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University of Wisconsin–Madison: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth


College of Engineering
Madison, Wisconsin

Distance Learning Program

The Office of Engineering Outreach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison offers a distance learning program for practicing engineers who wish to work and take courses at the same time. Through distance learning, busy professionals can meet their license requirements, earn degrees and certificates, and keep pace with new technology without interrupting their careers. Whether it is for a master's degree, a professional certificate, or just to brush up on a specific area, working engineers can achieve their goals at their own place and time.

Delivery Media

Students have the option of taking courses online or through CD or DVD media provided by the Office of Engineering Outreach. Credit courses are taught by UW–Madison faculty members and are recorded during the on-campus classes. Students keep in touch with their advisers through telephone or e-mail. Exams may be taken at the Madison campus or proctored elsewhere by a corporate director of training, a human resource director, or at a continuing education office. Distance learners complete course assignments and tests on a schedule that is comparable to their on-campus counterparts.

Programs of Study

Off-campus degree programs include Master of Science (M.S.) degrees in electrical and computer engineering (power electronics) and mechanical engineering (controls), Master of Engineering (M.E.) degrees in engine systems, polymer engineering and science, professional practice, and technical Japanese. Certificate programs are available in technical Japanese studies and polymer engineering and science. In addition, a distance learning program is offered in Chinese conversation for professionals.

Courses leading to the M.S. degree in electrical and computer engineering are available in the areas of machines, power electronics, and power systems. Machines research focuses on the optimal utilization of the control capability of modern power electronic converters and real-time digital converters. Power electronics deals with control and conversion of electric power for industrial applications. The power systems area studies large-scale generation, transmission, and distribution networks for electric power. This program requires 24 credits, of which a minimum of 3 or a maximum of 6 must be project work. A summer lab is also required.

The M.S. degree in mechanical engineering (controls) covers courses defined in both mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering. This choice requires either six courses plus a thesis or ten courses. Students choose specific courses based on their professional goals and interests. A summer lab is also required.

The Master of Engineering degree in polymer engineering and science includes studies in polymer processing, injection molding, and composite materials as well as an independent study project. Graduates of this program option are typically employed by the plastics industry or by other polymer manufacturing businesses. A bachelor's degree in any of the physical sciences, such as chemistry or mechanical engineering, is required for this course of study. This degree requires 24 credits.

The M.E. degree in engine systems is a new Internet-based degree program, which provides practicing engineers with broad-based technical knowledge and skills for leading internal combustion engine development projects.

The two-year, Internet-based M.E. degree in professional practice prepares midcareer engineers for technical leadership roles and focuses on project management, communication, quality systems, international engineering, statistics, and computer analysis.

The M.E. degree in technical Japanese provides students with the skills to translate Japanese technical documents and to communicate effectively with Japanese counterparts in the business and technical arenas. This degree requires 24 credits.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW–Madison) welcomes students from wherever they may be in the world. The distance programs at UW–Madison offer students complete access to campus resources from their home and workplace. The College of Engineering employs well-educated faculty members combined with cutting-edge technology to make the distance learner's experience every bit as valuable as one on campus.

Advanced engineering tools and discoveries make engineering research today more crucial than ever before. UW–Madison prepares its students to become part of a team that is composed of talented faculty members, industry leaders, and private company representatives—all working toward a better future.

UW–Madison also offers a certificate in polymer engineering and science. This is less comprehensive than the program for the M.E. degree and is designed to help technical professionals deepen their understanding and knowledge of polymer engineering. This certificate requires 14 credits.

A certificate in technical Japanese studies is also available with 18 credits, or engineering students may take individual courses, including Japanese language, technical Japanese, and technology development in Japan via distance learning.

Through the Chinese for Professionals program, students develop skills in speaking, reading, and writing Mandarin Chinese and gain an understanding of Chinese culture to assist them in their business travels to China. The two 3-credit courses in basic Chinese conversation are designed for students with no previous Chinese language study.

Special Programs

The Office of Engineering Outreach offers all courses for purchase and rental to assist corporations with their in-house training. The price for rental or purchase includes a complete set of lectures and notes, assignments, and problem solutions. Course work completed through this rental/purchase program is considered noncredit. Faculty interaction is not part of the rental/purchase package.

Student Services

UW–Madison provides distance library services for off-campus students. Services include books delivered to homes; articles delivered to desktops; access to e-books, online journals, and newspapers; and help via phone, e-mail, and online tutorials.

Credit Options

Up to 6 credits of work done as a UW–Madison special student or as a student at another university may be transferred for graduate credit toward the M.S. degree. A maximum of 6 credits may be transferred for the M.E. in technical Japanese. No transfer credits are accepted for the M.E. degree in polymer engineering and science.


Approximately 40 faculty members are involved in teaching in the engineering disciplines, and distance learners benefit as much as on-campus students from their expertise. Many relevant partnerships with businesses exist that also enhance the learning experience. Students have options for seminars and internships that allow them to interact with academic and business leaders.


Students are admitted as either a graduate student or an engineering special (nonmatriculated) student. All incoming students are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, an undergraduate major in a similar field (or evidence of equivalent background), and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Tuition and Fees

Nonmatriculated and resident students pay $1830 for a 3-credit course. Non-resident graduate students pay $4152 per three-credit course. Invoices are sent prior to the start of each semester.

Financial Aid

Graduate-level engineering students have access to an array of financial aid choices, including scholarships, loans, and fellowships. Loans available to engineering students include student emergency funds (short-term and non-interest bearing), and Federal Perkins, Stafford (subsidized and unsubsidized) loans. Students may also pay their way through employment programs.


Helene Demont, Program Manager
Office of Engineering Outreach
University of Wisconsin–Madison
215 North Randall Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1688
Phone: 608-262-5516
888-661-9551 (toll-free)
Fax: 608-265-2833
877-267-6172 (toll-free)
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site:


Students who are applying as a nonmatriculated student must first complete and return the off-campus enrollment form, which is available online at Those applying as graduate students should refer to the Web site of the department to which they are applying: Mechanical Engineering:; Electrical and Computer Engineering:; Engineering Professional Development:

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