You had always meant to earn a degree. But somehow, life had other ideas. Before you knew it, you were working full time—maybe even supporting a family. By then, traditional college courses were no longer an option. That’s why we created the UW Flexible Option—a smart new way to earn a UW degree or certificate. Made for busy adults, the Flexible Option lets you start when you want. Advance at your pace. Test when you’re ready. And earn credit for what you already know. It’s more than flexible—it’s focused on you.

Led by partnerships throughout the UW System and UW-Extension, the UW Flexible Option draws upon the expertise of UW faculty to offer a more personalized, convenient, and affordable way for adults and other nontraditional students to earn a University of Wisconsin degree or certificate.

UW Flex Option annual report
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The Flexible Option’s self-directed, competency-based degree and certificate programs let you start any month, work at your own pace, and earn credit using knowledge you already have—whether that knowledge was gained through prior coursework, military training, on-the-job training, or other learning experiences.

Unlike traditional semester-based classroom and online programs, the UW Flexible Option awards credit based on competency, not class time. You make progress by passing a series of assessments—tests, papers, and other projects—that prove you have mastered competencies—the skills and knowledge identified by UW faculty as essential to your chosen degree or certificate. As soon as you demonstrate mastery of an area, you earn credit and move on to the next competency and assessment.

You work on your own, but receive support from an Academic Success Coach who will personalize your lesson plan, help you prepare for assessments, and help you select the learning resources—such as textbooks, websites, and open online courses—you need to succeed.

Because Flexible Option programs are created by the same expert faculty as traditional UW programs, using the same rigorous content and standards, you can look forward to graduating with the same recognized and respected UW credential as students who attend classes on campus.

UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, and UW Colleges are the first UW institutions to offer programs in the new Flexible Option format. Several other UW System institutions are working to offer UW Flex options for their degree programs in the future.

To find out more about how the Flexible Option works, visit our FAQs page.


hlc-accred-logo.originalInstitutions offering UW Flexible Option programs—University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, and UW-Colleges—are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools.



Call a friendly enrollment adviser to find out more about the UW Flexible Option. If you would like to assess your readiness for this self-paced, online education option, we invite you to take the Flex Fit self-evaluation. This free online assessment will help you and an adviser determine whether Flex is a good fit for your lifestyle, education needs, and goals. Once you have completed your evaluation, call us to discuss your results and next steps. Get started today!

Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CT; Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; first Saturday of the month, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Other ways to contact us:

Email: flex@uwex.edu
Fax: 608-262-4096

Flexible Option Enrollment Team
UW-Extension–Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning
5602 Research Park Blvd., Suite 303
Madison, WI 53719