We want all CALS students to make a strong start, and every first-year student can achieve that through a CALS First-Year seminar. These seminars allow students to explore different areas of study, learn about how to take advantage of campus resources, and make friends and connections. There are several first-year seminar courses to choose from, including QuickStart, which allows students to begin their college career the summer before they arrive on campus.

QuickStart (INTER-AG 140)

The CALS QuickStart summer program empowers incoming first-year students to jumpstart their college experience and explore everything that UW–Madison and CALS have to offer, while connecting with peers, faculty, staff and alumni along the way. Modules focus on your personal, academic and professional development. Reflect on your goals and engage with peers to develop a roadmap for your own Wisconsin Experience.


A CALS-level first year seminar that explores important issues in the application of science that cut across all majors in CALS. Develop academic skills, explore majors and careers, connect with peers, and learn about resources available to you throughout your time in CALS.

Major-Specific First-Year Seminars

Some CALS majors also offer major-specific first-year seminars. Major-specific first year seminars are not required for majors, but might be of interest to students declared in these majors: Biochemistry, Genetics, Animal Sciences, Dairy Science, Biological Systems Engineering, Life Sciences Communication, and Wildlife Ecology.

First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs)

CALS students may also fulfill their first-year seminar through participation in a UW First-Year Interest Group (FIG). FIGs are clusters of (usually) three fall-semester classes, linked together to explore a common theme. First-year students participating in the FIG attend the classes as a cohort.


Can I take more than one first-year seminar?expand_more

Yes, some CALS students choose to take multiple first-year seminars, such as QuickStart in the summer and a major-specific or FIG in the fall. All first-year seminars include personal exploration but content varies between classes and you can gain significant value by taking more than one (although only one is required).

If I transfer into CALS after my first year, do I have to take a first-year seminar?expand_more

No, if you transfer into CALS after your first year (external transfer students) or after you have completed 12 credits at UW–Madison (internal transfer students), the first-year seminar requirement will be waived. However, we do believe the first-year seminar courses set students up for success, so depending on the timing of your transfer we might recommend a course to serve a similar purpose.

How should I choose between the different first-year seminar options?expand_more

All of the above options will fulfill your CALS first-year seminar requirement so you should choose the option or options that resonate with your interests and goals. Incoming students also discuss the first-year seminar requirement and options, as well as all other requirements, with advisors during SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration).

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