Learn Through Hands-On, Real World Experiences

Opportunities to apply classroom learning to real-world settings are at the core of a CALS education and are most highly valued by current students and alumni. Hands-on, real world experiences are gained through laboratory and field courses as well as a capstone course. Many students also participate in independent study experiences and internships to further develop critical thinking and hands-on skills to prepare them for their future paths.

Capstone Requirement

All CALS majors include a senior-level capstone course that integrates interdisciplinary knowledge to address a problem of societal relevance and also helps prepare students for their future careers.

Independent Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research is a CALS tradition, with more than 50% of CALS students completing a mentored research experience. Working in a research group is an important part of learning and understanding the agricultural and life sciences. Undergraduates are encouraged to gain independent research experience or obtain positions as hourly workers in their area of interest.

Some students interested in research also choose to participate in the CALS Honors Program.

Internship Opportunities

Internships, or experiential leaning, give students the opportunity to integrate knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Students make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths and build skills employers desire.

Leadership Opportunities

In CALS, we believe that leaders learn by doing. Whether that be through one of our affiliated student organizations, research experiences, an internship, or our honors program, students learn the important soft-skills necessary to succeed in school, work, and life. Explore the student organizations and events that align with your interests and values. CALS students interested in formalizing their leadership education may choose to participate in UW’s Leadership Certificate Program.

Did you know?

> 50%

CALS students earn credit for research experiences in labs and internships.


CALS students participated in internships, co-op experiences, employment or volunteer work while at UW-Madison


Does Independent Research count for credit? expand_more

Independent research can count for credit if the student enrolls for independent research credit. Alternatively, students can be paid for independent research work, but students cannot earn credit and pay for the same work.

Are students paid for Independent Research?expand_more

Students can receive hourly pay for independent research. Alternatively, students can earn credit for independent research work, but students cannot earn credit and pay for the same work.

How do students find a mentor with whom to do independent research?expand_more

There are many ways to find a research mentor – discuss with your academic advisor, a faculty instructor, or other students. There are also resources to help you find a research experience that is the best fit for you. Learn more here.

When do students do independent research?expand_more

Students are encouraged to start independent research early in their academic career to allow for more in depth or multiple experiences. However, the right time is an individual choice dependent on many factors including when students have the time to commit to such an experience.

How can I learn more about internship opportunities?expand_more

Handshake is UW–Madison’s primary career platform designed for students like you. Over 420,000 employers across the country use Handshake to recruit for internships and jobs. You are able to get personalized job recommendations based on your major, interests, and more. And as an added bonus, you can use Handshake to register for career fairs, employer events, and interviews.

When should I start looking for an internship?expand_more

The majority of CALS students partake in an internship (or other career readiness experiences) the summer after their sophomore or junior years. Begin your search early. It may take several months to find the right option and many internship programs have deadlines as early as fall for the following summer. To make yourself competitive for an internship, you can participate in student organizations, volunteer opportunities and leadership activities. 

Can I do an internship abroad?expand_more

Absolutely! Many CALS students take advantage of international internships. In fact, the International Internship program on campus has many options specifically cultivated for CALS students. Your career advisor can help you make sure you have the appropriate resume and cover letter for an international audience as well as help you navigate opportunities.

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