International Studies Requirement

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.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify and explain, to diverse audiences, global issues pertaining to one or more CALS Priority Themes
  • Demonstrate critical thinking and comparative perspectives with respect to experiences or cultural approaches to international challenges


The 3-credit requirement may be fulfilled as either a stand-alone 3-credit course or as a set of courses as listed below.

1Most of these courses will require manual modification of a student’s degree audit. If your DARS does not correctly represent any of these courses to fulfill the International Studies requirement you should complete this form and submit to

Students studying abroad on approved UW-Madison study abroad programs may be able to satisfy the International Studies requirement in one of two ways:

  1. Courses taken through approved UW-Madison study abroad programs post to the student’s record as specific UW-Madison course equivalencies. If the equivalent UW-Madison course is on the approved International Studies on campus and online course list, then the study abroad course can be used to fulfill this requirement and no further action is needed.
  2. If UW-Madison course equivalencies are not available or the study abroad course equates to a UW-Madison course that is not on the approved International Studies course list, students may request that a course on a study abroad experience fulfill this requirement by appeal (see appeal process)

Although highly unusual, in extenuating circumstances students who take a UW-Madison course that is not on the approved International Studies course list may request approval by appeal.

During the transition from the “old” (prior to fall 2019) to the “new” (fall 2019 and forward) approved International Studies course lists, the following policies will be applied:

  • Students who take a course on the new list prior to fall 2019 may request that the course be used to fulfill the International Studies requirement by submitting a syllabus from the course at the time they took it and a statement from the course instructor confirming that the course did not change significantly between when the course was taken and fall 2019 to
  • Students who take a course on the old list in fall 2019 or after WILL NOT be eligible for an exception.

Appeal Process:
Students may appeal to have a course satisfy the CALS International Studies Requirement by submitting an appeal request form with a description of how the course satisfies all criteria for the CALS International Studies Requirement.  Students are especially encouraged to carefully review the International Studies course criteria and learning outcomes.  In addition to the exception request form, students must submit a course syllabus with a weekly schedule, learning outcomes, readings, contact time, assignments, and grade expectations.

Students considering study abroad to fulfill this requirement may submit up to two courses for appeal, and are encouraged to do so as early as possible.  In cases where syllabi are not available from the partner institution, students will need to create a syllabus using the form provided in their online study abroad portal.

Decisions will be made by a committee including the Chair of the CALS Curriculum Committee, the Director of CALS Study Abroad, and the Assistant Dean for Academic Programs and Policies. Courses approved through the appeal process will be on an individual basis, and DARS exceptions will be processed for completion of the International Studies requirement. Decisions of the committee are final.

Criteria for courses to satisfy the CALS International Studies requirement (all criteria are required):

  • Be connected to one or more of the CALS Priority Themes
  • Include substantial international comparative content
  • Include substantial non-U.S. content (typically >50% of the content or assignments or grade in the course)
  • Facilitate active student engagement consistent with the learning outcomes and university assessment criteria
  • Fulfill 3 credits (either by a single course or a pair of courses)

QUESTIONS about the CALS International Studies requirement should be directed to

INSTRUCTORS: Submit an application to include a course for the CALS International Studies requirement here.