Do you want a bachelor’s degree, but need to complete your general education requirements first? Here’s your chance to earn the credits you need at your own pace, on your schedule, using knowledge you already have.
Offered for the first time in the UW Flexible Option format, the Associate of Arts and Science (AAS) degree is the foundation for more than 200 college majors. All University of Wisconsin four-year institutions, including UW-Madison, consider the AAS degree from UW Colleges to satisfy the university-wide general education breadth requirements. An associate degree also signals to employers that you have the advanced skills in communication and critical thinking necessary to succeed in today’s workplaces.
Students Who Need to Complete General Education Requirements
For students with transferable college credit who would like to earn their bachelor’s degrees (whether through a UW Flexible Option program or any other University of Wisconsin program), the competency sets offered by this flexible Associate of Arts and Science degree can be used to fulfill the general education requirements of the degree.
Who Should Apply
The UW Flexible Option is especially designed for self-motivated nontraditional students who want their previous schooling, work skills, and priorknowledge to apply toward degrees or certificates. The competency-based and self-paced format of the UW Flexible Option fits the schedules of students who must balance work and family responsibilities with educational goals. Because most UW Flexible Option competencies and assessments are delivered online, students have the opportunity to learn when and where they choose.
This self-paced program is ideally suited for:
- Motivated, disciplined self-starters who can work independently
- Students who may have completed some college-level work
- Adults with valuable professional work experience
- Those who recognize the value of a University of Wisconsin degree
About the University to Wisconsin Colleges
The University of Wisconsin Colleges is the UW System’s network of 13 freshman/sophomore campuses and UW Colleges Online. It offers an Associate of Arts and Science degree and prepares students of all ages and backgrounds to transfer into baccalaureate and professional programs. The UW Colleges serves more than 14,000 degree-seeking students.
University of Wisconsin Colleges is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools.
To earn an Associate of Arts and Science degree, students must complete a total of 60 credits, including core requirements in writing and mathematics, and a minimum number of credits in breadth categories such as fine arts and humanities, plus electives. If you have already completed equivalent courses, those credits may be eligible for transfer. At the UW Flexible Option, you are not locked in to traditional semesters or test dates. If you are able to master the material more quickly, UW Flexible Option gives you the opportunity to prove your mastery through an assessment and move ahead faster. Please check here for a description of the AAS requirements.
Core Requirements (English and Math competency sets)
- ENG 102—Critical Writing, Reading, and Research II – 3 credits
Students will either complete a placement exam or transfer in an appropriate prerequisite to qualify as ready to attempt mastery of competencies for this core course.
- A composition course focusing on researched academic writing that presents information, ideas, and arguments. Emphasis will be on the writing process, critical thinking, and critical reading. Prereq: A grade of C or better in ENG 101 Composition I or exemption through a sufficiently high placement assessment. EL
- MAT 110—College Algebra – 3 credits
Students will either complete a placement exam or transfer in an appropriate prerequisite to qualify as ready to attempt mastery of competencies for this core course.
- Definition of function and sequence; linear and nonlinear functions and graphs including logarithmic and exponential functions; systems of linear equations and Gauss-Jordan method; theory of polynomial equations; conic sections and optional topics such as mathematical induction, matrix solution of linear systems and Cramer’s rule. Prereq: A grade of C or better in MAT 105 or placement based on placement test score. MS
Fine Arts and Humanities (minimum of 9 credits)
Students must acquire knowledge of ideas, beliefs, and abiding concerns pertaining to the human condition as represented in literature, philosophy, and cultural history. They must acquire a level of aesthetic appreciation of the human imagination as expressed in the fine arts, and appreciation of the impact of the arts upon the quality and character of human life.
- MUS 173—Music and Literature and Appreciation – 3 credits
- A guide to the understanding of music through listening experiences in the various styles and historical periods.
- GSW 102—Women’s Voices – 3 credits
- An introductory and interdisciplinary humanities course drawing upon diverse texts and methodologies representative of the following humanities disciplines: art, philosophy, religious studies, music, film, history, literature, feminist theory, cultural studies, media studies, and performance art/drama. Students will examine multicultural readings ranging from creative nonfiction, essays, feminist theory, philosophical reflection, fiction, poetry, historical accounts, drama, cultural critique, feminist analysis, memoir, visual arts, letters, diaries, and others to build an understanding of the multiple scholarly approaches in the humanities to the study of women’s lives.
- SPA 101—First-Semester Spanish – 4 credits
- For students who have had no previous training in the language. Emphasis on reading, writing, listening, and speaking in Spanish. The competency set also may include cultural studies of Spain and Latin America. PLEASE NOTE: This is only ONE of the TWO units required to satisfy the Foreign Language Requirement for the UWM Bachelor’s Degree. The second competency set of the sequence is not yet available.
Mathematical and Natural Sciences (minimum of 11 credits)
Students must know of the nature and workings of the physical universe. They must understand scientific method, the functions of numerical data and the solving of problems through mathematical and statistical computations, as well as the application of the scientific method in laboratory and experimental work. For this, an appropriate level of computer literacy is required. Students must also be aware of environmental conditions and challenges, the interrelationships of lifeforms and ecosystems, and the impact of human activities upon natural environments.
- BIO 141—Heredity – 3 credits
- Principles of heredity with applications to plant, animal and human inheritance; current advances in genetics and their bearing on the life sciences. Lecture and may also include demonstrations, discussion and field trips. Lecture and may also include demonstrations, discussion and field trips. NS
- CHE 124—Applied Chemistry and Society (Laboratory Science) – 4 credits
- A course for non-science majors that covers basic chemistry concepts in a social context. May include explorations of how chemistry impacts the environment, public health, energy policies, and other contemporary social issues. Consists of lectures and laboratories and may also include discussions and demonstrations. Not a suitable prerequisite for higher-level Chemistry courses or pre-professional programs. A student may not earn more than four credits by taking CHE 121, CHE 123 and CHE 124.
- CHE 250—Review and Updates in Chemistry and Biochemistry
- The primary goal for the Review and Updates in Chemistry and Biochemistry competency set is to help students understand how chemistry is a foundation in the education of health care professionals. The competency set begins with the basics of chemistry and then illustrates how that chemistry is at work in our bodies. Students will learn how proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids are built from atoms. Even though these molecules contain the same types of atoms, their structures and properties are very different. A large part of the story is to explain how these different structures play different roles in biochemical processes.
- GEO 125—Physical Geography – 5 credits
- The geography of Earth’s physical characteristics, including weather and climate, climate types, water, soils, Earth materials, landforms, and Earth resources; study of the processes and interactions creating Earth’s physical geographic patterns. Two or four hours of lab per week depending on the credit. May not be taken for credit by students who have had GEO 120, GEO 123 or GEO 124. NS/LS
- HES 209—Nutrition and Weight Control – 3 credits
- This competency set will examine the basic principles of nutrition, digestion, and metabolism and the effects of these principles on one’s diet, weight, fitness level, and overall health. The functions, requirements, and applications of nutrients and nutritional needs throughout the life cycle will be studied. The competency set will also include the basic knowledge and application of nutrient recommendations, dietary guidelines, and interrelationships of foods. It will also examine the issues of alternative nutrition, food safety, and eating disorders. The competency set will include personal diet assessment and development of personal health goals.
- MAT 117—Elementary Statistic (Math for NON-GER Students)
- The primary aim of the competency set is a basic understanding and use of statistical concepts and methods to facilitate study and research in other disciplines. Includes measures of central tendency, measures of variability, grouped data, the normal distribution, central limit theorem, hypothesis testing, estimation, T-distribution and chi square test. Prereq: A grade of C or better in MAT 103B or MAT 105 or MAT 108 or equivalent.
- PHY 110—Physics for Health Sciences – 3 credits
- A descriptive introduction to those basic concepts of physics which have application to human health in general and to the medical and paramedical professions in particular. Primary attention will be paid to the physics of various functions of the human body (e.g., muscular and skeletal motions, the several senses and neural processes) and to the physics of commonly used instruments and equipment. Prereq: High school algebra and geometry or cons. instr.
Social Sciences (minimum of 9 credits)
Students must understand the nature and dynamics of human social systems and how and why people organize their lives and resources. In doing so, students will learn about both their own and diverse cultures to acquire a historical perspective on long-term characteristics and consequences of social change and an informed understanding of the variety of human conditions and the interrelationships of nations, regions, peoples, and individuals.
- ANT 100—General Anthropology – 3 credits
- A survey of the subfields of anthropology, especially archaeology and physical and cultural anthropology. The course explores human biological evolution and variation, cultural evolution, language, and culture change. SS
- SOC 101—Introduction to Sociology – 3 credits
- Introduction to the basic concepts, theories and methods of Sociology, emphasizing the significance of the self and culture, social process and organization, and forces of social stability and change. SS
- POL 104—American Government and Politics – 3 credits
- Analysis of the decision-making structure and processes of American national government, including the role of parties and interest groups, and the value preferences within American society which affect the formation of public policy. SS
- PSY 202—Introductory Psychology – 3 credits
- Survey of major content areas in Psychology. Topics include research methodology, learning, memory, cognition, biological psychology, sensation, perception, motivation, emotion, development, personality, psychopathology, and social psychology. Students may not receive credit for both PSY 201 and PSY 202. SS
Application and Performance (minimum of 3 credits)
Students must demonstrate an understanding of concepts, theory, and knowledge through the application of their skills and understanding to specific problems and activities.
- ART 161—Introduction to Photography – 3 credits
- Black and white still photography: the camera, the negative, the print. Lecture-lab. AP
- BUS 201—Introductory Accounting – 4 credits
- Fundamental principles, terminology, techniques, and applications; books, accounts and financial statements for retailing and wholesaling concerns; treatment and presentation of proprietorship, partnership and corporate accounts. Prereq: Open to second semester freshmen or cons. instr. AP
- CPS 139—Web Page Development – 2 credits
- Development of web pages using HTML and Cascading Style Sheets. Introduction to XML documents and XHTML standards. This course involves extensive hands-on experience. AP
- CTA 103—Introductory Public Speaking – 3 credits
- Study of the principles and techniques of effective speaking and listening in a variety of selected communication experiences. AP
- EGR 110—Engineering Graphics – 3 credits
- An introductory course in engineering graphics focusing on graphical communication. Topics include descriptive geometry elements, visualization, engineering drawing techniques, orthographic projection, pictorial representation, auxiliary views, section views, and basic dimensioning. The course incorporates computer aided drafting (CAD) with engineering applications using 2-D drawing and 3-D modeling techniques. AP
Ethnic Studies (minimum of 3 credits)
Students must become aware of and sensitive to diversity issues and problems. Courses fulfilling this requirement will have a substantial emphasis on cultural diversity within the United States and examine these issues from at least one of the following perspectives: African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, and American Indian topics.
- HIS 102—History of the United States: From the Era of the Civil War to the Present – 3 credits
- A survey of American political, economic, social, and intellectual history from the era of the Civil War to the Present. As an Ethnic Studies (ES) course, this course thoroughly integrates the experiences of African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and/or Asian Americans into US history in a manner that fosters understanding and appreciation of the perspectives and experiences of at least two of these groups as well as their contributions to, and interactions within, American society. SS/ES
- MUS 273—Jazz History and Appreciation – 3 credits
- An introduction to the styles and forms of jazz through a study of its history, literature, cultural influences, musical structure, and prominent performers. Includes recorded listening experiences. FA/ES
Interdisciplinary Studies (minimum of 3 credits)
Students must acquire an appreciation for the multiple dimensions of any given subject by applying the content, methods, and assumptions of two or more disciplines. Students will learn to integrate knowledge from across the curriculum. A course is an interdisciplinary studies course if instructors from two or more disciplines teach the course.
- REL 101—Introduction to the Study of Religion – 3 credits
- This course introduces students to various methods employed in the academic study of religion and will provide opportunity for students to apply these methods to diverse expressions of the religious life. HU/IS
- GSW 101—Introduction to Women’s Studies – 3 credits
- An introduction to the major issues addressed by women’s studies with an emphasis on interdisciplinary social science theories and methodologies involved in gaining accurate knowledge about women’s lives and contributions to society, both within the United States and around the world. Perspectives, texts, and methodologies from across the social science disciplines ranging from history, economics, sociology, political science, public health, criminal justice, psychology, and others will be used to understand the experience of women and the cultural construction of gender. SS/IS
- BUS 101—Introduction to Business – 3 credits
- Introduction to the role of business in the modern political, social and economic environments; describes career opportunities. EL
- ENG 101—College Writing and Critical Reading – 3 credits
- A composition course focusing on academic writing, the writing process, and critical reading. Emphasis will be on essays that incorporate readings. Prerq: A grade of C or better in a basic writing course (ENG 097, ENG 098, or LEA 106 when taken as a three-credit course) or exemption through a sufficiently high placement assessment. EL
- MAT 105—Intermediate Algebra – 4 credits
- Emphasizes algebraic techniques with polynomials, fractional expressions, exponents and radicals, linear and quadratic equations, and inequalities. Introduction to functions, their graphs, and analytic geometry. Prereq: A grade of C or better in Elementary Algebra or placement based on placement test score. EL
Check out the complete list of competency sets offered through UW Flexible Option.
The UW Flexible Option offers working adults a more affordable way to earn a UW degree. Instead of paying by course or by credit, you pay a flat rate for a three-month subscription period. You won’t spend valuable time or money sitting through courses you don’t need. If you already know the material, you may be able to pass assessments more quickly, and potentially accelerate your time to graduation.
During your subscription period, you are able to access learning materials, complete assessments, and receive academic support. Subscription periods begin on the second day of every month. You can choose from two subscription options, each with a different tuition, depending on the number of competency sets you wish to attempt during the subscription period. Not sure what a competency set is? Check out our sample competency set to see one for yourself.
- All-You-Can-Learn Option: Choosing this option allows you to enroll in two or more competency (skill) sets. You may enroll in as many competency sets as you can successfully master within a three-month period for a flat tuition rate of $2,250. This option is ideal for motivated learners who would like to earn their degrees or certificates more quickly.
- Single Competency Set Option: If you would like to study at a slower pace during a three-month subscription period, you may enroll in a single competency set. As with the All-You-Can-Learn Option, you must successfully demonstrate mastery of each competency in the set through a series of assessments. The tuition for this “one-set-per-subscription-period” model is $900. Note: After the tenth day of the subscription period, students who are enrolled in the Single Competency Set level are not eligible to add additional competency sets during their subscription period. Such students must wait until a subsequent subscription period to add additional competency sets.
|Subscription options||Term length||Tuition||Competency sets you can complete|
|All-You-Can-Learn||3 months||$2,250||2 or more|
|Single Competency Set||3 months||$900||1|
Additional Fees: Tuition covers assessments and mentoring, but excludes the cost of books and other special materials that may be required for your program.
Ready to flex your potential and fulfill your goals and dreams? You’ve come to the right place!
If you haven’t already read our Frequently Asked Questions, please do so now to gain a better understanding of the UW Flexible Option before you apply for admission. You may apply for a start date five months in advance, but no later than one month in advance. All of your application materials must be received by us a full month in advance of your desired start date.
Guidelines and Applying for Admission
Our admission review process considers many factors when assessing your application for admission to a UW Flexible Option program. Your high school records, strength of prior college coursework, rigor of curriculum and academic readiness, test scores, grade point average, academic goals, relevant work experience, and your potential for success will all be considered. If you have not connected with one of our helpful UW Flexible Option Enrollment Advisers yet, please contact us at 1-877-895-3276 or via email at email@example.com to discuss your readiness for this program.
With the exception of the UW-Extension Bachelor of Business Administration (BSBA) program, international students are not accepted into UW Flexible Option programs at this time.
Students New to UW Flexible Option
Once you have spoken with a UW Flexible Option Enrollment Adviser (1-877-895-3276) to determine whether this innovative education option is right for you, your next step is to formally apply. Keep in mind that when you apply to a UW Flexible Option Associate of Arts & Science, you are applying to the University of Wisconsin Colleges. The requirements for admission and graduation are the same as if you were applying to a traditional on-campus or online program.
To apply for admission to a UW Flexible Option program:
- Complete the online University of Wisconsin System Application for Undergraduate Admission, found at apply.wisconsin.edu.
- Submit the application processing fee. A $50 nonrefundable fee is required for students applying as degree-seeking candidates to a UW System campus. The fee is not required if any of the following is true:
>Your last campus at which you were pursuing a degree was one of the UW Colleges or UW Colleges online, or
>You previously were pursuing a degree at the campus to which you are now applying
- Send transcripts. We require official transcripts, sent directly from your high school of graduation (beginning with grade 9) and all post-secondary institutions you have attended. If you did not graduate from high school, completion of a GED and an official copy of your scores are required. Please have your official transcripts sent either electronically via a secure credentialing service such as Parchment or Credentials or have your official transcripts mailed to:
UW Flexible Option Enrollment Team
UW-Extension – Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning
5602 Research Park Blvd., Suite 303
Madison, WI 53719
- Complete the Holistic Student Profile. Each student enrolling in UW Flexible Option is provided with academic guidance and coaching that is tailored to meet individual needs. To assist our team in preparing the best path for you, you are asked to complete our Holistic Student Profile. A link to this brief online survey will be provided when we receive your application.
- Be sure to review important dates to remember.
Students Returning to the UW Flexible Option
If you were previously enrolled in the UW Flexible Option and now wish to return after a period of time away, discover your next steps.
Most University of Wisconsin System campuses require students to complete a specific number of credits “in residence” to earn a degree. (“Resident credits” are credits earned with the campus granting the degree.) Transfer students are responsible for fulfilling these residency requirements.
At the UW Colleges, a minimum of 60 credits is required to earn this degree. When completing these 60 credits, students must satisfy one of the following: At least 36 of the 60 credits must be earned in the UW Colleges, or at least 12 of the final 24 credits must be earned in the UW Colleges.
Placement tests are designed to measure prerequisite skills that help us place you into the correct college-level English and math competency sets.
You will be asked to take a placement test if:
- You are a new freshman student who has not previously attended college
- You are a transfer student who has not completed any college-level English and/or math courses
If you fit one of these categories but previously took placement tests for another UW campus within the last 2 years, you will not be asked to take the tests again.
During the application process for UW Flexible Option, you will be notified if a placement test is required. If you are required to take a test, an Admissions Specialist will explain the process and provide you with instructions to make arrangements. A variety of testing options are available to meet your needs.
It is important that you complete your placement tests in a timely manner—preferably as soon as possible after you learn they are required. Test results must be received by no later than the first day of the month prior to your subscription period start date. This allows your Academic Success Coach time to talk with you about the appropriate English or math level at which you should begin your studies, and ensures that you have enough time to enroll in your required competency set(s).
Still have questions about the admission process? Check out our Admission FAQ page.