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OVERVIEW

Studying the biology and management of dairy cows can lead to improvements in dairy production, animal welfare, human nutrition, and environmental protections. Students in the dairy science major learn all of these principles while embracing innovation and technology to meet needs in the dairy industry. The Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, home of the undergraduate program in dairy science, produces skilled leaders who address the challenges of animal health and welfare, land and water stewardship, precision livestock farming, food safety, and biomedical advancements.

A 10:1 student-faculty ratio and small classes allow for meaningful connections. Out-of-classroom learning opportunities, such as internships on farms or with agribusiness, give students the training they need for successful 21st-century careers. Students can also gain valuable experience in research labs or in the student-operated Dairy Cattle Center.

Students majoring in dairy science are working toward a variety of careers that require a strong background in animal biology including agribusiness, dairy farm management, technical services and consulting, research, and teaching. Students also prepare for veterinary, medical, or graduate school.

Learn through hands-on, real-world experiences

 UW–Madison has cows on campus. The Dairy Cattle Center is located near classrooms giving students access to cows during lab sessions. But dairy science isn’t just about milking cows—it includes genetics, nutrition, lactation, and biological and digital technologies that are relevant to the dairy industry and beyond. Out-of-the-classroom experiences are the norm for dairy science students, with 100 percent of students completing an internship or field experience.

Field courses include dairy nutrition and dairy cattle judging. Lab courses cover dairy herd management, lactation, reproduction, and dairy cattle improvement. Students solve problems through field trips to working commercial dairy operations.

Build community and networks

Madison is an ideal location for the study of dairy science. It is a vibrant city—home to many large agribusinesses—that’s also located close to dairy farms. Students volunteer in a variety of activities directed by the Badger Dairy Club. The largest effort is their work at the World Dairy Expo, an international dairy event held in Madison.

Customize a path of study

Dairy science students can customize their coursework to fit their career goals with a large variety of classes in the department. The major can be combined with other majors such as agricultural business management, genetics and genomics, life science communications, or agronomy. Students can also pursue Honors in Dairy Science.

Make a strong start

Students can take an introductory seminar course that helps them develop an individualized four-year course plan, learn about internships and job opportunities, and discuss leadership development opportunities.

Gain global perspective

Dairy science majors are encouraged to go on study abroad programs, where they can immerse themselves in research or field experiences. In recent years, a program to central Mexico has focused on global agricultural, rural development, and the relationship between the U.S. and Mexican dairy industries, and many students have completed a semester abroad in The Netherlands. Students can find more information on the International Academic Programs website and the CALS study abroad advising page.

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics
Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):3-5
Algebra
Algebra and Trigonometry
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Chemistry
Select one of the following:4-5
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Biology
Select one of the following options:9-10
Option 1:
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
Principles and Practices in Crop Production
Option 2:
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
General Botany
Option 3:
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
Select one of the following:3
Principles of Genetics
Elementary Organic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry I
General Microbiology
Biology of Microorganisms
Immunology
Biochemistry
Select one of the following:3-6
Survey of Biochemistry
Introduction to Biochemistry
General Biochemistry I
and General Biochemistry II
Economics
Select one of the following:4
Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics
Principles of Microeconomics
Dairy Science Core
AN SCI/DY SCI 101 Introduction to Animal Sciences3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  102 Introduction to Animal Sciences Laboratory1
DY SCI 233 Dairy Herd Management I3
DY SCI 234 Dairy Herd Management II3
AN SCI/DY SCI/NUTR SCI 311 Comparative Animal Nutrition3
AN SCI/DY SCI 361 Introduction to Animal and Veterinary Genetics2
AN SCI/DY SCI 362 Veterinary Genetics2
or AN SCI/DY SCI 363 Principles of Animal Breeding
AN SCI/DY SCI 373 Animal Physiology3
DY SCI 378 Lactation Physiology3
AN SCI/DY SCI 414 Ruminant Nutrition & Metabolism3
AN SCI/DY SCI 434 Reproductive Physiology3
Capstone
DY SCI 399 Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education1-8
DY SCI 535 Dairy Farm Management Practicum3
Dairy Science Electives
Select at least 3 credits from:3
Grand Challenges and Career Opportunities in Animal and Dairy Sciences
Dairy Cattle Improvement Programs
Honors Independent Study 1
Independent Study 1
Livestock Production and Health in Agricultural Development
Special Topics 1
Food Production Systems and Sustainability
Animal Agriculture and Global Sustainable Development
International Field Study in Animal Agriculture and Sustainable Development
Reproductive Management of Dairy Cattle
Senior Honors Thesis 1
Senior Honors Thesis 1
Special Problems 1
Total Credits65-79
1

Consult with your advisor for details.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Gain knowledge of current and emerging research­ based information in animal biology and management sciences to support dairy production.
  2. Gain intellectual, practical and attitudinal skills needed to identify and solve problems and challenges facing dairy producers and allied industries.
  3. Gain in life-­long learning skills to enable graduates to adapt to changing technological, economic and social circumstances throughout their professional career.

Four-year plan

Sample Dairy Science Four-Year Plan

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
AGRONOMY 1004A A E 2154
DY SCI/​AN SCI  1013CHEM 1034
AN SCI/​DY SCI  1021DY SCI 2052
AN SCI 1351COMM B Course3
MATH 1123Elective3
COMM A Course3 
 15 16
Total Credits 31
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 1045DY SCI 2343
DY SCI 2333DY SCI/​AN SCI/​FOOD SCI/​SOIL SCI  47211
STAT 3713BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  1013
Ethnic Studies3BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  1022
 BIOCHEM 3013
 Elective3
 14 15
Total Credits 29
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
DY SCI/​AN SCI  3703DY SCI/​AN SCI/​NUTR SCI  3113
DY SCI 3783DY SCI/​AN SCI  3612
DY SCI 3991-6DY SCI/​AN SCI  362 or 3632
Genetics prereq core3DY SCI/​AN SCI  3733
Social Science (or Humanities)3DY SCI/​AGRONOMY  471 (or elective course)3
 Humanities 3
 13-18 16
Total Credits 29-34
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
DY SCI/​AN SCI  4143DY SCI 5343
DY SCI/​AN SCI  4343Elective Courses9
DY SCI 5353Humanities (or Social Science)3
Elective Courses6 
 15 15
Total Credits 30

Sample Dairy Science Four-Year Plan—Pre-Veterinary

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 1034A A E 2154
DY SCI/​AN SCI  1013CHEM 1045
AN SCI/​DY SCI  1021DY SCI 2052
AN SCI 1351Ethnic Studies (or Comm A)3
MATH 2215 
COMM A Course (or Ethnic Studies)3 
 17 14
Total Credits 31
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  1515DY SCI 2343
DY SCI 2333DY SCI/​AN SCI/​FOOD SCI/​SOIL SCI  47211
STAT 3713BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  1525
DY SCI/​AN SCI  3703Humanities3
 Social Science3
 14 15
Total Credits 29
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
CHEM 3433DY SCI/​AN SCI/​NUTR SCI  3113
DY SCI 3783DY SCI/​AN SCI  3733
GENETICS 4663BIOCHEM 5013
DY SCI 3991-6DY SCI/​AN SCI  3612
Elective3DY SCI/​AN SCI  362 or 3632
 Elective (undergraduate research recommended)3
 13-18 16
Total Credits 29-34
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
DY SCI/​AN SCI  4143DY SCI 5343
DY SCI/​AN SCI  4343PHYSICS 1044
DY SCI 5353DY SCI/​AN SCI  3203
PHYSICS 1034DY SCI 699 (or elective)1-3
DY SCI 699 (or elective)1-3Elective3
 14-16 14-16
Total Credits 28-32
1

Students are encouraged to apply for DY SCI/​AN SCI/​FOOD SCI/​SOIL SCI  473, a summer study abroad experience associated with this course.

Advising

Each dairy science student receives one-on-one guidance from their academic advisor. Academic advisors will help students build an individualized, four-year plan. Students are encouraged to take part in research experiences and internships.

Career Opportunities

As students find their career interests, faculty working in those fields serve as career advisors to help students make progress toward their goals. 

Undergraduates in dairy science prepare for a variety of career opportunities. Science-related career opportunities include research, quality control, communications, patent law, pharmaceuticals, food testing, and human nutrition. Animal agriculture career opportunities include veterinary medicine, animal nutrition and consulting, dairy genetics, herd management, information technology, and business.

Dairy science graduates are in high demand by employers and receive job offers with competitive salaries.

Animal and Dairy Sciences Department

Professors

Weigel, Kent (Chair)
Khatib, Hasan (Associate Chair)
Adcock, Sarah
Arriola Apelo, Sebastian
Cabrera, Victor
Claus, Jim
Crenshaw, Thomas
Dorea, Joao
Ferraretto, Luiz
Fricke, Paul
Guo, Wei
Hernandez, Laura
Kirkpatrick, Brian
Laporta, Jimena
Leone, Vanessa
Parrish, John
Peñagaricano, Francisco
Reed, Jess
Richards, Mark
Ricke, Steve
Rosa, Guilherme
Shanmuganayagam, Dhanansayan (Dhanu)
Sindelar, Jeffrey
Van Os, Jennifer
Wattiaux, Michel
White, Heather
Wiltbank, Milo

Instructors/Lecturers

Halbach, Theodore
Kean, Ron
O’Rourke, Bernadette
Ronk, Eric

Advisor

Sandberg, Liv

Link to: https://andysci.wisc.edu/about-us/faculty-and-staff/

Internships

 In the dairy science program, 100 percent of students complete an internship or field experience. The department offers an internship course under the guidance of a faculty or staff member.

 UW–Madison’s proximity to farms, agribusinesses, and events—such as World Dairy Expo—provide undergraduates with unique networking experiences and valuable hands-on learning. 

Research experience

More than half of the students complete a research project under mentorship from a faculty member. Dairy science researchers are internationally recognized specialists in nutrition, genetics, lactation, reproduction, animal welfare, herd management, and more. Students can take on research projects with faculty members for either course credit or pay, depending on the opportunity.

Student organizations

 The Badger Dairy Club is one of the largest student organizations on campus with more than 125 members of various majors who share a passion for the dairy industry. Students are involved in dairy industry events that provide leadership and networking opportunities. Highlights of the club’s activities include work at the World Dairy Expo, hosting the Badger Invitational Sale, volunteering at the Wisconsin 4-H Dairy Bowl and FFA Dairy Judging Contests, and club trips.

There are other opportunities for students to get involved in agriculture-related organizations on campus such as Collegiate FFA, Association of Women in Agriculture, Babcock House, and Alpha Gamma Rho.

Competitive teams

 Students can join competitive teams that take part in Intercollegiate Dairy Judging, the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge, and the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest.

Global engagement

 Dairy science students are encouraged to study abroad; the department offers globally focused courses that look at livestock production, health, animal agriculture, and sustainable development, including a summer field study program focused on animal agriculture. Students can find more information on the International Academic Programs website and the CALS study abroad advising page.

In addition to study abroad programs, the dairy science major offers several courses that cover animal systems and their improvement in developing countries, the world role of U.S. animal agriculture, and food production related to human and environmental health, land use, and social justice.

Community engagement and volunteering

 Students volunteer at a number of activities directed by the Badger Dairy Club. The largest effort is their work at the World Dairy Expo, an international dairy event held in Madison. There students have the unique opportunity to be directly involved in the event working behind the scenes before, during, and after the show.

 On campus, the Morgridge Center for Public Service provides resources to help students connect with volunteer opportunities based on their interests and goals.

RESOURCES AND SCHOLARSHIPS

 The department offers more than 30 scholarships and awards more than $170,000 annually.

 Students across the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences receive more than $1.25 million in scholarships annually. Learn more about college scholarships here.

 UW–Madison has specialized facilities offering students hands-on dairy science experiences, including:

  • The Dairy Cattle Center is home to more than 80 dairy cows on campus in a tie-stall barn.
  • A network of off-campus Agricultural Research Stations serve as living laboratories for dairy research to enhance research taking place on campus.
  • The Babcock Dairy Plant is a fully operational dairy plant with a retail store selling dairy products. Students can find part-time work and experience in a wide range of dairy processing jobs.