Senior Guest Auditors

Fall 2021 Update:

In-person classes are once again available to audit in the fall 2021 semester! We look forward to welcoming senior guests back to the classroom. Beginning in August, an online paperless form to request permission to enroll in fall courses will be available on the Adult Career & Special Student Services website. This online form replaces the paper form that was previously used to request permission to audit courses. To learn more about History courses that are potentially auditable, please see our Fall 2021 Guide to History Courses for Senior Guest Auditors (pdf).

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 20 years! Photo credit: Parker Schorr

The 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:

Expectations for Senior Guest Auditors in History Courses

  • Auditors are guests of a course and are able to sit in on lectures and listen, but are not active participants and do not attend discussion sections.
  • Auditors do not take examinations or complete assignments.
  • Auditors are not graded, and do not receive credit for the courses in which they enroll.
  • The priority of the instructor and TA is the learning of undergraduate students, and we ask that auditors be respectful of this during class meetings.

Where can I find information on History courses that are open to Senior Guest Auditors?

When it is available, an informational Guide to History Courses for Senior Guest Auditors will be found on this webpage. This is a resource to guide you in selecting classes that the Department of History has determined are potentially auditable for the current term. 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 subject you must list in your form in order to request 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.
  • Small seminars.
  • All graduate-level courses (numbers 700 and above).
  • Summer courses.
  • Any course for which an instructor or the department does not consent to hosting senior guest auditors.

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 2021 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. You will be notified via your email regarding your request status. Please be patient as you may not receive a response until close to the start of the semester.

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.

Ask A Historian LogoLooking for more ways to engage with History at UW?

The Department of History recently launched the Madison History Club, which brings UW­­–Madison alumni together with people across Madison who are curious about the past and eager to learn and discuss history with others. The club reflects the Department of History’s deep commitment to the Wisconsin Idea—that education should transcend the walls of the classroom, and that the university’s work should benefit all those in the state and beyond.

Through public lectures, book discussions, roundtables, and film screenings, the Madison History Club connects the community with the innovative research and teaching going on in the Department of History. Members guide the club’s program of events. Do you have ideas or questions for Madison-area historians? All are welcome, and we hope you will join us!

To find out more about how you can participate, visit the Madison History Club webpage.

The Department of History also recently launched its own podcast, Ask a Historian. Every episode features an interview with a University of Wisconsin—Madison historian who answers a question about the past submitted by our listeners. Listen to past episodes here. More episodes to come!

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 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.

If the course I am enrolling in has discussion sections, which section do I enroll with?

  • If the history course you receive permission to enroll in has discussion sections, you will need to enroll using discussion section 333, but will not actually attend the discussion section. This is an enrollment-purposes-only section.

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.