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UW Flexible Option opens virtual university...

UW Flexible Option opens virtual university doors

Flex Option leaders and supporters congratulate first official applicant

Communications and External Relations
Nov 18 2013

MADISON, Wis. – The UW Flexible Option application process opened today with University of Wisconsin-Extension and UW System leaders, UW partner institutions and representatives from the Board of Regents, Governor’s Office, Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation and State Legislature congratulating the first official applicant during a news conference at the Pyle Center.

The official “first to Flex” is Aaron Apel, a UW-Madison employee. He submitted his application today for the UW Flexible Option, a new way to make a UW degree or certificate more accessible and convenient for adults who have some college credits but no degree. His goal is to earn an IT degree offered in the Flexible Option format through UW-Milwaukee. Students like Apel will earn credit for demonstrating mastery of knowledge, which could be acquired through prior coursework, on-the-job training, military training or other learning experiences.

“The Flex Option expands access to a University of Wisconsin education in a revolutionary new way, and that’s good for our residents, our businesses and our state,” said Ray Cross, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension.

Apel said, “With a fulltime job, three kids and helping my wife with her business, my life doesn’t fit into college semesters. To finish my degree and progress in my career, I need this flexibility to work at my own pace and use what I’ve already learned from my job.”

The UW Flexible Option is a joint undertaking of UW System and UW-Extension. The first participating institutions are UW Colleges, which is offering the Associate of Arts and Science degree in the UW Flexible Option format, and UW-Milwaukee, which is offering three degrees and one certificate program through the UW Flexible Option: Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Information Science and Technology, Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences Diagnostic Imaging degree-completion program and a Business and Technical Communications Certificate.

Before admissions opened, 4,000 people already had expressed an interest in the UW Flexible Option. On Nov. 11, an online self-evaluation opened to help potential students determine whether the UW Flexible Option would be a good fit them. Since then, more than 930 have begun that step.

Chancellor Cross concluded the news conference by saying, “Now let’s celebrate this example of a great idea coming together with UW, state and federal support.”

Students can begin their academic work on Jan. 2, 2014. Details are available at


UW Colleges is the third largest institution of the UW System and includes 13 campuses and UW Colleges Online. UW-Extension, which receives the third largest amount of federal grants in the UW System, serves Wisconsin families, businesses and communities statewide through offices in all 72 Wisconsin counties and three tribal nations, continuing education services through all 26 UW System campuses, the statewide broadcasting networks of Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television, and entrepreneurship and economic development activities by county throughout the state.

Follow the UW Flexible Option on Twitter at


Sandra Kallio
(608) 890-3558