?

Summer Term is a regular academic term, but it moves at a faster pace. Prestigious UW–Madison faculty teach each course with the highest level of academic rigor. Course formats include lectures, where an instructor presents course material to the entire class; discussions, where students study course material in interactive, teacher-led groups; and labs, where students participate in hands-on activities such as science experiments.

Is Summer Term right for you?

If you enroll in Summer Term, you must be ready to focus on your studies, apply yourself, and seek out help when you need it. Think through your goals, as well as your financial situation, schedule, and several other factors before applying. Here are four areas to consider:

  • Academic preparedness and maturity: Are you ready to take a college course along with experienced college students? Are you prepared to take responsibility for your academic plans and your performance in the course? The answer to both questions should be yes. As a University Special student, you’ll establish a permanent record at UW–Madison, including a transcript college admissions officers may view when considering your applications. Plus, if you become a UW–Madison undergraduate, your undergrad GPA will include grades from all courses you take as a University Special student. Meet with your guidance counselor to make sure the academic rigor and accelerated pace of Summer Term are a good fit for you.
  • Accelerated pace: Summer Term courses high school students can take are typically eight weeks long. Their pace can be two to three times faster than those of UW–Madison’s fall or spring classes. You’ll need to make summer courses a priority and manage your time accordingly. Expect to spend 15-18 hours per week completing homework for each eight-week, three-credit course, whether it’s face-to-face or online. (See below for more on how to succeed during Summer Term.)
  • Financial considerations: Financial aid is not available for high school students for Summer Term. Talk to your family to see if you can afford tuition and fees.
  • Schedule considerations: Most courses have both a lecture and a lab or discussion, either of which could take place at a different time of day. Certain courses require students to meet outside of class, sometimes during the evening. Final exams don’t take place at the regular course meeting time, so you’ll need to make sure you’re available at the exam time listed in the Schedule of Classes. Also consider your commute to and from campus if you’re interested in a face-to-face course.

Sign up to receive more information about the 2018 residential program

How to succeed during Summer Term


Prioritize your courses when you’re making plans. It’s okay to have a summer job and a social life, but don’t let these things distract you from your studies.


Buy your books and review course basics before the first day of class.


Attend every class session. Since Summer Term courses move so quickly, missing just one class can be detrimental.


Ask questions early and often to make sure you’re understanding the course material.


Consider forming a study group with classmates in addition to studying on your own.


Schedule time to study each day, or at least a few times a week. You may need up to 18 hours a week to complete readings, problem sets, and other types of assignment.

Next steps


  • Talk your high school guidance counselor about your interest in Summer Term.
  • Review available courses. UW–Madison offers an array of courses during Summer Term. However, they may not be feasible for high school students based on required pre-requisites or because they are offered while high school is still in session. Course Guide and Schedule of Classes will be released January 5 2018.

Noncredit programs for high school students

Interested in participating in a UW–Madison program this summer – but not looking to earn college credit? Here are some exciting noncredit opportunities the university offers teens over the summer:

Residential opportunities:

-Summer Music Clinic: Polish your performance skills with other high school musicians in band, orchestra, choir, musical theatre groups, or jazz ensembles at this on-campus program, which culminates in a day of concerts.

Students in the Summer Music Clinic

Non-Residential opportunities:

-Accelerated Learning Program (ALP): Offered by the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY), this popular program offers gifted students opportunities to take challenging courses throughout the state.

-Greater Madison Writing Program: A partnership between UW-Madison and Madison-area teachers, this program offers writing programs for youth throughout the community, including a popular High School Writing Camp.

-Precollege Programs: Designed for students in grades 1-12, these programs provide instruction in subjects ranging from music to foreign languages to sports on a variety of UW campuses, including UW–Madison.

Precollege students playing a game of Red Rover on the lawn of Bascom Hall.