The CALS honors program allows motivated students to continue challenging themselves in the classroom and beyond. Students may pursue either honors in research or honors in the major. Both tracks require a senior honors thesis and result in an honors designation upon graduation.

Honors in Research

Students completing the CALS honors in research track engage in the university’s great research tradition. From selecting a research question and designing a study through analysis and presentation of the results, the honors in research track requires students to explore the full scientific process. Students identify a faculty mentor to oversee their research efforts and support their progression through the program. In addition to this hands-on research experience, students are required to enroll in coursework directed at furthering their knowledge in quality and ethical scientific discovery.

Honors in Major

Information can be found in the requirements tab for each major that offers the option.

How to Get in

Students admitted to the university and to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are invited to apply to be considered for admission to the CALS Honors Program.

Admission Criteria for New First-Year Students:

  • Complete program application including essay questions

Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:

  • UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25
  • Complete program application including essay questions

How to Apply

The application is available on the CALS Honors Program website.  Applications are accepted at any time.

New first-year students with accepted applications will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research. It is possible to switch to Honors in the Major in the student’s first semester after receiving approval from the advisor for that major.  Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after approval from the major advisor).


The Honors in Research track requires students to complete two research projects, an introductory project and a senior thesis project. Students work under the guidance of a faculty mentor for both projects.

In the course of this program, it is expected that the student will: (i) learn the background and methods of the discipline; (ii) identify an interesting and tractable problem or question for study; (iii) learn to draft a proposal defending the relevance and appropriateness of specific research efforts; (iv) demonstrate appropriate skills in working on that problem in a manner appropriate to a professional in the discipline; (v) analyze and interpret the results of their efforts; and (vi) present these results as a thesis and in an approved public forum.

To earn Honors in Research, students must first be admitted to the college’s Honors Program. Students must then make satisfactory progress toward the program requirements listed below and maintain a 3.25 GPA. Failure to maintain this progress will result in removal of the student from the Honors Program.

Program requirements:

  • Identify a research mentor
  • Complete introductory (one-semester) research project and presentation
  • Complete three seminar courses (one credit each)
  • Enroll in Senior Honors Thesis credits (681 and 682; or 699 in the mentor’s department) for two semesters at a minimum of two credits each semester
  • Complete a Senior Honors Thesis research project and presentation
  • Submit the Senior Honors Thesis and related documentation to CALS Academic Affairs
  • Maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.25

Additional information can be found on the Honors website.

Advising and Careers

Find additional information on the CALS honors program website.  Questions may be directed to Heather Mialik, the CALS Honors Program Manager, at heather.mialik@wisc.edu or CALS Academic Affairs at 608-262-3003.