Effective June 29, 2023, Regent Policy Document 7-3, Section II.C. is superseded by U.S. Supreme Court Opinions No. 20-1199 ad No. 21-707, and as a result the mention of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups has been struck from the Policy.


UW System Board of Regents Resolution 12172 (adopted April 5, 2024) 

“That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents extends the temporary suspension of the requirement for freshman applicants to provide an ACT or SAT score as part of their application referenced in Regent Policy Document 7-3, Sections I. C. and II. B. This action extends the suspension through the 2026-27 academic year for all of the Universities of Wisconsin.

That, upon recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents adopts the attached UW System Freshman Admissions Policy as amended, replacing and hereby superseding Regent Policies 72-5 on Nonresident Undergraduate Quotas, 72-11 on the Freshman Admissions Policy, 86-5 on the Use of the American College Test, 87-8 on Traditional and Nontraditional Freshman Admissions Policy, and 97-4 on Competency Based Admissions.


The University of Wisconsin System has long recognized that higher education serves as a crucial pathway for advancing individual self-knowledge and knowledge of the world, fostering new knowledge and ideas, preparing individuals for future leadership positions, and for promoting the economic vitality of the entire state.  To provide the highest quality educational opportunity for all students in a diverse learning environment, this policy allows each institution to admit students whose academic preparation, background and personal experience suggest that the student will succeed at the institution, benefit from that educational experience, and contribute to the educational environment.

This policy provides minimum requirements for freshman admissions, and broad criteria for evaluating qualified applicants through a comprehensive, individualized review process.  In the implementation of this policy, individual UW institutions may establish more specific requirements, consistent with the principles and requirements of this systemwide policy.

I.  Admissions Requirements

Freshman applicants, both resident and non-resident, must satisfy the following minimum requirements to be eligible for consideration for admission:

  1. Graduation from a recognized high school or the equivalent.
    1. A recognized high school is one which either (a) is accredited by a regional accrediting association or state university or (b) is 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 Examination, or other established criteria.  Applicants from alternative educational backgrounds, including home-schooled students, should contact the Admissions Office at the campus of interest for admissions information.  Additional documents, testing, and a personal interview may be required.
  2. Completion of the UW application for admission and submission to the institution(s) by the required deadline.
  3. Submission of ACT or SAT scores to the institution.
  4. Satisfaction of academic unit requirements. Students must satisfy either (1) or (2).
    1. For students graduating from high school in spring, 1995 and thereafter, a minimum of 17 high school units is required.  (One unit equals one year of high school study or the equivalent.)  Thirteen of the 17 units must be distributed as follows:
English 4 units
Social Science 3 units
Mathematics 3 units
Natural Science 3 units

The remaining four units will be:

From the above areas, foreign language, fine arts, computer science, and other academic areas 4 units
TOTAL 17 units

Each institution may specify additional unit requirements for the remaining four units and may specify required content for all 17 units.  Students graduating from high school prior to spring, 1995, should consult with the Admissions Office at the UW institution(s) for the appropriate academic unit requirements.

2.  In recognition of curricular initiatives occurring in many high schools that depart from a traditional Carnegie unit structure, the UW System Board of Regents has approved an alternative method by which an applicant may demonstrate that he or she has satisfied the academic unit requirement.  This is referred to as Competency-Based Admission.

High school officials may elect to prepare a UW System Competency-Based Admission profile in addition to, or in lieu of, the traditional high-school transcript for those students whose high school curriculum is not well described by the traditional Carnegie unit structure.  The combination of the student’s credentials must indicate evidence of preparation in English, social sciences, mathematics, and natural science at a level comparable to that assumed by the traditional academic unit requirements.  The admission requirements at each institution for students who apply using Competency-Based Admission will be equivalent to the admission requirements for students who apply under the Carnegie unit system.

E.  An institution has the discretion to waive one or more of the minimum requirements for particular applicants where appropriate, based on the sound educational judgment that the student will succeed at the institution, benefit from that educational experience, and contribute to the educational environment.

II.  Admissions Criteria

Freshman applicants must demonstrate that they are prepared to do satisfactory academic work at the institution to which they are applying, and that, as members of the campus community, they will benefit from and enrich the educational environment and enhance the quality of the institution.  In making this determination, applicants will be given a comprehensive review based upon the following criteria:

A. Academics.

Academic factors are the most important consideration in making admissions decisions. Factors that will be considered include, but are not limited to, the quality and rigor of the applicant’s college-preparatory coursework, grade point average, class rank and trend in grades.

B. Standardized Test Scores.

ACT or SAT scores are used to provide additional academic information about the quality of the applicant’s qualifications, but cannot be the sole criteria for admission.  An institution may require additional test scores of some or all applicants as supplemental information.

C. Other factors.

Other considerations include, but are not limited to, student experiences, work experience, leadership qualities, motivation, community service, special talents, status as a non-traditional or returning adult, status as a veteran of the U.S. military, whether the applicant is socio-economically disadvantaged, and whether the applicant is a member of an historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

III.  Non-resident Enrollment

Based on a three-year average, the non-resident undergraduate enrollment shall not exceed 27.5% of the total undergraduate enrollment at any UW institution. This limitation does not include Minnesota reciprocity students. This non-resident undergraduate enrollment limit does not apply to UW-Madison.

UW-Madison must enroll a minimum of 5,200 new in-state undergraduate students each calendar year, based on a three-year rolling average. The Board of Regents expects UW-Madison to continue to honor its commitment to enroll 3,600 Wisconsin freshmen within this broader policy but recognizes UW-Madison’s commitment to in-state students is best measured by more than just incoming freshmen and should include reciprocity and transfer students alike.

IV.  Admissions Appeals

Applicants who are not accepted for admission may appeal for special consideration through a process defined by the institution.

V.  Admissions Policy Review

The Board of Regents shall review this policy every five years.


History:  Res. 9290, adopted 02/09/2007, created Regent Policy Document 07-1; subsequently renumbered 7-3. Res. 10142, adopted 12/07/2012, amended Regent Policy Document 7-3. Res. 11346, adopted 12/06/2019, amended Regent Policy Document 7-3. Res. 11430, adopted 05/07/2020, Res. 11489, adopted 08/20/2020, Res. 11591, adopted 02/05/2021, and Res. 11754, adopted 12/10/2021, approved the temporary suspension of provisions of Regent Policy Document 7-3 related to ACT/SAT testing requirements. Res. 12172, adopted 04/05/2024, approved the extension of the temporary suspension of provisions of Regent Policy Document 7-3 related to ACT/SAT testing requirements.