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College of Letters & Science

Advising in Letters & Science

Academic advising is an essential component of undergraduate education, and the college's commitment to providing quality advising for undergraduates is reflected in the many advising programs it offers. Students who have not yet declared a major are assigned an advisor in L&S Academic Advising Services Services or the Cross-College Advising Service (see below). Students who have declared a major are assigned an advisor in their department or program.

All of the advising programs share the goal of assisting students in making responsible, informed decisions as they develop educational plans compatible with their potential, their interests, and their career and life ambitions. Advisors provide much more than information about course selection and academic programs; they encourage students to ask questions about the nature and direction of their learning, and they work with students to find meaningful answers to those questions. Advising involves a process in which students learn to think critically about the variety of options available to them and develop decision-making skills that will enable them to choose wisely. As adults, students themselves, however, must assume primary responsibility for choosing their academic program and making progress toward their degree.

Advisors are prepared to discuss degree requirements and the advantages and disadvantages of particular courses of study; they are also available to guide students toward extracurricular activities and to follow up on students' progress.

Academic deans provide up-to-date information on college policies, procedures, and deadlines; campus resources; and degree requirements. Deans also offer academic advising and make decisions regarding exceptions to college policy. They work closely with advising staff in L&S Academic Advising Services, department advisors, and other student service personnel on the UW–Madison campus. In an institution as diverse as the University of Wisconsin–Madison, students have a wide range of values, interests, and skills. Moreover, as they progress through an academic program, their questions and concerns often change. Therefore, students are encouraged to seek the help of several different types of academic advisors during their years on campus. The university provides a system of staff and faculty advisors to address these ongoing and changing concerns.

Students can find academic advising, academic support services, career advising, and many enrichment programs through L&S Student Academic Affairs (SAA). Academic advising services are described immediately below. Information regarding the L&S Honors Program and Pathways Student Academic Services program can be found in the L&S section of this catalog. Campuswide enrichment programs such as the Academic Advancement Program and Undergraduate Research Scholars Program are described in the front section of this catalog. Entering L&S students are assigned an academic advisor in the program most suitable for their academic interests. Most first-year students have an advisor in L&S Undergraduate Academic Services if they have a specific major in mind. Students exploring majors are assigned an advisor in the Cross-College Advising Service (CCAS).

The Cross-College Advising Service (CCAS) [a part of the Office of Undergraduate Advising in the Office of the Provost], 10 Ingraham Hall, 608-265-5460; 608-264-CCAS, is a campuswide advising service for undergraduate students who are undecided about a major and want to explore the many academic opportunities on campus. CCAS also assists students who are considering changing majors or who have not been admitted to limited enrollment programs and need to explore other options. CCAS advisors are knowledgeable about all the programs and majors offered by the nine undergraduate schools and colleges on campus. Each year at SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration), approximately one-third of the students in the entering class self-identify as "undecided/exploring" and are assigned to CCAS advisors.

In addition to the main CCAS office in Ingraham Hall, CCAS has residence hall advising offices in Chadbourne Residential College, Ogg Hall, Sellery Hall, Witte Hall, and the Lakeshore area office in Holt Commons (Ogg Hall serves students living in Ogg, Smith, Merit and Susan B. Davis Halls.  The Lakeshore office is available to all students in Lakeshore-area residence halls.). CCAS offers evening advising hours with professional and peer advising at College Library and several residence halls. CCAS also provides career exploration activities to help students make decisions about academic direction and future careers. The CCAS Exploration Center for Majors and Careers offers individual career advising appointments, special-interest workshops throughout the academic year, a career library, computerized career-planning programs, and other career assessments to help undergraduates gain clarity about their interests, values, and personality. 

Letters & Science Academic and Career Advising Center—Academic Advising Services Unit, 1305 Linden Drive, Suite 155 Middleton Building, 608-262-5858. The College of Letters & Science (L&S) Academic and Career Advising Center (ACAC) offers comprehensive academic advising and career services for students investigating and preparing for majors in L&S. The Academic Advising Services unit offers comprehensive advising for students investigating and preparing for majors in the College of Letters & Science. Students using these services will have access to the expertise provided by staff working with L&S undergraduate advising.

Letters & Science Academic and Career Advising Center—Academic Progress Services Unit, 1305 Linden Drive, Suite 155 Middleton Building, 608-262-5858. The College of Letters & Science (L&S) Academic and Career Advising Center (ACAC) offers comprehensive academic advising and career services for students investigating and preparing for majors in L&S. The Academic Progress Services unit supports academic progress and degree completion in three ways: (1) make data-driven recommendations to improve systems, policies, and interventions that impede academic progress and degree completion; (2) develop strategic interventions and academic programming with currently enrolled students that support academic progress; and (3) identify gaps in academic and career advising services across the College of Letters & Science in an effort to improve academic progress for all students. The Academic Progress Services unit serves as a liaison between department advisors and the Academic and Career Advising Center and Student Academic Affairs.

Letters & Science Academic and Career Advising Center—Career Services Unit, 1305 Linden Drive, Suite 205 Middleton Building, 608-262-3921. The College of Letters & Science (L&S) Academic and Career Advising Center (ACAC) offers comprehensive academic advising and career services for students investigating and preparing for majors in L&S. The Career Services unit provides students and alumni from Letters & Science with career development. L&S Career Services works with students to identify their strengths and passions, explore career options, make career decisions, and conduct a successful job search. The office provides self-assessment tests, an extensive resource library, walk-in advising, workshops, resume/cover letter and interviewing assistance, connections with recruiters via career fairs and on-campus recruiting, and a host of other services to assist students with their career journey. The service educates students about the career-development process and gives them the tools to achieve their career goals.

Pathways Student Academic Services (a part of the Center for Academic Excellence), L&S Student Academic Affairs units, B47 Bascom Hall, 608-263-5068. The units of Pathways Student Academic Services offer community outreach and engagement to learning centers and programs at UW–Madison, as well as offering academic advising for L&S students. More information about Pathways Student Academic Services appears in the L&S section of this catalog.

L&S Honors Program, Washburn Observatory, 1401 Observatory Drive, 608-262-2984. This unit works with students accepted into the L&S Honors Program.

Academic Advancement Program (AAP) (a part of the Center for Academic Excellence), B47 Bascom Hall, 608-263-5068. Staff members advise students accepted into the Academic Advancement Program.

Advising in the Major

Juniors, seniors, and any other students who are preparing for, or have declared, a major or are contemplating a major in the College of Letters and Science, are encouraged to meet with an advisor in that major department. Each department has a faculty or staff member who serves as a department advisor. This person knows about prerequisites to courses, program planning for students majoring in the department, major requirements, and in some cases, general career information related to the field. A department advisor can help students make satisfactory progress toward completing requirements in the major, and can suggest courses that address students' interests and help them achieve their goals.

Juniors and seniors are encouraged to seek advice from these department advisors as soon as possible. Please note that the assignment of a departmental advisor and declaring a major in a particular department(s) are not automatic. Students must go to the department office to declare their major and to be assigned a departmental advisor for the major. Students are also advised to meet with departmental advisors early in their academic career since some majors require students to fulfill prerequisite classes and earn a minimum GPA in the designated course work before they are eligible to declare the specific major. It is very important that students contact the major department(s) as early as possible so they aware of any prerequisites.

Transfer students often come to the campus knowing their intended major. These students may go directly to the department advisors for any help they need in pursuing/declaring the major.

Students classified in any of the Special Courses (Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics, Chemistry Course, etc.) may refer to the specific department sections within this catalog for names of professors associated with the various programs, then consult with the appropriate advisor.

Students pursuing Honors in the Major (HM) are encouraged to work closely with the honors coordinator in their major department regarding course and research opportunities within the department or field of interest. Special departmental advisors are available to help any students, primarily sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who have decided on their major. These advisors are located in department offices throughout the campus. Office hours vary among departments. Consult a staff telephone directory for a list of department offices and locations, or see the department descriptions in this catalog.

Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS)

The Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) is part of UW-Madison's commitment to improve academic advising for undergraduate students. It is a powerful advising tool that combines the accuracy and efficiency of computer technology with the personal wisdom and insight of skilled advisors.

Most undergraduate students may obtain a DARS through the Student Center. DARS reports indicate which requirements have already been completed, are complete with in-progress courses, and which remain unsatisfied. The report may specify courses that meet unsatisfied requirements. In addition to requesting a DARS report for their official degree program, students (and advisors) can run "What-if" DARS reports that analyze degree progress in a program of interest. In many cases, the DARS report also calculates and reports eligibility to declare or apply to a major. This helpful service allows students to proactively engage their educational choices and to take ownership of their degree progress.

DARS is not intended to replace a student's contact with the assigned academic advisors. Instead, the quick and thorough analysis of a DARS report allows more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, study abroad options, plans for graduate school, and other issues of interest or concern to students. For most undergraduate programs, DARS is the tool used to determine completion of the program and/or eligibility to graduate.

Unofficial DARS reports are available to students with a valid UW–Madison ID number and Personal Identification Number (PIN) via My UW–Madison. L&S students may also request a printed copy of their official DARS report at the Degree Audit section of the Office of the Registrar (333 East Campus Mall #10101). DARS is the document of record for L&S degree requirements and for nearly all L&S majors. A student is eligible to graduate only when DARS reports all requirements are complete and the registrar's office does a final check of the student's records. Students should consult their major advisor for details.