Academic Programs and Degrees

CALS Degrees, Majors, and Certificates

Most CALS majors are offered as a Bachelor of Science degree. However, three majors are offered through specialized degree programs:

  • Agricultural Business Management (Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business Management degree)
  • Biological Systems Engineering (Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering degree)
  • Nutritional Sciences (Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics). The Nutritional Sciences major is offered under two different degree programs, which have different requirements. See the Guide pages and major advisors for more information.

All majors at UW-Madison have university, college, and major requirements. The CALS college requirements reflect our values and tie into the CALS student signature experiences which prepare our students to take on society’s biggest challenges.

You are responsible for knowing and meeting the requirements for you to get your degree. Your advisors and the staff in Academic Affairs can help your read your DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) and understand your requirements.

CALS College Requirements

All CALS degrees require that 30 credits are completed at UW-Madison after students have reached 86 degree credits; a minimum of 120 degree credits (or 125 for the B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering); and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. Students also complete the following college coursework requirements.

CALS First-Year Seminar

Make a Strong Start: Students who start their first year in CALS or who transfer to CALS before earning 12 credits at UW-Madison must complete a CALS First-Year Seminar. Students are strongly encouraged to take this seminar in their first or second semester.

Students select from a list of approved course options to complete the CALS First-Year Seminar requirement.

CALS International Studies Requirement

Gain Global Perspective: The CALS International Studies requirement deepens students’ knowledge and understanding of international issues related to the scientific and sociological themes in CALS; develops openness, awareness, and respect with regard to other cultures; and prepares students to address global challenges as engaged employees and active citizens.

Courses approved for the three-credit CALS International Studies requirement all include substantial non-U.S. content that provides international comparisons, either to the U.S. or among other countries. These courses promote active student engagement with the course content and themes connected to CALS.

Students choose from a list of approved CALS International Studies courses

Students interested in studying abroad can review the special process for submitting study abroad courses here.

Physical Science Fundamentals-Chemistry

All CALS students complete an introductory chemistry course with a substantive lab. This provides a foundation of problem-solving and chemistry concepts that can be applied to both education and everyday life.

Students choose from CHEM 103, 108, or 109 depending on the requirements for their major and career goals.

Biological Science

All CALS students complete at least five credits of Biological Science coursework. All courses with the Biological Science breadth designation provide students with a foundation in life sciences.

Students choose from courses with the “Biological Science” breadth designation in Guide.

Additional Science and Science Breadth

Customize your path of study: All CALS students complete a minimum of on additional science course and one science breadth course. A description of these two requirements is below. These courses ensure that all CALS students graduate with an understanding of scientific approaches to the world and how those approaches are supported by objective information and critical reasoning.

For the Additional Science requirement, students choose from courses with the “Biological Science”, “Physical Science”, and “Natural Science” breadth designation in Guide.

For the Science Breadth requirement, students choose from courses with the “Biological Science”, “Physical Science”, “Natural Science”, and “Social Science” breadth designation in Guide.

CALS Capstone Learning Experience

Learn through hands-on, real world experiences: All CALS students complete a capstone experience as part of their major. Capstone courses are major-specific and require students to use and integrate their undergraduate learning into a culminating experience. Because of this, capstones are meant to be taken during the final two or three semesters before graduation. Capstones allow students to integrate diverse bodies of knowledge to solve a problem or formulate a policy of societal importance with the intent of facilitating the transition to post-baccalaureate life.

Students take the capstone course or courses that are listed in the major requirements for each major.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I declare a major?expand_more

To declare or change a major within CALS, meet with an advisor for the intended major first. Once you and the advisor discuss your interest and they confirm that you meet any admissions criteria, they will submit a declaration form for you. You will also need permission from a CALS Dean on Call if you 1) have above 85 credits, or 2) are not in Good Academic Standing (probation, warning, etc.). If changing your major will significantly delay your graduation, you should talk with a CALS Dean on Call about your options.

If you think that a major in CALS is the right fit but you are not sure which major to choose yet, you can meet with a CALS college advisor.

How do I transfer to CALS from another UW-Madison school/college?expand_more

Make an appointment with your intended CALS major advisor, who can help you with the transfer process and declare you in your new major. You can find major advisor information in the Guide. If you would like to transfer to CALS as an undecided student, you should meet with one of our CALS college advisors.

Review our transfer policy and process here. You will also need permission from a CALS Dean on Call if you 1) have above 85 credits, or 2) are not in Good Academic Standing (probation, warning, etc.). If changing your major will significantly delay your graduation, you should talk with a CALS Dean on Call about your options.

How do I declare more than one major/degree?expand_more

CALS has a specific policy for additional majors and degrees. You need to apply for double majors and degrees. The application process is straightforward and requires you to demonstrate that the two majors represent different fields of study. Talk to the advisors for those majors first, before filling out the application.

Am I ready to graduate?expand_more

Check your DARS to confirm that your have met all requirements for graduation. You will graduate when all your requirements show as “Complete” in DARS for at least one degree and major and all your temporary grades, such as I or NR, are resolved. Read the CALS Graduation policy for more information.