Is the University of Wisconsin – Madison a Good School?

It probably just came to your knowledge that the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW Madison) is the pride of both an entire state and a large university system. But before you apply to it, make sure that it’s the right fit.

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is a good school for students who want to earn a degree from a public research university celebrated for its academics, student organizations, social scene and Greek life. It’s also suited for those interested in majors in the STEM- and business-related fields.

Here’s an epic fact about UW Madison: Every year, the undergraduate residents of both Southeast and Lakeshore dorms engage in a snowball fight on Bascom Hill, which is the school’s main quadrangle.

University of Wisconsin, Madison

And to keep the ball rolling, check out these UW Madison quick stats:

  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Founding date: 1848
  • Motto: Numen lumen (God, our light)
  • Campus size: 936 acres
  • Campus type: City
  • School type: Liberal land-grant public research university
  • Reputation: Party school
  • Selectivity level: Somewhat selective
  • Number of majors: 125
  • Popular majors: Accounting, Agricultural Sciences, Biology, Business, Communications, Education, Nursing
  • Student body: 45,540 (as per Common Data Set 2020 to 2021)
  • Students per class: 10 to 19 in most classes
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Retention rate: 95%
  • Graduation rate: 84%
  • Athletic affiliation: NCAA Division I
  • Color: Cardinal red and white
  • Mascot: Bucky Badger
  • Number of varsity teams: 23
  • Sports: basketball, cross country, football, golf, hockey, lightweight rowing, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, wrestling

University of Wisconsin – Madison Rankings

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is ranked highly by US News, being #14 in Top Public Schools and #42 in National Universities. On the other hand, it’s #12 in Top Public Universities in America by Niche. UW Madison is #75 in the 2022 QS World University Rankings, from #65 the previous year.

It’s obvious why many college ranking sites regard the University of Wisconsin – Madison highly — it’s the flagship school of the University of Wisconsin System and the official state university of the state of Wisconsin.

Speaking of which, UW Madison is a high-ranking school in the Badger State:

  • #1 in Best Colleges in Wisconsin (College Simply)
  • #1 in Best Colleges in Wisconsin (Niche)
  • #1 in Best Public Colleges in Wisconsin (College Simply)
  • #1 in Top Colleges in Wisconsin (UniRank)
  • #2 in Best Value Colleges in Wisconsin (Niche)
  • #4 in Best Value Colleges in Wisconsin (College Simply)
  • #7 in Most Liberal Colleges in Wisconsin (Niche)
  • #7 in the Midwest (Forbes)

Just because the University of Wisconsin – Madison is highly ranked by many different college ranking sites doesn’t mean right away that you should put it at the top of your college list.

Keep reading to get to know the public school more, thus letting you know whether or not it’s a great fit.

During my first semester at UW-Madison, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience here. The school has a beautiful campus and is located in a great city. The attitude here is very work hard-play hard, as everyone works diligently on weekdays and lets loose on weekends.

What is the University of Wisconsin – Madison Known For?

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is known for, first and foremost, research. The school takes pride in the fact that it partakes in a world-class education and solves real-world problems. UW Madison is also known as a Public Ivy, revered for its academics, diversity, value and student life.

Many students consider adding the University of Wisconsin – Madison to their college list because it’s the flagship school not only of the state of Wisconsin but also the UW System.

Among the school’s more than 100 majors, some of the most popular and highly-ranked are:

  • Accounting
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Finance
  • Kinesiology
  • Math
  • Physical Therapy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Registered Nursing
  • Social Sciences

To date, the University of Wisconsin – Madison has won a total of 29 NCAA championships. Sports that the public institution is known to excel in the most include basketball and cross country.

Is the UW Madison a Party School?

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is a party school. As a matter of fact, it was named the #1 party school in the US by the Princeton Review twice, back in 2005 as well as 2016. For more than 20 years, UW Madison has made it to the top 20 party schools surveys conducted by the Princeton Review.

As of this writing, the University of Wisconsin – Madison is #3 in Top Party Schools in America by Niche. The same popular college ranking site ranks it #1 in Top Party Schools in Wisconsin. Some of the most popular events at UW Madison are Halloween parties and end-of-year block parties.

According to a Niche poll, up to 66% of students agree that they work hard and play hard.

Even if drinking alcohol is not your idea of having a blast, it’s virtually impossible to run out of fun and exciting activities to partake in while completing a program. At the University of Wisconsin – Madison, there are almost 900 student clubs and organizations — students are always welcome to create new ones.

Here are some other top party schools in the state of Wisconsin other than UW Madison:

Beloit CollegeBeloit
Carthage CollegeKenosha
Edgewood CollegeMadison
Lawrence UniversityAppleton
Marquette UniversityMilwaukee
Milwaukee Institute of Arts and DesignMilwaukee
Milwaukee School of EngineeringMilwaukee
Northland CollegeAshland
Ripon CollegeRipon
St. Norbert CollegeDe Pere
University of Wisconsin – Eau ClaireEau Claire
University of Wisconsin – La CrosseLa Crosse
University of Wisconsin – MilwaukeeMilwaukee
University of Wisconsin – OshkoshOshkosh
University of Wisconsin – PlattevillePlatteville
University of Wisconsin – River FallsRiver Falls
University of Wisconsin – Stevens PointStevens Point
University of Wisconsin – StoutMenomonie
University of Wisconsin – SuperiorSuperior
University of Wisconsin – WhitewaterWhitewater
Viterbo UniversityLa Crosse

Based on the list above, it’s apparent that the University of Wisconsin System students know how to party.

University of Wisconsin – Madison Campus

The 936-acre campus of the University of Wisconsin – Madison has a city setting. Surrounded by lakes, it has nearly 400 buildings, including over 20 residence halls providing a home to about 8,000 students living on-campus. The UW Madison campus is #2 in Best College Campuses in Wisconsin by Niche.

When it’s time to close the textbooks for a while, UW Madison students have many places to visit and things to try in the capital city of the state of Wisconsin.

For instance, Madison is best known for its craft beverages, with many events dedicated to them.

There are various museums and botanical gardens in Madison. Downtown, there are plenty of locally-owned restaurants, cafes, bakeshops, food carts and deli stores.

People usually go from point A to point B via buses and bicycles. Since Madison is a small city, it’s possible to explore it on foot — there are extra-wide sidewalks for pedestrians.

Some of the major cities close to the UW Madison campus include:

  • Milwaukee
  • Chicago
  • Saint Paul
  • Minneapolis
  • Fort Wayne
  • Indianapolis

When it comes to safety, FBI data suggests that the risk of becoming a victim of a crime, whether violent or property, in Madison is one in 32. To keep its students out of harm’s way on and around campus, the University of Wisconsin – Madison has provided various programs and resources, such as:

  • The University of Wisconsin Police Department (UWPD)
  • Office of Cybersecurity
  • WiscAlerts
  • Crime Warnings
  • Badger Watch
  • SAFEwalk
  • Nighttime campus bus service
  • Lightway Walking Paths
  • Emergency Telephones (over 60 installed)

What Schools are Similar to the University of Wisconsin – Madison?

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is often compared with high-ranking public and state universities. Many of them share a few common favorable characteristics. Students who apply to UW Madison also tend to apply to the likes of Boston College, Rutgers University and the University of Washington.

Searching for schools similar to the University of Wisconsin – Madison, if it’s your top choice because you know you are what it’s looking for, allows you to fill your college list with institutions that are a good fit.

It’s a good thing that many are similar to it. Lots of them are the most well-known public schools in the land, too.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the institutions similar to UW Madison:

  • Boston College. The oldest and most prestigious Jesuit institution in the US, Boston College has an acceptance rate of 27% and is known for majors such as Economics, Finance, Political Science and Registered Nursing.
  • Indiana University – Bloomington. US News ranks Indiana University – Bloomington #26 in Top Public Schools. As of this writing, the school’s tuition and fees amount to $11,332 (in-state) and $38,352 (out-of-state).
  • University of California – Berkeley. With an acceptance rate of only 16%, the University of California – Berkeley, which is California’s first land-grant university, is a very selective school.
  • University of Colorado – Boulder. Founded five months before Colorado became a state, the University of Colorado – Boulder is considered a Public Ivy, which tends to focus on modern, research-based education.
  • University of Michigan. College Simply ranks the University of Michigan #20 in Best Value Colleges in the US and #1 in Best Value Colleges in Michigan. Niche ranks it #2 in Top Party Schools in Michigan.
  • University of Washington. Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is one of the oldest West Coast schools. It’s #1 in Best Public Colleges in Washington by College Simply and #7 in Public Colleges by Forbes.

Related Article: How Hard is to Get into the University of Wisconsin – Madison

Acceptance Rate

A little more than half of all applicants to the University of Wisconsin – Madison receive an acceptance letter from the school’s admissions office. With an acceptance rate of 54%, UW Madison is a moderately selective school. Applying early might increase one’s chances of getting admitted into it.

College-bound high schoolers who are not that confident with their applications may consider adding the University of Wisconsin – Madison to their college list if they like to attend a highly ranked school.

That’s because their chances of getting an offer to enroll are high.

Some of the most selective colleges and universities in Wisconsin have acceptance rates higher than 50%. This means that you have a 50/50 chance or more of being accepted into the more than 80 institutions for higher education in the state, including high-ranking ones such as Marquette University, Edgewood College and UW Madison.

Let’s take a look at some of the most selective postsecondary schools in Wisconsin:

Silver Lake College of the Holy FamilyManitowoc51%
University of Wisconsin – MadisonMadison54%
Herzing University KenoshaKenosha57%
Mount Mary CollegeMilwaukee58%
Beloit CollegeBeloit62%
Lawrence UniversityAppleton62%
Milwaukee School of EngineeringMilwaukee62%
Concordia University WisconsinMequon64%
Marian UniversityFond Du Lac65%
University of Wisconsin – ParksideKenosha66%
Carroll UniversityWaukesha67%
Northland CollegeAshland67%
Carthage CollegeKenosha68%
Milwaukee Institute of Art and DesignMilwaukee68%
Alverno CollegeMilwaukee69%
Ripon CollegeRipon70%
Edgewood CollegeMadison72%
University of Wisconsin – La CrosseLa Crosse73%
University of Wisconsin OshkoshOshkosh76%
Maranatha Baptist Bible CollegeWatertown77%

Still on the fence as to whether or not you might have a difficult time getting admitted into UW Madison? Let this article give you a much better idea of how hard it is to get into the institution.

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Early Admission at University of Wisconsin – Madison

The University of Wisconsin – Madison does not offer Early Decision. Students whose top-choice school is UW Madison and who would like to apply early may do so via Early Action. The deadline is the same as most Early Decision deadlines. However, Early Action is a non-binding early admissions plan.

You can apply to the University of Wisconsin – Madison earlier than your classmates. Similarly, you can also be notified earlier by the school regarding its decision, which can be accepted, rejected or a deferral.

Unlike Early Decision, Early Action that UW Madison offers is non-binding.

This means that you can apply to another college or university after receiving an acceptance letter from the public institution. Similarly, you may also apply Early Action to other schools. Or you may simply choose to apply to UW Madison Regular Decision if you believe that your senior grades or later test score could help improve your application.

Here are the most important dates to remember by any UW Madison aspirant:

Early Action1-NovOn or before January 31
Regular Decision1-FebOn or before March 31

According to the school’s admissions office, applications will be reviewed only until all required materials are received. The deadlines for the submission of materials are November 8 (Early Action) and February 8 (Regular Decision).

The main reason I wanted to study at UW Madison was because of all the diversity. However, I’ve come to realize that this school doesn’t have much diversity at all. The majority of the school consist of white students. One thing I would change about this school is the “Greek Life.” There’s this whole concept that if you don’t go out and party all the time, you’re not cool.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison?

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is highly ranked by college ranking sites in terms of value. In-state tuition costs $9,273. The amount increases to nearly four times for out-of-state students. The total cost of attending UW Madison for a year is 26,553 for residents and $53,613 for non-residents.

Residents of Wisconsin will find that UW Madison’s COA is easy on the pocket.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for non-Wisconsin residents who wish to earn a degree from the public institution. That’s because tuition goes from $9,273 to $36,333 for them.

Related Article: 425 Colleges Charging In-State Tuition for Out-of-State Applicants

It’s because of this why out-of-state students should carefully weigh the pros and cons of attending the University of Wisconsin – Madison for four years before including its name on their college list. This is especially true for those who find cost the most important factor in the college selection process.

The following is a breakdown of the estimated cost of attending UW Madison for one academic year:

Books and supplies$1,150$1,150
Room and board$11,558$11,558

How Much Do Graduates Make

Employed alumni members of the University of Wisconsin – Madison make approximately $47,100 annually six years from initial enrollment to the school. Meanwhile, 10 years after attending UW Madison for the first time, graduates make around $64,800 a year, which is 89% higher than the national median.

Planning to declare a major that would be able to give you the biggest annual paychecks possible?

Then make sure that you decide on one carefully. That’s because what you will commit to is one of the things that could have an effect on your yearly earnings. The same is true for other contributing factors such as location, industry, employer, job position and work experience.

Let’s take a quick look at the estimated initial annual salaries of UW Madison graduates make by major:

Computer Engineering$76,900
Computer and Information Sciences$71,500
Industrial Engineering$69,700
Mechanical Engineering$69,100
Chemical Engineering$68,900
Real Estate$68,100
Materials Engineering$66,300
Electrical Engineering$65,100
Communications Engineering$65,100
Business Administration$57,800
Food Science and Technology$52,600
Design and Applied Arts$45,600
Animal Sciences$36,500

Just Before You Apply to the University of Wisconsin – Madison

The University of Wisconsin – Madison is undeniably good for anyone who would like to get a college diploma from a flagship school admired for many things most college-bound teens look for in an institution for higher education, ranging from academics, programs, social scene, Greek life to athletics.

Above, we discussed so many different important matters about UW Madison. Use all the information you came across when deciding whether or not the public institution is the right school for you.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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