This certificate provides a broad-based introduction to farm operations and management, including agricultural business operations and communications, food systems, safety and health, crops, and soils, with the option to take additional electives as they are available.  Students interested in additional experience may use this certificate as the prerequisite for one of five more advanced, specialty certificates in their second year.

Admission Eligibility Criteria

Admission decisions are made using a holistic approach with consideration of, but not limited to: an applicant’s cumulative GPA, class rank, activities, leadership roles, academic progress as reflected on an official transcript, etc. Below are eligibility criteria and considerations:

Domestic Applicants:

  • High School Diploma or GED required
  • Involvement in agriculture-related activities
  • Academic record
  • Personal and professional goals
  • Rank in the upper 80% of graduating class

There is no foreign language requirement.
Returning adult students will receive special consideration.

International Applicants**:
(The following requirements are set forth by the guidelines for the J-1 VISA as well as by the FISC office and UW campus).

  • Degree or professional certificate from a foreign, post-secondary academic institution AND one year minimum of prior, ag-related work experience acquired outside of the United States, OR five years minimum of prior, ag-related work experience acquired outside of the United States
  • Minimum of a 2.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Proficiency in the English language, as demonstrated by a TOEFL score of 550 or higher, or IELTS score of 7 or higher, OR proof that your most recent four years of education were taught primarily in the English language
  • Completed Certification of Financial Support form.

Application Process

Applications are available October 1 and close August 1 for domestic students for the upcoming academic year, and close June 1 for International applications.  Applicants must mail an official high school or post-secondary transcript, depending upon the most recent school of attendance. (If a post-secondary transcript has fewer than 2 years of classwork reported, an applicant also must submit a high school transcript in addition to the post-secondary one.) International applicants must submit additional documents in order for their application to be considered complete as listed on the FISC International Students application page.

The online FISC application is hosted by the Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS), Division of Continuing Studies, which admits all University Special students (which includes FISC).  Applicants will submit an application following the process below. A committee in FISC reviews the application and makes the final admissions decisions. 

3-step process:
Step 1:  Create an account and apply via the University Special student application. Select “Farm and Industry Short Course” as the student classification.

Step 2: Mail all transcripts and additional application materials to:

Farm & Industry Short Course
University of Wisconsin – Madison
116 Agricultural Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Step 3: Optional but recommended: Apply for FISC Scholarships before April 1 to receive priority consideration.

  • Minimum of 12 credits and successful completion of all course requirements.
  • Requires a GPA of 2.0 on all coursework.
  • At least 50% of the credits must be taken in residence, graded, and for credit.
Specialty Certificate Core Requirements
FISC 55 Farm and Industry Short Course First-Year Seminar1
FISC 57 Introduction to Soils2
FISC 58 Forage Crops2
FISC 51 Business Principles of Agricultural Management1
FISC 53 Agriculture Human Resources Management1
FISC 54 Agribusiness Communications2
FISC 56 Agriculture, Food Systems, and Rural Development1
FISC 59 Food Safety1
FISC 52 Agricultural Safety and Health1
Total Credits12
  1. effective and professional oral and written communication skills.
  2. the skills to apply scientific and management principles to running an agricultural operation, including developing new solutions to fit demands and challenges of both personnel and everyday processes.
  3. the ability to think critically and innovatively, working creatively to make effective decisions and develop plans for future operational advances.
  4. a global perspective, recognizing the importance and intersecting roles of farmers, food systems and urban and rural communities.
  5. specialized knowledge in safety on agricultural operations and the capability to implement the safety guidelines in the operation.

Students are assigned an academic advisor at the 1st Year Orientation. Advisors and students will meet throughout the year to discuss program requirements and future career goals, as well as many other items. Students are responsible for knowing academic requirements for graduation and should consult with their advisor regularly. Students are encouraged to discuss with their advisor any possible changes of academic plans that may arise during the academic year.