Welcome to CALS QuickStart

The CALS QuickStart summer program empowers incoming first-year students to jumpstart their college experience and explore everything that UW-Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have to offer, connecting with peers, faculty, staff, and alumni along the way.

Get a head start on completing course requirements and learn about resources and opportunities you can take advantage of on campus. By the end of summer, you’ll develop academic and professional goals for your undergraduate career and a personalized roadmap to reach them.

If you’re feeling unsure about yourself prior to college or you want to gain a better understanding of the opportunities available to you, this is a great way to gain that knowledge.

-Former CALS QuickStart participant
See what other CALS QuickStart alumni say about the program!

We want all students who want to participate in the program to join us!
Fill out our application today, it only takes 15-30 minutes!

Program Details

How to Apply

CALS QuickStart Application

We want all students who want to participate in CALS QuickStart to join us!
100% of applicants who are eligible (see below) are accepted into the program, all you have to do is fill out the application! Click on the button below to complete the application (it only takes 15-30 min).

The deadline to submit your application is 11:59pm Central Time on May 1, 2024!

CALS QuickStart students visit with genetics professor Akihiro Ikeda in his lab in the Genetics Biotech Building.

You won’t regret taking the time to set your goals, connecting with your future professors, meeting friends with similar interests, and getting accustomed to campus.

-Former CALS QuickStart participant
See what other CALS QuickStart alumni say about the program!


  • Any incoming first year student who has accepted an offer of admission to UW–Madison for Fall 2024 and plans to pursue a CALS major may apply for the CALS QuickStart program.
  • Students must graduate high school prior to 6/17/24 to be eligible to participate in QuickStart.
  • Students must complete high school classes by 6/7/24 and graduate prior to the start of the program on 6/17/24 to be eligible to participate in QuickStart. Students will be required to submit their final high school transcript to Admissions before 6/17/24 or they may not be able to participate in the program. If final high school transcript is not ready by the deadline Admissions will request proof of graduation and successful progress in course work be provided from a school official prior to the first day of the term.

Program Components

CALS QuickStart Program Components

QuickStarters participate in research lab tours in our early move-in program

I really value the head start that I felt I got from doing the QuickStart course and the on-campus programming because of the valuable information I learned, people I met, and the foundation I had before my peers.

-Former CALS QuickStart participant
See what other CALS QuickStart alumni say about the program!

Inter-Ag 140 CALS QuickStart Foundations (REQUIRED):

This 8-week course prepares students for a successful transition to UW–Madison. Students will learn about themselves and UW-Madison’s campus and complete the course equipped with a personalized roadmap centered around their academic and career goals that will help shape their unique Wisconsin Experience.

  • 1-credit course that fulfills your first-year seminar requirement
  • Online and asynchronous
  • Course dates: June 17 – August 11, 2024
  • Students should expect to spend approximately 5-6 hours a week on coursework (completing assignments, readings and projects) and need to have consistent access to the internet to be successful in the course.

Early move-in program (OPTIONAL):

Our early move-in and on-campus programming familiarizes students with UW-Madison and CALS to help them make the most of their college experience.

  • Move to campus early (August 25).
  • Participate in on-campus programming (August 25-30) specially designed to connect students with peers, faculty, staff, and alumni.
  • Dive into life at UW-Madison through lab tours, industry visits, student panels, and more!

Additional summer course of your choice (OPTIONAL):

Take an additional 8-week online course of your choosing to tackle more degree requirements and experience college level courses before the fall semester.

  • Students may choose from the list of 3-credit courses below
  • Online, synchronous and asynchronous options available
  • Course dates: June 17 – August 11, 2024
  • Students should expect to spend 20-25 hours a week on coursework (completing assignments, readings and projects) for the additional 3-credit course. Students need to have consistent access to the internet to be successful in the course.

3-credit course options (click to expand)expand_more

3-credit course options

These popular, high-demand courses have been selected as appropriate for incoming first-year students and fulfill common requirements. Program participants will enroll in general sections of these courses with other UW–Madison students.

Most courses will be offered asynchronously so students can complete their work on their own time, following the pace set by the instructor and syllabus. If a course is offered synchronously, course dates and times will be noted.

CALS Course Options

  • Entomology 201: Insects and Human Culture- A Survey Course in Entomology
  • Entomology 205: Our Planet, Our Health
  • Food Science 120: Science of Food
  • Life Sciences Communication 251: Science, Media and Society
  • Nutritional Sciences 132: Nutrition Today
  • Nutritional Sciences 377: Cultural Aspects of Food and Nutrition
  • Plant Pathology 123: Plants, Parasites, and People

Additional Course Options

  • Art 100: Introduction to Art
    • Not an option for students who are interested in a major in Art or Art Education
  • Communication Arts 100: Introduction to Speech Composition
  • Counseling Psychology 225: Intersectionalities, Self-Awareness, and Social Actions for Change
    • Asynchronous lectures and 50 minute synchronous discussion sections. Discussion times vary- students can select session that fits their schedule. Discussion sessions will be weekly from June 17 to August 11
  • Counseling Psychology 230: Race and the Developing Child
  • Educational Policy Studies 140: Introduction to Education
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering 252: Introduction to Computer Engineering
    • Synchronous course that meets online every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 11-11:50am CT from June 17 to August 11
  • Gender & Women’s Studies 103: Gender, Women, Bodies, And Health
  • Geoscience 140: Natural Hazards and Disasters
  • Inter-HE 201: Belonging, Purpose and the Ecology of Human Happiness: EcoYou
  • Kinesiology 150: Foundations of Health Behavior and Health Equity
    • Synchronous lecture Mondays and Wednesdays at 2:00-4:20pm CT from June 17 to Aug 11
  • Psychology 202: Introduction to Psychology
    • Not an option for students who are taking or have received AP/IB credit for Psychology
  • Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education 100: Disability and Society
  • Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education 125: Health and Rehabilitation Professions

Costs & Scholarships

Program Costs

PLEASE NOTE: The numbers below reflect Summer 2023 tuition rates. We will update this information once the Bursar’s Office releases rates for Summer 2024.

Costs for the program cover summer term tuition and fees. Summer tuition for QuickStart students will be due shortly after classes begin in June. Other fees may be applied to student’s summer bill, including document fees, or course-specific book fees for the 3-credit course option.

Wisconsin ResidentMinnesota ResidentNon-ResidentInternational
Tuition: 1 credit*$471.65$668.84 $1,664.61$1,706.28
Tuition: 4 credits*$1,808.12$2,596.88 $6,579.96$6,746.64

*Other fees may be applied to student’s summer bill, including document fees or course specific book fees. To review the list of fees that may be assessed on a student’s account please visit the Bursar’s website here.


Thanks to generous donor support, need-based scholarships are available to offset summer tuition. Last year, over 50% of QuickStart students were awarded scholarships!

Students can indicate on their program application that they want to be considered for additional scholarships awarded based on financial need. To be eligible for these awards, students must have a 2024-25 FAFSA on file with UW–Madison. Students will be notified in their participation letter whether they have been awarded a scholarship.

For questions about your FAFSA, contact the UW-Madison Office of Student Financial Aid. They have advisors on staff to answer questions.

Sarah Akakpo was a member of the inaugural class of QuickStart. Read more about Sarah’s story.

Being able to get that scholarship really helped me out a lot. It not only enabled me to do QuickStart, but it enabled me to jumpstart my future. I feel like I can succeed a lot more, which will probably, in turn, help me financial-wise, career-wise. I can look back at it and be like, ‘You know what, I’m here because of QuickStart.’ I think that’s great.

-Sarah Akakpo
See what other CALS QuickStart alumni say about the program!

Learn More

QuickStart Information Sessions

We invite you to register for a CALS QuickStart Information Session, where QuickStart staff and alumni will share a brief overview of the program and answer your questions. These sessions will be held virtually via Zoom. If you are unable to attend these sessions but would like to connect to learn more about the program, please reach out to us at quickstart@cals.wisc.edu.

CALS QuickStart students attend a panel of former QuickStart students during their first week on campus.

Interest Form

Want to receive more information about the program and reminders about events and due dates coming up? Fill out this interest form and we will email you directly.

Student Highlights

Read about how CALS QuickStart impacted the college careers of a few of our alumni below, and
navigate to this Padlet to see what other CALS QuickStart alumni say about the program!

QuickStart not only helped me understand and embrace greater independence, but prepared me for my undergraduate experience by introducing me to the opportunities UW–Madison has to offer . . . I was able to further my career goals in academia and research as well as my active engagement in extracurriculars.

Anika Gupta
Anika Gupta was a member of the inaugural class of QuickStart. Read more about Anika’s story here.
Photo courtesy of Anika Gupta
Haley Trecker was a member of the inaugural class of QuickStart. Read more about Haley’s story here.
 Photo courtesy of Haley Trecker

I had only been to UW–Madison for a single hour my entire life before QuickStart. Walking around and getting to see where my classes were was probably the most beneficial aspect for me. And getting to meet influential people who work on campus helped so much, realizing everyone is there to help and guide you.

Haley Trecker

Being a part of QuickStart provided me with a variety of pre-college experiences that allowed me to make valuable connections with programs, professors, and other students in CALS. QuickStart did a great job laying the groundwork for me to come to college feeling comfortable and confident on campus. I’ve continued to foster the connections I was able to make with my advisors and QuickStart peers, and they’ve been a very valuable resource to offer guidance and camaraderie to enhance my academic experience.

Emily Hoffins
Emily Hoffins was a member of the inaugural class of QuickStart. Read more about Emily’s story here.
 Photo courtesy Emily Hoffins.

I hesitated because I wanted my summer to be completely open. However, the way the course is structured you can still have your summer activities and get your work done on time. As long as you keep track of your responsibilities, you should not feel stressed at all. TAKE THE COURSE.

-Former CALS QuickStart participant
See what other CALS QuickStart alumni say about the program!

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions that are not listed below, please contact us at QuickStart@cals.wisc.edu.

What are first-year seminars?expand_more

At UW-Madison, first-year seminars are small, discussion-based courses designed to support new students in their transition to academic and student life at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) requires all students to complete a first-year seminar. CALS QuickStart Foundations (Inter-Ag 140) fulfills this requirement.

Can I do more than one first-year seminar/experience?expand_more

Yes! We highly encourage you to do more than one if that is of interest. First-year seminars cover different topics, so they often provide different opportunities to you as a first-year student. Many of our QuickStart alums speak the praises of taking 2 first-year seminars (like QuickStart and a First Year Interest Group (FIG) or QuickStart and a Residence Hall Learning Community seminar).

Do I need to know my major to participate in QuickStart?expand_more

Nope! QuickStart is a great space to figure that out. Whether you are 100% sure of your plans, completely undecided or somewhere in between, QuickStart is for you. The structure of the program allows you to tailor the coursework and assignments to fit your needs and goals.

Can I participate in early move-in activities if I am not living in the residence halls?expand_more

Yes, you can still participate in all of our activities if you are living off-campus or commuting.

Ready to Apply?

Absolutely do it, it is 100% worth it.

-Former CALS QuickStart participant
See what other CALS QuickStart alumni say about the program!


Please don’t hesitate to contact us at QuickStart@cals.wisc.edu! We are always happy to connect with you and answer any questions.

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