Honors Program

The CALS Honors Program allows talented and highly motivated students to continue challenging themselves in the classroom and beyond. The objective of the Honors Program is to help students develop critical thinking and problem solving abilities through specialized courses and to provide students the challenge of designing, conducting, and reporting research in collaboration with faculty from one of the world’s leading research institutions.

Students who successfully complete either of the CALS Honors Program paths will receive an Honors designation on their diploma.

Honors Tracks
CALS has two different tracks to earn an Honors degree designation. Students may complete either track based on their interests and goals. Students are not allowed to complete both tracks. In either option, a student must successfully complete a Senior Honors Thesis approved by the research mentor or committee.

Honors in Research
Students engage in the university’s great research tradition through the completion of two research projects: an introductory project and a senior thesis project. Students identify a faculty mentor to oversee their research efforts and support their progression through the program. In addition to the hands-on research experience, students are required to enroll in coursework directed at furthering their knowledge in quality and ethical scientific discovery.

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Honors in the Major
Students complete a specified number of Honors credits in a designated set of courses to gain advanced knowledge and inquiry within their major field of interest. A limited number of CALS majors offer this program option.

Eligibility and Application Process
Admission to the Honors Program is not competitive provided students meet the required admission criteria.

Admission Criteria for New Freshmen:

  • In the upper 10% of their high school graduating class
  • ACT score of 28 or higher
  • SAT score of at least 1240

Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:

  • UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25

Highly motivated students can apply for admission to the program in the absence of these requirements by including a letter with their application addressed to the Honors Dean in 116 Agricultural Hall explaining why they should be in the program.

How to Apply
Apply to the program online or pick up an application in the Office of Academic Affairs, 116 Agricultural Hall. Applications are accepted at any time.

New freshmen will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research. It is possible to switch to Honors in the Major in the student’s first semester on campus after meeting with the advisor for that major by completing the application form and selecting Honors in the Major. Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after meeting with the major advisor).

How to Cancel Participation
Students who are no longer interested in pursuing Honors should complete the form to cancel their participation. Students may cancel their participation at any time, and this will not be noted on the student’s transcript.