Honors in the Major

Gain advanced knowledge and inquiry within your major by completing the Honors in the Major option.


  • Honors in the Major offers an advanced program of study within the student’s major field and closely related disciplines.
  • Students complete a specified number of Honors credits in a designated set of courses.
  • Students must be well-prepared in courses leading into the major field of study and be willing to devote time and energy to a rigorous academic experience.
  • This option is available for specific majors in the college.

Honors in Major Programs

The following majors are available for the Honors in the Major option. Review the majors’ requirements tabs in Guide to view the specific requirements for Honors in Major.

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Food Science
  • Forest Science
  • Horticulture
  • Life Sciences Communication
  • Microbiology


The Honors in the Major requirements vary by department, but all are approved by the College Honors Committee to include the following requirements:

  • Be admitted to the CALS Honors Program
  • Maintain a cumulative 3.25 GPA or higher with at least a 3.0 GPA in Honors (or equivalent) coursework.
  • Communicate with the departmental advisor or advisory committee. The advisor/committee monitors progress toward Honors in the Major and will certify satisfactory completion prior to graduation.
  • Complete at least 20 credits of courses taken for Honors (or equivalent) from a list of courses provided by the department. The list may include Honors and advanced non-Honors courses that add rigor to the undergraduate program in the major.
  • Prepare a Senior Honors Thesis (including preparing a research proposal, conducting the research, and presenting the results orally and in writing). The student’s faculty advisor is responsible for approving the Senior Honors Thesis, in consultation with the student’s research mentor if different from the advisor. The department sets the number of Senior Honors Thesis credits (681-682) for the project. Thesis credits are not included in the 20 credits of Honors (or equivalent) course work required to earn Honors in the Major.
  • Present the Senior Honors Thesis at the CALS Undergraduate Research Symposium or another public research arena.
  • Electronically submit the thesis signed by the advisor and mentor (if different from the advisor) to CALS Academic Affairs.

Additional Information

If the thesis is made available to the public, Steenbock Library uploads the thesis to the CALS Honors and Undergraduate Research Program section of Minds@UW. This is an excellent way to showcase work to employers, graduate schools, family, and friends, and to provide examples of Honors theses to future Honors students.

Students are encouraged to submit their written work for publication in the UW-Madison Journal of Undergraduate Science and Technology after consultation with their mentor.

Upon successful completion of program requirements and graduation requirements, students are awarded the Bachelor of Science degree with Honors.

Questions about Honors in the Major? Contact the Honors Program Manager, Heather Mialik at heather.mialik@wisc.edu. Current UW-Madison students can schedule a meeting with Heather on Starfish.

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