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Imagine yourself gliding weightless through the water, surrounded by darting schools of fish, swimming past sunken wrecks lit by blue-green shafts of sunlight, and meeting face-to-face with strange creatures seldom seen by those who don’t dare to venture below the surface. Interested? Excited? The Hoofers SCUBA Club Open Water Certification program will open this underwater world to you. If you successfully complete this class, you will earn a lifetime PADI Open Water Diver rating (recognized at dive shops worldwide), and be well prepared to begin exploring an underwater world that most people will never see!

The Hoofer Scuba Club offers full PADI diving certifications to new divers that last a lifetime. Class sessions are offered in the early fall semester, late spring semester, and over the summer. We focus on making certification as affordable as possible.

Course Overview

Scuba Pool Lesson

The Hoofer Open Water SCUBA certification course consists of a self-paced PADI iTouch elearning classroom where you will learn about diving physiology and safety and the equipment and skills needed by every diver. This is followed by two indoor swimming pool sessions where you are able to apply your new knowledge in a controlled environment, and two days of open water dives where you will put your training to the test while under the direct supervision of the instructor and divemasters. Once you complete the training you’ll be a fully certified PADI Open Water diver and ready to take on the underwater world!

Course Fee

The course fee of $435 includes your lifetime PADI Open Water Certification, open water check out dives, professional instruction by PADI instructors, all course materials including access to eLearning, dive log and training record, and the use of all Scuba equipment and tanks needed for the class. You will also need to purchase a membership in Hoofer Scuba which costs $48 per year for students and includes heavily discounted gear rentals once certified. The fee is paid to the Hoofer Scuba Club online or at the Outdoor UW Service desk at the Memorial Union when you sign up for the course. There are no additional hidden fees or costs, and our courses include all education and dives required to become a PADI certified diver. The total cost for students is $483.

Prerequisites and Enrollment Conditions

You must attend all classroom (eLearning), pool and open water checkout sessions to become certified. No make-up sessions can be offered. If during the course under special circumstances you find you cannot attend one of the dates, please let us know ASAP, so we can work something out.

All participants will be required to review the PADI Medical Statement before participating. If you answer "yes" to any questions under the Divers Medical Questionnaire, you will be required to present a doctor's note certifying your ability to participate in the activity.

It is essential that course participants have strong basic swimming skills and be comfortable in the water. PADI requirements include a basic swim test and tread-water test. If you do not pass the swim test we can only offer partial refunds of course fees (see below for more details).

eLearning must be completed according to the schedule directed by your instructor. The first three modules must be completed prior to the start of the pool training, and all modules must be completed prior to the open water dives.

Course Refunds

Once the course has commenced, we do not offer any refunds past the first pool session, eg. if you decide that you can’t make one of the dates! If you decide after the first pool session that SCUBA is not for you, then we can offer you a partial refund of the course cost less the cost of materials, and a prorated fee for the portion of the class that you attended.

For safety, individuals not able to satisfactorily perform all required skills in the pool will not be permitted to participate in the open water training. Our instructors will make every effort to assist you in becoming a certified diver, but certification is not guaranteed.

Participants must be a University of Wisconsin-Madison student, faculty/staff, or Wisconsin Union member. Union membership is open to everyone. Call 608-262-2263 or visit to sign up for Union Membership.


Summer certification classes are being planned for June 2023. Stay tuned for exact dates and further details.

Space is limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment! Our open water classes usually fill-up prior to the registration deadline. Sign-up will be available closer to the class. Sign-up will be online or via the Hoofers Outdoor UW Service Desk (visit the office at Lakefront at Memorial Union, or call 608-262-1630 to sign up).