In the spirit of Educational Innovation and strengthening international education, the Division of Continuing Studies launched the Visiting International Student Program (VISP) to assist international students interested in short-term nondegree study at UW-Madison. Our first independent VISP students arrived on campus fall 2012.
Who are the VISP students?
Similar to exchange students, the typical VISP participant comes to Madison for a study abroad experience before returning to their home institution to finish their degree. They are admitted as University Special Students, and typically enroll in upper-level courses across many disciplines for one or more terms.
Our 2019-20 students came from 15 different countries, many of whom are receiving scholarships from their home countries or universities including Fulbright, DAAD, Brittingham Viking Organization, the Taiwanese Ministry of Education, and more.
For more information about our VISP students and their academic success at UW-Madison, see our VISP Quick Facts data reports:
Frequently Asked Questions
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Are VISP students enrolled in a degree program somewhere?
While most of our students are enrolled in a degree program abroad it is not a requirement of VISP. Some students use VISP as a way to determine if they would want to apply for graduate study in the United States; others need to take prerequisites in order to start submitting graduate school applications.
How do they receive academic advising and support?
The VISP coordinators serve as academic advisor and main contact for all VISP students during their time at UW-Madison. If students have specific questions regarding course content or placement, we refer them to the department’s website, course guide, or potentially to the department for more information.
Who is their academic dean for student record issues?
As University Special Students, VISP participants should seek assistance from their VISP advisors in the office of Adult Career & Special Student Services (ACSSS) in the Division of Continuing Studies. As for all University Special Students, our unit serves as their academic dean’s office.
A VISP student asked me for permission to enroll. How do I know what to tell them?
VISP students typically enroll in upper-level courses in their major from their home university. They have the flexibility, however, to enroll in any course open to University Special Students with available seats.
A VISP student asking for permission to enroll in a course with pre-requisites should explain to the faculty their academic background and why they feel they would be an appropriate fit for the course. It would be up to the faculty to decide to grant such a permission. Please feel free to contact the VISP coordinators if you have any questions or concerns.
Can I refer a potential international student to VISP?
Can I bring over a group of students through VISP to study in my department?
Our VISP Cohort Program was created to serve this purpose. Mee Her serves as the main contact for departments interested in hosting a cohort of VISP students. If you know of a group of students who might want to come and study within your department you can find more information on our VISP Cohort Program website.
Does VISP work with recruiting partners or agencies?
UW Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies works with a number of Recruiting Partner/Agents in multiple countries who may be helping prospective students learn about and apply to the Division’s wide array of non-credit and non-degree programming such as our Visiting International Student Program (VISP), the American Culture and English Program (ACE), and the fulltime English as a Second Language Program.
Our Recruiting Partner/Agents may provide students with the following services:
- Advice about the best programs to meet learning objectives
- Support in completing our application
- Help in obtaining a visa to the United States
- Assistance with travel arrangements
Some of our Recruiting Partner/Agents may be compensated directly by UW-Madison Continuing Studies. Some representatives may also charge students additional fees for their services. Students working with Recruiting Partner/Agents do not receive preferential admissions consideration.
Can VISP students enroll in online-only classes?
While most of our students are enrolled in traditional in-person classes, it is possible for VISP to admit students to take online-only coursework. These students would not be issued F-1/J-1 visa paperwork, so they would be taking the classes remotely.
VISP students on F-1/J-1 visa paperwork have limitations about taking online coursework. Please refer to the ISS Online Course Enrollment page of their website for more information.