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College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Advising and Other Student Services

Student Services
Financial Resources
Agricultural and Life Sciences Student Organizations
Preparation for Professional Careers in Veterinary Medicine and Medicine


Information on admission to the university as a freshman, transfer, or international student is available through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Prospective students with questions about study in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences may contact the Office of Academic Affairs at 608-262-3003.

Transfer Students

Many students transfer into the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences from other schools and colleges at UW–Madison, from elsewhere in the UW System, or from other universities. The CALS Office of Academic Affairs can provide advice on transfer policies and degree requirements and help transfer students make plans to complete their education in the college. With some specialized majors in the college, (i.e., Biological Systems Engineering or Landscape Architecture) an early transfer is advisable. Students should check with the CALS Office of Academic Affairs, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003; see also this website.

A minimum of 30 credits in residence is required for all students. Transfer credits are evaluated by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment after the student has been accepted.

Students transferring to Madison from other UW System campuses or from a Wisconsin Technical College can evaluate course transferability using the Transfer Information System (TIS).

On-Campus Transfer

Students will be considered for transfer to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences from other schools and colleges at UW–Madison if they

  1. are in good academic standing with the college or school in which they are enrolled,
  2. meet any special requirements as specified by the intended major, and
  3. have earned fewer than 86 credits, which is the threshold for senior status.

Students who have been dropped by another college or school must be readmitted to that college or school before being considered for transfer into the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. However, being readmitted for transfer purposes by another school or college does not guarantee acceptance by CALS.

Ideally, the transfer should be initiated in advance of the semester in which enrollment is planned. Students may initiate the transfer process at any time during the semester. However, the registrar's office determines when transfers may be completed; this window generally is open from approximately the second through the twelfth week of classes. Students may transfer during the summer session only if they are enrolled in summer courses. Consult the Office of Academic Affairs for details.

Special Students

There are two basic categories of Special students at UW–Madison: (1) the College Special, who is allied with a college and must obtain an "Academic Action" from the dean to enroll each semester, and (2) the University Special, who is a nondegree student not allied with a particular college or school and is admitted through the Division of Continuing Studies. Within the University Special category are several classifications.

A College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Special student is generally one who enrolls as a nondegree candidate to take one or more courses for some special purpose, usually to prepare for admission to a graduate or professional school. Special students in the college receive essentially the same advising and other services as undergraduate students, but pay fees as established by the Board of Regents.

Students seeking admission as an Agricultural and Life Sciences Special student must submit official transcripts of previous studies to the Office of Academic Affairs. Each semester they must submit a letter of recommendation from the department chair or another representative in the department to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Services. Students who want to take just one course without regard to qualifying for admission to a degree program should also obtain the permission of the professor offering the course.

Admission as a Special student is authorized by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, based on an analysis of transcripts and recommendations. Specials are not candidates for a degree. A Special student who has achieved a satisfactory record may qualify as a regular student and become a degree candidate if the major department recommends it. However, the student must first apply for admission to the university.

Students who do not plan to seek a further degree or to qualify for admission to graduate school, but wish to be admitted to enroll in a course or courses, should seek admission as a University Special student rather than as a College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Special student. Information about the University Special student classification is available from the Division of Continuing Studies.

Student Services

Staff in the Office of Academic Affairs provide a variety of services. They certify students for their respective degrees upon graduation, maintain student records, administer scholastic policies, administer college scholarships and loans, coordinate development of curricula, act on student withdrawals, counsel students about career and study opportunities, host interviews and career-related events and workshops, oversee two undergraduate housing units, operate the Farm and Industry Short Course, assist with degree audit reports, help departments plan and assess educational programs, and coordinate and maintain programs for students and staff. Special counseling is available for interested minority or disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and students with unusual circumstances or needs.

Student Advising

Every student enrolled in the college has an assigned advisor. Students are expected to consult their advisors before each registration period, and are encouraged to consult their advisors throughout the year. Faculty/department staff advisors help students plan their coursework to meet their educational objectives. When students enroll in the college as beginning freshmen or as transfer students, they are assigned an advisor in their major field of study. Advisors will talk with students about educational and career objectives and counsel them about meeting degree requirements and planning their educational programs.

Once students have decided on an area of study, their advisors will guide them toward courses in that area and advise them on how to fulfill university and college requirements. Students can change their advisor if they change their major or if they find a different advisor with interests more similar to their own. The change is made through the department or through the Office of Academic Affairs.

Students are encouraged to seek advice from university faculty and staff, in addition to their assigned advisor. There are many people on campus who are willing and able to help students; however, it is the student's responsibility to seek advice.

Career Services

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences maintains career services for its students and alumni. The Career Services Office, in 116 Agricultural Hall, brings job and internship openings to the attention of students; assists with development of credentials for use in job interviews with business and industry representatives; arranges interview schedules for a large number of employers; assists undergraduates with developing internship programs; and conducts workshops on interview and job hunting skills. Career Services sponsors two annual career and internship fairs, one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester, for students to learn about career opportunities. Many seniors make job commitments before graduation as a result of interviews conducted on the campus during the school year. Students are encouraged to register with the Career Services Office early in their undergraduate program. See CALS Career Services for more information.

The Career Services Office is operated as a service to students. The college cannot guarantee job placement.


The college's internship program gives undergraduates a chance to see how they can use what they have learned in an on-the-job setting. By enrolling under a special course number (Coordinative Internship 399) students can earn 1–8 credits per semester if approved by the advisor and field supervisor. A total of 8 internship credits may be applied toward graduation. A number of agencies and corporations conduct formal training programs or internships for students before or immediately following graduation. Students are allowed diverse experiences and at the end of the internship may become a permanent employee. Interested students should contact either the Career Services Office or their advisor.

International Study Opportunities

Today's college graduates must be prepared for the international world in which they will live and work. Study abroad programs offer students unique opportunities which cannot be replicated on the UW–Madison campus. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has organized international study opportunities to allow students to enrich their education by experiencing different cultures, and broadening their understanding of agricultural and life sciences outside the United States. These study programs also provide students with a greater awareness of global linkages, agricultural needs, community development, and economic and environmental issues. Students may also receive credit for participation in UW–Madison Study Abroad Programs, or students may arrange their own opportunities in consultation with the Office of Academic Affairs. Students are permitted to enroll in courses and programs for which they are qualified at the host institutions.

Additional information can be found in the Office of Academic Affairs in CALS (116 Agricultural Hall); at the CALS International Programs Office; and from the Office of International Academic Programs (250 Bascom Hall).

Financial Resources

In addition to university scholarships, grants, loans, and employment available at the Office of Student Financial Aid (333 East Campus Mall), scholarships and loans are available to qualified students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Agricultural and Life Sciences Scholarships

CALS has an extensive scholarship program. All CALS students must apply every year to be considered for a scholarship. One application allows consideration for any scholarships administered by the college. The application cycle runs from early November to early February every year. Selection of recipients is determined by the CALS Scholarships and Loans Committee.

The scholarship application is available through Scholarships@UW–Madison, which can be found through the Student Services tab in MyUW or through the Finances section of Student Center.  Applicants must follow all prompts to ensure completion of the application process.  

Scholarships with a financial need component require a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file with the university. 

Information regarding scholarships administered by organizations outside of the college is posted on the Scholarships from Outside CALS page.  Scholarships are posted as they become available.

Agricultural and Life Sciences Loans

Several short-term loan funds have been established for students in the college. Students may borrow money for up to six months at no interest, or very low interest, provided the money is repaid when due. Students must be able to provide a specific plan for loan repayment.  No prior authorizations are needed, and the loan amount is available from the Bursar’s Office on the same day the application is approved.    Applications for these short-term loans are available in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Student Employment

Many College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students gain valuable experience by working part-time in jobs related to their interests. Working in a laboratory is often the first step for students who are interested in conducting their own research.

Some students are hired directly by specific departments as a result of the students' interests and experience. Also, the university maintains a Student Job Center in the Office of Student Financial Aid, 333 East Campus Mall, to help students find part-time work.

Agricultural and Life Sciences Student Organizations

Agricultural and Life Sciences students will find many organizations and clubs to meet their professional interests. Student organizations provide a vehicle for students to gain leadership experience and develop professional skills. For more information see the Registered Student Organization (RSO) Directory and CALS Student Organizations.

Preparation for Professional Careers in Veterinary Medicine and Medicine

For information about preparation for professional careers in veterinary medicine and medicine, visit the Center for Pre-Health Advising.


The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has outstanding facilities for student housing, instruction, and research.

The college operates two residence halls, Jorns and Humphrey halls. Those interested in this housing option should call 608-262-2270 or visit FISC Housing.

Staff and students also make extensive use of off-campus sites such as the University Arboretum and 13 Agricultural Research Stations located throughout the state. The college includes many specialized instructional and research facilities. On-campus animal research facilities include the Biotechnology, Microbial Sciences and Biochemistry buildings, a livestock laboratory, instructional greenhouses, and a number of instructional computer labs.

The Steenbock Memorial Library serves the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences with a collection of more than 600,000 books, bound journals, and government publications, and a variety of seating and study rooms for individual and group use. The library operates a public-access computer facility with a wide range of hardware and software. The building is a memorial to biochemist Harry Steenbock for his outstanding contributions to Wisconsin and to the health of humanity. Steenbock Library has received awards for its design and for its service to students, faculty, and academic staff. Steenbock Library staff help students and faculty locate reference material for their research through workshops on using the library and through personal assistance with search strategies.