UW-Madison Student Technology Needs

The following message was sent to all current students on May 7, 2020.

Dear UW-Madison Students,

This semester has been filled with an immense amount of change — and the changes have been hard. We recognize the mounting emotional, mental and physical toll you may be experiencing. We are continuing to do our best to make your learning not only possible, but enriching, under these difficult circumstances. We are grateful for all you have done to make this semester as successful as it has been, and wish you the best as the semester winds to a close. 

For those of you taking UW-Madison courses this summer or fall, we want to ensure you are well-prepared, specifically regarding technology. All students will be expected to have the minimum technology specifications outlined below for summer 2020 and into the 2020-21 academic year. We are sending this information now to give you as much time as possible to prepare.

Necessary Computer Specifications

Access to a laptop or computer is essential for your learning. Learning activities may include downloading or streaming video lectures, accessing coursework or taking quizzes in Canvas, participating in course discussions in Blackboard Ultra or group projects via Google Docs, among others. You will not be able to rely on a tablet or phone for these activities. We recommend the following computer specifications:

  • Mac laptop or computer running at least OS 10.13 (High Sierra), or Windows laptop or computer running Windows 10
  • Intel Core i5 or AMD A10 processor
  • 8 GB RAM 
  • 256 GB solid state drive
  • 1280 x 768 screen resolution 
  • Integrated webcam and microphone (not cell phones)

Necessary Internet Connection Specifications

A reliable, high-speed internet connection is also a must. The connection should have a 15 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better download speed, 5 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better upload speed, and a ‘ping time’ of less than 75 milliseconds. A wireless hotspot or tethering from a phone will not be sufficient. For help determining these specifications, contact the DoIT Help Desk’s Home Internet Connection Doctor Service

Certain courses may require additional software or hardware for related coursework. We recommend checking with your professor for these special requirements before the start of your course. Available campus software can be found in the Campus Software Library, and this guide covers how to get software while remote. In addition, your computer should have antivirus software, such as Windows Defender, installed. 

The estimated cost of the technology outlined above is included in the university’s cost of attendance, which financial aid is based upon. If you have questions regarding these estimates, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at finaid@finaid.wisc.edu. The university will continue to offer a laptop checkout service for students who do not have access to their own device. And, of course, anybody who is on campus always has access to free Wi-Fi.

For questions or concerns about these specifications, please contact the DoIT Help Desk.


Steven Cramer, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, and Professor

Lois Brooks, Vice Provost for Information Technology, and Chief Information Officer