Admissions Policies: First Year Students

Applications for admission must be submitted electronically. 

Applications for the fall semester are accepted beginning August 1 of the previous year. All complete applications received by February 1 will receive full consideration for admission. After February 1, applications will be considered on a space-available basis. Applications for spring semester are accepted beginning April 1 of the previous year.

To be considered for admission, individuals must submit the following items to the Admissions Office, UW-La Crosse, 2320 Student Union, 1725 State Street, La Crosse, WI 54601 USA:

  1. Completed Universities of Wisconsin application  
  2. High school transcript
    1. Prior to enrollment, an official final high school transcript is required. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the issuing institution(s) or through an electronic secure document sending service. Transcripts that are marked “Issued to Student” or that are hand delivered by a student will not be accepted unless the transcript remains sealed in the original envelope from the issuing institution(s).
  3. Non-refundable application fee
  4. Current courses in progress for academic/senior year (if applicable)
  5. Official college transcript(s) (if applicable) 
    1. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the issuing institution(s) or through an electronic secure document sending service. Transcripts that are marked “Issued to Student” or that are hand delivered by a student will not be accepted unless the transcript remains sealed in the original envelope from the issuing institution(s).
    2. Official college transcripts are required for all college course completed, including those taken during high school.

First year admission requirements

Applicants for admission as new first year students must satisfy the following minimum requirements to be considered:

  1. Graduation from a recognized high school or the equivalent.
    1. A recognized high school is
      1. Accredited by a regional accrediting association or state university
      2. Recognized or accredited by a state department of public instruction or its equivalent
    2. An applicant who has not graduated from a recognized high school must provide evidence of satisfactory completion of the requirements for a high school equivalency certificate or a diploma from a recognized high school, school system, or state department of public instruction based on the GED examination, the Wisconsin High School Equivalency Diploma, or other established criteria. Applicants from alternative educational backgrounds, including home-schooled students, should contact the Admissions Office for specific information. Additional documents, testing, and a personal interview may be required.
  2. Completion of the following 17 high school credits is minimal preparation and is required for admission consideration. Applicants are strongly recommended to take advanced courses beyond the required 17 high school credits. Students admitted on the basis of a high school equivalency diploma are considered to have fulfilled these minimum subject matter requirements.
    1. Four credits of English.
    2. Three credits of mathematics, specifically algebra, advanced algebra, and geometry.
    3. Three credits of natural science with two credits from biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, or advanced courses in these disciplines. (Integrated Science I and II courses will be counted on a one-for-one basis.)
    4. Three credits of social science (i.e., anthropology, economics, history [U.S. or world], political science [civics/government], psychology, or sociology).
    5. Four academic credits from the above and/or in the fine arts, computer science, world language, or other academic areas.

Candidates for admission must satisfy requirements 1 and 2.

All applications receive a comprehensive review. Due to enrollment limitations and the competitive nature of admission to the university, admission consideration will be primarily based on rigor of courses, high school rank, and grade point average. While academic preparation is the primary criterion used in the admissions review process, other secondary factors may contribute to the strength of an application. These may include ACT/SAT scores, demonstrated leadership, extracurricular involvement, special talent, personal statement, and/or recommendations.

The following is a general profile of our admitted first years for fall 2023. This is reported for the middle 50% range, so 25% of admitted first years fall above this range and 25% of admitted first years fall below this range.

  • Class Rank: 70th to 90th percentile
  • 3.46 - 3.87 GPA (4.0, unweighted scale)
  • ACT Composite: 23 - 27

The Wisconsin Guarantee

New freshman applicants from Wisconsin may be eligible for guaranteed admission to UW-La Crosse. This program will be available to students planning to enroll for Fall 2025 and beyond. Students must apply during their senior year of high school (or final year of homeschool or online school). 

Wisconsin residents qualify for this program by meeting one of the following criteria:

  • Enrollment in a public, private, or tribal high school in Wisconsin with a class rank in the top 10% (upon completion of 11th grade).
  • Enrollment in homeschool or virtual private school with an ACT score at or above the 90th percentile (nationally).
  • Selection as a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

Participation requirements:

  • Complete the Universities of Wisconsin application for admission.
  • Meet admission requirements as outlined by the Board of Regents.
  • Demonstrate successful completion of senior year coursework.
    • Admission may be revoked due to deterioration of academic performance, misrepresentation of academic information, academic misconduct, or failure to receive a high school diploma.

Credit for prior learning

Students may earn university credit through a variety of options, including retroactive credit, Advanced Placement, and institutional assessment. See the Admissions Office for more information on specific types of credit for prior learning. Some departments include more information on their department pages in regard to their own policy and procedures.

UWL has an academic policy on how credit for prior learning is earned and recorded on a student's transcript. For the full undergraduate credit for prior learning policy, see the academic polices section.

Mathematics and English placement

Placement into the appropriate level of English and mathematics courses is determined by using scores earned on the University of Wisconsin Placement Exams. Students cannot take classes above their placement level. Course registration in either discipline is limited to those students who have demonstrated their competency through the examinations. Placement exam results expire two years from the date of the exam, after which the placement exam must be retaken.

More information about math and English placement can be found in the remedial math and English placement policy.