University of Wisconsin–Madison

Office Hours

Office hours are set hours that instructors, professors, or teaching assistants (TAs) set aside to be available to students outside of class.

You should not need to schedule an appointment to drop by during an instructor’s office hours. The office location and hours should be located on your course syllabus.

You might use office hours for a number of reasons – you might want help understanding the material, clarifying an assignment, or recommendations on learning support resources.

Many students, especially first-year students, share that they can feel intimidated about attending office hours, and that’s normal! However, office hours are set aside for exactly this purpose, so we encourage you to use them.

I attended my instructor's office hours to ask questions about difficult chemistry topics. The instructor was able to help answer my questions but also it was nice to get to know the instructor. He was nice and reassuring and he understood that a lot of students struggled with the concepts I was struggling with.

Steven, UW Student

Examples of How to Use Office Hours

Office hours are a great way to clarify the course content and receive answers to your questions, and they can also help you in other ways. For example, you can use office hours to:

  • Help your instructor to get to know you (especially if you’re taking a large lecture class).
  • Get an idea of what material you should study to prepare for exams. (Hint: If your instructor/TA talks about certain material in class AND during office hours, there’s a good chance it will be on an exam).
  • Review and clarify any mistakes you made after an exam and develop stronger study strategies for the future.
  • Find out if instructors have information on other learning support resources.
  • Build a relationship with your instructor(s) so you’ll have contacts to reach out to when you need letters of support or recommendation.
  • Ask your instructor if they have information on getting connected to majors, jobs, internships, or research opportunities.