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
Complete one of the following:5-10
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
STAT 371 Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences3
or STAT 301 Introduction to Statistical Methods
Complete one of the following:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Complete one of the following:3-6
Elementary Organic Chemistry
Introductory Organic Chemistry
and Intermediate Organic Chemistry
Complete one of the following:10
General Physics
and General Physics (recommended)
General Physics
and General Physics
General Physics
and General Physics (recommended)
Complete one of the following options:10
Option 1:
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology (recommended)
Option 2:
General Botany
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
Option 3:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Cellular Biology
Select two of the following labs:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Principles of Physiology Laboratory
Core Requirements
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry 13
or BIOCHEM 507 General Biochemistry I
Complete one of the following options:6
Option 1:
General Genetics 1
and General Genetics 2 (preferred)
Option 2:
Principles of Genetics (consult advisor (467 & 468 preferred))
additional 3 credit Genetics depth course (see course list below) 2
Select 2 credits from the following:2
Genetics Laboratory
Independent Study 3
Special Problems 3
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education
Genetics Depth9
See course list below
Genetics Breadth6
See course list below
Select one of the following:3-9
Option 1:
Communicating Evolutionary Biology (Three-credit version only) 4
Option 2:
Developmental Genetics for Conservation and Regeneration (offered in fall semester) 4
Option 3:
Advanced Genetics (offered in spring semester)
Option 4:
Genomics and Proteomics (offered in spring semester) 4
Option 5 (must be taken concurrently):
Special Problems (offered in fall semester)
Companion Research Seminar (offered in fall semester)
Option 6 (must be taken concurrently):
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Companion Research Seminar (offered in fall semester)
Total Credits65-83

Genetics Depth & Breadth Courses


GENETICS 520 Neurogenetics3
GENETICS/​BIOLOGY  522 Communicating Evolutionary Biology2-3
GENETICS 525 Epigenetics3
GENETICS 527 Developmental Genetics for Conservation and Regeneration3
GENETICS 528 Banking Animal Biodiversity: International Field Study in Costa Rica1
GENETICS 548 The Genomic Revolution3
GENETICS/HORT 550 Molecular Approaches for Potential Crop Improvement3
GENETICS 564 Genomics and Proteomics3
GENETICS/​MD GENET  565 Human Genetics3
GENETICS 566 Advanced Genetics3
GENETICS 605 Clinical Cases in Medical Genetics3
GENETICS/​BIOCHEM/​MICROBIO  612 Prokaryotic Molecular Biology3
GENETICS/​BIOCHEM/​MD GENET  620 Eukaryotic Molecular Biology3
GENETICS/​CHEM  626 Genomic Science2
GENETICS 627 Animal Developmental Genetics3
GENETICS 631 Plant Genetics2
GENETICS 633 Population Genetics3
GENETICS/​BOTANY/​M M & I/​PL PATH  655 Biology and Genetics of Fungi3
GENETICS/​MD GENET  662 Cancer Genetics3
GENETICS/​MD GENET  677 Advanced Topics in Genetics1-3


Physical Science:
BIOCHEM 508 General Biochemistry II3-4
BIOCHEM 550 Principles of Human Disease and Biotechnology2
BMOLCHEM 504 Human Biochemistry Laboratory3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Intermediate Organic Chemistry3
Integrative Biology:
BIOCORE 485 Principles of Physiology3
BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions3
BOTANY/​ANTHRO/​ZOOLOGY  410 Evolutionary Biology3
BOTANY 563 Phylogenetic Analysis of Molecular Data3
MICROBIO 303 Biology of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 304 Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory2
MICROBIO 470 Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines3
MICROBIO/​ONCOLOGY  545 Topics in Biotechnology1
MICROBIO 632 Industrial Microbiology/Biotechnology2
M M & I 341 Immunology3
M M & I 460 Techniques in DNA Science for Microbiologists3
M M & I/​PATH-BIO  528 Immunology3
PL PATH 622 Plant-Bacterial Interactions2-3
PL PATH/​ONCOLOGY  640 General Virology-Multiplication of Viruses3
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL  360 Extinction of Species3
ZOOLOGY 425 Behavioral Ecology3
ZOOLOGY 470 Introduction to Animal Development3
ZOOLOGY 555 Laboratory in Developmental Biology3
ZOOLOGY 570 Cell Biology3
Agricultural Ecosystems:
AGRONOMY/​HORT  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​HORT  340 Plant Cell Culture and Genetic Engineering3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  501 Principles of Plant Breeding3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  502 Techniques of Plant Breeding1
AN SCI/​DY SCI  361 Introduction to Animal and Veterinary Genetics2
AN SCI/​DY SCI  362 Veterinary Genetics2
AN SCI/​DY SCI  363 Principles of Animal Breeding2
HORT/​PATH-BIO  500 Molecular Biology Techniques3
PL PATH/​BOTANY/​ENTOM  505 Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects3
Computational Biology:
B M I/​COMP SCI  576 Introduction to Bioinformatics3

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. Analyze the transmission of genes and chromosomes between cells during cell division and within pedigrees over generations.
  2. Demonstrate a deep understanding of how information encoded in DNA can be mutated, epigenetically modified, transcribed into RNA, and translated for protein production, enabling this information to orchestrate the activities of cells singly or collectively throughout development in multicellular organisms.
  3. Predict the impact of the forces of mutation, natural selection, chance, and genetic recombination on the amount of genetic variation in populations at the DNA and phenotypic levels using quantitative models.
  4. Formulate research questions about the genetic control of biological processes and design experiments to answer these questions using appropriate genetic tools including model organisms.
  5. Demonstrate team-work, interpersonal and problem-solving skills to address societal, ethical and scientific issues related to genetics, and communicate their findings through written, oral and multi-media reports.

Four-year plan

Sample Genetics and Genomics Four Year Plan

CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 104 (or elective course)5
MATH 221 (or math placement)5International Studies3
GENETICS 155 (Freshman Seminar)1COMM A Course (if needed)3
Electives (Humanities, Social Science, Ethnic Studies)3Electives (Humanities, Social Science, Ethnic Studies)3
 13-14 14
Total Credits 27-28
CHEM 343 or 3413CHEM 345 (if CHEM 343 completed)3
STAT 371 or 3013Electives (Humanities, Social Science, Ethnic Studies)5
Electives (Humanities, Social Science, Ethnic Studies)3GENETICS 299 (Independent Research)2
 14 15
Total Credits 29
PHYSICS 103, 207, or 20134-5PHYSICS 104, 208, or 20234-5
GENETICS 467 or 466 (& BIOCORE 485 if applicable)3GENETICS 468 (or Genetics Depth elective & BIOCORE 587 if applicable)3
BIOCHEM 501 or 5073BIOCHEM 508 (or elective)3
Electives5Genetics Breadth/Depth6
 15-16 16-17
Total Credits 31-33
Genetics Breadth/Depth6Genetics Breadth/Depth3
Senior Thesis (681-Research)42-3Senior Thesis (682-Research)42-3
Electives (Humanities, Social Sciences)3Genetics Capstone3
 17-18 14-15
Total Credits 31-33

Undergraduate Advisors

Tilmann, Kit; Vermillion Kalmon, Katie; Loewen, Carin; Foley, Lauren

Students should make advising appointments through the Starfish App on MyUW.


The biotechnology industry has exploded within the last decade, providing many diverse career opportunities for our graduates. A strong background in genetics will prepare you for careers in research technical support, technical writing, quality control, assay development, technical services, and sales or marketing. Entry level job titles: Research Laboratory Technician, Assistant Scientist, Clinical Research Associate, Agricultural Consultant, Science Writer

Many of our graduates continue their education by pursuing an advanced degree. Our students are competitive for admission to medical schools, veterinary schools, and graduate schools throughout the country. Students may elect a Ph.D. in genetics to prepare them for careers in research, academia, and industry. Others may elect an M.S. program for a career in genetics counseling.


Pelegri, Francisco (chair); Gasch, Audrey; Ikeda, Aki; Doebley, John; Masson, Patrick; Payseur, Bret; Perna, Nicole; Prolla, Tom; Schwartz, David; Skop, Ahna; Wassarman, David; Yin, Jerry

Associate Professors

Chang, Qiang; Hittinger, Chris; Pool, John

Assistant Professors

Brunkard, Jake; Richardson, Claire; Schroedi, Steven; Sharp, Nathaniel; Werling, Donna; Zhong, Xuehua

Faculty Associates; 

Tilmann, Kit; Vermillion Kalmon, Katie; Loewen, Carin

Undergraduate Advisors

Tilmann, Kit; Vermillion Kalmon, Katie; Loewen, Carin; Foley, Lauren

Students are highly encouraged to apply what they are learning in the classroom to out-of-classroom experiences, connect with other students in genetics and other biological science majors, and to build relationships with faculty and staff. 

  • A minimum of one semester of mentored research is required, and most students elect to participate in more. The Genetics website and undergraduate advisors can help students find these experiences. Students conduct research experiences for course credit or pay, depending on the lab. Many students present their work during lab meetings, professional conferences, and campus events. 
  • The Undergraduate Genetics Association (UGA) is the pre-professional student organization for majors in genetics or students interested in genetics. They provide professional development opportunities, networking, information about current genetic research, how to get involved in research or internships, and career and job information. 
  • Students are also involved in pre-health organizations, volunteer and shadowing opportunities, publishing in an undergraduate science journal, biotechnology and agricultural internships, and other related experiences on and off campus.