University of Wisconsin-Madison

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#158, overall score 40/100

Fun Fact:

UW-Madison is the only university in the country with two daily student newspapers — The Daily Cardinal and The Badger Herald. The Onion was also founded at Madison by two UW students.

Why should Jewish students attend UW-Madison? It’s a strong vibrant Jewish community. There are many opportunities for religious, educational, cultural and Israel engagement. Being Jewish on campus is something to be proud of, no reason to feel ashamed. The UW-Madison community does not, however, provide a comparable positive experience for Orthodox Jewish students. Without a full kosher meal plan, Minyanim or even shomer-Shabbat peers, Orthodoxy on campus is almost non-existent. — Rabbi Mendel Matusof, The Rohr Family Chabad House at the University of Wisconsin


  • Location: Madison, Wisc.
  • Region: Midwest
  • Campus type: College town
  • Public/Private: Public
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 31,710
  • Jewish undergraduate enrollment: 4,000
  • Jewish population share: 13%
  • Student origin: 66% in-state / 34% out-of-state
  • Student newspaper: The Badger Herald, The Daily Cardinal
  • NCAA Division: I
  • NCAA team: Badgers
  • Ultimate Frisbee teams: Hodags / Bella Donna

What Students Say:

“UW-Madison has a work-hard, play-hard culture that truly embraces both”…“UW-Madison isn’t very handicap friendly, and additionally, while I know that this big university has tons of resources, I can’t ever find or utilize them! I wish there was a way to make them more accessible to average students”…”UW-Madison is big, but it’s manageable. You really cannot recreate the opportunities that are here anywhere else!”

COST & AID Score: 5/15

  • Score: 5/15
  • In-state tuition: $10,533
  • Out-of-state tuition: $34,782
  • Room & board costs: $10,842
  • Average annual scholarship/grant package: $12,746
  • Average loan debt: $27,979
  • Starting median salary: $53,400
  • Scholarship for Jewish students: The Harry Drexler Hillel Scholarship

ACADEMICS Score: 6.67/20

What Students Say:

“We are inclusive to everyone, no matter what race, ethnicity or sexuality you are. We are fun and spirited, always looking for a good time”…”We could have a much more developed honors program, a much more involved freshman orientation and effective first-year experience resources, and a much more effective advising program that better caters to students’ needs.”

ISRAEL Score: 9/20

SAFETY Score: 2.33/11

  • Score: 2.33/11
  • Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017: 4
  • Campus crime rate: 2.18/1,000 students (medium low)
  • City crime rate: 30.79/1,000 people (medium low)
  • LGBT center: Yes

JEWISH LIFE Score: 17/34

  • Score: 17/34
  • Hillel: University of Wisconsin Hillel
  • Chabad: The Rohr Family Chabad House at the University of Wisconsin
  • OU-JLIC: No
  • Other Jewish outreach group: JEM - Jewish Experience of Madison
  • Jewish fraternities: AEPi, ΣAM, ZBT
  • Jewish sororities: AEPhi, SDT
  • Jewish dorm: The Statesider
  • Jewish a capella group: Jewop
  • Chicken soup hotline: Yes
  • Hillel Friday night services: 3
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Chabad: 120
  • Synagogues within 10 miles: 2 (1 Conservative, 1 Reform)
  • Eruv: No
  • Most famous Jewish alum: Michael Mann
  • Where do Jewish students come from? All over, especially the East Coast
  • Kosher food details: There is a cafe at Hillel, and they supply cold sandwiches on campus.

What Students Say:

“I love going to our Hillel. I’ve definitely found a unique and meaningful connection with the staff there and some of the programs they do have really resonated with me and allowed me to find my footing in Madison”…”The university could arrange football game days so that they do not fall on the biggest Jewish holidays of the year, such as Yom Kippur, like this year”…“I really love the effort Hillel staff put into making sure there are inclusive activities that anyone with any level of Jewish contact could participate in. Even on Friday nights, they have Conservative and Reform services with easy-to-follow services and readings”…“I would love to see more social justice-oriented programming from our Jewish community on campus”…“Every staff member at the Hillel actively reaches out to you to keep in touch and see how you’ve been doing. Several of them actively reach out often to ask to go out for coffee!”

Do you attend this school? Do you want to tell us more about what life there is like? Take our survey here, and your feedback could be featured in next year’s guide! And if you’re a student or campus professional, join our online community Jewish Campus Confidential, and apply to become a Forward Campus Ambassador.

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