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FAQs – New & Current Students

Incoming Students Fall 2016

General Information

If you are new to the University, you will not be able to activate your Net ID to access the “My UW-Madison” portal (required for enrollment) until you receive an enrollment invitation.

Sometime in early July, you will receive an enrollment invitation from the Registrar.This invitation will include an enrollment appointment time which will likely be in early July (it will be earlier if you are a re-entry or a current graduate student).

Full-time graduate students take between 8-12 credits a semester. Courses and Syllabi can be viewed on this website.

Activating Your “My UW-Madison” Net ID

If you are new to the University, you will need to activate your Net ID to use the “My UW-Madison” portal which is required for course registration. You should activate your Net ID and free email account once you receive an enrollment invitation from the Registrar. The university will use your campus email account to notify you of all important university business.

Once you receive your enrollment invitation, you can activate your Net ID by going to, choosing the “Activate your Net ID” link, and following the instructions. You will then receive your Net ID and campus email address. For more information on activating your Net ID and campus email account please click here.

How to Enroll

The Registrar’s Office has provided an entire series of demos and tutorials to assist you with all of your enrollment needs. The tutorials include such topics as “Adding a Class”, “Course Change Requests”, and “Enrollment Verification”. The Registrar has also provided students with a new “Class Schedule Planner” section in each MyUW account, and there is an excellent demo on this system to assist you as you build your schedule of classes. Please visit The Office of the Registrar for assistance with all your enrollment questions and concerns.

MS/PhD Enrollment

We suggest the following first semester courses for full-time students.

  • Population Health Sciences 451: Introduction to SAS Programming (1 cr.)
  • Population Health Sciences 551: Introduction to Biostatistics (3 cr.)
  • Population Health Sciences 795: Principles of Population Health Sciences (3 cr.) Not required for Epidemiology Students.
  • Population Health Sciences 797: Introduction to Epidemiology (3 cr.)
  • Population Health Sciences 794: Biological Basis of Population Health (2 cr.)*

*Please review the PHS 794 Biological Basis Self-Test) and/or talk with your advisor to determine if you should take this course. You will want to enroll in this course if you do not have a background in a biological science, as it will provide additional background to be successful in other Population Health courses.

Courses that can be taken in any semester during your enrollment:
All students are required to take one credit of medical ethics. You may choose:

  • Medical History and Bioethics 545: Ethical and Regulatory Issues in Clinical Investigation (3 cr.) or another medical ethics course (1 cr).

You are required to take at least one credit of medical ethics in order to receive your degree. Courses that fulfill this requirement are offered in both the fall and spring. If you plan on taking Medical History and Bioethics 545, you will need to request permission from the course instructor (Norm Fost at  Please indicate you are a Population Health or Epidemiology student in your request.

699/990 Courses:

For all 699 Independent Reading courses, and 990 Independent Research courses, you must fill out a PHS 699/990 Authorization Form. This form must include the signature of the course director and must be turned in to the Graduate Program Office. 699 course forms must include a description of the course scope and goals.

MS/PhD Course Waivers and Credit Transfers

If you believe you should not have to take a required course because of previous coursework OR if you believe you should be able to count previous credits as electives toward your degree in Population Health or Epidemiology, please discuss this with your academic advisor. Your advisor will make a recommendation regarding your request. Please keep in mind that waivers or transfer credits will only be considered for courses COMPLETED AS A GRADUATE STUDENT.

If your advisor recommends that a course requirement be waived or coursework from another institution should be given Population Health or Epidemiology equivalency, please contact Barbara Duerst via email. You should send a cover letter explaining your request, complete the Course Transfer, Substitution & Waiver Form, and attach a syllabus from your previous course(s). The Curriculum Committee will review your request and then contact you. Please note that such courses must have been completed within the last 5 years.

IMPORTANT:The MS/PhD Graduate Program can waive/transfer a maximum of 12 graduate level credits for coursework taken as a graduate student before beginning your degree.

MS/PhD Orientation-August 30, 2016

Orientation is scheduled for Tuesday, August 30, 3016 at 7:30pm-11:30pm in the HSLC Atrium. Plan to attend this MANDATORY orientation. It provides a helpful introduction to the MS/PhD Graduate Program. It also provides you an opportunity to meet your fellow students. You will receive additional information on orientation later in the summer.


Students tend to look in a variety of places for housing. Parking is very limited and expensive on campus. However, all students receive a free bus pass on the city buses for every semester in which they are enrolled. It is a good idea to find a place that is close to a bus stop with the many routes that go to campus. Many apartment leases in Madison last for a year and begin either August 1st or August 15th.Here are a variety of housing resources to help you with your search:

Other Resources

Current Students

Advising for MS/PhD Degrees

There are many advising resources available to MS/PhD students. For example, students can always reference the graduate program website, the MS/PhD Academic Guide, the Graduate School’s website, and the Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures for answers to their questions. However, when students still need clarification there are various faculty and staff resources also available. Generally, faculty and staff are best able to assist students when they have done their own homework on a topic (using the resources mentioned above). One very important additional advising resource that students should continually review (on their own and with their advisor) are the MS Degree/Graduation Timeline or the PhD Degree/Graduation Timeline documents. Students are strongly encouraged to request progress audits from the Graduate Program offices at any time to ensure they are on track for graduation. For more information on Advising, please refer to the Academic Guide.

Enrolling in Courses

Please see the General Information and How to Enroll in the Incoming Students section above.

Thesis/Dissertation Overview

Please review the the Academic Guides for complete details on the requirements and structure of thesis/dissertation committees and the thesis/dissertation itself. The MS/PhD Academic Guide also provides detailed information about graduation requirements and warrants, but an overview is also provided online in the Graduation section.

MS/PhD Graduation Overview

Please review the MS/PhD Academic Guide for complete details on the required graduation steps, warrants, and degree requirements.The information listed here simply provides an overview. The Academic Guide also provides detailed information about the structure of thesis/dissertation committees and the thesis/dissertation itself.

All MS students must pass their final thesis defense; please see the MS/PhD Academic Guide for complete details. All PhD students must pass the written qualifying exam, oral preliminary exam, and final dissertation defense. All PhD students must complete a PhD minor as well. PhD students must request or submit paperwork for all these stages; please see the Academic Guide for complete details.

Be sure to plan ahead for the completion of all your degree requirements, graduation paperwork (including warrants), defense meetings, and final review for PhD students. Students often find the MS Degree/Graduation Timeline or the PhD Degree/Graduation Timeline documents useful in their planning.