Majors, Schools, and Colleges
There are nine undergraduate schools and colleges at UW–Madison offering 160 majors, 50 certificate programs, and 4,200 course options. Each school and college has unique academic communities, facilities, and resources as well as different requirements, policies, and expectations. To be successful, your son or daughter should be familiar with his/her school or college requirements. UW–Madison asks that parents and families discuss academic expectations before students arrive on campus and encourage their students to set personal academic goals.
Academic advisors are partners in helping students meet their academic goals. Students meet their advisors at SOAR and work with them throughout their entire undergraduate career. Advisors help students create an academic plan, explore career options, select classes, understand policies and procedures, and connect them to campus resources. Most first-year students are initially admitted to the university as a whole and not into specific programs and majors. Many students apply to their desired program after completing one or two years of prerequisite course work in the College of Letters & Science. Below is a listing of specific school/college advising services. Additional advising contacts and information can be found in the Advising Toolkit.
Exploration Center for Majors & Careers
The Exploration Center, an extension of the Cross-College Advising Service, is available to all students, but it is designed to assist undecided students who are exploring their options related to choosing a major and planning potential career paths. The earlier a student starts to think about the process of choosing a major and subsequently a career, the more intentional and thoughtful the process can be. Phone: 608-265-4497; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
UW–Madison School/College Advising Services
School of Education
of Human Ecology
College of Letters &
UW Advising Hotline
School of Medicine
and Public Health, Professions Programs
(Physician Assistant, Clinical Laboratory Science)
- Academic Calendar (Important dates several years into the future, including the first day of classes, holidays, and breaks)
- Undergraduate Catalog
(Information about academic programs and requirements)
- Undergraduate majors and certificate programs
- Enrollment dates and deadlines
- Conflicts between religious observances and mandatory academic requirements
- Graduating in four years
- Schedule of classes
(listing of the courses scheduled for a particular term)
- Schools and colleges
- Academic departments
- My UW (secure gateway to online information)
- Graduate programs
- Graduate School Catalog
Computing/Division of Information Technology (DoIT)
Everything needed for successful computing at the UW is provided by the Division of Information Technology (DoIT). DoIT provides expert advice on software or hardware, great prices, a network connection, training, help 7 days a week, warranties, or repair and installation. 608-264-4357
The McBurney Disability Resource Center creates an accessible university community where students with disabilities can realize their full potential. The center’s staff collaborates with students, faculty, and staff to promote students’ independence and to ensure the assessment of their abilities—not disabilities. Students with physical, learning, sensory, psychological, or health-related impairments may benefit from the center’s services. Phone: 608-263-2741; e-mail: email@example.com.
Academics in University Residence Halls
The Class Connections program in University Residence Halls helps students find classmates who live nearby, and provides study-group kickoff events to forge Class Connections. Last fall, about 1,000 students living in University Residence Halls attended study-group kickoffs. Undergraduate- and graduate-student tutors in chemistry, math, and writing are available on most weekday evenings throughout University Residence Halls.
The Writing Center offers free assistance on organization, style, and mechanics in writing projects for any course (except those that satisfy the Communication A requirement), and at any level. The center also offers short, noncredit classes on grammar, style, and composition planning and organization, as well as writing for exams, research papers, research posters, book reviews, literary critiques, and cover letters and résumés.
GUTS peer tutoring program provides free help in a variety of subjects at introductory and intermediate levels, including Academic Math Program, Conversational English, Study Skills Counseling, and Drop-in Centers. Phone: 608-263-5666; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mathematics Tutorial Program offers small-group tutoring for students enrolled in Math 95, 101, 112, 113, 114, 171/217, 211, 213, 221, 222, and 234. The twice-weekly sessions focus on improving problem-solving techniques and have required attendance. Individual help is also available. Phone: 608-263-6817; e-mail: email@example.com
The Chemistry Learning Center assists students who are enrolled in general and organic chemistry courses in becoming successful and independent learners. Offering a supportive learning environment where students meet in small groups with staff to work out effective strategies for mastering the chemical content. Phone: 608-265-5497; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Physics Peer Mentor Tutoring (PMT) program offers small-group tutorials in Physics 103 and 104 to students from groups underrepresented in the sciences (such as students of color), to students with special learning needs (such as transfer students and returning adults), and to students who have dropped physics in the past. The program provides a supportive environment in which to learn physics. Students can join at any time during the semester and there is no fee. Phone: 608-262-9107; e-mail: email@example.com.
UW–Madison has more than 40 campus libraries, 8 million volumes of books and journals, 6.2 million microfilm items, and hundreds of thousands of government documents, maps, musical scores, and audiovisual materials. In addition to searching for materials online, students may e-mail or use instant messaging to send reference questions through campus library links as well as participate in library tours and hands-on classes.
Additional library resources:
- College Library is the primary undergraduate library
- Ask a librarian through chats and online services
- View a campus map (PDF) of all libraries
- The library is one of the largest student employers on campus; encourage your student to apply
- List of libraries and hours
- Research tips and tricks tutorials: The UW–Madison Libraries provide many online tip sheets and video tutorials covering popular research questions, such as finding articles or books.
Opportunities to enhance the academic experience
Students struggling with their classes
Students struggling with their classes may receive academic assistance in a variety of ways.
- Meet with teaching assistants and professors during their office hours to discuss questions and concerns.
- Academic Advisors serve as an ongoing resource for students by answering questions, planning class schedules, providing career counseling, and generally helping students stay on track to graduation.
- The Greater University Tutoring Service (GUTS) is dedicated to connecting UW students with volunteer tutors for assistance with academic courses and study skills. Guts offers two forms of tutoring programs, Academic Match and Drop-In services. Academic Match allows students to meet in groups of no more than six for on-going tutor help. The Drop-In services allow students to “drop-in” or walk-in to one of GUTS main locations for on-the-spot help.
- Depending on your student’s area of study, the Writing Center may be another useful resource to explore. The Writing Center provides assistance with academic papers, research proposals, personal statements, resumes, and more. Students can schedule an appointment to discuss their work or attend a free class on different aspects of writing.
International Academic Programs (IAP) serves as the primary study abroad office on campus offering more than 140 programs in over 50 countries around the world. IAP program offerings are available to all majors and range from short-term faculty-led opportunities, intensive language study, internships, study at a foreign university, service learning, and special theme programs. All classes taken abroad count for UW–Madison in-residence credit. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are available to assist with funding study abroad. More information for parents regarding international academic programs can be found at the UW Study Abroad website.
- College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
- International Programs: UW–Madison School of Business
- International Engineering Programs
UW–Madison has a number of different kinds of honors that a student might receive. They include:
- Dean’s list: At the end of each semester, each undergraduate school or college confers this honor on those students receiving a certain GPA for the graded credits they have received that semester. GPA requirements vary by college and can be found on each college’s Web site .
- Honors programs: Some undergraduate colleges grant honors degrees. These honors programs require application to the program and the completion of requirements specifically related to the honors degree. Each college’s Web site provides information about these programs.
- Degree honors: Each undergraduate college also grants honors based on the GPA of the student at the point of graduation. At UW–Madison (except for the Law School) we do not use the Latin terms (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude). Instead, we use the term “distinction” for this honor. A student may receive Distinction or Highest Distinction, depending on the college in which they are enrolled. Distinction is granted to the top 20 percent of the graduating class in each undergraduate college. Highest Distinction is granted to the top 5 percent of the graduating class in the College of Agriculture and Applied Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, the School of Human Ecology, and the School of Pharmacy.
Additional academic information
Students are placed on academic probation when they do not meet a minimum GPA within the school or college in which they are enrolled. Rules for when a student is placed on probation and when the probation is removed are set by each school or college and can be found on each college’s Web site. Students are notified by the school or college when they are placed on probation, and this information is displayed for the student’s use on the student grade report, available online through the My UW Web portal. Academic probation is removed from a student’s transcript once the student has “cleared” probation.
Students who do not fulfill the obligations of their probation are dismissed (or dropped) from the university. Rules for dismissal are established by each undergraduate college and can be found on each school or college Web site. Any questions about dismissal need to be routed to the academic affairs office of each school or college. Since parents have no inherent rights to the student’s record (see FERPA regulations), any discussion must be carried out between the dean’s office and the student.
Disciplinary probation and dismissal
Student Advocacy & Judicial Affairs, part of the Division of Student Life, is responsible for placing students on disciplinary probation and dismissal due to academic misconduct (i.e., cheating) and non-academic misconduct (i.e., misconduct toward other members of the university community or facilities).
Some parents may be curious about the enrollment process at UW–Madison, while others may have a more practical interest in the topic. In both cases, we provide the following information, also found on the Office of the Registrar's Web site:
- Enrollment policies and instructions: Information regarding adding, dropping, swapping, credit changes, and more, as well as details relating to enrollment appointment times, maximum credit loads, holds, modular classes, auditing classes, canceling enrollment, withdrawing from the university, and other policies.
- “Good student” verification for insurance purposes: Parents needing forms completed regarding student enrollment and/or “good student verification” should send them to: Office of the Registrar, Transcripts & Certification, 333 East Campus Mall #10101, Madison, WI 53715-1384; phone: 608-262-3811.
- Deadlines-at-a-glance: A general listing of key deadlines for the current or upcoming term.
- Schedule of Classes: A listing of the courses scheduled for a particular term.
My student is sick and missing classes. What should he/she do?
If a student misses classes due to illness, injury, family emergency, or some other reason, it is the responsibility of the student to notify his or her instructors as soon as possible. Your son/daughter should contact his or her professors to let them know of the situation and to develop a plan for making up the work. Accommodations and make-up procedures are at the discretion of the faculty member.
The Division of Student Life will not send notice of absence to instructional staff unless the student is unable to do so.
Under FERPA (see below), parents do not have access to a student’s grades. If you are interested in knowing your student’s grades, we encourage you to ask your student. The following information may be of interest to you:
- Final grade reports are no longer automatically mailed at the end of each term. However, students may print a grade report using My UW.
- Students may also request that a grade report be mailed to them using the same site.
- Midterm grades for first-year students (only) are prepared at the end of the sixth week of classes. Grades are sent via e-mail to these students on the Monday of the eighth week.
UW–Madison policy on Confidentiality of Student Records is designed to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This federal law prohibits disclosure of student records information to a third party without written consent from the student. Parents may obtain a copy of their son or daughter’s academic transcript by obtaining the son or daughter’s authorizing signature on the transcript request form (Adobe PDF, 12kb). Transcripts are not faxed for several reasons: Official transcripts are printed on safety paper to prevent tampering, and the fax process eliminates this security measure. In addition, because the recipient cannot be assured from where the faxed transcript originated, there is no way to authenticate the transcript received.
Students are required to apply for graduation and commencement using the My UW Web portal. If they do not apply, they will never graduate, because this application is what causes the process of graduation checking (checking to see if the student has met all graduation requirements) and degree conferral.
Degrees are conferred after all grades from the student have been submitted by the faculty and eligibility for graduation has been confirmed. UW–Madison is a large, decentralized institution, and this process can often take longer than some would expect. Generally speaking, it should be completed about 8 weeks after the date of graduation. Diplomas are mailed to the student’s home address 10 to 12 weeks after graduation.
The Office of the Registrar provides students with official transcripts, enrollment verifications, diploma, grade reports, course enrollment assistance, enrollment deadlines, tuition adjustment/refund deadlines, information regarding the release and withholding of private information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), information on residency for tuition purposes, veterans services, and more. Phone: 608-262-3811; Address: 333 East Campus Mall #10101, Madison, WI 53715-1384.
UW–Madison complies fully with and fairly with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the educational records of a student. When a student enters (is in attendance the first day of classes at) UW–Madison, regardless of age, all rights to inspect and review the educational record transfer from the parent to the student.
Under FERPA, the parent has no right to review the record unless the student grants it in writing. University staff members are not permitted to share any information, other than designated “directory information,” with anyone outside of the university system.
Restricted information includes but is not limited to grades, disciplinary history and action, health concerns, and balance on Wiscard debit card accounts, including the Housing Food Account. Exceptions to FERPA are allowed in life-threatening emergencies.
Degree Audit Report (DARS)
The UW–Madison Degree Audit Report (known as DARS) is a computer-generated report that matches the degree requirements of an undergraduate degree program with a student’s coursework. The audit identifies those graduation requirements completed, as well as those requirements needing completion prior to graduation. The purpose of the audit report is to provide students and their advisors with a degree-progress monitoring tool to assist in academic planning and appropriate course scheduling each semester. Students may obtain an audit of their current major or explore other majors by seeing how their completed coursework matches with the requirements of other majors. Students may obtain audits from My UW, advisors, the Office of the Registrar, and their academic department or college dean’s office.
Students at UW–Madison may not be discriminated against in the university’s program and activities. Contact the Office for Equity and Diversity if you have any questions on the covered bases and the university’s procedures.