UW-Madison: Academics: Undergraduate Catalog

Undergraduate Study at UW-Madison

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees
Non-L&S Students Completing a Major in the College of Letters and Science
Exams for Degree Credit
Honors Programs
Preprofessional Study
Summer Sessions
Late Afternoon and Evening Credit Courses
Academic Programs Abroad

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees

The University of Wisconsin-Madison sets minimum standards that must be met by all students pursuing an undergraduate degree. Many departments and programs have requirements that exceed these basic requirements. It is important that students become familiar with the specific requirements of the colleges and individual departments and programs. The information in the following paragraphs provides general information about study at UW-Madison. Requirements may vary among the schools and colleges.

Total Degree Credits

To receive a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison, most students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The total degree credits for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Residence Credit

Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW-Madison. "In residence" means on the UW-Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. Normally these credits are completed after earning the first 90 credits toward an undergraduate degree.


Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade-point average specified by the school or college. Not doing so can result in being placed on academic probation. Some programs require students to maintain a stated GPA higher than the minimum to remain in good standing.

General Education Requirements

All students entering UW-Madison as freshmen or undergraduate transfer students will benefit from the General Education Requirements. These institutional requirements are intended to enhance the undergraduate learning experience and include: communication, quantitative reasoning, natural science, humanities/literature/arts, social studies, and ethnic studies. Students should consult undergraduate advisers for specific information about how each school or college recommends fulfillment of the General Education Requirements.

The General Education Requirements are:

Communication, 3 to 5/6 credits

Part A:
Literacy Proficiency. 2-3 credits at first-year level dedicated to reading, listening, and discussion, with emphasis on writing. Students may be exempted from Part A by high school work or testing.

Part B: Enhancing Literacy Proficiency. 2-3 credits of more advanced course work for students who have completed or been exempted from Part A.

Quantitative Reasoning, 3 to 6 credits

Part A:
3 credits of mathematics, computer science, statistics, or formal logic. Students may be exempted from Part A by high school course work or testing.

Part B: 3 additional credits in quantitative reasoning.

Natural Science, 4 to 6 credits
One 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits.

Humanities/Literature/Arts, 6 credits
Social Studies, 3 credits
Ethnic Studies, 3 credits

Ethnic Studies

One way UW-Madison demonstrates its commitment to ethnic and cultural diversity is through the ethnic studies requirement, which guarantees that each student will take an ethnic studies course before graduation. Students can choose from more than 100 courses to fulfill this requirement. Many designated courses allow students to fulfill both the ethnic studies requirement and another graduation or major requirement.

Requirements for Certificates

Some departments and programs offer certificates in addition to majors. Normally a certificate is earned by completing a set of approved courses. A certificate is earned separately from, or in addition to, an undergraduate degree. For information about a specific certificate, students should consult with an adviser in the program offering the certificate.

Non-L&S Students Completing a Major in the College of Letters and Science

Students who are enrolled in a school or college other than Letters and Science may complete a major within L&S with approval of their dean. Non-L&S students must meet admission requirements to the major, if such requirements are applicable to the intended major, and must formally declare the major in the department office. Non-L&S students will complete all requirements of the major, including College quality of work in the major (minimum 2.0 GPA on all work in the major and 2.0 in upper-level work in the major as defined by the department) and residence in the major (minumum 15 credits upper-level work as defined by the department completed on the UW-Madison campus). For more information, see entries for majors in the L&S section of this catalog.

Exams for Degree Credit

For information on the College Level Examination Program, retro credit, and advanced placement credit, see the section on Admission.

Honors Programs

Honors programs, which vary slightly among the schools and colleges, are designed for students who wish to undertake work that is more intensive than regular course work. High grade-point averages are required to maintain honor student standing. For more information, students should refer to the specific school or college section in this catalog or consult with an honors adviser.

Preprofessional Study


Graduation from an approved college or university is a prerequisite to law school admission.

Beginning University of Wisconsin Law School students are admitted only in the fall semester. Students seeking admission must apply by the preceding February 1. Applying well before the deadline is advised; many students apply in October or November.

Test. All applicants are required to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which is administered four times each year. Information and applications for this test are available at the Law School Admissions Office or at the L&S Advising Center, 307 South Hall.

Prelaw studies. It is impossible to recommend an exact list of courses that will be ideal for all persons who plan to attend law school after college, because there is no specific course of study or major that is required for admission to law school. However, several conclusions emerge that should aid the potential law student.

Students aspiring to study law must work toward the development of skills that are crucial to success in law school. These include the ability to write and speak clearly and correctly and the capacity to think independently, attaining exactness of thought and making valid analytical comparisons and differentiations. It is recommended that undergraduates strengthen these skills by the study and mastery of English prose, composition, and exposition, and of the use of English in speaking. It is also helpful to take couses that demand precise thinking and close reading.

It is particularly important that prospective law students take courses in subjects that are of personal interest, are intellectually challenging, and that will help to provide an understanding of the history, nature, and aspirations of American society.

Two brochures useful to the prelaw student are Suggested Courses for the Prelaw Student and Prelaw at Wisconsin. Both are available at the L&S Advising Center, 307 South Hall.


Premedicine is not a major. The premedical professional interest area is not a classification, nor is it a formal academic program. It is an area of intended interest that can be pursued simultaneously with the completion of a major and regular degree requirements.

Students interested in the preprofessional medical area are encouraged to seek counsel at the L&S Advising Center, 307 South Hall. In addition, they should obtain the booklet Premedicine at Wisconsin, which is available at both 307 South Hall and 116 Agriculture Hall. Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the College of Letters and Science: For more information about premedicine, refer to the college sections in this catalog.

Veterinary Medicine

Preveterinary medicine is not a major at UW-Madison. Students interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine are encouraged to choose a major of interest that can be pursued simultaneously while completing the 60 credits of required course work. Students may select an academic major in any school or college to be eligible for admission. One major does not have an advantage over another with respect to admission to veterinary school.

For more information about preveterinary medicine and planning course work, contact the Academic Affairs Office, School of Veterinary Medicine, Room 2268, 2015 Linden Drive, 608/263-2525; the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Room 116 Agriculture Hall; or the College of Letters and Sciences Advising Center, 307 South Hall.

Summer Sessions

Approximately 14,500 students attend UW-Madison Summer Sessions each summer. Nearly 80 percent of these students are regular UW-Madison degree candidates who take summer classes to graduate on schedule, complete requirements for a major, complete a degree faster, reduce fall/spring course loads, concentrate on one special course, reduce future scheduling problems, pick up prerequisite work, and experience smaller classes or an innovative offering available only in summer.

In a 1994 survey of undergraduate students, nearly one-half rated their summer academic experience the same quality as that during the regular year; one-third rated it better. In the summer, UW-Madison regular faculty are joined by visiting lecturers from distinguished institutions, government, and business. Together they provide instruction in a variety of one-to 13-week sessions for a total of over 1,600 credit courses.

UW-Madison undergraduate students qualified to continue in summer from the spring semester do not need to reapply for the summer term. The Registrar's Office will automatically provide summer registration information in April. All summer students touch-tone register. Complete summer information is published in late January in the UW-Madison Summer Bulletin/Timetable. Copies are available on campus at information centers as well as the Division of Continuing Studies, Office of Summer Sessions, 905 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53715-1005. For information call 608/262-2115 (after hours, 262-4352). Fax: 608/265-2901.

Late Afternoon and Evening Credit Courses

The Late Afternoon and Evening Timetable lists approximately 400 courses offered by UW-Madison for students whose daytime commitments prevent them from taking classes during regular hours. The Timetable also lists a number of credit courses available on cable television in the greater Madison area.

Starting in fall 1995, students can also complete an undergraduate major at UW-Madison without having to attend any daytime classes. Majors in psychology (College of Letters and Science) and in retail/small-business management (School of Human Ecology) are available entirely through evening classes during a five-year rotation.

For more information about the psychology major, contact Arlene Davenport, undergraduate adviser, 225 Brogden Hall, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706; 608/262-2077. For more information about the retailing major, contact Professor Robin Douthitt, chair, Department of Consumer Science, 1300 Linden Drive, Madison WI 53706; 608/263-5675.

The Late Afternoon and Evening Timetable is published by the Office of Outreach Development, 352 Bascom Hall. Copies are available at that office and at the Peterson Building, 750 University Avenue; Campus Assistance Center, 420 North Lake Street; Office of Summer Sessions, 905 University Avenue; Program Information and Publications, 730 Lowell Hall, 610 Langdon Street; and campus and public libraries.

Academic Programs Abroad

Students will find many opportunities to study abroad through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP), College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, College of Engineering, as well as the Schools of Education and Business and the Institute for Environmental Studies, all offer international programs for qualified students. Some of these programs serve specialized needs within professional schools; others are open to all students. Program options include study abroad, student exchanges, and internships for undergraduates.

The Value of Study Abroad

Study abroad can play a crucial role in preparing students to meet the challenges of a changing world in the 21st century. Many study abroad programs provide an interesting way for students to develop language skills while immersed in other societies and cultures. Students can choose from a variety of settings within which to study a particular language. For example, students who have studied French may choose programs in Canada, France, or Senegal. Students who have studied Portuguese can study in Portugal or Brazil; students with backgrounds in Spanish go abroad on programs in Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, or Spain. In addition, UW-Madison offers approximately 20 programs that require no previous training in a foreign language and feature courses taught in English. These programs include sites as diverse as Florence, Italy; Budapest, Hungary; Cairo, Egypt; Chiang Mai, Thailand; England; and Australia.

Study abroad has much to offer students in all disciplines and majors. Some programs provide opportunities for independent field research, internships, and independent studies. These opportunities allow students of virtually any major to pursue their interests in places such as India, Nepal, Senegal, and Israel, to name a few.

Costs and Affordability

Some study abroad programs cost about the same as a semester or year on campus. Others can cost more, though sometimes additional costs can be offset by on-site jobs or financial aid. Students can use their financial aid when participating in a UW-Madison study abroad program.

The OISP also coordinates campuswide fellowships for overseas study, including the Fulbright and the National Security Education programs (for both graduate and undergraduate students). For information about scholarships and grants available to students who plan to study abroad, visit the OISP Resource Room in 252 Bascom Hall and obtain a copy of the Guide to Financial Resources for Study Abroad.

Eligibility and Academic Credit

Most academic-year programs are open to juniors and seniors. Summer programs are often open to sophomores as well. Students must be in good academic standing to apply. Interested students benefit from planning during their freshman year with the aim of taking required courses on campus before study abroad. Credits earned through UW-Madison study abroad programs are considered "residence credits." In most cases, both credits and grades will be posted on the UW-Madison transcript. In general, credits earned abroad can count toward fulfilling college and major requirements in any UW-Madison school or college. Students in the College of Letters and Science who study abroad must also complete 15 credits at any level within each major, while physically on campus. Seniors who complete their major and degree requirements while abroad may graduate at the end of their study abroad program.

The Role of the Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP)

Among all campus units, the Office of International Studies and Programs administers the largest number of UW-Madison study abroad programs. OISP has managed generalized study abroad programs for the UW-Madison since the 1960s. Today the office oversees more than 50 sites in 30 countries around the world, with nearly 500 student participants each year.

The OISP has established an Undergraduate Travel Awards fellowship program for students enrolling in its overseas programs. With matching funds from the College of Letters and Science, OISP has been able to offer up to 50 travel awards of $1500 annually to students planning to study abroad for a semester or year.

The OISP has a team of former study abroad participants who are trained as peer advisers and staff the Resource Room. Peer advisers serve as the first point of contact for students interested in studying abroad on OISP programs. In addition, professional staff work closely with students to help prepare them for study abroad and assist them while they are overseas. To pick up a program brochure and for more information visit the OISP Resource Room, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Below is a representative sample of the programs currently offered across campus. Students are encouraged to check with the OISP or the office in their college or school for information about ongoing, new, or canceled programs.

Office of International Studies and Programs
Resource Room

252 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706
telephone: 608/265-6329
email: peeradv@macc.wisc.edu
The Americas: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica*, Ecuador, Mexico
Africa and the Middle East: Egypt*, Israel*, Morocco*, Senegal, Tanzania*, Turkey*
Asia: Australia*, China, India*, Indonesia*, Japan, Kazakhstan, Nepal*, Thailand*, Vietnam*
Europe and Scandinavia: Denmark*, England*, France, Germany, Hungary*, Ireland*, Italy*, The Netherlands*, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden*
*At least one site in this country has no language requirement and offers courses taught in English.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Assistant Dean Jane Knowles
International Agricultural Programs
240 Agriculture Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
telephone: 608/262-1794
email: jane.knowles@mail.admin.wisc.edu
Student Exchanges: Costa Rica, England, The Netherlands, The West Indies

School of Business
Professor Robert Aubey
Center for International Business Education
5181 Grainger Hall
975 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
telephone: 608/263-1169
email: raubey@macc.wisc.edu
Study Abroad: England, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, France
Internship and Exchange Programs: France

School of Education
Assistant Dean Emily Comstock
109 Education Building
1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
telephone: 608/262-1173
email: comstock@macc.wisc.edu
Student Teaching: England

College of Engineering
Sue Gleckman, Coordinator
International Engineering Studies and Programs
2640 Engineering Hall
1450 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706
telephone: 608/263-2191
email: gleckman@engr.wisc.edu
Study Abroad: Finland, France, Israel, Japan, Spain
Student Exchanges: Chile, England, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden
Summer: England, France, Japan
Internships: Europe, Asia, Latin America

Institute for Environmental Studies
International Exchange Coordinator
IES Academic Programs
70 Science Hall
550 North Park Street
Madison, WI 53706
telephone: 608/263-1796
email: guelph@macc.wisc.edu
Exchange: Canada

For information about programs offered by institutions other than UW-Madison, contact the Travel Center:
Travel Center
Jane Johnson, Director
4th floor, Memorial Union
800 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706
telephone: 608/262-6200
email: jjtravel@macc.wisc.edu

Copyright © 1996 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

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