Timeline for Graduate School
These orientations are typically held 1-2 weeks prior to the start of the fall semester. They last 1-2 weeks and provide necessary information for incoming students.
Graduate School welcome event:
The UW-Madison Graduate School also hosts welcome events the week prior to the start of the fall semester. Many programs schedule around the Graduate School events so students have the opportunity to participate fully.
Students will conduct three lab rotations that last approximately 4-5 weeks for each rotation. The hope is you will get a good sense of what the lab works on, how the lab is managed, and the people in the lab. Students will make their thesis lab choices in December and start working in their new lab. Students also take classes their first semester that are recommended by their graduate program.
Spring and summer semesters:
Students continue to take classes and work in their labs developing a thesis project.
Students finish up their course work in their second year for their graduate school majors. Students who elect to complete a minor degree may still take courses past their second year depending on the course load.
Most programs require students to complete their preliminary exam at the end of their second year (after they are finished with courses).
Students as dissertators
Students enroll for minimal credits (3 credits per semester) and continue to work on their thesis projects. They publish papers, present findings at conferences, explore professional development opportunities and apply for future jobs.
Most programs require a first-author publication to be considered eligible for a thesis defense. The defense is a culmination and celebration of all the work completed by the student.
UW-Madison hosts graduation ceremonies after the fall and spring semesters. Depending on when a student completes their thesis work, they are invited to participate in a graduation ceremony. Students who intend to defend over the summer typically attend the graduation ceremony at the end of the previous spring semester.