Student Center - Reading Your Credit Evaluation


Read this document carefully to understand the various sections of your credit evaluation and how to read the overall documentation.


Types of Equivalents
Course Attributes
Transfer Credit Evaluation Header
Course Credits
Test Credits
Placement Test Requirements
Important Notes
Transfer Credit Applicability
Next Steps

Types of Equivalents

Credit evaluators in the Office of the Registrar perform a course-by-course evaluation of each admitted student’s transcripts based on course descriptions available online for your institution. There are four main types of equivalents you might see on your credit evaluation:

Direct Equivalent: A course is awarded direct equivalent credit when UW-Madison has a course taught at the same level which covers the same topics and requires the same pre-requisite courses.

The example shows the other institution’s Astronomy course next to a UW-Madison course department and number.

Department or Breadth Area Elective: This type of credit is awarded when UW-Madison does not offer a similar course. This is different than a direct equivalent but can still help fulfill degree requirements. You will know elective credit because the course number always has an X in front of it. The number of this type of course is generally not meaningful – it is just a way to separate it from other elective types in a department which carry different general education or breadth attributes. 

The example shows the other institution’s Math course next to a UW-Madison course department and the course number X15 is circled.

General Elective:This type of credit is awarded when a course is transferable, but UW-Madison lacks a corresponding department, and the course does not fit into any breadth areas. You will know this type of credit because the equivalent subject is “GEN ELCT.” This type of credit may contribute to the total number of credits needed for your degree. When you see a letter next to an elective course number, as with "A" in the picture below, it is just a marker we use so that DARS can distinguish that equivalent from other electives of the same type.

The example shows the other institution’s first-year seminar course next to the equivalent subject GEN ELCT, which is circled, and the course number X10A

No Credit: No credit is awarded to courses that are vocational, remedial, or doctrinal in nature. They are not considered to be transferable. Coursework taken at an institution that is not regionally or nationally accredited will not be transferable and it will not appear at all on the credit evaluation. You will know your course did not receive credit because it will say "NO CRED" in the UW-Madison Subject field, and the Equiv Title will be "No Credit".

The example shows a course from a pre-college summer program next to the equivalent subject NO CRED, which is circled, and the course number X10.

Course Attributes

In addition to listing the equivalent each course has been assigned and how much credit it has earned, your credit evaluation will contain a series of columns with headers including “Gen Ed,” “Ethnic St,” “Breadth,” and “Level” arrayed next to your incoming courses.  The letters in these columns will indicate which general education, breadth, and level attributes you are earning with each course.  Below is a key for what each letter in each column stands for.

The picture shows the columns in the credit evaluation with the headings Gen Ed, Ethnic St, Breadth and Level

‘Gen Ed’ column - Identifies courses that satisfy the communication or quantitative reasoning University General Education Requirement.                                         

a = Communication A
b = Communication B
q = Quantitative Reasoning (QR) A
r = Quantitative Reasoning (QR) B

'Ethnic St' column - Indicates courses that satisfy the ethnic studies requirement

e = Ethnic Studies

'Breadth' column - Indicates courses that satisfy breadth area requirements

B = Biological Science
H = Humanities
L = Literature (can also count towards the Humanities requirement)
N = Natural Science (does not necessarily satisfy specific biological or physical science requirements)
P = Physical Science
S = Social Science
W = Either Social or Natural Science
X = Either Humanities or Natural Science
Y = Either Biological Science or Social Science
Z = Either Humanities or Social Science

'Level' column - Indicates course level

E = Elementary level
I = Intermediate level
A = Advanced level

Transfer Credit Evaluation Header

A picture of the header at the top of a student’s credit evaluation, beginning with the Wisconsin crest at the top, and ending with a Table of Contents box that links to other sections of the evaluation

Course Credits Section

The course credits section will include credits from each institution you have attended. The credits will be separated out into different charts for each school attended. The blue “Transfer From” bar above the section is the header for a list of all the institutions from which you are receiving credit.  If there is an institution missing from this list, it may mean we don't have a transcript for it. The header sections above each chart with the fields “Transfer Institution,” “Credits Transferred,” “Credits In Progress,” and “Expected Credits” refer only to the courses in the chart immediately below.

A picture of the Course Credits section of a person’s credit evaluation.

A note about credits in progress: If you are taking a course whose equivalent depends on both the completion of your current course and on the presence of a previous course, then the previous course will also show as in progress even though you have actually completed it. This actually reflects the "in progress" nature of the equivalent you're receiving for both courses. If you fail to complete your current course, that equivalent will change. Once you have submitted your final transcript showing that you have completed the second course, both courses will count in the "credits earned" column.

Test Credits Section

Test credits include Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and foreign language retro credits awarded by previous institutions.

A picture of the Test Credits section of the credit evaluation.

Placement Test Requirements Section

The placement test requirements section contains information about which, if any, placement tests you are required to take before attending SOAR.The term/year above these notes indicates your admission term to UW-Madison.

A picture of a note in the Placement Test Requirements section instructing a student to take the math placement exam.

Important Notes Section

This notes section communicates important information about your evaluation. The term/year above the notes refers to the term and academic year cycle they apply to – in the case of brand new students this would be your first term and year of enrollment.

A picture of a list of notes, with a term/year heading at the top.

Transfer Credit Applicability

This statement is the same on every student's credit evaluation. 

Picture of the section called Applicability of your Transfer Credit

It simply notes that our Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) is the document of record that displays how your transfer credits apply to your degree. New transfer students will learn how to run their DARS at SOAR.  Other new students can work with their advisors to learn more about DARS and how to use it. The statement also contains helpful links and information about how to appeal a course evaluation.

Next Steps

While Credit Evaluation Service produces the credit evaluation itself, we do not offer academic advising and are not able to answer questions about how your credits apply to your UW-Madison degree. With that fact in mind, we offer the following recommendations for next steps:

  1. Confirm your enrollment in your Applicant Homepage and sign up for the Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) program if you haven’t already. SOAR is where you will receive academic advising, get help understanding how your credits apply to a degree here, and register for your first semester’s courses.
  2. Learn about our general education and breadth requirements even before you come to SOAR!  Our Undergraduate Guide contains information on all of our degree requirements.
  3. If a course has transferred differently than you hoped, submit a course reevaluation request form to the Office of the Registrar. You’ll need to give us your name, email, campus ID number, and your academic advisor’s name. You will provide some information about the course and upload a .pdf of a detailed syllabus from the semester in which you took your course. You’ll receive a decision within 4 to 6 weeks.

Note: Not all elective credits need to be re-evaluated. If you are not sure whether an equivalent really needs to be re-evaluated and Credit Evaluation Services has not requested a syllabus for it, it may help to wait to talk to an advisor at the SOAR program. They can help you understand how your credits apply to your degree and identify which courses really need a re-evaluation, which will save you a lot of time in collecting syllabi.