The nearly century-old history of the University of Wisconsin Colleges is one of collaboration with local communities and other academic institutions, especially with the other institutions in the University of Wisconsin System. UW Colleges has a rich tradition of preparing traditional-age college students and adult learners for successful completion of baccalaureate degrees. The student-centered, dynamic, high-quality foundation of the first two years of a liberal arts education offered on UW Colleges campuses and through UW Colleges Online makes transfer easy to a range of programs. Students transfer to UW System campuses; to other public universities; as well as to private colleges and universities, often as part of guaranteed transfer programs or articulation agreements. Students can also receive baccalaureate degrees in collaborative programs offered on UW Colleges campuses.
The UW Colleges Associate of Arts and Science Degree provides the foundation for most majors in the University of Wisconsin System. It is accepted by University of Wisconsin institutions as fulfilling university-wide, college, school and general education breadth requirements, and can be earned by students either online or at any of the thirteen UW Colleges campuses. The UW Colleges' high quality faculty and staff are strongly committed to student success by creating a welcoming environment for all students. UW Colleges faculty members are credentialed for baccalaureate education (eighty-three percent of the faculty hold the Ph.D. or other terminal degree) and have a professional presence in teaching- and research-oriented associations within Wisconsin, nationally, and internationally. Organized in 17 statewide departments, and an interdisciplinary academic program, the UW Colleges faculty offer a focused curriculum in 40 disciplines with an average class size of 23 students.
In June 2011, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents authorized the UW Colleges to implement a new Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree completion program, which was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in March 2013. In May 2015, the UW Colleges congratulated the first graduates to receive a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences.
A wide array of co-curricular activities are available on the thirteen campuses of the UW Colleges, including drama and musical ensembles, student government, intramural athletics, student publications such as newspapers and literary magazines, and many other activities, such as campus ambassadors and discipline-based clubs. Community-based curricular opportunities include service-learning, K-12 teaching, and internships.
The UW Colleges is firmly committed to Inclusive Excellence, a UW System program dedicated to fostering greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and accountability at every level of university life. The central premise of Inclusive Excellence holds that UW System colleges and universities need to intentionally integrate their diversity efforts into the core aspects of their institutions—such as their academic priorities, leadership, quality improvement initiatives, decision-making, recruitment of faculty, staff, administrators, and students, day-to-day operations, and organizational cultures—in order to enhance the educational environment and maximize their success.