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College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Academic Policies and Procedures

Registration Issues
Attendance and Mid-Semester Issues
Graduation Issues
Academic Standing

Registration Issues

Study load and progress. Each full-time student is expected to take class and laboratory work totaling 12 to 18 credits per semester. Anyone desiring to take more than 18 credits must obtain permission in advance of registration from the advisor and the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services. Students registering for more than 18 credits will be subject to additional tuition and fees. See the registrar's website for the definition of maximum credit load in the summer sessions.

At least 120 credits are required for graduation for all majors (more credits are required for some majors), and so generally a student should be enrolled for 15 or 16 credits per semester to complete degree requirements within eight semesters.

Course numbers. Freshmen and sophomores are permitted to take courses for which they meet the prerequisites; courses numbered from 1 to 299 may be taken for credit by undergraduates only; those numbered from 300 to 699 are open for credit to both undergraduates and graduates; those numbered from 700 to 999 are open to undergraduates only with permission of the instructor.

A middle digit 8 designates an honors course; a middle digit 9 designates an independent work course, a research course, or a thesis course. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors may earn independent study credit (usually 299) with consent of an instructor and approval of their academic advisor. Seniors may earn credit for special problems work (course 699) with consent of instructor and approval of their academic advisor. There is no limit on the number of credits a student may receive for courses numbered 299 or 699.

Students may not receive more than 8 credits total for courses numbered 399 (internship). Students must have approval of a CALS advisor and complete a learning contract prior to registration for internship credits. Contact the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services, 116 Agricultural Hall, for more information.

Thesis. The undergraduate thesis, when required as part of the major requirements, consists of 4-8 credits (691/692). Students admitted to the Honors Program must complete a senior honors thesis for 4-8 credits (681/682) or a substitute project approved by the Honors Committee.

Pass/fail privilege. Continuing students with at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA, new freshmen, and new transfer students may elect one pass/fail course each semester, with a maximum of eight such courses prior to graduation. Courses graded with the pass/fail system cannot be used to satisfy any of the university, college, degree program, or major requirements. With the exception of PE activity and dance courses, students must receive permission from their advisor.

For all pass/fail courses, students must receive permission from the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services. Students enroll in a class and then apply for pass/fail grading no later than the end of the fourth week of classes (see registrar's website for exact deadlines). Summer Session and modular courses have different deadlines, and students should check the registrar's website for correct information. Students can obtain the form to apply for pass/fail privilege on the registrar's website.

After approval, the student cannot change the grading back to the conventional (A, AB, etc.) basis. The registrar will convert final letter grades submitted by the instructor, who is not informed of the student's pass/fail status, to an S (pass) for grades A, AB, B, BC or C, and to a U (fail) for a grade of D or F. The grade is excluded from the GPA. Students are warned that although a grade of D carries credit under the conventional system, it carries no degree credit when it is converted to a grade of U under the pass/fail privilege.

Students in pre-professional programs for veterinary medicine, medicine, and graduate studies are cautioned not to take work that is required or recommended on a pass/fail basis.

Repeating college courses. Students thinking about repeating a course should talk with their advisor. Students must do all the work in the repeated course, including laboratory; attend regularly; participate in class discussions; and take examinations. Students will earn a final grade in the course. Such credits are indicated with an X on the transcript. Students should know that: (1) the original grade still counts in GPA and remains on the transcript; (2) credits in the repeated course do not count toward the degree, unless the course was failed the first time; (3) grade points in the repeated course do count toward calculation of cumulative GPA; (4) credits carried on courses being repeated count toward the maximum credits permitted in a semester.

Special note: Students cannot take more than one "Communications A" course for degree credit.

Transfer students must be particularly careful to avoid taking courses on the Madison campus that duplicate courses taken at another school. Credit will not be given twice for the same or similar courses, nor will credit be given for a lower-level course in a sequence if students have already received credit for a higher-level course in that sequence. Students should carefully check the Evaluation of Transfer Credits prepared by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and should consult with their advisor. Duplicate courses may include transfer, Farm and Industry Short Course, and Advanced Placement credits coming in as course equivalents.

Physical Education-Elective Program. Students may earn 1 credit per semester in a physical education-elective course that can be applied toward graduation. No more than 8 such credits will count toward graduation. CALS encourages students to pursue these courses as one way in which to build and educate both mind and body.

Distance education courses. A course may be taken by correspondence through Learning Innovations (UW Extension) with special permission from a dean in the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services. Permission must be secured to ensure that: (1) courses are eligible to transfer and (2) the student is eligible to take correspondence study. See Independent Learning Courses for more information.

Credit through Exams and Special Programs

Credit by examination. A student may earn degree credits in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences for courses completed by passing an examination specifically designed to cover the content area.

Internal examinations. Credit may be granted on the basis of satisfactory performance on an examination developed by the course instructor and approved by the department. Each department shall determine whether credit by examination will be available for a course taught within that department.

Retroactive language credit. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences grants retroactive foreign language credit to students for foreign language skill developed in high school or elsewhere. To earn retroactive credits for language, students must enroll in a higher level language course at UW-Madison before the end of the first two semesters in residence. Transfer students must enroll in the course on the UW-Madison campus before they earn 30 degree credits (including credits transferred from other campuses but not including AP, CLEP, IB, or retro credits in another language). Students must submit the Retroactive Language Credit Request Form to the instructor during the first two weeks of class and earn a grade of B or better. Native speakers of a language are not eligible to earn retro credits in that language. Students will receive credit for the UW course completed and for all lower level courses in that language up to 16 retroactive credits maximum. These retroactive language credits may be used to meet degree requirements of the college or department, but may not be used to meet social sciences and humanities requirements. They will be counted as electives only. 

Attendance and Mid-Semester Issues

Class attendance. Every student is expected to be present at all classes.

Academic integrity. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences takes academic integrity very seriously. For full details on the UW-Madison Academic Misconduct Policies, please refer to Student Assistance and Judicial Affairs.

Registration changes. After registration is complete, students may make changes in their registration (add and/or drop courses, change sections in a course, or change the number of credits in a course) according to the deadlines published on the registrar's website each semester and summer session.

Students who enroll in a course must either complete the course or drop it by the deadline for dropping courses.

Courses dropped after approximately ten days of classes through the end of the ninth week will be noted with a DR on the transcript. Deadlines for modular and summer courses are different. See the registrar's website for the exact dates.

Withdrawals. Students may withdraw from the University using the Term Withdrawal tab in Student Center.  The paper withdrawal request form is no longer used.  Once submitted, the withdrawal request is forwarded to the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services (116 Agricultural Hall) for approval.  Prior to approving the request, Undergraduate Programs and Services may request that the student meet with a Dean on Call. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisor before withdrawing.  Depending on the date of the withdrawal, students may be eligible for a partial tuition refund.  The deadlines for the Fall, Spring, and Summer sessions differ, and students can find a complete list of deadlines on the Registrar’s website.

Dropping all of one’s courses is a withdrawal, and students attempting to drop their last class via Student Center will be redirected to the “Term Withdrawal” tab to submit a withdrawal request. Students still may drop their last class via Student Center if they are attempting to withdraw from

* a future term.  
* the current term, and it is before their earliest session begin date.
Students may withdraw after the 12th week of a semester only with permission from the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services. Students who withdraw after the middle of the second week of instruction will have the date of withdrawal entered on the transcript and the notation "W" entered in the grade column of each course. Failure to drop all classes or officially withdraw will result in the recording of failures for all courses.

Final exam schedule. The final exam schedules are listed in the class schedule.

Graduation Issues

Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS). The computerized Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) provides a continuous record of progress toward fulfillment of degree requirements. For more information on DARS, see the Student Services tab of My UW-Madison.  It is the student's responsibility to ensure that all requirements for graduation are fulfilled.

Senior year in residence requirements. To obtain helpful advising and exposure to advanced topics, seminars and current issues in their major field, and to assist in the transition to a career or advanced study, students should spend at least the last year of their undergraduate program as a declared major, in the department, with a faculty advisor. Therefore, a student must be "in residence"; that is, the student must have a CALS undergraduate classification, while earning the last 30 credits for the bachelor's degree. Upon approval of the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services, a degree candidate may take a maximum of 6 semester credits within the last 30 at another approved institution or through approved university correspondence (independent study) courses.

Expecting to graduate. Students who expect to graduate must indicate their intent while enrolling for their final semester. They may visit the Secretary of the Faculty website for information about the graduation ceremony and ordering caps and gowns. Also, their academic records will receive a final evaluation by staff in the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services. Students should also inform their advisors, and report any change in graduation plans to the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services. If a student is completing final course work while not in residence, the student must notify the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services so that records can be reviewed and certified for graduation.

Graduation. Students are graduated with a B.S. degree when they have met all the university, college, degree program, and major requirements; have earned 120 credits; and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher on all courses carried for a grade at UW-Madison. Graduating students should know that the date they finish an incomplete (I) will determine their semester of graduation. Students with a Biological Systems Engineering major should check with the department for additional graduation requirements.

Seniors interested in graduate school. Seniors in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences who are interested in graduate school, and are within 6 credits of having completed all requirements for graduation and who have a grade point average of at least 2.75, are encouraged to apply for admission to the Graduate School so that they can earn residence credit to apply toward an advanced degree at the same time they are completing requirements for the bachelor's degree. 

Academic Standing

Scholastic Actions

A student shall be considered in good standing if that student has:

  • a GPA of 2.0 or above in the semester just completed, and
  • a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above.

A student must be in good standing in order to be eligible for graduation.

A student shall be placed on academic probation when, in the semester just completed, that student has:

  • attained less than a 2.0 GPA, or
  • earned two or more grades of F.

Once on probation, the student is continued on probation until either removed from probation or dropped.

A student shall be removed from probation when that student has:

  • attained a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, and
  • earned a GPA of at least 2.0 in the semester just completed, and
  • no outstanding Incompletes.

A student on academic probation shall be dropped (academically dismissed) for at least one semester at the end of any semester in which that student has earned a GPA of less than 2.0.

A student who has been placed in dropped status and who desires to be readmitted to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences must present to the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services evidence that time between being dropped and applying for reentry has been used gainfully. Such activity must give evidence of serious desire to gain an education, careful thought about academic goals, and strategies that will improve academic performance. If the application is accepted, the student will be readmitted on probation.

A student who has been readmitted on probation and who fails to earn a semester GPA of 2.0 or above will be dropped again and will not be permitted to reenroll for at least one year and then only upon appeal to the Scholastic Policies and Actions Committee with good evidence of changed circumstances that would indicate a reasonable probability of success.

A student dropped for a third time will not be readmitted.


On behalf of the Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services and the Scholastic Policies and Actions Committee may suspend or modify the operation of these regulations if their enforcement is judged to work an injustice to the student. Students should contact the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services in 116 Agricultural Hall, 608-262-3003, for appeal procedures. 

Student grievance procedures. Students who believe they have been treated unfairly, in any academic or nonacademic matter, may contest the treatment. The complaint may involve any matter of perceived unfairness, including grading or classroom treatment, or sexual or racial harassment.

If the student cannot resolve the fairness question directly with the person at whom the complaint is directed, the student may pursue a series of steps to achieve a fair hearing and protect the rights of both parties involved.

These steps are spelled out in a statement titled "Achieving Fairness: Grievance Procedures for Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences." This statement is available from any department office, the Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services, or the CALS website.

Matters of interpretation of academic requirements not involving questions of fairness should come via the student's advisor to the college's Scholastic Policies and Actions Committee.