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Program options

What degree or certificate is right for you?

Bachelor’s degrees

A bachelor’s degree is awarded upon the completion of an academic program that requires four to five years of full-time equivalent preparation. Depending on the field, graduates are qualified to work in entry or management-level positions. A bachelor’s degree is typically required for acceptance into a graduate program.

Doctoral degrees

A doctoral degree is awarded upon the completion of a PhD program and is the highest level of academic degree which, on average, takes four to seven years to complete. Graduates generally qualify to work in top-tier careers and may notice advancement in their current profession. A doctorate degree is typically a basic threshold for certain professional roles, including the licensed practice of medical care, professorship, or professional research.

Graduate-level Certificate

Graduate-level certificates, called capstone certificates at UW–Madison, generally focus on professional skills and certification in a particular discipline, and typically take a year to complete. This type of certificate helps individuals advance in their current field or obtain an advanced position in another field. Students typically need a bachelor’s degree to pursue a graduate-level certificate.

Master’s degrees

A master’s degree is awarded upon the completion of a graduate program where students specialize in an area of study and typically takes 1 to 2 years to complete. Depending on the field, graduates may qualify for work in an advanced or executive-level position. A bachelor’s degree is typically required for admission, along with a minimum GPA and an acceptable score on an entrance exam.

Personal & professional development

Certificates for personal and professional development allow students to specialize in topics and build skills related to their workplace, career, or personal interests.

Specialist degree

A specialist degree is an advanced graduate degree that provides deeper education and training in a particular area of study. Traditionally earned after a master’s degree but before or in lieu of a doctorate, a specialist degree may include practical field work or an internship.

Undergraduate-level Certificate

Undergraduate programs generally focus on a specific topic or theme, and are designed to be completed in conjunction with an undergraduate degree. Certificates give students the opportunity to pursue a subject of interest and have the completion of the course of study recognized.

How will you learn at UW–Madison?

We offer a variety of master’s and certificate programs in each of these formats. Research your program of interest to discover your options.


Programs have a higher course load to condense the time to completion. Compared to regular programs, accelerated programs allow you to complete your education with minimal disruption to your life and career.


Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in the evenings and/or on weekends. Evening/weekend programs help you keep your day job and other commitments while still benefiting from in-person classwork.


Courses typically meet in person during weekdays on the UW–Madison campus. Face-to-face programs let you experience life in downtown Madison while learning in a traditional classroom environment.


Programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats. Contact the program for its specific course schedule. Hybrid programs blend in-person and online courses, so you benefit from the traditional classroom environment and the flexibility of some online instruction.


Courses are conducted 100% online. Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience. Online programs offer you the convenience of distance learning and the opportunity to participate in a rich, interactive learning environment.