Senior Guest Auditors


For health and safety reasons, the University has decided that senior guest auditors will not be permitted to audit in-person classes for the fall term. Senior guest auditors may, however, audit online classes with permission from the instructor. This policy is posted on the Adult Career & Special Student Services website.

The process for obtaining permission will also be different. Beginning on August 10th, an online paperless form to request permission to enroll will be available on the senior guest auditors webpage. The UW-Madison asks that senior guest auditors do not contact the instructor or department directly requesting permission to enroll. All requests must be made through the online form, and completion of the form is all that is necessary to make your request. Please be patient as you may not receive a response about your request until close to the start of the semester.

Read through this page to find a Fall 2020 Guide to History Courses for Senior Guest Auditors that lists the online courses available for audit this coming semester.

The History Department welcomes Senior Guest Auditors in our classes! If you are a Wisconsin resident over 60 years of age, you have the opportunity to audit classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Senior Guest Auditors are admitted as University special students and enroll in courses (free of charge) without earning credits

Auditor Courses - Ray McCool
Senior auditor Ray McCool has been taking classes in the History Department for over 18 years! Photo credit: Parker Schorr

Senior Guest Auditor Experience

Auditors are guests of a History course, and are able to sit in on a lecture section of a course, but are not active participants. Auditors do not take examinations or complete assignments. Most auditors tell us that they feel privileged to be able to take part in History courses at no cost, and that they enjoy the opportunity to continue a lifelong journey of learning! To read about the experiences of History Department Senior Guest Auditors, click the links below:

Where can I find helpful information on courses that are offered to Senior Guest Auditors?

When it is available, an informational guide to History courses available for audit will be found on this webpage. This is a resource to guide you in selecting classes that the Department of History has made available for audit. The guide also features a list of courses that are not available for audit, and a table of cross-listed history courses that designates which department you must contact in order to obtain permission to enroll.

Some courses are not open to Senior Guest Auditors:

  • Any discussion section of a course. Auditors who are enrolled in a course with discussion sections will only attend the lecture section of the course.
  • All FIGs (First Year Interest Groups), History 201, and History 600 courses.
  • All graduate-level courses (numbers 700 and above).
  • Any course for which an instructor does not consent to hosting senior guest auditors.
  • Summer Courses

For semester-specific offerings, please see the informational document below:

Enrolling in Classes

Once you have applied and been admitted for the current term, and have a current 10-digit campus ID number, you are all set to start looking for classes!

Permission to enroll must be obtained before you can enroll in the class you are interested in. Review the Department of History’s Fall 2020 Guide to History Courses for Senior Guest Auditors (pdf) for a list of courses available in the coming semester. Once you have located an available course, permission to enroll can be requested through the new online permission to enroll form. Submission of this form is all that is needed to make your request, and your responses will be directed appropriately. Once your permission has been reviewed, you will receive an email. Please be patient as staff and faculty are working remotely, and you may not receive a response until close to the start of the semester.

It is the Department of History’s policy that auditors cannot enroll or hold a seat in a course prior to the first day that the course meets. This year, fall instruction begins on September 2nd. If you submit your form and approval is granted before the semester begins, please note that you will still not be able to enroll until the first day that the course meets.

A helpful step-by-step guide (with pictures) on how to enroll can be found here: Senior Guest Auditors: How to enroll using Course Search and Enroll (pdf). If the History course has a lecture section only, auditors will enroll in the lecture section of the course. If the History course has a lecture section and discussion sections, auditors will need to enroll in discussion section 333, but will not actually attend the discussion section. Auditors who are enrolled in a course with discussion sections will only attend the lecture section of a course.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a Senior Guest Auditor?

  • For guidelines and instructions on becoming a Senior Guest Auditor, please go to the Adult Career and Special Student Services website. First-time auditors will need to complete a new application, as will returning auditors who did not enroll in the most recent fall or spring term.

I am interested in auditing a summer course, are these available to me?

  • The History Department does not currently open summer courses to Senior Guest Auditors.

Helpful links


  • For questions about History courses, please contact Sophie Olson by email at
  • For general questions regarding auditor information, enrollment status, or for help becoming a senior auditor, contact the Adult Career and Special Student Services Office by email at, or by phone at (608) 263-6960.