Student Life

A UW–Madison Degree, All Online

The first fully remote undergraduate offering expands access for nontraditional students.

Student studies on laptop on Bascom Hill

The online personal-finance program is designed for adults who seek the flexibility to finish their studies around their existing schedules. Bryce Richter

Starting this fall, students will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree from UW–Madison without once climbing Bascom Hill — or ever setting foot on campus.

The School of Human Ecology has opened enrollment for an online personal-finance program, the university’s first fully remote undergraduate offering. The program is designed for adults who have already earned some college credits or an associate degree and seek the flexibility to finish their studies around their existing schedules.

“Online options expand access and allow us to bring a UW–Madison degree within reach for more nontraditional undergraduates,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

The UW’s traditional program in personal finance is ranked second nationally by The curriculum prepares students for a range of careers in financial advising, analysis, wealth and risk management, product development, and consumer behavior. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 15 percent growth in personal-finance careers between 2016 and 2026.

UW Continuing Studies has worked for years to identify possible degree offerings, develop digital infrastructure, and train instructors on how to deliver courses online. The personal-finance program’s high demand and nimble operations positioned it for online piloting, says Nancy Wong, chair of the Department of Consumer Science, which confers the major.

“This is not going to be a separate or stepchild program,” she adds. “It’s the same degree with an online option, and it’s taught by the same instructors.”

The university entered the digital learning sphere more than 20 years ago — long before the COVID-19 pandemic forced all spring 2020 courses to move online. Now, the UW offers nearly three dozen online master’s degrees and professional certificates, and there are plans to launch more undergraduate programs under the UW–Madison Online initiative.

Published in the Summer 2020 issue


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