Academic Advising

CALS students are supported by a strong network of professional and faculty advisors who help students navigate their UW-Madison educational experience, from their first day at orientation through graduation. Students and their advisors work together to develop academic, professional, and personal development plans to help them achieve their academic and career goals. Advisors can help answer questions, can act as a sounding board, and can point students in the right direction for additional resources and support.

Below you will find some of the different types of advising support available in CALS and some frequently asked questions about advising. Still unsure where to go? Contact us at

CALS Advising Services

CALS Advising Services is home to our college advisors who help students who are undecided or exploring multiple majors.

CALS Major Advising

When a student chooses a major, they will be assigned to an advisor that specializes in that particular field.

SOAR Advising

CALS advisors help students build their first-semester schedule at SOAR and students will leave SOAR assigned to their major advisor or a college advisor.

Study Abroad Advising

CALS Study Abroad Advisors meet with students in all CALS majors who are interested in exploring study abroad opportunities.

Career Advising

CALS Career Advisors help students at any stage from exploring careers to polishing job application materials and practicing for interviews.

Honors Advising

Current honors students and students interested in exploring the CALS Honors Program can meet with the CALS Honors Program Manager.

Dean on Call

Any CALS student needing assistance is welcome to meet with a Dean on Call. Common topics to discuss include credit overload requests, concurrent enrollment requests, late course adds or drops, late withdrawals, changing majors after 85 credits, and other personal and academic issues. Do you need support but you are unsure where to go? Dean on Call is a great place to start!

Make an appointment and complete the form here: Dean on Call form

Summer term: Tuesdays and Fridays 1:00-3:00 p.m. virtual only. Contact if you need a different modality for a summer Dean on Call meeting.

Fall and Spring semesters: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 1:00-3:00 p.m. in-person, virtual, or phone (drop-ins also welcome in 116 Ag Hall)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an academic advisor?expand_more

An academic advisor is your primary contact on campus and they are the person you will talk with to determine which courses to take and how to create a plan to complete all of your requirements for graduation. Advisors will not always be able to give you all of the answers, but they can refer you to the right person or department to support you.

Common reasons why students will see their academic advisor include:

  • To understand academic requirements and make a degree plan for graduation
  • To understand university and college policies and procedures
  • To get connected with campus learning and student support services
  • To help problem solve, weigh pros and cons, and support students in making decisions

Who is my assigned advisor?expand_more

If you are a CALS student who has declared their major, you will be assigned a major advisor. This may be a professional advisor or a faculty advisor. Some majors also assign students to a faculty mentor for research and career mentorship. If you are an undeclared or exploratory student in CALS, you will be assigned to one of the college advisors in CALS Advising Services.

To find your assigned advisor, go to the Academic Navigator tile in MyUW and click advisor. They will also be listed in the My Success Network section of your Starfish app.

How do I make an appointment with my advisor?expand_more

You can use the Starfish app in MyUW to schedule an appointment with your assigned advisor and almost any other advisor on campus including for other majors and certificates you are exploring and resources like career advisors, study abroad advisors, and more.

If you do not see a Starfish profile for your advisor or an advisor you are looking for, contact them via e-mail to ask about setting up a meeting. Contact information can typically be found on the Guide page for each major and certificate or the website for different support offices.

Why do I have more than one advisor listed?expand_more

Your primary, assigned advisor will be listed as your academic advisor. You may also have additional assigned advisors if you have declared a double major or certificate, if you are part of a scholars or honors program, or if you are a student athlete. Your academic advisor will be your primary contact for questions about your major.

I am not a student in CALS but I am exploring CALS majors. Who can I meet with?expand_more

If you know what major you want to declare or have specific questions about a major, please schedule a meeting with the major advisor directly. If you are unsure if CALS is the right college for you or you think it is but you are not sure exactly which major in CALS the one for you, please set up an appointment with one of the CALS college advisors.

How often should I meet with my advisor?expand_more

Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor whenever they are facing challenges and advisors can help connect you with appropriate campus resources for academic and personal difficulties. Most students will meet with their academic advisor at least once per semester, generally around course enrollment time. You may also be required to meet with your advisor more often if you are on academic probation or facing other challenges.

If I change majors, will I change advisors?expand_more

Yes, in most situations, students who change majors will be assigned to a new advisor in their new major who is an expert in that program.

Why might I be referred to another advisor?expand_more

  • To add a second major or a certificate, you will most likely need to meet with the advisor of that program.
  • To explore a study abroad program, for career exploration or preparation support, financial aid questions, etc. There are a lot of advisors and support offices on campus and your advisor will refer you to folks who are content experts to help answer your questions.
  • If you are interested in a pre-professional program like law, medicine, or education, your assigned advisor may refer you to another advisor for additional information.
  • If you have certain extenuating circumstances, are requesting a policy exception from the college, or your advisor requires additional support.