The individual major provides undergraduates with an opportunity to develop a unique course of study; one that is interdepartmental and not reflected in existing degree programs. Completion of the individual major does not lead to a professional license or certification, although graduates may be interested in pursuing alternative educational careers or graduate work. Graduates earn a B.S.–Education degree.

Admission Eligibility requirements

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • earn a 2.75 cumulative GPA on the UW–Madison campus.1
  • complete a minimum of 54 credits
  • receive approval of major program proposal submitted by the applicant.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility to the program. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college-level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eliogibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) More information on this rule is available here.

Application procedures

Once a committee of three persons has been chosen in accord with the guidelines and required courses have been selected, students should proceed as follows:

  • Submit an Individual Major in Education proposal form.
  • Submit the program plan and narrative with the transfer application for associate dean's approval. The three-member committee must sign the proposal in the spaces indicated. Failure to submit a program narrative will void the transfer. Obtain the program plan form from Education Academic Services.

Once an application form has been submitted, changes must be approved by both the chair of the committee and the associate dean. Changes must be recorded on the program plan. If more than two program changes are made, a new application form must be filed by the student.

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.

Program Structure

The bachelor of science (B.S.) degree program with an individual major has three components: 

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Major requirements permit in-depth study of a unique area within the School of Education. Students create their own, interdepartmental major following the guidelines established by the school. When completed, the title of the individual major is listed on the student's transcript.
  • Elective credits make it possible to pursue additional areas of interest and are necessary to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for the degree.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Requirements of the Individual Major

Development of the Major

Students must have an area of interest that they wish to develop into a 36–42 credit formalized program of study, or major. Advisors in Education Academic Services, Room 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1651, can discuss students' interests and help frame the written narrative required of the major. Applicants must develop a narrative describing the proposed course of study and its related career goals. Information should be included which will enable a faculty committee to identify the relationship among the proposed program of study, a general interest in education, and career goals. A program title cannot duplicate the existing title of any program at UW–Madison.

Selection of Major Coursework

Select courses that support the program narrative, in consultation with the major advisor; see below. All courses in the major must be from School of Education course offerings. All credits in the major must be completed after admission into the program (IME classification).

Additional requirements regarding the major are:

  • To ensure depth and breadth of study, no more than two-thirds of the total credits in a major can be taken from any one department (i.e., if a major is 36 credits, no more than 24 credits can be in one department).
  • A sequential development of courses must be planned in consultation with the major advisor and committee, and must be approved by the committee. The course sequence must include beginning through advanced levels of work as prescribed by the credit distribution.
  • At least 20 of the IME credits must be at the intermediate or advanced levels (generally numbered 300 or above, but this varies in some departments).
  • Courses in the School of Education completed prior to admission to the IME classification may not be used toward satisfaction of the 36–42 credits in the major without the faculty committee and associate dean's approval. The credits may count toward the 120 credits required for graduation.
  • Degree candidates must complete at least 15 credits of upper-level major coursework in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • An individual major which essentially parallels an existing departmental major will not be accepted.
  • Directed study credits (e.g. 399, 699) are acceptable, but each course must be accompanied by a statement that includes a description of the focus of study, the requirements for successful completion of the credits, and a discussion of the applicability of content to the proposed individual major. Usually no more than 3 credits of Independent Study will be allowed. Approval of the associate dean is required in order to exceed three credits.
  • Students must complete prerequisites for all courses and, in some departments, may be required to complete foundational courses.

Selecting the Advisory Committee and Major Advisor

The applicant must create a three-member committee to oversee his or her work. Only assistant, associate, and full professors may serve on the committee; individuals holding such titles as Lecturer or Instructor cannot serve in this capacity. One of the committee members will be selected by the student to be the major advisor. The major advisor must be from a department within the School of Education and from the department in which the majority of courses for the individual major will be taken, i.e., the core area of study. The second faculty member must be from the same department as the major advisor/committee chair. The third faculty member must be from another department in the School of Education in which courses will be taken for the individual major. The associate dean serves as ex officio to the three-member committee and gives final approval to all programs and any exceptions.

Elective Credits

Elective credits make it possible to pursue additional areas of interest. Many students, for example, use their elective credits to complete an additional major from the College of Letters & Science. Some use this second major to complement their individual major, while others select second majors that are completely unrelated to their first. Elective credits are necessary to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for the degree.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Graduation requirements are based on UW–Madison coursework. Graduation GPA requirements may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.

  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average.
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average across all major coursework 
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average across all upper-level (numbered 300 and above) major coursework 
  • Degree candidates must complete at least 120 total credits.
  • Major residency. Degree candidates must complete at least 15 credits of upper-level major coursework in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior residency. Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus.

Degree Audit (DARS)

At UW–Madison, a DARS report is used to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree. This degree audit identifies the requirements that have already been completed, and also those that remain unsatisfied. A DARS report can offer suggestions about appropriate courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning process. 

Students can access DARS reports through their Student Center in My UW–Madison. Go to the Academics tab and find DARS on the dropdown menu.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program or major on campus. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE) should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is the document of record, i.e., certifying document of degree completion, for program areas in the School of Education.

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.

Advising for the Individual Major

Students interested in the individual major should first consult with an advisor in Education Academic Services; call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment. Eventually, a committee to oversee the major will be formed and also provide advising in the major.

General School of Education Advising

All undergraduate students in the School of Education are served by three offices devoted to academic and/or career advising. Each student in the School of Education is assigned at least one advisor and is encouraged to meet with the advisor on a regular basis. Students will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. Departmental advisors provide more in-depth knowledge of the major and of courses offered by the department.

Undergraduate Advising and Academic Dean's Office—Education Academic Services (EAS)

139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651

Education Academic Services (EAS) is the undergraduate dean's office for students in the School of Education. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; take exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise current and prospective students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate field placements; facilitate the program admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Students should meet with an advisor during their first semester on campus (if not before) and are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a semester. This is particularly important during the freshman and sophomore years. Appointments may be arranged by calling or visiting the office.

EAS advisors answer questions and provide guidance to current and prospective students. They consult with and refer students to faculty members and departmental advisors. Once a student is admitted to a professional program within the School of Education, he or she will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor. Advising then becomes a partnership, with EAS and OURR advisors continuing to help students with course selection, degree progress monitoring, academic difficulties, and interpretation of policies and procedures.

Program advisors help students select and plan a program of study in the major, negotiate issues within the department, and, in the case of certification programs, follow the students' progress through their professional courses. These divisions are flexible, and students are encouraged to consult with all advisors who can help with a situation or answer a question.

OURR: Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (Student Diversity Programs)

105 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-8427 or 608-262-1651

The UW–Madison School of Education is committed to promoting equity and increasing diversity in its programs. OURR staff work collaboratively with Education Academic Services and campus and community partners to support underrepresented students interested in majors in the School of Education.

OURR staff perform outreach, recruitment, and advising on behalf of the School. OURR staff also support current students with their personal and professional growth, their transition from high school to college, financial aid, and career exploration.  

OURR works to build a network of students and graduates who may strengthen, transform, and lead their communities through education, service, and other contributions. Students are invited to visit OURR staff at 105 Education Building—stop in, or call one of the numbers listed above to set up an appointment.

School of Education Career Center

L107 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1755

Need assistance with any of the following? 

  • Exploring career options linked to School of Education majors
  • Seeking a major that incorporates individual passions, interests, and values that will help one reach specific career goals
  • Researching graduate schools and preparing application materials
  • Beginning a job search and learning where to start and what to do
  • Seeking assistance with developing a résumé, a cover letter, or interviewing skills
  • Networking and connecting with potential employers

The Career Center provides resources and individual consultations to assist students in reaching their career goals.  A plethora of resources can be found on the Career Center website:

  • Explore career possibilities for specific majors in Investigate Career Options. This section of the website provides tools for clarifying a student’s personal criteria for success, linking specific career options to majors, and identifying steps for career/major selection.  It includes strategies for making the most of a student’s academic and student experience.
  • Confirm major and career decisions.  Gain hands-on experience in the career field of study.  Assess the perceptions of selected career and major options for accuracy.  Develop professional and soft skills.  The Test Drive and Confirm Career Choice section provides strategies for acquiring real-world experience.
  • Preparation is critical for entering one’s next career phase.  Learn about graduate school requirements and the application process.  Develop promotional materials for employers and/or graduate schools and obtain feedback and suggestions for enhancing them.  Acquire materials that support one’s applications.  The Prepare and Connect section provides offers additional details.
  • Implement helps students plan for the future.  Attend recruiting events.  Apply for graduate school or for job opportunities.  Practice interviewing skills.  Interview.  Negotiate job and graduate school offers.

Personalized career assistance is available through individual appointments with consultants in the Career Center.  To schedule an appointment visit,

Informational workshops and career-related events are conducted each semester.  The schedule of these events can be found on the center’s website.

The Career Center coordinates teacher recruitment fairs each fall and spring semester and collaborates with career centers across campus to provide campus-wide career fairs at the beginning of each semester. 

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.