Majors and Certificates

CALS students gain critical thinking, research and communication skills through major and certificate programs, leading them to careers in a wide variety of industries and public service — including biotechnology, healthcare, food, and agriculture. Students are also well prepared for graduate and professional studies at top-ranked institutions. The college promotes working across disciplines, and half of CALS students double-major or complete at least one certificate (similar to a minor).

NEW major coming fall 2024: Agroecology

NEW major coming fall 2024: Dairy & Food Animal Management

NEW certificate coming fall 2024: Environmental Soil Science Certificate

NEW certificate coming fall 2024: Fermented Food and Beverages Certificate

Majors

A major is the specialized field of study for students pursuing an academic degree. Students may pursue more than one major, as well as add certificate programs, during their time in CALS. CALS offers 24 majors as well as an “undeclared” option for those students exploring which major best fits their interests and goals.

Certificates

A certificate recognizes completion of a designated set of courses focused upon a specific topic or theme, independent of a major. Certificates give students flexibility and the opportunity to pursue a subject of interest beyond their major that is formally recognized on their transcript. In many ways, certificates at UW–Madison are analogous to minors at other institutions. CALS offers six certificate programs, and students may pursue certificates both within and outside of CALS. There are currently more than 100 certificates offered at UW–Madison.

  • Agricultural and Applied Economics Major

    Business, Communication & Society; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    Students learn how to use economic principles to assess realworld challenges related to environmental sustainability, energy, trade, poverty, economic development, food systems and biotechnology. Graduates find careers as environmental, development and agricultural economists, policy and business analysts, managers, consultants, researchers and auditors.

  • Agricultural Business Management Major

    Business, Communication & Society; Food and Agriculture

    Agricultural business management applies economics, finance, management and marketing to agriculture and related industries. Students gain an economics-based understanding of how businesses make decisions and minimize risk. Graduates go on to a wide variety of careers with agribusiness firms, food companies, tech companies, co-operatives, government agencies and financial institutions.

  • Agroecology Major

    Food and Agriculture; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    Students in agroecology examine the role of ecology, sociology, economics, and politics in agriculture, and work to support solutions to global challenges like climate change, food security, biodiversity, and social justice. Graduates can work in areas such as conservation and environmental organizations, the agricultural industry, state and federal agencies, consulting, land/ farm management, or agricultural policy, research, and education. Students may also continue their education in graduate programs in areas focused on agriculture, conservation, ecology, and the environment.

  • Agronomy Major

    Food and Agriculture; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    Students explore the science of grain, feed and forage crops including plant biology, ecology, genetics, biotechnology, crop management and the interactions among cropping systems, climate and the environment. Graduates are prepared for everything from pursuit of a graduate degree to careers in science, education, agriculture, agribusiness, environment and conservation.

  • Animal and Veterinary Biosciences Major

    Biological Sciences; Food and Agriculture

    Study the biology and health of domesticated animals and their interactions with people. Students focus on domesticated animals, companion animals and the connections between human and animal health. Animal sciences majors graduate prepared for careers in veterinary medicine, research, agriculture, healthcare, nutrition, food and business.

  • Biochemistry Major

    Biological Sciences; Health and Nutrition

    Students explore how cells work using chemistry, physics and math. Biochemists examine biological processes including metabolism, cell division and gene expression, and work on many real-world applications.  Students graduate prepared for graduate or professional school or careers in the life sciences, health care, education, information technology or research.

  • Biological Systems Engineering Major

    Food and Agriculture; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    A great program for students who like science, protecting the outdoors, and want to make a difference, biological systems engineering sits at the intersection of engineering and sustainability. Students prepare for engineering careers in agricultural, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, energy and food companies, as well as government agencies and environmental consulting firms.

  • Biology Major

    Biological Sciences; Health and Nutrition

    The biology major is designed for students with broad interest in the science of living things — from the tiniest microbes to the largest plants and animals — and the connections within the web of life. Students graduate prepared for graduate and professional schools or careers in health care, education, the life sciences, information technology and research.

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    Business Management for Agricultural and Life Sciences, Certificate Certificate

    Business, Communication & Society; Food and Agriculture

    This business management certificate is specifically designed to increase business literacy of CALS majors. Students gain skills valued by agricultural and life science employers such as economics, management, marketing and communication.

  • Community and Environmental Sociology Major

    Food and Agriculture; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    Community and environmental sociology explores the communities in which people live, and the relationships between people and their natural environments. Graduates go on to careers that support environmental sustainability, community development, public health, and sustainable food and agricultural systems — in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

  • Dairy and Food Animal Management Major

    Business, Communication & Society; Food and Agriculture

    This program explores both the business of animal agriculture and the biology and management of farm animals with a goal of improving our food production systems in ways that will benefit animals, farmers, consumers, and the environment. Students in this program gain hands-on experience inside and outside of the classroom as they work towards careers that require a strong background in agribusiness, animal biology, farm management, livestock production management, meat industry, technical services and consulting, research, and outreach.

  • Dairy Science Major

    Biological Sciences; Food and Agriculture

    Advance dairy production through the study of animal biology and the use of innovation and technology. Students learn to promote animal welfare, improve human health and protect the environment. Dairy science majors graduate prepared for veterinary, medical or graduate school as well as careers in agribusiness, dairy farm management, research, teaching and more.

    Admissions to the Dairy Science, BS will be suspended as of spring 2025. We are excited to offer two new majors that may be of interest to students interested in Dairy Science:  Dairy & Food Animal Management and Animal & Veterinary Biosciences.

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    Development Economics, Certificate Certificate

    Business, Communication & Society

    Through this certificate, any UW–Madison major can better understand the implications of world poverty. Courses illustrate how trade, migration and foreign investment impact economic growth and development around the world.

  • Entomology Major

    Biological Sciences; Food and Agriculture

    Study insects—the largest animal population on Earth—including their relationships with other animals, the environment and human beings. Graduates find employment in college and university teaching, research and extension work, state and federal government service, and industry and research institutes.

  • Environmental Sciences Major

    Food and Agriculture; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    In this science-based major, students learn to tackle environmental challenges and work toward sustainable practices. Coursework building on the fundamentals of biology, chemistry and physics prepares graduates for careers in environmental assessment, monitoring and remediation, consulting, education, natural resource management and ecological restoration, as well as graduate studies.

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    Environmental Soil Science, Certificate Certificate

    Food and Agriculture; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    The environmental soil science certificate is a gateway to understanding the dynamics of Earth’s thin living skin. Soil is where the atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere connect and is pivotal in shaping ecosystems’ biodiversity, health, and resilience. Mastery of soil properties, processes, and distribution is necessary for addressing pressing environmental challenges, including food and energy security, water quality protection, climate change, and ecosystem health.

    Designed as a launchpad, this certificate empowers students to pursue careers and certification in the field of soil science, opening doors for employment in the public and private sectors with expertise in soil science and environmental stewardship.

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    Fermented Food and Beverages, Certificate Certificate

    Food and Agriculture

    The certificate in fermented foods and beverages provides students the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in the science, development, production, and marketing of fermented foods and beverages. The program focuses on hands-on learning with products like beer, wine, spirits, sourdough, kimchi, sauerkraut, cheese, and yogurt.

    Students pursuing the certificate can personalize their coursework to explore their own interests and advance individual career goals including deepening their scientific knowledge with a focus on chemistry, genetics, or microbiology or enhancing their business acumen with a focus on marketing, supply chains, or management.

  • Food Science Major

    Food and Agriculture; Health and Nutrition

    With an emphasis on real-world experience and building leadership skills, food science students use science to understand and improve food production, manufacturing and evaluation. Students find career opportunities in product development, quality assurance/control, processing and engineering, technical sales, management, research, sensory analysis, and food law and regulations with corporations, government agencies and nonprofits.

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    Food Systems, Certificate Certificate

    Food and Agriculture

    Through interdisciplinary coursework, students in a variety of majors examine all aspects of food production, distribution and consumption and become more informed consumers and citizens. Students complete an internship, independent study or capstone to integrate food systems knowledge gained through coursework.

  • Forest Science Major

    Biological Sciences; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    Learn to conserve and manage forest resources such as trees, wildlife, water and carbon while responding to insects, fires and more. Students graduate prepared for jobs as foresters, arborists, park rangers and conservation scientists and for graduate training in ecology or environmental law.

  • Genetics and Genomics Major

    Biological Sciences; Health and Nutrition

    This program explores how genetic material shapes life —inside cells, within individuals and across populations. Students gain hands-on research experiences through lab courses and independent research in faculty labs, and they graduate prepared for medical, professional or graduate school, or for careers in biomedical research, biotechnology, agriculture, public policy and health.

  • Global Health Major

    Biological Sciences; Health and Nutrition

    The global health major prepares students for a wide variety of careers. Students can become healthcare professionals well-informed about the systems that impact patient health. They can become epidemiologists or research scientists in academia or with government agencies, or community health professionals working on policy, education, or communication for governmental agencies or non-governmental organizations anywhere in the world. The program supports students who intend to go directly into the workforce after graduation, as well as those who plan to further their education through graduate or professional programs.

    Global health is about improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide, while considering the broader health connections among people, animals, plants and the planet. Graduates go on to positions in medicine, research, public health, policy, education, the non-profit sector and other fields—at local to international levels.

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    Global Health, Certificate Certificate

    Health and Nutrition

    The global health certificate provides interdisciplinary perspectives on wellbeing, health inequities and the root causes of global health challenges and is a great compliment to many majors. Through coursework and a required field experience, students learn about public and global health careers and build valuable cross-cultural communication skills.

    Global health is about improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide, while considering the broader health connections among people, animals, plants and the planet. Graduates go on to positions in medicine, research, public health, policy, education, the non-profit sector and other fields—at local to international levels.

  • Horticulture Major

    Biological Sciences; Food and Agriculture

    Students explore the science of edible and ornamental plants, including biology, ecology, biotechnology and crop production. Graduates prepare for careers in food production, community supported agriculture, public gardens and parks, landscaping, greenhouse production, golf courses, urban agriculture and community-based education, as well as graduate study in plant sciences.

  • Life Sciences Communication Major

    Business, Communication & Society

    Successfully communicating about science is more important than ever with new advances in gene editing technologies, artificial intelligence and disease outbreaks including COVID-19. A life sciences communication degree prepares graduates for careers in health, science writing, digital media and marketing, environmental advocacy, and research or consulting.

  • Microbiology Major

    Biological Sciences; Health and Nutrition

    Study how the smallest living things—including bacteria, viruses and yeast—have big effects on ecology, health, energy, food and medicine. Students learn to critically evaluate scientific data, carry out laboratory experiments and communicate scientific information. Microbiology majors graduate prepared for careers in biotechnology, healthcare, education, information technology and food safety.

  • Nutritional Sciences Major

    Biological Sciences; Health and Nutrition

    Study the biochemical and physiological basis of how diet impacts health and disease. Nutritional sciences combines biochemistry, physiology, genetics, kinesiology, microbiology, epidemiology and community nutrition. The basic biology curriculum provides a unique perspective on health and disease, preparing students for careers in health professions including medicine, dentistry, biomedical research and public health.

  • Nutritional Sciences, B.S., Nutrition and Dietetics Major

    Biological Sciences; Health and Nutrition

    This popular program explores nutrition through clinical and management courses and prepares students for postgraduate training required to become registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN). Graduates find jobs educating people about nutrition at hospitals, clinics, and universities; in sports nutrition and corporate wellness programs; conducting clinical research in health care; or at food or pharmaceutical companies.

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    Organic Agriculture, Certificate Certificate

    Food and Agriculture

    Coursework and hands-on experiences for this certificate allow students to evaluate the benefits and limitations of organic food systems and regulations from environmental, social justice and economic perspectives. Open to all majors, the certificate exposes students to agricultural business, public policy and sustainable development.

  • Plant Pathology Major

    Biological Sciences; Food and Agriculture

    Students use science to understand causes and effects of plant diseases and how plant health is influenced by factors such as the weather, beneficial microorganisms and nutrition. Plant pathologists find employment in education, biotechnology companies, government agencies, consulting firms, agricultural research, diagnostic laboratories, and plant production and tissue culture companies.

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    Science Communication, Certificate Certificate

    Business, Communication & Society

    The certificate is open to all majors and has two tracks focusing on either communication strategy or communication skills and technology. Students in either track gain valuable experience effectively communicating complex and controversial scientific information to diverse audiences.

  • Soil Science Major

    Food and Agriculture; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    Students study the environmental, agricultural and natural resource aspects of soils. Soil science majors prepare for professional, technical, consulting and project positions in environmental sciences, ecology and restoration, crop and timber production, soil informatics, soil conservation, environmental pollution control, land-use planning, and turf and grounds management.

    Admissions to the Soil Science, BS will be suspended as of spring 2025. We are excited to offer a new certificate that may be of interest to students interested in Soil Science, Environmental Soil Sciences which launches fall 2024. Students interested in Soil Science may also be interested in the new Agroecology major which launches fall 2024, in addition to other CALS majors like Agronomy and Environmental Sciences!

  • Undeclared Major

    Students interested in studying food, health, the environment and human well-being, who are uncertain which major to pursue, are encouraged to join CALS.  Undecided students work with academic advisors to explore major options to narrow their interests while completing first year courses common to most majors.

  • Wildlife Ecology Major

    Biological Sciences; Sustainability, Natural Resources & Environment

    Study wild animals, their habitats and their interactions with people. Wildlife ecology majors learn about species ecology, habitat management, monitoring techniques and conservation. Students graduate prepared for careers in wildlife ecology, conservation biology, habitat restoration and wildlife enforcement as well as graduate studies in wildlife and related fields, such as veterinary medicine and law.

Office of Academic Affairs

116 Agricultural Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Office Hours: 7:45am – 4:30pm

For current & prospective student general inquiries:
Phone: 608.262.3003
Email: academicaffairs@cals.wisc.edu