Student Life

Making Summer Term Spectacular

UW students and members of the Madison community enjoy a warm summer day at the Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Over the last four years, UW–Madison has transformed the summer academic experience.

Summer’s not what it used to be — not at UW–Madison, anyway.

Summer on campus has always been swell, boasting one-of-a-kind study spots like the Memorial Union Terrace and Picnic Point. But over the last four years, the university has transformed the summer academic experience to better help students advance their degrees and prepare for their careers. If summer term 2019 is any indication, the plan is working.

Online only courses


in 2015


in 2019

Scholarship funding


in 2015


in 2019

Undergraduate enrollment


in 2015


in 2019

Early-Start Programs


in 2015


in 2019

The UW launched the new era by surveying students about what they need and want from summer study. In 2016, summer term added more high-demand courses, more hands-on experiences, and more online courses to provide flexibility for busy schedules. To ensure that a wide range of students could access these benefits, it also boosted scholarship funding.

Then there was the matter of making summer more fun. To reward hardworking students, faculty, and staff, the university started the Summer Term Ice Cream Social featuring Babcock Hall’s finest scoops.

The results were nothing short of spectacular. Students flocked to summer term in 2016, and participation has increased dramatically every year since. Key numbers for 2019 include 750 face-to-face courses, 275 online courses, and six early-start programs for incoming freshmen. The $1.5 million in scholarship funding for 2019 represents a sixtyfold increase from 2015.

And the sweetest number of all: more than 700 scoops were served at the July 9 ice cream social on the Terrace.

Revenue from summer term largely returns to the schools and colleges that run the programs, so they reap the rewards of offering courses that appeal to students’ passions.

“The schools and colleges have reinvested these funds in their students, staff, and infrastructure, meaning that everyone on campus benefits from our more robust summer term,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank.


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