University of Wisconsin–Madison
Summer student sitting with pet dog and working on homework

Encourage your student to make Summer Term part of their college experience

Did you know that six in ten UW–Madison Students participate in at least one Summer Term before graduation?

It’s true! With more than 1,000 3-week, 4-week, and 8-week courses available on campus and over 200 online, UW–Madison’s Summer Term is a great way for your student to catch up with their studies or get ahead on credits toward graduation.

The benefits of taking Summer Term

  1. Summer Term makes it possible for students to graduate on time—even if they are participating in a semester-long co-op, internship, or study abroad program—saving money on tuition and rent for an extra semester on campus.
  2. Difficult classes can be easier for students to tackle in the summer. Courses are not easier in the summer, but students are more likely to thrive in a difficult class when they are not juggling a full course load.
  3. Online summer classes can make it possible to earn credits from anywhere. No matter what their summer plans entail, making room for a class or two is possible with online courses (plus online classes travel well, so they likely won’t interfere with any family vacation plans).

Frequently asked questions


How long are Summer Term classes?


The most popular sessions are 3 weeks, 4 weeks, or 8 weeks long. They’ll cover the same material as they would during a traditional semester, but everything moves faster. It’s a quick but manageable pace.


My student is doing great academically—isn’t summer term for students who are struggling?


There are many reasons to take summer courses and academic difficulty might be one of them, but that’s not usually the main reason. Summer Term lets students focus their attention in fewer classes often in a smaller classroom setting, which most students like better. Your student’s advisor can talk with them about summer courses and helping to figure out if it would be a good fit.


What financial aid is available for Summer Term?


The UW–Madison Undergraduate Scholarship for Summer Study is a need-based scholarship awarded to high-achieving undergraduate students (of any major) seeking financial support to take courses in the upcoming summer session. Scholarship awards are between $500 and $1,500. There is a set amount of Federal Direct Loan a student can have during the aid year, and any Federal Direct Loan borrowed during summer session reduces the amount of Direct Loan for the following fall and spring semesters. For example, dependent juniors and seniors can have $7,500 of Federal Direct Loan. If they take $2,000 of the Direct Loan in the summer, there is only $5,500 left for the fall and spring.

If students want aid for the summer (and have not already done so), they need to:

Submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming academic year by May.

Visit your MyUW Student Center, navigate to View Financial Aid, followed by Aid Year. Then find the link titled Summer Application. Click the checkbox to initiate your summer application.

Enroll at least half-time in summer classes through your MyUW Student Center. Review OSFA’s Summer Term enrollment chart to determine if your planned enrollment meets this requirement.

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) is available to help your student apply for other sources of financial aid for Summer Term. Apply for financial aid now even if you haven’t finalized your summer plans. To ensure that your financial aid award offer will be ready when Summer Term begins, submit all application materials by mid-May. If you or your student wants to talk to someone about their financial aid, they can call OSFA at 608-262-3060 or email


Internship vs. class: My daughter would like to do an internship and get some real world experience, but she also wants to stay in Madison and complete her Ethnic Studies requirement. Now what?



Taking a required course can be a great option for students to get ahead. Summer classes tend to be smaller, so students have the chance to really get to know the instructor. Also, students can really focus on the course material during an accelerated class over the summer.

If they’re staying on the Madison campus, one option would be to volunteer in the local community organization and get experience in the field at the same time that they are getting a challenging course out of the way.

For example, Badger Volunteers pairs teams of students with schools, nonprofits, and other types of community organizations. Participants volunteer one to four hours each week at the same organization throughout Summer Term, developing meaningful connections with the people they serve. Transportation, training, and more are provided.

Volunteer assignments fall into one of three categories—education, sustainability, and public health—but opportunities are available for a variety of majors and interests. Visit the Morgridge Center for Public Service to learn more.

Another option is to take an online class while volunteering or doing an internship.


What courses are available?


Choose from more than 1,000 face-to-face courses and 200 online courses with our searchable summer course list. Browse courses by subject, courses available online, or courses that fulfill requirements like Ethnic Studies.


How much does it cost?


View tuition & fee information here.


What’s an online class like?


UW–Madison online classes are taught by prestigious instructors from the university’s face-to-face courses. Instructors provide a syllabus listing important assignments, deadlines, virtual office hours, and a weekly flow diagram (also known as a weekly rhythm) that illustrates how to structure the week to succeed in the course.

Students should expect to be active participants in the learning process. They’ll learn through tools such as podcasts, mini lectures, discussion forums, online journals, and multimedia elements. They can connect with the instructor–and classmates–through collaborative documents such as wikis, videoconferencing apps like Skype, emailing, texting, and a host of interactive activities. Assignments and exams are submitted online.

Online classes also pair well with a summer job or internship.


Are classes harder in the summer? What does “accelerated formats” mean?


Classes taught in summer term are “accelerated” because they cover what is usually a semester’s worth of material in three, four, or eight weeks instead of an academic year semester’s fifteen weeks. So, classes usually meet at least four days a week for a few hours each day, and students should expect to spend an additional few hours each day on reading and other homework.

In order for your students to participate in summer classes, they should:

  • Expect to spend approximately 18 hours per week on each 8-week, 3‑credit course.
  • Have regular access to a computer with high-speed Internet if taking courses online.

Typical 8-week summer courses, as compared to regular spring/fall courses:

3-credits: lecture only

5-credits: lecture, discussion, and lab


What sort of academic support is available during Summer Term?


While many learning support options available during the regular academic year are not open during Summer Term due to less demand, several units still offer support during the summer months. To see a full list of tutoring and learning support resources available in the summer, students and parents can visit and select the “Summer Term” filter located on the “Find Resources” page.


Is housing available in the summer?


University Housing offers housing for students during Summer Term. Located in the heart of campus, with easy access to bus lines, dining halls, fitness centers, and more, they’re a convenient place to live and get to know other students.

If your student is looking for off-campus housing near UW–Madison, the Campus Area Housing (CAH) office maintains a free, searchable list of rental vacancies, sublets, Private Housing Connections properties, and roommate openings in apartments and houses.


Can my student work on campus?


There are plenty of opportunities for full or part time employment on campus during Summer Term that won’t interfere with your child’s summer curriculum. Many campus employers provide schedule flexibility that allows students to earn money and make progress on their academics in the summer. The Student Job Center lists summer job openings located at UW–Madison and off-campus in the private and public sectors.


Who do I contact if I have any more questions?


Your student’s advisor is a great resource to learn how Summer Term can fit into their academic plans. Summer Term staff are also here to assist you. Email us at

It is financially beneficial to complete a degree in four years with two Summer Terms, rather than taking a fifth year.

How does my UW–Madison student succeed?
Tips for Summer Term Success

Summer is a more relaxed atmosphere for students to be in school, but the pace of classes can be two to three times faster due to the condensed nature of summer term.

Here are some tried-and-true ways that students can succeed in a class with an intensive pace:

  1. Students need to give summer courses top priority. Although there are a lot of fun things to do in Madison during the summer, students need to make sure they don’t become a distraction from their classes. To be successful in Summer Term, advise students to use these activities as incentives to finish their schoolwork, not as a reason to avoid it.
  2. Mental preparation is key. Recommend students review course basics and buy their books prior to the first day of classes.
  3. Attend every class. Because the Summer Term format is so intense, missing even one class can be detrimental. Therefore it is important students plan their work schedules and trips around their course schedule.
  4. Study and form a study group. Finding the perfect summer study spot will help students focus on their classes, as will forming a regular study group with their classmates.
  5. Ask questions often. There is no such thing as a dumb question. Asking questions can help clear up any confusion and verify that course material is being understood.
  6. Long classes and lectures can be tough to power through, but getting enough sleep and bringing healthy snacks to eat during class can help students stay alert.
  7. Manage your workload. Advise students to make a conscious effort to manage their time. Students who are aware of how they spend their day can maximize productivity, which makes staying on top of schoolwork (and saying “yes” to that beach day) easier.

Not familiar with Madison?

Check out the Guide to Madison.


Summer Term has plenty to offer for adults, too

P.S. Are you interested? Parents can also be a part of UW–Madison’s Summer Term by applying as a University Special student. Visit the Adults and Professionals page for more information on special student requirements and how to apply.