Developing a Summer Thematic Track with VISP

In 2013, VISP began working with UW-Madison academic departments to offer thematic tracks programs. This innovative model has provided significant value-added revenue to a dozen departments housed in eight Schools and Colleges. Now 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. 

What Makes the Summer VISP Thematic Track Different?

UW-Madison academic departments hosting a Summer VISP thematic track program receive optional wrap-around services and additional support from Summer Term. This model will apply when it is a credit-based academic program designed for a group of nondegree international students who will focus their studies within the hosting academic department during the Summer Term.

Why host a Summer Thematic Track?

  • Help increase enrollment
  • Generate departmental revenue
  • Strengthen ties to foreign institutions
  • Receive additional programming support from DCS

The Uniqueness of Summer Term

Short Session

At only 4 or 8 weeks in length, summer is a more affordable option for students than a full semester or year. They're also attractive for those who want a study abroad experience while not missing out on required course sequences back home.

Course Offerings

Unlike during the academic year when students need 3-4 courses in your department, the shorter summer sessions means only 1-2 course options should be reserved for VISP students--helpful for departments with limited seats available during the year.

"Well Red," a sculpture by artist Douwe Blumberg of a studious-looking UW-Madison mascot Bucky Badger sitting atop a pile of books, looks out on Lake Mendota from Alumni Park at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the autumn morning of Oct. 8, 2017. The newly-opened park, part of the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA), is located between the Memorial Union and Red Gym (Armory and Gymnasium) overlooking the shoreline.

Well-rounded Experience

Sending universities abroad often request a customized program with wrap-around services for summer students. VISP & Summer Term can provide programming support to create a comprehensive and engaging summer experience for the students.

Potential Revenue Stream

Eighty percent of the gross tuition revenue generated from students in the thematic track goes to the School and Colleges’ 131 fund account where the department resides. The department will need to work with their School and Colleges’ dean and/or budget office to determine the amount that will be transferred to the department. Summer is an excellent opportunity for academic departments to generate revenue, especially in a short amount of time.

Example Revenue
Based on special student tuition rate


Optional Wrap-Around Services Available

  • Program support and management
  • Supplemental program promotion
  • Application and admission
  • Course enrollment
  • Secure housing
  • Third-party payment
  • Chaperone support
  • General advising
  • Serve as the student’s academic dean’s office
  • Airport pick-up (cost share)
  • ISS check-in
  • Wiscard pick-up
  • Cultural and social events
  • Facilitate tuition capture and transfer of funds to college/school
  • Program survey and evaluation

Contact Us

Jayne Arnold
VISP Thematic Track Liaison

Mee Her
Program Coordinator, Summer Term

Other Opportunities for Collaboration

In addition to developing a summer thematic track program, we invite you to explore other partnership opportunities with VISP. Contact the VISP Coordinators to learn more. 

  • VISP Fall and/or Spring Thematic Track: Work with VISP to host a semester and/or academic year thematic track for international students. 
  • VISP + Master’s Degree Pathways : Build a pathway to your existing master’s degrees through the VISP program.