Quick tips for better searching
in Course Search & Enroll
RESET. — Results just not what you expect? Select Reset search to clear any filters that may still be set.
FALL, SPRING, SUMMER. — Are you searching in the correct term (semester)? Not all courses are offered in every term.
WILDCARDS. — Common search wildcards like * and ? are not used in Course Search & Enroll.
FUZZY KEYWORDS. — The search results show both exact and approximate matches to the keyword. “Forestry” shows courses in Forest and Wildlife Ecology, but also dozens of very loose matches to words somewhat like “forestry” in the course descriptions. Fun for browsing across the catalog, but not always accurate.
CHOOSE A SUBJECT. — To find courses in a specific subject, like History, use the Subject dropdown box instead of a keyword search. The keyword “history” also matches courses in other subjects like Art History and History of Science, plus courses that have “history” in their title, description, or Instructor Provided Content.
SUBJECT ABBREVIATIONS. — If you do want to search directly for a course like BIOCHEM 104, use the correct abbrevation (BIOCHEM 104) or full subject name (Biochemistry 104). “BIO CHEM,” with a space, will match a lot of other courses. Another example: Agricultural and Applied Economics is abbreviated A A E. Using “a a e” as keywords gets some correct course matches; “aae” doesn’t match courses in this subject.
OPEN, WAIT LISTED, CLOSED. — Check that these Seats filters are set to show the classes you want. If only OPEN is checked, for example, you won’t see sections or whole courses that are wait listed or closed.
FOREIGN LANGUAGES. — Finds courses offered at the first- through fourth-semester level only. Use a keyword or Subject search to find higher level courses. Selecting “All” in the dropdown box shows all UW–Madison courses, not all foreign-language courses.
RESERVED SECTIONS. — This is a two-part filter. After you’ve chosen a type of reserved section (“Community Based Learning”), be sure to also select something in the dropdown box (“Cmmnty Bsd Learn – 25 Hrs Plus”).
more tips and screenshots at:
How to: search for classes
Getting an error message?
In Course Search & Enroll, these look like
Enrollment prerequisites not met
Some UW–Madison classes are open only to students who have specific qualifications. These conditions are called requisites. Look for requisite information in two places: at the course level (“Prerequisites” in the main course panel) and sometimes at the section level (under “Enrollment Information” in the section detail.) Types of requisites include:
Classes. — The department expects students enrolling in the class have the knowledge gained from completing another specific class (or choice of classes). A prerequisite is a class you complete before enrolling in the current one. A corequisite is a class that you can, or are required to, take at the same time.
Class standing. — The class is open to students who are at a certain level, like sophomore or graduate standing.
Reserved for certain students. — Some classes are first held for students in a major, and then open at a later date to other qualified students. Other classes are designed specifically for students in a First-Year Interest Group, or a specific residential learning community.
The enrollment system checks your student record to confirm that you have met the requisites for that class. If you don’t meet the criteria set for a requisite, you’ll see an error message when adding the class to your cart.
Some students get a requisites error if their transfer credits are similar but not directly equal to the UW–Madison requisite course (example: ECON X10 Elective instead of ECON 101). The enrollment system won’t recognize those transfer credits as meeting the requisite. If this describes your situation, please talk with your advisor.
Examine the error message to see the class’s requisites (highlighted in green):
Please contact the department offering the course for permission to enroll if you believe that you meet the requisites.
Information about requisites may also be shown in thefor the course, or the link in the section details panel. In this example for CNSR SCI 201, the message gives the date when the class opens to students outside of certain majors. Interested students would want to check back on that day to enroll.
Instructor consent or department permission is required
In addition to requisites, described above, some classes have a special process that allows the instructor to approve who takes the class. Common examples are Independent Study and music performance classes.
Other classes will have enrollment determined by the department offering the class. Once the term begins, there are deadlines after which students need to get the department’s permission to add a class.
Contact the appropriate instructor or department to request permission to enroll, and include your campus ID number. You may be asked for more information about your qualifications and interest in the class.
If the instructor or department approves you for the class, they will create as special permission for you in the enrollment system.
You still need to enroll in the class! Go to Course Search & Enroll or Student Center to enroll. Get in touch with the instructor or department who gave the permission if you still have problems enrolling in the class.
The hold must be removed before you can enroll
A hold is a temporary status connected to your student records, placed by a campus unit (academic department, library, Bursar’s Office, etc.) that wants to alert you of an action you need to take (meet with an advisor, pay a library fine, pay your tuition, etc.).
Find out what the hold is by checking Student Center.
Follow the instructions in Student Center to resolve the reason for the hold. Then, contact the campus unit that placed the hold, to confirm that they have cleared the hold for you.
After any enrollment-related holds are cleared, you can enroll in classes. Remember to check for any holds before enrolling for future terms!
Class is closed and wait list is full
The department offering the class has limited the number of students who can be on this class’s wait list. That list is now full.
Since you can’t add yourself to the wait list now, check back from time to time to see if spots on the wait list open up.
Or, contact the department offering the class, as they manage the wait list. Although departments don’t generally share information like how long the wait list is, some may adjust the number of available seats (or wait list size) in high-demand classes.
Exceeded your credit maximum or minimum credits not met
UW–Madison has limits on the number of credits that you can take in a term: for Fall or Spring, 18 credits for undergraduates; 15 credits for Graduate School students; it varies for other types of students (Law, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, etc.). Some types of students also have a minimum number of credits required for their program.
The enrollment system won’t let you enroll for credits outside the maximum or minimum allowed.
Decide which classes fit your academic plan and still fall within your credit limit. Use the Save for later option in Course Search & Enroll to take a class out of your cart and bookmark it for enrollment in a later term.
If you have enrolled in classes that allow you to choose how many credits you earn (“variable credits”), you may be able to change those credits to fit within your maximum.
Use the Swap feature to enroll in one class while dropping another. Swap won’t drop the other class until you have successfully enrolled in the new one.
Contact your academic dean’s office if you want to request an exception to the maximum or minimum credit limit. Tuition is assessed according to your enrolled credits, among other factors. Your tuition rate may change if you enroll in credits above the maximum limit.
Deadline to drop class has passed
Each class has a drop deadline, and up to this date you can drop the class on your own using Course Search & Enroll or Student Center. After this deadline, however, you need to request permission from your academic dean’s office. This message says that you are trying to drop a class after its “self-service” deadline.
Find the “Drop class deadline” for this class on the home page of Student Center. In the grid showing your enrolled classes, select the “dates and deadlines” icon ().
If this deadline has already passed, contact your academic dean’s office to find out if your circumstances qualify you for permission to drop.
If the deadline for this class hasn’t yet passed, please contact us and we’ll help.
Find other important academic dates and deadlines here.
You do not have a valid appointment
To enroll in classes, you are assigned a specific enrollment appointment time, which is the earliest that you can begin enrolling in classes for a term.
This message usually means you’re trying to enroll in classes too early, either before the appointments have been assigned, or before your personal appointment time has arrived.
Find your own enrollment appointment time, and when these are assigned (and emailed) to students.
If you get this error message and you have confirmed that you enrollment appointment time has already arrived, please contact us.
Please also contact us if you believe enrollment appointment times have been assigned to students (check the dates on this page) and you do not have one.
You are not able to enroll in courses
Only UW–Madison students who have been set up in the enrollment system as eligible to take classes are able to enroll.
This message will be shown to users who are not students but can still use Course Search & Enroll for searching, like UW–Madison employees.
If you are a student, you may see this message if your student status has changed, such as: 1) you graduated and haven’t yet completed the re-entry process; 2) you studied abroad in a program not affiliated with UW–Madison and haven’t yet completed the study-abroad re-entry process; or 3) you have not been enrolled in classes for a semester or more (also requires the re-entry process).
If you are a student and you think you should be able to enroll in that term, please contact us and we’ll help.
Which enrollment tool should I use?
UW–Madison has two systems for enrolling in classes (and other tasks to manage your class schedule).
Course Search & Enroll is the newer tool, with an easy interface. Student Center’s Class Search is the traditional system that students have used for years.
My Course Guide is another traditional way to search the Schedule of Classes—and can be used by parents, potential applicants, and other members of the public—but doesn’t have an enrollment feature.
Both Course Search & Enroll and Student Center rely on the same Schedule of Classes data: same sections, same number of open seats, same wait list info. Some activities you might do after you enroll, like adding or removing Honors status, are currently only available in Student Center.
For information about subject areas, majors, certificates, and degrees, please visit the UW–Madison Guide.
||My Course Guide
|Search for UW–Madison courses (regardless of term) and classes (specific to a term) — requires NetID|
|Search for UW–Madison courses and classes — both NetID and public search (mycourseguide.wisc.edu)
|Add courses to Degree Planner|
|Enroll in and add classes|
|Validate eligibility to enroll in classes|
|Plan class schedules|
|View schedule or grid of enrolled classes|
|Get on a wait list for a class, and enroll in wait-listed class (with department permission)|
|Drop a class|
|Edit a class (e.g., change variable credits, add or remove credit/audit status, add or remove Honors status)|
|Request approval to add or remove pass/fail status|
|Request approval after a deadline has passed to add a class, add/remove audit, add/remove honors, add/remove pass fail, change variable credits, change section, or change optional section|
|Request approval to withdraw from UW–Madison for a term (drop all classes after semester has started)|