VISP Thematic Track Program

VISP Thematic Track programs are created by interested UW-Madison academic departments in consultation with the VISP program staff. This program facilitates the admission of international students for study predominantly within a hosting academic department at UW-Madison. Each Thematic Track is unique, so your department can work with our staff to arrange a program model that works best for you.  They can come over the summer, or for one or more semesters.  You can see a list of current thematic track offerings on our website.

Why host a VISP Thematic Track program?
Creating a VISP Thematic Track program can help to fill under-enrolled courses within the department, diversify your student body, strengthen ties to foreign institutions, and is an avenue for generating revenue for your department. Tuition paid by thematic track students can directly support the costs associated with offering courses (faculty salary, development costs, supplies, expenses, etc.). Learn more about hosting a VISP Thematic Track program in our video below.

Summer is a great option
With more space available in classes, flexible schedules, and support from Summer Term, many departments have begun to plan and explore potential options for developing a summer VISP Thematic Track program. UW-Madison academic departments hosting a Summer VISP thematic track program receive optional wrap-around services and additional support from Summer Term. Learn more on our Developing a Summer Thematic Track page.

Contact Us

Meet the International Team
Telephone: (608)263-6960

Download the latest VISP Thematic Track Memo to learn more about the program model.

More information:

Developing a Summer Thematic track

VISP Webinar Series

Can VISP assist in recruiting students for our program?
The VISP staff can help steer independent students with matching academic interests towards your Thematic Track if you would like assistance augmenting your numbers. These students would factor into the standard revenue calculations. VISP cannot guarantee that we will receive independent students for any given term, and therefore departments are expected to fulfill the initial recruitment of students.

Departments wanting to open recruitment outside of a preselected group should request their Thematic VISP track to be included in our current Thematic VISP opportunities by contacting the VISP Coordinators.

What is our department’s responsibility in hosting a Thematic Track?
You will identify an appropriate array of courses within your department to ensure that the bulk of the students’ full-time enrollment requirement is accessible for students in your academic area. Departments should plan to provide and communicate appropriate course selection and content advising for students. Departments recruiting from direct partner universities will act as the liaison to the foreign institution. Assistance with additional wrap-around services often requested by partners in the summer may be available. Learn more by visiting Developing a Summer VISP Thematic Track.

Can we admit students to take online-only coursework if they cannot or do not wish to come to the United States due to travel restrictions or other factors?
In some instances this can work, but please reach out to us for more information.

If a student starts as online-only, can they later come to campus for in-person classes in a subsequent term?
Yes, you would work with the VISP Coordinators to think through this plan. As it takes time for paperwork to be submitted, please have the student let us know at least 2 months before the start of the in-person term.

How does Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS) assist with hosting a Thematic Track?
ACSSS serves as the main advising and academic dean’s office responsible for all University Special Students including VISP. Our office will oversee much of the general student communications. We will coordinate the application and admissions process as University Special Students. We will facilitate the student visa request process, serve as their Academic Dean’s office, assist with housing, and provide a comprehensive orientation upon their arrival in the US.

Assistance with additional wrap-around services often requested by partners in the summer may be available. Learn more by visiting Developing a Summer VISP Thematic Track.

How did this program develop and how is it supported by the University?
For the history about our VISP Thematic Track program, please refer to the VISP Thematic Track Policy Agreement.

If you are interested in exploring the idea of hosting a VISP Thematic Track please contact the VISP coordinators.