Registration and Schedules - Graduate

Academic advising

Advising is a critical part of graduate education. It is important for each student to meet with their program director early in their studies to chart a plan of study. Program directors serve as the advisors in some programs; in other programs, advisors are assigned. Consulting with your advisor prior to each registration will reduce the possibility of enrolling in courses which do not meet your goals.

Registration process

The university has online registration via the WINGS Student Center. Registration for the winter and spring terms begins in November; summer registration begins a week before fall registration in late March. A student's enrollment date and time is located on their WINGS Student Center. The student may register at that assigned time or any time after, through the fifth day of classes (third day for a summer term) unless enrollment limits have been met. From the sixth to the tenth day of the semester, a student may register with approval from the instructor and/or department. The drop/add/change of schedule policy has more details on the deadlines for schedule changes.

The online Schedule of Classes and WINGS Class Search have the published schedule for the upcoming terms. Directions on how to register in WINGS can be found on the WINGS Help site. The registration system will not permit a student to enroll in a class for which a prerequisite is not in progress at UWL or has not been completed, if there is a time conflict, if the class is closed, or if the additional credits will put the student's credit load over 18 credits for undergraduates or 15 credits for graduates. Some graduate programs require graduate students to register through their advisors instead of using the WINGS system. Course-related policies that affect registration, including the course repeat policy and the different modes of instruction, can be found in the course information section of the undergraduate and graduate catalogs.

Continuing students must not have any holds that block registration, including financial holds, on their account in order to register. In addition, all students are charged a non-refundable registration fee each term they register for one or more courses. The Cashier's Terms and Conditions Agreement covers this fee, and the exact amount is listed in the cost to attend UWL. If a student drops all classes before the term begins, the student is still responsible for this fee.

University drop/add/change of schedule policy

The period of time between a student’s initial registration for any term through the first 10 days of classes during an academic semester is considered to be the "drop/add/change of schedule" period. Classes shorter than the traditional full semester length offered during a semester or during an intersession have drop/add schedules that reflect deadlines pro-rated from a full semester based on the length of the class. 

Dropping a class

For schedule changes associated with dropping classes, neither the advisor's permission nor the instructor's permission is required during this period and a student may drop classes without affecting the permanent academic record. After the drop/add/change of schedule period, if a student withdraws from a course, the individual class withdrawal policy applies.

Adding a class

For schedule changes associated with adding courses, if the desired section is not closed, no permissions are needed during the first five days of classes for full semester courses. From the sixth day through the tenth day of classes for full semester courses, permission from the instructor is required and departmental permission may also be required. After the close of the add/drop/change of schedule period, classes cannot be added except in unusual cases and then only with the consent of the instructor, department chair, and the dean's office.

University class drops at an instructor's discretion policy

A student enrolled in any course is expected to be in attendance from the first day or to have notified the instructor or Student Life that attendance is not possible. A student registered in a section who fails to attend the first two class sessions or provide proper notification may be dropped from the course at the discretion of the instructor.

An instructor who wishes to drop a student from a course during the "drop/add/change of schedule" period for the class should complete a drop/add form and submit it to the Office of Records and Registration by the end of the class' drop/add/change of schedule period. A decision by an instructor to drop a student from a class may not be appealed to any other individual or body in the university. A student should not assume that an instructor will use the discretionary drop if the student does not attend class. It is a student’s responsibility to withdraw from a class.

Graduate student credit load policy

A recommended full-time load for a graduate student is 12 credits per semester. A maximum load is 15 credits per semester and nine credits during a 12-week summer session, with no more than six credits in a four-week summer session. (This applies to any combination of courses - all graduate or graduate/undergraduate.)

Students are considered full-time if enrolled for at least nine credits each semester and five semester credits during the summer term. Credit load requirements are different for students receiving financial aid during the summer. See the Financial Aid Office for more information.

A student may earn, as a maximum, the number of credits corresponding to the number of weeks in any interim session (i.e., a student may earn a maximum of three credits during winter intersession). Any request to carry more than the maximum allowable credits for a semester, summer term, or winter intersession must be submitted in writing with documented "extenuating circumstances." Requests must be approved by the student's graduate program director prior to enrollment (standard university overload approval process applies).

Graduate student credit load - international students

International Students: Both F-1 and J-1 student visa regulations require students to enroll full-time each fall and spring semester. Unless otherwise obligated by the requirements of their program or special circumstances, full-time enrollment for an undergraduate student is a minimum of 12 credits and for a graduate student it is a minimum of nine credits. Enrollment in summer classes is not required unless the initial entry document (I-20 or DS-2019) indicates the student is to begin a program in a summer session or required due to other circumstances. (See summer enrollment requirements for capstone continuation, graduate assistantships, and program progress.) Failure to maintain full-time status can result in loss of F-1/J-1 student benefits. International Education & Engagement (IEE) must authorize any exceptions to full-time enrollment. Permission by IEE to drop below full-time enrollment does not exempt an international student from meeting the enrollment requirement for assistantships.

Class attendance policy

Because class participation is an integral component of the development of a successful learning community, all students are expected to attend all class sessions of courses in which they are enrolled. While attendance is expected, it is recognized that absences are at times unavoidable. If an absence is necessary, a student should take responsibility for contacting their instructor(s) as soon as possible to discuss the ramifications of being away from class.

It is important for the student to realize that when classes are missed they may be at a disadvantage as it is often not feasible for the instructor to reconstruct activities that took place in the classroom, laboratory, or field during the absence. Additionally, missing any classes may result in lower grades because the student may miss foundational material needed to succeed in the class. Even under the best of circumstances, extended absences can be problematic, with the real possibility that the student may not be able to complete the course successfully. Students with a documented disability requesting an accommodation related to attendance must request accommodation through the ACCESS Center.

Authorized absences and how they differ from other absences

Absences that fall under one of the following categories are considered authorized:

  1. participation in an approved field trip listed in the catalog as a requirement for a course in which the student is enrolled; or
  2. participation in an authorized extra-curricular activity such as a university athletic event or artistic performance; or
  3. active military service; or
  4. accommodation of students' religious beliefs; or
  5. bereavement (such as the death of a close family member); or
  6. illness, injury, or emergency of such severity as to prevent the student from being able to attend class.

A student should communicate directly with the instructor when an absence falls under one of the approved six categories. Instructors have discretion regarding requests for absences that do not fall under one of the approved six categories.

Course policies and communication

Both students and their instructors have responsibilities related to course policies and communication of absences.

Course policies regarding absences 

Instructors may initiate their own policy regarding attendance. If an instructor teaches more than one section of a course, the same policy should be used for all sections. Attendance policies should be clearly articulated in a course syllabus. Instructors are expected to announce their attendance policy to each class, but it is the responsibility of the student to know the policies of the instructor contained in the syllabus. Instructors may choose to request HIPPA-compliant documentation for authorized absences. Instructors may not require documentation that describes the nature of the student's medical condition. Requests for documentation should be restricted to information that can be readily obtained, is not unacceptably intrusive, and is culturally appropriate.

Communication regarding absences

Notifying instructors and arranging make-up work in cases involving authorized absences of students from class are the responsibility of the student. A student who is absent is responsible for notifying the instructor as soon as possible and may not be penalized for authorized absences if appropriate HIPPA-compliant documentation is provided in a timely fashion to the instructor to verify the reason for the absence. Students may not be required to provide documentation describing the nature of the student's medical condition.

In serious situations where the student is incapacitated and temporarily unable to perform the aforementioned responsibilities, family members may contact the Student Life Office for assistance with these matters. The Student Life Office will then provide notification (not verification) of the absence to the instructors. Arrangements for make-up work, make-up exams, or possible assignment adjustments are the responsibility of the student. Students should read their syllabi carefully and direct any attendance-related questions to the instructor of that course.

In the case of severe illness, injury, or emergency, instructors should be kept apprised of the student’s absence timeline through direct communication with the student and/or via the Student Life Office, which will assist students and communicate with instructors as needed.

When absences are authorized, instructors are obligated to work with students to determine the best way for students to resume participation in the class without a direct penalty. The instructor is responsible for providing reasonable accommodation or opportunities to make up course obligations that have an impact on the course grade. It is expected that reasonable requests to make up exams and assignments will be accommodated. However, if the absences are lengthy, the student, instructor, and the Student Life Office should work together to determine if it will be possible for the student to successfully complete the course.

In all cases of absence, authorized or otherwise, the student is responsible for completing missed work. The instructor is not required to do extra teaching.


University audit policy

Students may audit courses under the following arrangements:

  1. Students must receive consent of the department chair and the instructor offering the course.
  2. No change from audit to credit will be permitted after the first week of classes. No change from credit to audit will be permitted after the official last day to drop a class. (See the individual class withdrawal policy for deadline details.)
  3. No credit will be granted for any course that is audited. "Audit" will appear on the student's permanent academic record. The "AS/AU" grading system is used for auditors. The grade will not affect a student's GPA.
  4. An audited course may be repeated for credit in another semester or term.
  5. Appropriate tuition and fees are to be paid for the course.
  6. Courses being audited are not usable to establish full-time or part-time status for any type of eligibility, such as for athletic participation, student grants/loans, or loan deferment.
  7. Courses being audited may not be taken in excess of student load limits for credit generating courses without special "overload" permission from the student's academic dean.
  8. A course previously completed for credit may be audited in another term.

University undergraduate enrollment in graduate courses policy

Undergraduate students enrolled in a dual degree or minor-to-master's program, or who have senior status (at least 90 credits) and at least a 3.00 cumulative grade point average, may enroll in a maximum of nine graduate credits. Approval must be granted by the graduate program, since some graduate classes are limited to students admitted to the program and are not available for undergraduate enrollment.

Graduate level credits may be used to satisfy requirements for a bachelor's degree if the student is enrolled in a dual degree or minor-to-master's program, or if approved by the chair of the student's major department. The chair's approval should be communicated to the student's college office to apply graduate credits towards the bachelor's degree outside of a dual degree or minor-to-master's program. 

Maximum student credit load for dual enrollment (graduate/undergraduate) is 15 credit hours for a semester and eight credit hours for a summer term (standard university overload approval process applies). 

Students must submit a graduate special non-degree application using the Universities of Wisconsin online application prior to registering for a graduate course. Undergraduate tuition and fees are charged. Students in dual degree programs must complete the regular graduate program application process and pay graduate tuition fees after completing nine graduate credits. Students are expected to purchase texts for graduate courses.

Exceptions to these requirements must be approved by the Graduate Council.

Graduate research, comprehensive exams, and terminal project completion policy

The Graduate Council has approved a graduate research, comprehensive exams, and terminal project completion policy for students who are still working on required research, comprehensive exams, or terminal projects. The purpose of this policy is to provide continued access to university faculty, technology, facilities, and the library.

GRC 799 Continuous Registration (0 cr.) - For students with continuous registration

Once having completed all degree requirements1 in an approved program of study except for the thesis, seminar paper, comprehensive examination, or other culminating graduate projects, students must maintain continuous term-to-term enrollment (excluding winter intersession). Students meet this requirement by registering for GRC 799 for zero credits and paying a special course fee equal to the cost of one resident graduate credit.

  1. Students who require only one term after their regular coursework to complete their thesis or culminating project need to register for only for one (1) term of GRC 799.
  2. Students who need more than one (1) term after their regular coursework to complete their thesis or culminating project need to register for two and only two (2) continuous terms of GRC 799.
  3. Students who need more than two (2) terms after their regular coursework to complete their thesis or culminating project and who need continued access to university faculty, technology, facilities and the library must register for GRC 795 each term, excluding winter.
  4. Students must register for GRC 798 if they failed to register for GRC 799 in either of the two terms immediately following completion of their regular coursework. Instead they register for GRC 798.

Students must register for GRC 799 (Fall, Spring) immediately following completion of all coursework. Students register for GRC 799 only when they are not registered for any other credits. To maintain access to university resources (e.g. building access) during the summer, a student must be registered for GRC 799 for either that summer or the following fall. Repeatable - maximum two enrollments.

GRC 798 Interrupted Registration (0 cr.)  - For students with interrupted registration

This registration is required for students who failed to meet the University’s Graduate Research and Terminal Project Completion Policy (did not register for GRC 799 immediately upon completing all degree requirements in an approved program of study except for thesis, comprehensive examination, seminar paper, or other culminating project). In order to comply with the policy, students must register for GRC 798 for zero credits and pay a special course fee equal to the cost of three resident graduate credits. Prerequisite: approval by graduate program director and reentry to former academic program; approved reentry to the university.

GRC 795 Extended Continuous Registration (0 cr.) - For students who have enrolled twice in GRC 799

After completing two enrollments in GRC 799, students who are still actively engaged in research or writing and need to maintain access to university resources must continue term-to-term enrollment by registering for GRC 795 (Fall, Spring, Summer) for zero credits and paying a special course fee equal to 50% of the cost of one resident graduate credit. Enrollment in GRC 795 will provide the student with continued access to university email, library privileges, and buildings. Students register for GRC 795 only when they are not registered for any other credits. Repeatable - maximum 12 enrollments. Prerequisite: two semesters of GRC 799.


Completion means that students may have pending incompletes in courses; it also means that students have pending PR grades in their thesis, seminar paper, culminating project credits, but that they no longer have any other courses yet to register for.

 Graduate thesis and dissertation committee policy

Students should select at least three members to their thesis or dissertation committee, but they can select more. All of the members of the committee must hold graduate faculty status at UWL. Each student should select a faculty member from the student’s department of study to serve as the chairperson of the thesis or dissertation committee. A minimum of at least one more committee member must be from the student’s department, unless the student is enrolled in the Student Affairs Administration and Leadership Ed.D (SAA Ed.D.) Graduate Program. SAA Ed.D. students may have committees with a single representative of the department (i.e., the committee chairperson). It is highly encouraged that at least one member of the committee be from outside the student’s department.

Additional information regarding thesis and dissertation completion can be found on the Graduate & Extended Learning website.