University of Wisconsin–Madison

College of Letters & Science

Letters-and-sciences

Why Choose the College of Letters & Science (L&S)?

What's so great about a liberal arts education from UW–Madison?

For one thing, it makes for a college experience that is rich in discovery, exploration, personal growth, and new ideas.

But while your courses may be fascinating, liberating, eye-opening and mind-blowing, a liberal arts degree from UW–Madison keeps working for you long after you have graduated.

By pursuing a degree in the liberal arts—a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science—you are preparing for long-term satisfaction in work and in life. A liberal arts degree is a journey of self-discovery, as you explore new topics and discuss ideas with a wide range of people. You delve deeply into a broad range of subjects beyond just your major. When you graduate, you aren’t narrowly prepared for one field. You’ve developed writing, presentation, and analytical skills. You’ve been exposed to the scientific method, as well as literary analysis. A chemistry major, for example, will also graduate with knowledge of a language, history, social science, the arts, and more.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

Because the more you know, the more curious you become. Curious people seek opportunities to enrich and expand their lives. Learning leads to conversation, dialogue, innovation, advancement. Employers value liberal arts majors because they are problem-solvers, out-of-the-box thinkers, and good communicators. 

CAN A 4-YEAR DEGREE FROM L&S REALLY OPEN DOORS WITH EMPLOYERS? 

Absolutely. Based on a recent L&S alumni survey rigorously designed and administered by the university’s nationally renowned survey center, our graduates’ employment rates are on par with the School of Business and the College of Engineering, and out-perform the national average for university graduates. They work for an extremely wide range of fields, including technology, corporate management, education, and nonprofits.

L&S alumni also report high job satisfaction and believe that their academic preparation gave them an advantage compared to employees from other colleges and universities.

Students in the College of Letters & Science have an additional built-in career advantage.   SuccessWorks, the L&S center for personal professional development, makes it possible for every L&S student to channel the breadth and depth of knowledge they gain during their time at UW into meaningful, rewarding lives and careers.

There is nothing like SuccessWorks in any other school or college at UW, or at most other university around the country.   SuccessWorks Career Communities encourage students to explore jobs and fields where alumni have built fulfilling careers, then dive deep into building skills and experiences once they've discovered the right path-or paths - for them.  Each Career Community connects students to an advisor with specific expertise, plus a network of supportive alumni mentors and highly engaged employers seeking to hire L&S students for jobs and internships.

Then there's our L&S Career Initiative (LSCI)—unique among large public universities. Funded by alumni and sponsored by key employers, the LSCI is designed to help each and every one of our students—not just the extra-motivated or well-connected few—define his or her path. We start where you are—and go from there. From the basics of resume-building, to connecting with alumni mentors, to landing an internship, the resources are at your fingertips.

BUT WE VALUE LEARNING FOR ITS OWN SAKE, HERE. 

You will never regret your liberal arts degree from UW–Madison, because it gives you the opportunity to explore subjects that fascinate you, as well as prepare you for a successful career. You will connect with wonderful faculty from 125 departments, programs, centers and institutes, whose mentoring and teaching will influence your goals and direction. And you will gain an appreciation for learning that will last a lifetime.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of the great universities of the world, and the College of Letters & Science is at its center. Students who earn a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science (L&S) complement their broad study in the liberal arts and sciences with in-depth study of one or more particular fields, or "majors." Majors range from African cultural studies to philosophy in the humanities, from astronomy to zoology in the natural sciences, and from Afro-American studies to sociology in the social sciences.

In addition to the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees available in L&S, the college also offers a limited number of special degrees. These programs often have additional admission requirements and require completion of additional requirements in the major.

Finally, a wide array of certificate programs are also available for students who have special interests in such diverse topics as integrated liberal studies; international, global, and area studies; religious, ethnic, and gender studies; and more.

All students pursuing their undergraduate studies in the College of Letters & Science must fulfill the following requirements:  

Certificates are not required for graduation from L&S.  With a few exceptions,  students are expected to complete all requirements for a certificate program prior to graduating. 

L&S will award all declared and completed certificates upon graduation with the L&S degree. Certificates that are not complete at the time of graduation will not be awarded. Students who have satisfied all major and degree requirements will not be delayed from graduating if they have unmet requirements in a declared certificate program.

Although most certificates must be completed at the same time students have completed all  of their major and degree requirements, there are a very limited number of certificates that are available to students after they graduate. Students who have completed a substantial portion (as least 12 credits) of a certificate at UW–Madison, and who may need one or two additional courses to complete the certificate, may do so immediately after completing a bachelor’s degree. This provision is not universal; it applies to a limited number of certificates only. Students seeking to complete certificates eligible under this provision should enroll in the remaining coursework as a University Special (non-degree) student. A certificate must be completed within a year of completion of the bachelor's degree. More information about L&S certificates can be found at certificate programs under Courses and Enrollment.

For general information about certificates and which ones can be earned/completed as a University Special, see undergraduate/special student certificates.

NOTE:  Major requirements are the same whether a student pursues a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree.

Admissions

Any student interested in earning an undergraduate degree in the College of Letters & Science will need to apply for admission through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment at UW–Madison. Information on applying to the university as a freshman, transfer, or international student is available through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Prospective students with questions about study in the College of Letters & Science may contact L&S Academic Advising Services at 608-262-5858 or Cross-College Advising Service at 608-265-5460. Students should also feel free to contact the major department directly if they have specific questions about a particular major.

Transfer Students 

Transfer students interested in earning an undergraduate degree in the College of Letters & Science will need to apply for admission through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment at UW–Madison. Transfer students must complete all Letters & Science degree requirements. Once admitted, transfer students should obtain a copy of their DARS report which will explain how their transfer credits will apply toward L&S requirements. Students can request and review their DARS in the Student Center via My UW. Students can also request DARS for programs, majors, or certificates that they have not declared but are interested in declaring. These reports are called "what-if" reports.  (Please note that some programs may not be available in DARS. For information about requirements in a program not available in DARS, contact the advisor for the particular program.)

Please note that the DARS audit serves as the document of record (DOR) for students in the College of Letters & Science.   The DOR is used to certify completion of degree requirements, and it is retained according to university record retention and archival polices.

Students can transfer only a limited number of credits from non-degree-granting accredited institutions and correspondence courses. See non-degree-granting accredited institutions' transfer credit limitation in the Guide under Credits.

Transfer students who have more than 30 degree credits are ineligible to earn retroactive credits in a foreign language on the UW–Madison campus. See credit by course examination/retroactive credits in the Guide under Credits.

Advisors for freshman and sophomore students are in the L&S Academic Advising Services (608-262-5858) in 101 Ingraham Hall and the Cross-College Advising Service (608-265-5460) in 10 Ingraham Hall. Junior and senior transfer students should meet with an advisor in the department in which they intend to major.  All L&S undergraduate students are expected to declare a major by the time they have 86 degree credits.

Transfer students should note that the L&S degree requirements have changed as of summer 2007. Those students who matriculated before May 21, 2007 are eligible to complete the degree requirements in force at the time they began their college-level studies. (See previous catalogs under Archive for more information.)

Because some requirements in force before this edition of the Guide differ substantially from the requirements articulated here, transfer students are strongly encouraged to refer to the undergraduate catalog or Guide in force at the time of their first matriculation to college. (See past catalogs to review the requirements that apply.) For some students, it may be to their benefit to consider transferring to the new degree requirements; they may consult with their academic advisor if they wish to consider this option.

On-Campus Transfer

Continuing UW–Madison students must have a minimum 2.000 cumulative grade point average and a UW–Madison grade point average of at least 2.000 in their most recent semester of work in order to transfer into the College of Letters & Science. First-semester and new transfer students without a UW–Madison grade point average may transfer into Letters & Science provided they meet university admission requirements (three units of math and two units of a single foreign language). Students admitted to the university with admission deficiencies must remove those deficiencies before they are eligible to transfer into L&S. For more information about transferring into L&S, call 608-262-5858 or refer to request to transfer into L&S.

Students transferring into one of the general courses from a special course (AMEP, Music), or from another college/school of the university to the College of Letters & Science will receive no more than 18 credits per semester toward graduation for work already completed, unless a 3.000 grade point average was earned the previous semester or the semester the overload was carried. Then a maximum of 20 credits from that term may be transferred. These transferring students will receive credit for studies in another college/school, but will be subject to the conditions of the Liberal Arts and Science Credits requirement. (See Liberal Arts and Science Credits.)

University Special Students

If you are not currently enrolled in a UW–Madison degree program but wish to take courses within the College of Letters & Science at UW–Madison for credit as a non degree-seeking candidate or as an auditor, it may be best to consider becoming a special student.   Information about becoming a non degree-seeking student at UW–Madison can be found at Adult Career and Special Student Services.  

The Wisconsin Experience: Essential Learning in the College of Letters & Science

The three elements of learning described below—tools, breadth, and depth—work together to create a broad and rich education in the liberal arts and sciences, and promote attainment of core areas of essential learning: knowledge of human cultures and the natural and physical world, intellectual and practical skills, personal and social responsibility, and integrative and applied learning. These and countless other experiences comprise the Letters & Science approach to helping students obtain a distinctive Wisconsin Experience.

Additional information about the Wisconsin Experience can be found through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Academic Status

The primary audience for this page is L&S traditional/residential students. The information may not be relevant to students enrolled in the online-only Bachelor of Liberal Studies.

ACADEMIC Standing

Good Academic Standing

L&S undergraduate students are in good academic standing if their [cumulative] University and most recent term (Fall, Spring, Summer) GPA are at least a 2.000. Students in good academic standing are not on any form of academic probation and are not at risk of being dropped from the University.  
Students (e.g., first-term Freshmen) who have not yet established a University GPA are also in Good Academic Standing.

Academic Probation and Suspension

Students whose University GPA or most recent term GPA are below a 2.000 will be placed in academic probation or academic suspension, as follows:

  • If a student is not on probation and earns a term GPA of 1.000 - 1.999, the student is placed on probation.
  • If a student is not on probation and earns a term GPA of less than 1.000, the student is placed on strict probation.
  • If a student is on probation and earns a term GPA of 1.500 - 1.999, the student is placed on strict probation.
  • If a student is on probation and earns a term GPA of less than 1.500, the student is dropped (placed on academic suspension) for one (1) year.
  • If a student is on strict probation and earns a term GPA below 2.000, the student is dropped (placed on academic suspension) for one (1) year.

Readmission

Students who have completed their academic suspension may apply for readmission.  
Some students may wish to appeal their academic suspension through the L&S Undergraduate Academic Dean’s office. 

DEAN'S LIST

The College of Letters & Science Dean's List is established at the end of each fall and spring terms. To be eligible for the Dean's List in a given term, students must:

  • complete a minimum of 12 graded* credits in that term with a minimum GPA of 3.600 for students who are classified as freshmen (fewer than 24 credits) and sophomores (at least 24 credits), or
  • complete a minimum of 12 graded* credits in that term with a minimum GPA of 3.850 for students who are classified as juniors (at least 54 credits) and seniors (at least 86 credits)
    • Note: Advanced Placement (AP), College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), International Baccalaureate (IB) credits, credit by department examination, transfer credits, and retroactive credits (retrocredits) will count toward a student's class standing (level).

*The grades used to determine the dean's list eligibility are: A, AB, B, BC, C, D, and F.  A student must have a minimum of 12 credits from this list of grades in order to qualify for the L&S Dean's List. 

An entry, "Dean's List," appears on the student's grade report and on the transcript.

  • Students who have P grades for their senior thesis (regardless of whether they have 12 other graded credits), as well as students with unresolved grades of NR, I, and Q are not eligible for the Dean's List until they get these outstanding temporary grades resolved.
  • Once a student has resolved any outstanding grade issues and believes he/she qualifies to be on the Dean's List, the student should contact L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services for more assistance.
  • Please note that the College of Letters & Science does not "round up" for the purpose of tabulating the GPA for the Dean's List.  For example, an L&S sophomore with a fall or spring term GPA of 3.599 is not eligible for the Dean's List since the minimum GPA for freshmen and sophomores to qualify for the Dean's List is 3.600.  

More information can be found at Dean's List and  L&S Dean's List Qualifications.  For information about class standing, see L&S Undergraduate Classification and Class Standing.

Transferring to L&S from another UW-Madison School or College

Students in Good Academic Standing may apply for transfer to the College of Letters & Science (L&S) from within UW-Madison, by completing the Transfer Request Form.

 

Courses and Enrollment

CONCURRENT REGISTRATION and ENROLLMENT AT UW–MADISON AND ANOTHER INSTITUTION

In some circumstances, it is appropriate for students to enroll for credit at another insitution at the same time as being enrolled at UW-Madison. This is called concurrent enrollment (and sometimes, concurrent registration).

Students can request permission to be concurrently enrolled via the concurrent enrollment request form.

Dropping a Course While Remaining Enrolled

Students may drop one or more courses and remain enrolled if they continue in at least one course in that term. See dropping a course at UW-Madison for more information.

Enrollment Deadlines

Deadlines for all types of enrollment changes can be found on the Office of the Registrar's Dates & Deadlines page.

If a student wishes to drop all of his/her classes and not stay enrolled in any classes for a specific semester or term, the student will need to formally withdraw from the semester. For more information about withdrawing, see withdrawing from UW-Madison.

DIRECTED OR INDEPENDENT STUDY

Directed/Independent Study offers the student an opportunity to work with a faculty member on an individual study program. A student who is stimulated by a particular concept or problem encountered in a course can pursue and develop that interest in depth through a Directed Study project. Such individualized study can make a valuable contribution to a student's educational experience. 

  • Directed/Independent Study courses cannot be used to fulfill any UW–Madison General Education Requirements (GER) or L&S breadth requirements under any circumstances.
  • Directed/Independent Study courses may not be taken on a pass/fail or audit basis.
  • L&S undergraduates are not permitted to take graduate level directed study (courses numbered 799, 899, and 999) under any circumstance.

Directed Study courses are made available by departments on the basis of a student's preparation and motivation and a faculty member's willingness to accept the student in such an endeavor. See L&S Undergraduate Directed/Independent Study Course Guidelines for more detailed information.

Directed Study courses with a number ending in 98 (e.g., 198, 698) are carried on a Credit/No Credit (Cr/N) basis. No grades are awarded for these courses. The student earns credit for the course if the instructor is satisfied with the work the student has performed. If not, there is no Failure; the student simply is not awarded any credit for the course. Not all departments offer Directed Study courses on a Cr/N basis. Courses ending in 99 are graded. (See Grades and GPA for more information)

Prior to registration and before the end of the second week of classes, students are responsible for making all arrangements with the faculty member who agrees to direct their work. The student and faculty member should prepare a study plan, determine the time and place for regular meetings, the number of credits to be earned, and how to enroll in the course.

Notes:

  • Directed Study courses do not satisfy basic or breadth requirements. Thus, Directed Study courses cannot be used to fulfill any degree requirements such as B.A./B.S. Foreign Language, General Education Requirements (Comm A, Comm B, QR A, QR B, Ethnic Studies), or L&S Breadth (Humanities, Natural Science, Social Science).
  • Directed Study courses may generally be repeated for credit if course content is not duplicated.
  • Undergraduate students cannot take or earn degree credit for graduate-level Directed Study, Independent Reading, Independent Study, or Individual Enrollment courses (e.g., 799, 899, 999).
  • All Directed Study courses (graded or not) count toward the maximum number of credits that may be counted in the major if taken in the major department.
  • Many majors strictly limit the number of Directed Study credits that can be earned in the major.
  • Directed Study courses are not intended as placeholder credits for registration purposes, and students with special rules for full-time status should consult the undergraduate deans before enrolling in Directed Study courses after the enrollment period.

Directed Study courses taken in non-L&S departments may be counted as Liberal Arts and Science (C) courses provided that they are offered at the 300-or-above level. Because these experiences are intended to provide intensive, one-on-one experiences with faculty, departments are not allowed to use Directed Study courses to teach group instruction courses.

DROP NOTATION

The Drop (DR) notation appears on students' records if they drop a class or classes after the last day to drop courses or withdraw without a DR or W grade notation appearing on students' transcripts. For the specific deadline for dropping classes so a DR will not appear on a student's records, see Deadlines at a Glance on the Office of the Registrar website. Please note that L&S does not backdate drops to erase them from a student's academic records or extend the drop deadline so that the DR will not appear.

The drop notation will only show that a student has dropped a course(s) before the official drop deadline. A "DR" on a student's academic record does not have any negative implications for students when they are applying to graduate schools or seeking employment.  The "DR" was instituted as a means to document when a course was dropped after the first eight days in the fall and spring semesters (or the appropriate period during the summer session or module courses).

GRADUATE COURSES

All courses numbered 700 and above are graduate courses and considered advanced (A). Enrollment in these courses is strictly limited to only graduate-level students. L&S undergraduates who, on the rare occasion, are permitted to enroll in graduate level courses and receive passing grades in these classes will be awarded undergraduate degree credit.  L&S undergraduate students SHOULD NOT enroll (or be permitted to enroll) in graduate courses if they are not making satisfactory progress toward their undergraduate degree or if taking graduate-level courses would delay their time to graduation.

  • L&S students who receive permission to enroll in L&S graduate courses may count those credits toward completion of their Liberal Arts and Sciences credit requirement. These credits may be used to satisfy the requirements related to mastery of intermediate/advanced level work, but since these courses do not carry breadth designations, they do not satisfy breadth requirements.
  • L&S students who enroll in non-L&S graduate courses may count those credits as part of their free electives in the degree. These credits may not be used to satisfy breadth or level requirements.
  • Grades earned by undergraduates who complete graduate courses will be included in all relevant grade point average calculations (see Quality of Work Requirements for the list of areas in which these averages are calculated). Most graduate courses restrict enrollment to students who have graduate standing, or who have received the instructor's consent to enroll.
  • Students can count up to seven (7) credits of graduate-level coursework earned as an undergraduate toward future graduate studies.
  • Undergraduate students cannot take or earn degree credit for graduate-level Directed Study, Independent Reading, Independent Study, or Individual Enrollment courses (e.g., 799, 899, 999).

Provided that an instructor wishes to allow undergraduates to enroll in a graduate course, students who wish to enroll in the courses should meet with the instructor, who can evaluate whether or not the student should be allowed to register. This decision is made at the instructor's discretion, based on such considerations as whether or not the student has met course prerequisites, is prepared to perform graduate-level work in the course, and is likely to successfully complete the course. Instructors are not obligated to accommodate undergraduate student requests to enroll in graduate-level courses. Furthermore, it should be noted that all students in graduate-level courses are expected to be held to a similar performance standard with respect to quality, quantity, and type of work performed.

International Students and Non-Native Speakers of English Taking English as a Second Language Courses (ESL)

English as a Second Language

The MSNESLAT is taken by all students who are required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score for admission to UW-Madison. See more information about English Placement Exams here.

All ESL courses completed in residence, and all credit earned in those courses, will appear on students’ transcripts. ESL courses numbered below 118 are not considered Liberal Arts and Science courses, but may be counted among L&S students’ free electives in the degree. To learn more about the 108 Liberal Arts and Science credits L&S students are required to take, see the College of Letters & Science Requirements information.

Degree Requirements 

In general, international students must complete the same degree requirements as any other entering student. The College of Letters & Science makes some exceptions to this policy.  For instance the College may waive the foreign language requirement for the B.A. and B.S. degrees for students who are native speakers of a foreign language.

For the purpose of exemption from the foreign language requirement, a "native speaker" is a student who graduates from or completes a major portion (the equivalent of at least five semesters) of a secondary school in a non-English-speaking school system. Exemption is not automatic. Students who believe they may qualify for an exemption should contact the Office of Admissions and Recruitment or an L&S academic dean to determine how their language background may be applicable toward the foreign language requirement.

Students whose native language is not English may not receive degree credit for work in their native language through Credit by Examination except for literature credit.

Special Advisor 

International students can receive advising information from their department advisors. International Student Services (ISS) (716 Langdon Street, Room 217 Red Gym, 608-262-2044; iss@studentlife.wisc.edu) can also offer assistance and advising in non-curricular matters such as visa-related issues.

LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCE COURSES

Courses that have been approved as Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) classes are expected to encourage students in one or more of the three "habits of the mind" of liberal arts education, as specified by the College of Letters & Science.  These include:

  1. Skilled written and verbal communication, excelling in formulating and expressing a point of view, reflecting and questioning current knowledge through reading, research and consideration of the views of others.
  2. The ability to draw flexibly upon and apply the modes of thought of the major areas of knowledge.
  3. Knowledge of our basic cultural heritage as a multifaceted and often contested history.

For more detailed information, refer to criteria for Liberal Arts and Science Courses.

The College of Letters & Science has long recognized that courses offered by other units of the university provide valuable and appropriate learning experiences for students pursuing a degree offered by the college. The college has approved many of these courses for L&S students to take for degree credit, and after careful review, has determined that these courses are Liberal Arts and Sciences courses. These courses are so designated within the Guide and count toward the L&S degree requirements, including requirements related to breadth and level.

PASS/FAIL

Any L&S undergraduate student in good academic standing is eligible to take one (1) course per term/semester on a pass/fail (S/U) basis.  For the College of Letters & Science, good academic standing means that a student does not have one of the following statuses: 

  • probation
  • strict probation
  • continued probation
  • continued strict probation
  • dropped status

For information about probation, see probation rules.  

  • Undergraduates may carry only one course on a pass/fail basis per term (fall, spring, summer) and a maximum of sixteen (16) credits during their entire undergraduate career.   
  • First-semester freshmen and transfer students without an established UW–Madison GPA are eligible to take one (1) course for pass/fail in their first term at UW–Madison.
  • Summer sessions collectively count as a single term. Thus, a student can only take one (1) course on a pass/fail basis during the summer.

Any student who takes a pass/fail course must earn at least a C to receive credit for the course. Final grades for these courses will be indicated as satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) without any computation of grade points for those courses into the semester or cumulative grade point average. The grade of S shall be recorded by the registrar in place of instructors' grades of A, AB, B, BC, or C. The grade of U will be recorded by the Registrar's Office in place of instructors' grades of D or F. Neither the S nor the U is used in computing the grade point average. The pass/fail option is the student's choice and the instructor reports the grade without knowing whether or not the student is taking the course on a pass/fail basis.

For more information, see taking a UW-Madison course pass/fail.

Notes:

  • Students must submit (or cancel) pass/fail requests via their Student Center link by the end of the fourth week of fall and spring semesters. (For modular and summer session courses, pass/fail requests must be submitted by the Friday of the week in which the session is one-fourth completed).
  • Students may not cancel or add the pass/fail option after the deadline for submitting Pass/Fail Option Forms.
  • All requests to add or cancel pass/fail must be submitted via the Course Change request in the Student Center by the appropriate deadline.
  • For more information about the pass/fail process, refer to taking a UW-Madison course pass/fail and Pass/Fail Option.
  • Students cannot cancel a pass/fail request after the deadline if they need the course to fulfill a major or degree requirement at a later date. It is the student's responsibility to determine whether or not s/he can take a course on a pass/fail basis.
  • Pass/Fail and Course Change Requests can be accessed through a student's Student Center in My UW by clicking Course Change Request via Course Enrollment, Term Information. For more information about requesting the pass/fail option, refer to Pass/Fail Option on the Registrar's website.
  • Only elective work may be carried on a pass/fail basis. Thus, pass/fail cannot be declared or used to fulfill the following requirements:
    • Breadth (humanities, literature, social science, natural science)
    • Foreign language (prior to fulfilling the B.A. or B.S. foreign language requirement)
    • Math
    • Ethnic Studies
    • General Education Requirements (Comm A, Comm B, QR A, QR B)
    • Major requirements
    • Senior Thesis coursework (i.e., 681, 682, 691, 692)
  • L&S undergraduates may take courses in their major or major department for pass/fail after fulfilling their major requirements.  However, any coursework taken for pass/fail in the major or major department will not count toward fulfilling any requirements.  Students are strongly encouraged not to take coursework in their major program without first consulting with their undergraduate advisor.
  • Courses carried on a pass/fail basis cannot fulfill any other college requirements except for the 60 intermediate/advanced level credits and 108 Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) credits needed to graduate.
  • Directed Study courses may not be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  • Pass/fail work may not be used as part of the coursework offered in satisfaction of the individual major.
  • Students may not take foreign language courses on a pass/fail basis until the foreign language requirement for their degree program has been satisfied.
  • Students pursuing certificate programs should check with the certificate advisor(s) about policies concerning pass/fail for certificate program courses since many certificate programs do not allow coursework to be taken for pass/fail.

For further information, deadline dates, and instructions for registration stop by the College of Letters & Science Academic Deans' Services in Suite 101 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, or call 608-262-0617 for more assistance.

PRE-PROFESSIONAL COURSES

Pre-Medicine is not a major

College of Letters & Science students who wish to prepare for a career in medicine should enroll in courses which lead to completion of degree requirements in any major and simultaneously fulfill the pre-medical requirements of the medical school of their choice. Students considering a pre-medical program should go to the Center for Pre-Health Advising where they will receive information and advice as needed. See Center for Pre-Health Advising for more information.

See coursework for information about courses that support the required and suggested coursework for medical school and other health professional programs. Students should keep in mind that this is a general guideline and requirements differ among medical schools.

Pre-Law

Pre-law is not a major at UW–Madison. For more information for students who are considering, preparing for, or applying to law school, please refer to the Center for Pre-Law Advising for more information.   

Pre-Veterinary Medicine

Pre-veterinary medicine is not a major at UW–Madison. Students interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine are encouraged to choose a major of interest that can be pursued simultaneously while completing the 60 credits of required coursework. Students may select an academic major in any school or college to be eligible for admission. One major does not have an advantage over another with respect to admission to veterinary school. For more information about pre-veterinary medicine and planning coursework, contact the Academic Affairs Office, School of Veterinary Medicine, Room 2268, 2015 Linden Drive, 263-2525, or the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Room 116 Agricultural Hall.

PREREQUISITE COURSEWORK BACKGROUND

The College of Letters & Science recognizes that some courses that meet general degree requirements (e.g., language, math, ESL) require prior knowledge in that subject. For purposes of distinguishing between necessary prerequisites and electives, coursework that is regarded as prerequisite to courses meeting general degree requirements is considered "necessary" and not purely elective. 

REGISTRATION CHANGES

Students may make changes in their registration (add and/or drop courses, change sections in a course, or change the number of credits in a course) via their Student Center in My UW according to the deadlines published by the Office of the Registrar each semester and summer session. For more specific information about this process, please refer to Course Change RequestStudents are strongly encouraged to check their current registration and verify they are properly enrolled in the correct courses using My UW. For general questions about this process, contact your undergraduate advisor or L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services at 608-262-0617.

Students who enroll for a course must either complete the course or drop it by the deadline for dropping courses.

Repeat of College Courses Not For Credit (Retaking Passed College-Level Courses on a Refresher Basis)

Credit will not be granted for the same course twice. Students who wish to refresh their knowledge may repeat courses, but not for credit. All instances of that course will calculate in the semester GPA and in the university cumulative GPA. Repeated courses do not calculate in L&S requirements for quality of work (GPA minimums for Intermediate/Advanced work and GPA requirements in the major).

Credits carried on a refresher basis count toward the maximum credits permitted each term. Grades in refresher-basis courses count only in the university grade point average, which may be significant in determining a student's probationary status and eligibility to continue. Repeating a course will not remove the prior grade(s) earned for that course from the student's record. Please refer to retaking a course at UW-Madison.

Transfer students must be particularly careful to avoid taking courses on the Madison campus that duplicate courses taken at another institution. Credit will not be given twice for the same or similar courses, nor will credit be given for a lower level course in a sequence if students have already received credit for a higher level course in that sequence (e.g., a student who has received credit for Math 221 could not take Math 112 for credit). Students should carefully check the Evaluation of Transfer Credits prepared by the Office of Admissions and Recruitment and should consult an advisor or academic dean before enrolling.

First-year students (freshmen) should also be mindful of the fact that they will not receive credit again for any course(s) they have already received credit for via AP or college courses they took during high school and transferred to UW–Madison.

REPEAT OF HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE COURSEWORK FOR CREDIT

Students who enter the College of Letters & Science with degree credit for academic work will not receive additional degree credit for repeating that course, for taking an equivalent course, or for taking a lower-level course in a sequence after completing a higher course in that sequence (e.g., a student who has received credit for Math 221 could not take Math 112 for credit). See retaking a course at UW-Madison for more information.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal from school means dropping all courses currently in progress for the term in which the withdrawal is processed. Before the first day of classes in a term, students may remove themselves from classes by dropping all of their courses via My UW–Madison.   Detailed information about the withdrawal process for L&S undergraduates can be found at withdrawing from semester/term.

After the first day of classes and through the withdrawal deadline published in the Deadlines at a Glance section on the registrar's website (Office of the Registrar), L&S undergraduate students may cancel their enrollment (withdraw from the term) by going to their Student Center in My UW and accessing the Term Withdrawal tab under Course Enrollment.   For more detailed information, refer to canceling your enrollment -withdrawals.  Additional information about the withdrawal process can be found at withdrawing from UW-Madison.  

Students who find it necessary may withdraw at any time during the first 12 weeks of a semester without needing special permission to return for a later term. Summer deadlines for withdrawal are published in the summer by the Office of the Registrar. Students are encouraged to confer with a dean regarding the possible effects of withdrawal upon their academic work.

Students who have neglected their classes, or who have earned unsatisfactory grades, or who have a pattern of withdrawals may need permission of an academic dean to return at a later date.

Letters & Science undergraduate students wishing to withdraw after the deadline must obtain permission from an academic dean by setting up an individual appointment through L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services (608-262-0617). Failure to obtain this permission results in the recording of Failures for all courses.

Credits

CREDIT LOAD

Full-time student status (12–18 credits). The usual study load of a student is about 15 credits per semester/term, with an ordinary range of 12 to 18 credits. Please note that international students and athletes must be enrolled for a minimum of 12 credits in the fall and spring semesters/terms. For more information, please contact International Student Services (608-262-2044) or the Fetzer Student Athlete Academic Center (608-262-1787).

  • For students receiving financial aid, federal regulations require any student receiving financial assistance to maintain academic progress and be working toward a degree. See satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for more details.

Light load (fewer than 12 credits). A program of fewer than 12 credits may be carried without the specific authorization of an academic dean. However, students are encouraged to consult their undergraduate advisor or an academic dean regarding the decision to carry a light load. A light load may affect a student's eligibility for financial aid (including Social Security and Veterans' benefits), dependent health insurance, international student visa status, University Housing accommodations, or athletic eligibility.  Several terms with a courseload of fewer than 12 credits will also have an impact on a student's graduation progress.

Heavy load (19 or 20 credits). Students who have a cumulative GPA of 3.000 or better at the University of Wisconsin–Madison may enroll for 19 or 20 credits during the fall or spring term with permission from an academic dean in L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services. Additional fees per credit are assessed for all credits above 18. Under no circumstances may a student carry more than 20 credits in either the fall or spring term. 

  • See credit overload/heavy program for more information.
  • L&S students who wish to take an overload and qualify to take 19 or 20 credits should fill out the Credit Overload Request. For more assistance, please stop by 110 Ingraham Hall, or call 608-262-0617 during regular business hours.

Summer Sessions Credit Load (a maximum of 12 credits). In general a student may carry  one (1) credit per week of instruction during the summer session. The overall limit for summer work is 12 credits (or 13 with special permission). The credit limit per summer session is the number of weeks of the session. Thus, a student can earn only 3 credits in a 3-week summer session. A student needs permission from an academic dean to carry one (1) additional credit per weeks in a session (e.g., four (4) credits in a 3-week session). An academic dean's permission usually requires a 3.000 cumulative GPA.

Students must carry courses for the number of credits assigned to the courses in the Guide.

For more information regarding credit load, see common credit load for L&S undergraduate students.

CREDIT BY COURSE EXAMINATION/RETROACTIVE CREDITS (Retrocredits)

The College of Letters & Science will award degree credit for foreign language work successfully completed in high school under certain circumstances and if an additional foreign language course is taken at UW–Madison.  In no case can a student earn retroactive credits simply by taking a placement test or other exam.  A student must take the appropriate UW–Madison language class at UW–Madison to earn retroactive credits.

Students who qualify for retrocredits after completing the appropriate language course on the UW–Madison campus will automatically receive retrocredits approximately two to three months after all grades have been posted for all students. This benefit is available to freshmen (first-year students), and can be exercised when the following conditions are met:

  • The course must be a student's first course at the college level in the language. This does not include college-level coursework taken prior to graduating from high school, but does include courses transferred from another institution where a student was working towards an undergraduate degree or coursework a student completed after graduating from high school.
  • The course must be designated appropriate for earning retroactive credits.  These courses are designated with the Foreign Language Level attribute of 2nd ,3rd, 4th, and 5th semester language course in the Guide under Courses (see course designation).   Course designed in the Guide as Frgn Lang - 1st semester language course are not eligible for retrocredits.
  • A student must take the course before he/she has earned 30 degree credits. This does not include AP, CLEP, IB, or other college credit earned in high school, nor does it include retroactive credits earned in another language. It does include courses transferred from another institution where you were working toward a degree.
  • A student must earn a B or better in the class.

If a student meets all of the conditions listed above, retroactive credits should appear automatically on a student's transcript by the beginning of the following semester (e.g., if the language was completed in the fall term, the retroactive credits should appear on a student's record by the beginning of the spring term). If retroactive credits do not appear on a qualified student's records by the end of the fourth week of the following term, the student should fill out a Retroactive Language Request Form and submit that form to the office of the academic dean at the student's particular school or college. For students earning an undergraduate degree in the College of Letters & Science, the form should be delivered to L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services.  Non-L&S degree-seeking candidates should speak with the undergraduate academic service unit in the school or college for more guidance.

  • Retroactive credits (retrocredits) will not automatically be posted for students who have already earned retrocredits. If a student is still eligible to earn retrocredits and wishes to receive retrocredits for another language(s), the student will need to fill out the Retroactive Language Request Form and deliver it to the L&S Academic Deans' Services Office in 110 Ingraham Hall if the student is an L&S undergraduate. For further information, contact L&S Academic Deans' Services at 608-262-0617.

Please note:

  • Native speakers of a language are not eligible to earn retroactive credits in that language.
  • Students can earn retrocredits in more than one language as long as they are within the 29-credit limit and meet the other requirements listed above to earn retrocredits.
    • Retroactive credits (retrocredits) will not be posted automatically for students who have already earned retrocredits.   If students are still eligible to earn retrocredits and wishes to receive retrocredits for another language(s),  they will need to fill out the Retroactive Language Credit Request Form and deliver it to L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services in 110 Ingraham Hall to be reviewed if they are an L&S undergraduate student.
  • Retrocredits can only be earned for the first four semesters/levels of a language sequence.  For example, a student who tests into SPANISH 311 can earn a maximum of sixteen retrocredits (SPANISH 101, SPANISH 102, SPANISH 203, and SPANISH 204).   The maximum number of credits earned will be impacted if the student already has AP credits for a particular course. 
  • Effective summer 2019, the maximum number of retrocredits a student can earn in the Chinese/Japanese language sequence is sixteen (16) credits.   For example, a student who tests into ASIALANG 301 and successfully completes this course with a grade of B or better can earn a maximum of sixteen (16) retrocredits (ASIALANG 101, ASIALANG 102, ASIALANG 201, and ASIALANG 202). 
  • UW–Madison will honor retroactive credits earned at another UW System institution provided that these credits were earned according to UW–Madison policy.  Students will need to work with the Office of Admissions and Recruitment at UW–Madison to make sure the retrocredits from the other institution get posted to their official UW–Madison records.

For more information about retroactive credits, refer to L&S retrocredit requirements and information.

CREDIT BY DEPARTMENTAL EXAMINATION

The College of Letters & Science allows degree credit, as well as placement credit, for the mastery of some L&S coursework as demonstrated by appropriate achievement tests. The intent of these examinations is to increase opportunities for obtaining degree credit for college-level work done in high school or elsewhere.

Credit may be earned on the basis of an examination given by a department when a student has demonstrated possession of knowledge equivalent to what would be learned in a specific course taught in that department. The credit given is for knowledge possessed by the student regardless of where they have gained that knowledge. For more detailed information, please see the placement and credit by exam tab in the Guide.

NON-DEGREE-GRANTING ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS' TRANSFER CREDIT LIMITATION

Of the credits required for graduation, the maximum number of transferable semester credits from a two-year college (non-degree-granting accredited institution) is 72.  There is no credit limit on transferable credits from a four-year university.    However, of the last 60 credits earned before graduation, not more than 12 may be carried at these non-degree-granting accredited institutions.  See transfer your credit to UW-Madison for more information about UW-Madison's transfer credit policy.

  transfer credits

Transfer credit can be awarded to any admitted UW-Madison student who has completed coursework at institutions accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).   For more details about receiving credit for transfer work at UW-Madison, see transfer your credit to UW-Madison.   Credit Evaluation Services has additional information regarding transfer credit at credit resources for current UW-Madison students.   Students who have general questions about transfer credits should refer to Credit Evaluation Services on the Office of the Registrar's website or contact them via email at crediteval@registrar.wisc.edu.   

Degrees

ASSOCIATE DEGREE POLICY

Effective summer/fall 2012, all new transfer students with an associate's degree from either a UW System (UWS) institution or one of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) schools that award a liberal arts associate's degree (i.e., Madison College, MATC–Milwaukee, Nicolet, Chippewa Valley, Western) will have their University General Education (UGER) breadth requirements satisfied in all undergraduate schools/colleges on the UW–Madison campus.   Students pursuing their undergraduate degrees in the College of Letters & Science may need to take additional coursework to fulfill the L&S breadth requirements.  Students should consult with their undergraduate advisor(s) if they have additional questions.

WTCS transfer students should be aware that only liberal arts associate's degrees that are approved by both WTCS and UW System Administration are eligible for this provision. Students with associate degrees in technical fields will not have their UGER breadth requirements satisfied.
 

UWS and WTCS transfer students with a qualifying liberal arts associate's degree are EXEMPT from meeting the following University General Education Breadth requirements:

  • Natural Science—two (2) courses for a total of 6 credits
  • Humanities/Literature/Arts—6 credits
  • Social Studies—3 credits
Students will still be required to meet other University General Education Requirements.
 
Please note:  
 
  • Students in the College of Letters & Science must meet the L&S breadth requirements with specific transfer courses or courses taken in residence.

Degree and Diploma information

The College of Letters & Science offers the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
  • Bachelor of Music
  • Bachelor of Arts–Journalism
  • Bachelor of Science–Journalism
  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics

A UW–Madison undergraduate diploma lists only the degree title. Diplomas do not list major(s) or certificate(s) students complete as undergraduates. Major and certificate information can be found on a student's official UW–Madison transcript.

  • If a student is completing a bachelor of science degree with majors in history and economics, the degree on the student's diploma will be Bachelor of Science.
  • If a student is completing a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in psychology and journalism, the degree on the student's diploma will be Bachelor of Arts–Journalism. 

Please note that all L&S undergraduate students are expected to graduate as soon as they have completed all of their major and degree requirements. Thus, students are expected to select their appropriate expected graduation term (EGT). L&S will graduate any undergraduate if the College discovers that a student has completed all of their major and degree requirements but has not specified a specific EGT in their Student Center. Graduation is usually based on the last term a student was enrolled and completed all of their requirements. For additional information about degree conferment, see conferral of degrees under graduating.

SECOND UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE

Students are not permitted to earn two undergraduate liberal arts degrees within the College of Letters & Science at UW-Madison.  

Students who already have a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in general are not allowed to earn another B.A. or B.S. since two-thirds of their coursework for the second degree will be the same. Thus, a student who has a liberal arts degree with a science major is usually not considered a likely candidate for a second degree in the College of Letters & Science if the student wants to come back to do a second liberal arts degree with another humanities, social science, or natural science major. However, students who have earned a Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degree might be able to earn a B.A. or B.S. since the requirements for this specialized L&S degree program are substantially different. (Also, students who started an additional major but did not declare it prior to graduating are not eligible to return as a second-degree student to finish up coursework for the second or additional major.)

Students interested in applying as candidate for a second undergraduate degree in the College of Letters & Science should complete the apply as a second degree student application at the UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment website.  Eligibility is determined as part of the admissions process.

Before embarking on a second undergraduate degree, students should clearly identify their goal(s), research options carefully, and be sure that you need a second undergraduate degree to reach your objectives. For more detailed information about applying for a second undergraduate degree, please see L&S Second Undergraduate Degree.

Second undergraduate degree students are admitted to a specific major. To make changes to their major, second-degree students must first secure permission from L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans’ Services. Students who are found to have declared another major without first getting permission will be removed from that major. Students admitted as candidates for a second undergraduate degree are subject to the L&S Academic Probation and Drop system.

To earn a second undergraduate degree from UW–Madison, students must:

  1. Satisfy all Letters & Science degree requirements.
  2. Satisfy all Quality of Work requirements.
  3. Complete at least 30 credits in Letters & Science at UW–Madison after the first degree has been awarded, regardless of whether or not the first degree was an L&S degree.  Note that the second degree must be significantly different from the first.
  4. Complete a minimum of 108 Liberal Arts and Science credits which may include courses completed during the student's first degree program. 

Exams

Final Examinations (Academic summary Period)

Following the regularly scheduled instructional period each semester is an eight-day summary period. Usually the first day of the summary period is for individual study and review, and no classes or exams are to be scheduled during this designated period. The last seven days are prescheduled to include one two-hour summary block for each course of two or more credits. This two-hour block shall be used for an examination or for other instructional activities as deemed appropriate by the instructional unit offering the course. During the two weeks preceding the summary period, examinations covering the content of the entire course cannot be given. Take-home examinations are due at the scheduled two-hour block.

Faculty policy prohibits giving or taking final examinations earlier than the time assigned in the Course Guide. Students may arrange a make-up examination at a later date only if the professor is willing and if there is a valid reason for missing a final examination. (See the Guide entry "incompletes" below.)

Students are required to attend all of their final exams.  Leaving prior to the final examination period and not taking finals will have a negative impact on a student's final grade in a course or courses. See class attendance policy for more information.

Midterm Exam Policy Information

Information about midterm evening exam policy along with fall, spring, and summer term final exam policy can be found at midterm and final exam policy information on the Registrar's website. Additional information can also be located at midterm grades and upcoming final exam periods.

  • It is implicitly understood that no exams, papers, or assignments will be required during any break period (e.g., spring break) or major holiday.

Grades

AUDIT

A student may enroll in a course on an audit (AU) basis only with prior consent of the instructor of the course. As an auditor, the student is considered a passive learner and may not recite in class or take examinations. Courses with laboratory or performance skills may not be audited.  (L&S undergraduate students are not allowed to audit classes required for their major or degree with the purpose of getting some background prior to formally enrolling in the courses).   Regular class attendance is expected. Courses audited carry no degree credit and are not graded. The credit value of courses carried on an audit basis is included in the semester/term program load for purposes of determining fees and maximum credits carried.

Courses carried on an audit basis may have an impact on students applying for scholarships or other forms of financial assistance. Students should contact the unit/agency administering the scholarship or Student Financial Services for more guidance. Students should also contact their insurance company to determine whether auditing a course (or courses) will have an impact on their coverage. See information on auditing courses for L&S undergraduate students for more details.

L&S undergraduate students who wish to change their registration in a course from a credit basis to an audit basis must do so within the first four weeks of the semester by submitting a Course Change Form (available at Course Change Request ) to Suite 101 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive.  (Course Change Requests can be accessed through an individual's Student Center in My UW under: Course Enrollment/Term Information/Course Change Request.)  Students will not be able to submit or cancel a request to audit a course after the fourth week of the fall or spring term.

  • Audited courses, noted as such by "AU" in place of a number of credits, are graded either "S" (Satisfactory) or "NR" (No Report) or "NW" (No Work).  AU is not a grade.
  • For modular and summer session courses, audit requests must be submitted by the Friday of the week in which the session is one-fourth completed.
  • Audits may affect a student's eligibility for financial aid (including Social Security and Veterans' benefits). Students should consult an advisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid for more detailed information.
  • Students with questions about their Veteran benefits and taking courses on an audit basis should contact the University Veteran Services.  

credit/no-credit courses

A limited number of courses on campus are offered on a Credit/No Credit basis. Please note that Credit/No Credit is not the same as Pass/Fail. At the completion of the course the student is given a grade of CR or N rather than a letter grade (A, AB, B, BC, C, D, F). A grade of CR will give a student degree credit but will not have any grade points associated with it to be figured into the grade-point average calculation. A grade of N will award no degree credit. Credit/No Credit courses are identified in the Class Search—Class Details page as a Grading basis of "Credit/No Credit".

FAILURES

Students who have earned a grade of F may repeat the failed course in residence. The original grade of F remains permanently on a student's record and is averaged into the semester and overall grade point average (GPA). The failure will be counted as zero grade points per credit in computing the GPA. If a student repeats the failed course, the course will appear on the student's transcript twice with the original grade of F recorded and the new grade also recorded. Both grades will be counted in determining all applicable quality of work requirements. Multiple failures in the same course all count in the GPA and will appear on a student's permanent records. See retaking a course at UW-Madison for more details.

A course failed in residence at UW–Madison may be repeated for credit at any other educational institution. However, the new grade earned out of residence will not have an impact on the student's UW–Madison GPA.

GRADE CHANGE and APPEAL

In accordance to current faculty policy and in an effort to main both equity and consistency, final term grades can be changed only because of "clerical error". Students cannot petition to improve a course grade by offering to rewrite a paper, turn in additional work, or retake a final exam (or exams). The only exception wold be if:

  1. the option to improve a grade is available to all students in a given course, AND
  2. this option is stated explicitly in the course syllabus

A change of grade is allowed only if there has been a clerical error. If an L&S undergraduate student believes a clerical error has been made in the awarding of the final grade for a course, the student should first meet with the instructor of the course to determine whether such an error has occurred. Requests for a change of grade must be signed by both the instructor of the course and the chair of the department. Students who believe they have been unfairly graded in a course should follow the appeal procedure established by the department in which the course grade was given.

The appeal procedure typically requires the student to first meet with the instructor of the course to discuss the issue, followed by a meeting with the department chair or department committee. If the issue is still unresolved after the department appeal procedure is completed, the student's last recourse would be to appeal to one of the Associate Deans in the College of Letters & Science based on the discipline of the course in question. Appeals of final grades must be initiated within the semester immediately following the term in which the course is taken. For more information, see process for appealing a grade in an L&S course

GRADING SYSTEM

The general quality of a student's work is expressed in terms of a grade point average (GPA). It is based on the total number of credits carried, whether passed or not. Semester/term grades are reported by letter only (A, AB, B, BC, C, D, F); plus and minus signs are not authorized. The highest possible GPA is 4.000, representing A grades in every course; the lowest possible is 0.000. 

For more detailed information, see valid instructor assigned grades.

For more information on the grading system, also see the section on undergraduate grades and grade point average (GPA) on the registrar's website.

Incompletes

A grade of incomplete (I) may be reported for a student who has been enrolled in a course with a passing grade until near the end of the semester/term and then, due to illness or some other unusual and substantiated cause beyond the student's control, has been unable to take or complete the final examination (or to complete some limited amount of term work).  An Incomplete is not given to a student who stays away from a final examination unless the student proves to the instructor that he or she was prevented from attending as indicated above. In the absence of such proof the grade reported will be an F. Even when a student can provide verifiable documentation, a student may still earn a grade of F if the quality of the student's work convinces the instructor that the student cannot successfully pass the course.

Any subject taken by an L&S undergraduate student marked Incomplete must be completed by the end of the fourth week of classes of the student's next semester/term in residence at the University (exclusive of summer sessions) or it will lapse into a Failure. If an instructor grants an extended incomplete (EI), a grade change will need to be filed by the instructor, approved by the chairperson of the department, and forwarded to L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services in 110 Ingraham Hall.  In such cases the grade of I is replaced with the grade of extended incomplete (EI).

NOTE:  Extended Incompletes (EI) must be removed and replaced with the final grade by the last day of classes prior to the start of final exams or they will lapse into Failures.  The last day of classes is defined as the last day of  instruction for a given term prior to the start of study day and final exams.

Incompletes incurred in the last semester in residence at UW–Madison may not be removed after five years of absence from the University without special advance permission from L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services. Such Incompletes must remain on the record with grades of permanent incomplete (PI) and do not lapse into failures.

If a student enrolls with an Incomplete grade from a previous semester and is dropped later in the term because the Incomplete has lapsed to an F or has been changed to a low grade, the student will be withdrawn with an effective date within the refund period closest to the time of the student's actual withdrawal if the student has not been granted permission to continue by an L&S academic dean.

For further information, see UW-Madison incomplete (I) grade information on the L&S website and incompletes on the registrar's website.

NO WORK GRADE

Students will receive a grade of No Work (NW) on their official records if they enrolled in a course and then never attended. Instructors may award this grade only when the instructor has no evidence that the student ever attended or submitted any work. Any student who does attend for part of the semester/term and then stops participating is not eligible to receive a grade of NW. The No Work notation does not have an impact on a student's semester/term or cumulative GPA. For more information, see valid instructor assigned grades.

A course failed in residence at UW–Madison may be repeated for credit at any other educational institution; however the new grade earned out of residence will not have an impact on the student's UW–Madison grade point average (GPA).

PASS/FAIL

Any L&S undergraduate student in good academic standing is eligible to take one course per term/semester on a pass/fail (S/U) basis.  For the College of Letters & Science, good academic standing means that a student does not have one of the following statuses: 

  • probation
  • strict probation
  • continued probation
  • continued strict probation
  • dropped status

For information about probation, see academic probation and drop.  

  • Undergraduates may carry only one course on a pass/fail basis per term (fall, spring, summer) and a maximum of sixteen (16) credits during their entire undergraduate career.   
  • First-semester freshmen and transfer students without an established UW–Madison GPA are eligible to take one (1) course for pass/fail in their first term at UW–Madison.
  • Summer sessions collectively count as a single term. Thus, a student can only take one (1) course on a pass/fail basis during the summer.

Any student who takes a pass/fail course must earn at least a C to receive credit for the course. Final grades for these courses will be indicated as satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) without any computation of grade points for those courses into the semester or cumulative grade point average. The grade of S shall be recorded by the registrar in place of instructors' grades of A, AB, B, BC, or C. The grade of U will be recorded by the Registrar's Office in place of instructors' grades of D or F. Neither the S nor the U is used in computing the grade point average. The pass/fail option is the student's choice and the instructor reports the grade without knowing whether or not the student is taking the course on a pass/fail basis.

For more information, see taking a UW-Madison course pass/fail.

Notes:

  • Students must submit (or cancel) pass/fail requests via their Student Center link by the end of the fourth (4th) week of fall and spring terms. (For modular and summer session courses, pass/fail requests must be submitted by the Friday of the week in which the session is one-fourth completed).
  • Students may not cancel or add the pass/fail option after the deadline for submitting Pass/Fail Option Forms.
  • All requests to add or cancel pass/fail must be submitted via the Course Change request in the Student Center by the appropriate deadline.
  • For more information about the pass/fail process, refer to Pass/Fail Option.
  • Students cannot cancel a Pass/Fail request after the deadline if they need the course(s) to fulfill a major or degree requirement at a later date. It is the student's responsibility to determine whether or not they can take a course on a pass/fail basis.
  • Pass/Fail and Course Change Requests can be accessed through a student's Student Center in My UW–Madison by clicking Course Change Request via Course Enrollment, Term Information. For more information about requesting the pass/fail option, refer to  pass/fail option on the Registrar's Office website.
  • Only elective work may be carried on a pass/fail basis. Thus, pass/fail cannot be declared or used to fulfill the following requirements:
    • Breadth (humanities, literature, social science, natural science)
    • Foreign language (prior to fulfilling the B.A. or B.S. foreign language requirement)
    • Math
    • Ethnic Studies
    • General Education Requirements (Comm A, Comm B, QR A, QR B)
    • Major requirements
    • Senior Thesis coursework (i.e., 681, 682, 691, 692)
  • L&S undergraduates may take courses in their major or major department for pass/fail.  However, any coursework taken for pass/fail in the major or major department will not count toward fulfilling any requirements.  Students are strongly encouraged not to take coursework in their major program without first consulting with their undergraduate advisor.
  • Courses carried on a pass/fail basis cannot fulfill any other college requirements except for the 60 intermediate/advanced level credits and 108 Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) credits needed to graduate.
  • Directed Study courses may not be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  • Pass/fail work may not be used as part of the coursework offered in satisfaction of the individual major.
  • Students may not take foreign language courses on a pass/fail basis until the foreign language requirement for their degree program has been satisfied.
  • Students pursuing certificate programs should check with the certificate advisor(s) about policies concerning pass/fail for certificate program courses since many certificate programs do not allow coursework to be taken for pass/fail.

For further information, deadline dates, and instructions for registration stop by the College of Letters & Science Academic Deans' Services in Suite 101 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, or call 608-262-0617 for more assistance.

Q GRADE

A "Q" grade is assigned by an instructor when there is a discrepancy between the work completed by a student and the student's official registration. The Office of the Registrar will post the temporary Q grade/mark to a student's record until the discrepancy is resolved. A student will receive a Q in one of three situations:

  1. a student registers for a variable-credit course and completes the work that is appropriate for a different number of credits;
  2. a student registers for Honors credit and does not complete the Honors portion of the work; and
  3. a student does not register for Honors but completes the Honors work appropriate for an Honors designation.

In each of the three cases listed above, students will need to work with the instructor to correct the situation before a grade can be reported. The correct grade will need to be forwarded by the instructor to L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services. For more information, see valid instructor assigned grades.

Major Information

ACCEPTANCE INTO A MAJOR

A department, program, or school may specify prerequisites for acceptance into a major, such as a minimum grade point average or completion of particular courses with a minimum grade. Students are responsible for reviewing the quality requirements for a particular major or school, as outlined in the degrees/majors/certificates section of this Guide.  Students should consult the department advisor for information. Only the department can make an exception. Students not accepted in a major or special degree program must select a different major.

completing an l&s major for  non-l&s undergraduates

Non L&S undergraduate students in other schools/colleges on the UW–Madison campus (e.g., Business, CALS, Education, Engineering, etc.) are eligible to complete a major in L&S without having to complete L&S degree requirements if they receive permission from their home school/college. The process for obtaining special permission to pursue an L&S major varies based on the student's home school/college. Non L&S undergraduate students must contact the appropriate L&S major department/unit about the steps they will need to take in order to declare an additional major and fulfill all of the major requirements within the College of Letters & Science.

COMPLETING A MAJOR OUTSIDE L&S

L&S undergraduate students must complete at least one (1) major in the College of Letters & Science. Currently, L&S undergraduates may declare one (1) approved additional major outside of L&S. The four options for L&S undergraduates are:

These are currently the only non-L&S majors that L&S students may declare. L&S undergraduate students may complete these additional majors unless their degree or major explicitly states that their students cannot pursue an additional major or program. (Students pursuing the Bachelors in Landscape Architecture special degree are not permitted to pursue an additional major either within L&S or within the School of Education.) Please note that an L&S undergraduate student must first declare a major in L&S before being eligible to declare one of the approved non-L&S majors. A student earning an L&S undergraduate degree cannot graduate within L&S with only an approved non-L&S major.

The following policies apply to L&S students with an additional non-L&S major.

  • At this time, only the three (3) School of Education majors and one (1) College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) major listed above are available for L&S undergraduates to pursue outside the College of Letters & Science. Additional  majors in a school/college other than CALS, the School of Education or the College of Letters & Science may not be declared.
  • Prior to declaring one of the four approved majors, an L&S student must have already declared at least one (1) L&S major.  
  • In order to graduate, an L&S undergraduate must complete at least one L&S major in addition to all other L&S degree requirements. A student cannot earn an L&S undergraduate degree if the student cancels his/her L&S major(s) after completing the requirements for the additional non-L&S major. 
  • L&S will not delay graduating students who have not completed the requirements for majors outside of L&S. Thus, students with these additional majors outside L&S will be graduated at the end of the semester/term in which they complete their L&S requirements, even if the CALS or School of Education major requirements have not been completed. 
  • Any courses required for the non-L&S major that are not designated as Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) courses will not count toward satisfying the requirement that students complete 108 credits in Liberal Arts and Science.
  • Students may elect to count these credits among the allowed 12 free elective credits in the degree but should also be mindful of the fact that these courses will not count toward fulfilling breadth or level within L&S.
  • An exception will not be made to count non Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) courses for breadth and level for courses required to complete a non-L&S major even if the student receives permission to pursue the additional non-L&S major.  
  • An L&S student who will be graduated without completing their declared CALS or School of Education major should work with their advisor in CALS or the School of Education to determine whether options are available to them to finish up their additional  major in CALS or Education. 

Students interested in completing an additional major outside the College of Letters & Science other than the approved majors above must first consult the dean's office for the other school or college (e.g., Student Academic Affairs and Career Development Office in the School of Human Ecology, etc.). If the other school or college approves the additional major, students must consult with an L&S academic dean to see if this is possible or if they will need to transfer to the other school/college to complete their degree. Students in other schools/colleges on the UW–Madison campus (e.g., CALS, Education, Engineering, etc.) are eligible to complete a major in L&S without having to complete L&S degree requirements if they receive permission from an academic dean in their home school/college.   

HOW TO DECLARE AND CANCEL A MAJOR

Students must declare a major through the department or unit administering that program. (Please note that all L&S undergraduate students are required to declare at least one L&S major by the time they have 86 degree credits.) Students should speak with the advisor for the major/certificate/special degree program to determine their eligibility to declare and the process for declaring the major.  If a student does not plan on completing the requirements for a declared major, the student must return to that department or unit office to cancel the major. Currently L&S undergraduate students may have as many majors as they wish, but they must go to the academic department/unit administering the major in order to declare each major or cancel any major they do not plan to complete. Additional information can be found at how to declare a major in L&S.

Students pursuing an undergraduate degree in Letters & Science must complete the University General Education Requirements (GER) and the following L&S requirements:

Foreign Language
Mathematics
Breadth
Depth
Major Study
Requirements that apply to all majors
Acceptance as a major
Mastery of intermediate/advanced work
Residence requirement in the major
Residence requirements
Quality of work requirements

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

The study of a foreign language contributes in an important way to a broad education for today's students, who live in a world where the overwhelming majority of people do not speak or read English and where much of the knowledge that is disseminated may never appear in English. Knowledge of a foreign language is important for an appreciation of the culture of the people using that language, and it also helps students to understand the structure and complexities of their own native language. Students with sufficient preparation may be able to use the foreign language for study in their chosen discipline.

To be admitted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, students must have completed the second-year level of a single foreign language (or American Sign Language) in high school. On extremely rare occasions, students may be admitted with a foreign language deficiency, but they will be required to make up that deficiency by the time they earn their 60th degree credit, or they will not be allowed to continue.

All students working for a B.A. or B.S. degree in the College of Letters & Science must fulfill the foreign language requirement.  Students with certain disabilities may apply for a substitution to the foreign language requirement by submitting required documentation to the L&S Disabilities Curricular Accommodations Committee (DCAC) for review.

B.A. Degree

For the B.A. degree, the foreign language requirement may be met in one of two ways: (1) completion of the fourth unit (level) in one language, or (2) completion of the third unit (level) in one language and completion of the second unit (level) in another language.

B.S. Degree

For the B.S. degree, the foreign language requirement may be met by completion of the third level (unit) of a foreign language in high school, or the equivalent third-semester-level college work. 

Foreign Language Substitution

What is a Foreign Language Substitution?

The Foreign Language Substitution Package is for degree-seeking candidates in the College of Letters & Science (L&S) only who are seeking to fulfill the L&S foreign language requirements and also have a documented disability in foreign language acquisition. Specifically, the Foreign Language Substitution Package, like the foreign language requirement, provides students with information about language in general as well as the literature and culture of the people using a particular language. Courses used to meet the substitution must be approved by the designated academic dean in L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans’ Services (101 Ingraham Hall). Classes used for the substitution package cannot be used to fulfill any of the following requirements:

  • Major requirements
  • Breadth (humanities, literature, social science, science)
  • Ethnic studies
  • General Education Requirements (Comm A, Comm B, QR-A, QR-B)
How do I qualify for a Foreign Language Substitution?

The Disabilities Curricular Accommodations Committee (DCAC) of the College of Letters & Science can approve a substitution to the foreign language requirement for students in Letters & Science only with certain disabilities that make a course substitution appropriate. Extensive and very specific documentation is required from students and disability specialists. Further information may be obtained from the L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans’ Services (Room 101, Ingraham Hall, at 1155 Observatory Drive; 608-262-0617) or the McBurney Disability Resource Center (702 West Johnson Street; 608-263- 2741).

Note that an appointment at the McBurney Center is required before submitting the application. This appointment should be made no less than one semester/term prior to applying for the substitution package. McBurney Center staff will help you determine what documentation is necessary for the application, as well as assess whether additional testing is required. For more detailed information about applying for the substitution package, please see L&S foreign language substitution.

MATHEMATICS

Mathematics is a principal tool of knowledge. Algebra and geometry provide the minimum of mathematics skills that an educated person needs in today's world, and competence in these areas is required for admission to the university. Since mathematics underlies quantitative work in all sciences, and the level of mathematical background required has been steadily increasing in most areas of science, the L&S math requirements should be viewed as minimums. Students whose placement scores place them in MATH 96 musct complete it before enrolling in any Quantitative Reasoning A course.

B.A. Degree

The B.A. requires completion of the University General Education Requirements for Quantitative Reasoning A and Quantitative Reasoning B. 

B.S. Degree

The B.S. degree requires two courses of at least three credits (each) at the Intermediate or Advanced level in  MATH, COMP SCI, or STAT.   Of the two courses, only one (1) course in COMP SCI and only one (1) course in STAT may count toward the B.S. mathematics requirement.

BREADTH

Ways of Knowing

At the heart of any degree in the liberal arts and sciences is an active understanding of the variety and breadth of the many scholarly approaches to knowing the world. Every student in the College of Letters & Science experiences significant exposure to three principal fields of knowledge: the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. These broad fields of knowledge are not the same as the areas of depth that we call "majors." In fact, any particular major—or even a particular course within a major—might well involve more than one of these fields of knowledge. (For example, imagine a seminar on "people and the environment" that combines historical background, research on social patterns of energy use, and scientific understandings of climate.) Working together, each of these three fields of knowledge represents a particular "way of knowing" about the world around us.

Arts and Humanities

Courses in the arts and humanities involve knowing the world through the production and analysis of artistic, literary, and scholarly work. Some courses examine the fine and performing arts, or literature, presenting students with opportunities to interpret and think critically about these creative expressions of the human condition. Other courses help students to understand and compare religious and philosophical conceptions of humankind. Still other courses take on historical subjects, focusing on moments of change and periods of continuity for the peoples and regions of the world. These courses all encourage students to analyze the range of creative and cultural artifacts, expressions, and ideas of human existence—history, literature, art, culture, folklore—and to use that information to better understand humanity and to cultivate civic and social responsibility.

Social Sciences

Courses in the social sciences involve knowing the world through the systematic study of human society, interactions, and institutions. The social sciences explore these issues from a wide range of perspectives and research techniques, both quantitative and qualitative. Through these courses students learn how to formulate research questions and determine what techniques are best used to answer those questions—for example, exploring ideas and developing theories, conducting surveys and building models, or observing and participating in social life itself. Developing such analytical skills assists students as they approach complex problems and seek to solve them in both the workplace and the community.

Natural Sciences

Courses in the natural sciences involve knowing the world through scientific inquiry—assembling objective information that can be used to explain observed natural phenomena in a way that is thorough and verifiable. The natural sciences are often divided into the physical sciences (dealing with matter and energy, or the study of the earth, atmosphere, and oceans) and the biological sciences (dealing with life and living systems, like plants, animals, and environments). These courses often contain laboratory components that allow students to gain firsthand experience in scientific research methods. By completing this requirement, science and non-science majors alike will gain an appreciation for science as a way of systematically looking at the natural world, understanding how this process can be used to inform decision-making in a wide range of political, economic, and social contexts.
 
Together, these broad "ways of knowing" give students a complementary set of tools for seeing, imagining, and asking questions about the world—tools that enhance creative problem solving no matter what the field. And, because twenty-first-century knowledge is not neatly compartmentalized, it is worth noting that these areas of study intersect and overlap; courses in some areas draw upon strategies used in the others. Experiences in "breadth" courses can be life-changing: we frequently hear that a course taken to fulfill a breadth requirement introduced someone to a subject that became a new major, a new way of looking at a current major, or a lifelong interest. For more information, visit the KnowledgeBase help document.
 

A liberal education involves not only the nature and kinds of knowledge but also the purpose for which knowledge should be used. These considerations are embodied in the breadth or distribution requirement and call for knowledge in several fields of learning. The purpose of this breadth requirement is to ensure that a degree candidate will obtain an understanding of approaches in the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and physical sciences adequate for use both as a citizen and as a specialist.

Breadth Requirements

The L&S breadth requirement is met with 36 credits in the three broad areas of knowledge: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Please note that if a course can satisfy more than one breadth designation (such as a “Z” course, which can meet EITHER Humanities OR Social Science), students may select the course designation in which they want the course to count for the purpose of fulfilling a particular breadth requirement. However, this course may be counted only once and in only one area. Credits cannot be split between two distinct breadth areas.

Courses that carry L&S breadth credit are expected to broaden significantly a student's understanding of the world and a general disciplinary approach to problems studied, questions asked, modes of inquiry undertaken to answer those questions, analysis of research findings, communication about results, and implications for further study and/or action. Many courses in L&S carry a breadth designation; however, some types of courses may not convey breadth.  

B.A. Degree

Humanities: Students are required to complete 12 credits in the humanities, 6 of which must be in literature.  Look in the courses section of the Guide under Course Designation for course qualifications. 

Social Sciences: Students are required to complete 12 credits in social sciences.  Look in the courses section of the Guide under Course Designation for course qualifications.

Natural Sciences: Students are required to complete 12 credits in natural sciences.  Students must take at least one 3+ credit course in physical science AND one 3+ credit course in biological science.  The additional six (6) credits can be any combination of natural, biological or physical science credits to bring the total to twelve (12) credits.   Look in the courses section of the Guide under Course Designation for course qualifications.

B.S. Degree

Humanities: Students are required to complete 12 credits in the humanities, 6 of which must be in literature. Look in the courses section of the Guide under Course Designation for course qualifications. 

Social Sciences: Students are required to complete 12 credits in social sciences.  Look in the courses section of the Guide under Course Designation for course qualifications.

Natural Sciences: Students are required to complete 12 credits in natural sciences. Students must complete 6 credits in physical science AND 6 credits in biological science.  Look in the courses section of the Guide under Course Designation for course qualifications.

DEPTH: UNDERSTANDING A FIELD OF STUDY (MAJOR)

The process of declaring and completing a major—often, but not always, attached to a particular university department—provides students with an opportunity to concentrate on an in-depth investigation of at least one subject or issue, putting their tools for learning and ways of knowing to focused use. This intensive understanding of one topic helps students to appreciate the potential depth of the others. A student's work in the major reflects a continuing progression of skills, knowledge, and values, where advanced learning opportunities in upper-level coursework grow from and expand upon earlier experiences, helping students build additional depth in writing, speaking, information literacy, and critical thinking skills from the perspective of a particular discipline. In senior capstone or independent research projects, students are frequently asked to synthesize what they have learned and apply it in a variety of new situations. By the conclusion of their studies, students in the major are better able to understand themselves and their society, to develop their intellectual powers outside of a University setting, and to make productive contributions to the world around them.  (See list of L&S majors.)

MAJOR STUDY

Every candidate for an L&S baccalaureate degree must satisfy a depth requirement encompassing a specified and approved major field of study. Students may elect a department major, a major in a recognized interdisciplinary program, or may develop an individual major if approved by a faculty review committee. Students in Letters & Science may not complete the depth requirement with any department or program outside the college, except for the departments of Biochemistry, Environmental Sciences, and Microbiology.  These departments are the only exceptions.

All L&S undergraduate students are required to declare a major by the time they have earned 86 degree credits.   Students who do not declare a major by the appropriate time will have an enrollment hold placed on their records so they cannot enroll in future terms.

1

 All L&S undergraduate students are required to declare a major or be admitted into an L&S special degree program upon the completion of 86 credits (including credits from transfer, AP, test, study abroad, or retroactive credits).

Students have three choices in meeting the depth requirement in the College of Letters & Science:

  1. Single Major
  2. Multiple Majors
  3. Individual Major
Single Major

Students may fulfill the requirements of a single major as outlined in the descriptions of the various L&S majors.

Multiple Majors

All students may satisfy the requirements for more than one major, either department and/or interdisciplinary major, and have this fact noted on the transcript and other university records.

Students may complete one or more established majors and one individual major if approved by a faculty review committee. No student may earn more than one individual major.

Individual Major

REQUIREMENTS THAT APPLY TO ALL MAJORS

Major Declaration Policy

Policy

All L&S undergraduate students are required to declare a major or be admitted into a program before or upon the completion of 86 credits (including transfer credits, AP, test credits, study abroad, or retroactive credits).  Any student pursuing undergraduate studies in Letters & Science must declare at least one (1) major in L&S in order to graduate.

Major declaration has benefits that are critical to student success. Students with majors:

  • Can plan for timely graduation, which uses their resources wisely.  Graduating on time lowers the overall cost of education and allows students to pursue their next life goals.
  • Connect to the major department, gaining access to departmental advising resources, faculty contacts, and courses limited to majors.
  • Connect with other students who are pursuing similar academic interests.
  • Get timely and important information about the major (advising hours and workshops, upcoming courses, social events, student groups, speakers, opportunities, etc.).
  • "Lock in" major requirements, so if those requirements change, students are held to the rules in place when they declared.

Declaring a major is an essential part of a student's academic career, and is integral to timely graduation; the great majority of students do declare their majors by the time they earn 86 credits. This policy is intended to help undeclared students reach out to advisors so they find majors that suit their talents and interests. This policy is also intended to make the best use of both student and university resources, and to help students and their advisors create a plan for academic success and timely graduation.

How to Declare and Cancel a Major

Students must declare a major through the department administering that program.  Students may have as many majors as they wish, but must cancel any major they feel they cannot complete.

Mastery of Upper-Level Work in the Major

All students must complete in residence a minimum of 15 credits of major course work defined as "upper-level" by the major department or program. (Please see the section on Residence Requirements below for additional information about credits taken "in residence.") Furthermore, students must earn a minimum 2.000 grade point average on all upper-level work taken in the major, in residence. 

Residence Requirement in the Major (also known as the "Study Abroad Stipulation")

All students, especially those students who participate in UW–Madison sponsored Study Abroad programs, must complete a minimum of 15 credits, at any level, in their major or major department, in courses taken on the UW–Madison campus. These credits may not include retroactive credit or credit earned by department examination.

Advising

Questions about choosing a major can be discussed with department advisors and faculty, academic deans, members of L&S Undergraduate Academic Services and the L&S Honors Program office, and with the Cross-College Advising Service staff. For additional information about advising, see the description of L&S advising programs.

Completing a Major Outside L&S

L&S students must complete at least one major in the College of Letters & Science to satisfy the depth requirement. Students interested in completing an additional major outside the College of Letters & Science must first consult the dean's office for the other school or college. If the other school or college approves the additional major, students must consult with an L&S academic dean to get permission to pursue a second major outside L&S.

Total Degree Credits: 120

A minimum of 120 degree credits is required for most baccalaureate degrees granted by the College of Letters & Science. The total credits for the degree encompass the requirements detailed above, but also include elective credits not associated with any specific requirement, that allow students to explore other areas of academic interest. The total credit requirement for some special programs is more than 120 degree credits. The college allows degree credit, as well as placement credit, for the mastery of some L&S course work as demonstrated by successfully completing appropriate tests. (See Credit by Departmental Examination).

Liberal Arts and Science Credits: 108

Of the minimum 120 credits required for graduation for a B.A. or B.S. degree at least 108 credits must be in courses designated as Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) courses. These courses appear in the Guide as L&S credit and can be identified by looking at the course designation section for a course in the Guide.  Nearly every course taught in L&S is designated in this way.

Non–L&S Courses and L&S Degree Credit

Liberal Arts and Science designation (LAS) Courses. The College of Letters & Science has long recognized that courses offered by other units of the university provide valuable and appropriate learning experiences for students pursuing a degree offered by the college. The college has approved many of these courses for L&S students to take for degree credit, and after careful review, has determined that these courses are Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) courses. These courses can be identified by looking at the course designation section for a course in the Guide.   Courses designated as liberal arts and science courses count toward the L&S degree requirements, including requirements related to breadth and level.

Non-L&S Courses Required for L&S Majors. Courses taught in departments located in schools or colleges other than L&S, but which are required for completion of an L&S major, are considered Liberal Arts and Science courses. Such courses will either carry the Liberal Arts and Sciences designation in the Guide, or their Liberal Arts and Sciences status will appear in the DARS degree audit. In both cases, these courses count as part of the 108 Liberal Arts and Sciences credits required for a degree.

ACCEPTANCE To A MAJOR

A department, program, or school may specify prerequisites for acceptance into a major, such as a minimum grade point average or completion of particular courses with a minimum grade. Students are responsible for reviewing the quality requirements for a particular major or school as outlined under the L&S majors section of the Guide.   Students should consult the department advisor or the school or college dean's office for information. Only the department or school can make an exception. Students not accepted in a major or school must select a different major.

MASTERY OF INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED WORK

Students must complete a minimum of 60 credits in courses with the Intermediate or Advanced level designation, with a grade point average of 2.000 on all courses carried, whether passed or not. The purpose of this requirement is to encourage students to undertake advanced work to the greatest possible extent and to ensure that they achieve greater sophistication and a deeper mastery of subject matter as they advance through the baccalaureate curriculum.

RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT IN THE MAJOR

All L&S undergraduate students must complete 15 degree credits of upper-level work in their major and in residence. Upper-level courses are classes determined by the major program/department to be in-depth within the context of that particular major.  In addition, students must complete 15 credits in the major/subject “on campus.” These are courses taken in residence where the instructional content is provided by a UW-Madison instructor. This excludes instruction by affiliated institutions, such as those offering UW-Madison students credit abroad.  

RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT in the Degree

All L&S students must earn a minimum of 30 degree credits in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A course is considered in residence if the student enrolls for credit through UW-Madison. This would include any course that is offered:

  • By UW-Madison, in any instructional mode (in-person, online, or hybrid)
  • Through a UW-Madison administered program, either domestically or internationally (i.e., Study Abroad through International Academic Programs)

A course is not in residence when credit is earned via:

  • A course transferred from another institution, including other UW System schools or UW Extension;
  • A course taken abroad through another institition;
  • Credit awarded according to scores earned on AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate), or other approved exams;
  • Retroactive foreign language credit.

UW-Extension and other campuses in the University of Wisconsin System are different institutions and credit earned at any of these campuses is considered transfer credit and not in residence.

Senior Residence Rule.  The 30 minimum credits a student must earn in residence should be completed in the senior year (after a student has completed 86 degree credits).  This requirement intends to ensure that the student's depth of study -- which should occur in more advanced-level courses, within the major, with faculty instruction, and in areas of research -- are uniquely UW-Madison experiences.  These credits do not have to be contiguous for the requirement to be met.  Because the requirement begins with the 87th credits, students have the flexibility to take four (4) credits out of residence in the senior year without needing to obtain special permission.  Exceptions to the senior residence requirement may be granted in cases where a student is in good academic standing and has a specific need to take fewer than 30 credits in their senior year.  Consult an L&S academic dean for more information. 

QUALITY OF WORK REQUIREMENTS

A total of 120 degree credits is required for graduation, with a minimum 2.000 grade point average on all courses taken in residence, whether or not each course is passed.

The quality of work requirements establish a minimum grade point average in four specific areas that must be met to receive a Letters & Science degree. In order to satisfy these requirements, the student must earn a minimum 2.000 grade point average on all courses carried at UW–Madison, whether passed or not, in these areas:

  1. All courses carried for a grade at UW–Madison (cumulative grade point average, as reported by the Registrar).
  2. ​All courses designated Intermediate (I) or Advanced (A);
  3. All courses in the major (or majors) or program;
  4. All upper-level courses in the major or program, as designated by the major department or program, for the 15-credit residence requirement;
  5. All courses carried for a grade at UW–Madison (cumulative grade point average, as reported by the Registrar). Courses carried on a refresher basis (see Is it possible to retake a course that I have already passed or received degree credit) are excluded from the grade point average as determined for categories 2, 3, and 4 above. Repeating a failed course will not remove the failure from the student's record or from GPA calculations. This summary of college grade point requirements does not include those for admission to certain majors and special courses within the college or to other colleges and schools within the university, or to honors courses.

Foundations: Tools for Learning

For all UW–Madison undergraduates, these learning experiences begin with students satisfying the university's General Education Requirements—usually by taking courses taught within the College of Letters & Science. These common foundations cover key topics which are necessary for any undergraduate major and any prospective career: oral and written communication; mathematical and logical reasoning; and the diversity of cultures within global society.

In addition to these university-wide requirements, all L&S students must attain knowledge of a foreign language, in work that combines training in both communication and culture, so students may better understand and participate in the global community of the twenty-first century. Together, these "tools for learning" may be acquired through many different courses taught by many different departments. The key is that they are never taught in isolation, but always considered together with broad exposure to various "ways of knowing" from the arts and humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. (For more on the General Education Requirements, see Requirements for Undergraduate Study; for more on the L&S requirements, see Letters & Science Degrees.)

Letters & Science Degrees

The College of Letters & Science offers two basic degrees for students in the General Course and five other degrees for students in special programs. Students in the General Course, regardless of major, may earn either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. The special degrees are: Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering, and Physics (AMEP); Bachelor of Arts–Journalism or Bachelor of Science–Journalism; Bachelor of Landscape Architecture; Bachelor of Music; and Bachelor of Social Work. (For details, see sections for AMEP, Journalism, Landscape Architecture,  Music, and Social Work in the L&S section of this Guide.) Students who have multiple majors in L&S earn only one undergraduate degree. 

Honors degrees may be earned in all of the above (except for Landscape Architecture) upon completion of the L&S Honors Program. See L&S Honors Program for more information.

Advising in Letters & Science

Academic advising is an essential component of undergraduate education, and the college's commitment to providing quality advising for undergraduates is reflected in the many advising programs it offers. Students who have not yet declared a major are assigned an advisor in L&S Academic Advising Services Services or the Cross-College Advising Service (see below). Students who have declared a major are assigned an advisor in their department or program.

All of the advising programs share the goal of assisting students in making responsible, informed decisions as they develop educational plans compatible with their potential, their interests, and their career and life ambitions. Advisors provide much more than information about course selection and academic programs; they encourage students to ask questions about the nature and direction of their learning, and they work with students to find meaningful answers to those questions. Advising involves a process in which students learn to think critically about the variety of options available to them and develop decision-making skills that will enable them to choose wisely. As adults, students themselves, however, must assume primary responsibility for choosing their academic program and making progress toward their degree.

Academic Advising Services (AAS)

Letters & Science Academic Advising Services provides advising to pre-declared Letters & Science (L&S) undergraduate students who intend to complete a specific L&S degree and major.

We assist and support students in exploring their educational goals, learning about academic requirements, navigating the university structure, and progressing toward degree completion.

Contact Information

Academic Advising Services
101 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI  53706-1319
Send us an email
Tel: 608-262-5858
 

Cross-College Advising Services (CCAS)

Advisors at the Cross-College Advising Service (CCAS) provide personalized advising to help you develop a plan for choosing your major and exploring careers. We are here to help you make decisions about what to major in and also answer your general questions about academics and life on campus.

We’ll meet you at SOAR, and after that help you plan your future courses, talk about your academic interests and options, and refer you to other helpful campus resources. We're also here to encourage you when things are going well, as well as support you when times are difficult.

Contact Information
 

Cross-College Advising Services
10 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI  53706
Send us an email
Tel: 608-265-5460
 

Center for Academic Excellence (cae)

The College of Letters & Science Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) provides an enriching, inclusive community and academic support for L&S students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education, including first-generation and low-income students, and students of color. CAE offers a variety of engagement opportunities, including high-touch advising, tutoring programs, health and wellness events, social events, graduate school preparation, and connections with High Impact Practices. CAE also assists in campus-wide efforts to fully integrate diverse voices into the university community to facilitate a welcoming, responsive, and validating campus climate for our students.

Contact Information

Center for Academic Excellence
B47 Bascom Hall
Madison, WI 53706
Send us an email
Tel: 608-263-5068

Honors

The L&S Honors Program attracts some of UW–Madison's most talented undergraduates who challenge and learn from each other while working closely with faculty members. By bringing students and professors closer together in small classes and individual research settings, the Honors Program fosters a feeling of community even as students push themselves to explore the very frontiers of knowledge. In addition to traditional course work, most Honors students pursue research projects of their own, and many find this experience so exciting that they go on to earn advanced degrees in the nation's best graduate and professional schools.

Contact information

L&S Honors Program
Washburn Observatory
1401 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-7116
Send us an email

Tel: 608-262-2984

Major Advising

Students who are eligible to declare their major should do so as soon as possible. All L&S undergraduate students are expected to declare their major(s) by the time they have earned 86 degree credits. All declared students will be advised by the advisor connected with their particular major/program. For more information about advising in the major, refer to the advising and careers tab for each major/special degree program under the L&S Degrees/Majors/Certificates section of the Guide.

Other Academic Resources

L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services

Academic deans provide up-to-date information on college policies, procedures, and deadlines; campus resources; and degree requirements. Academic deans also offer limited academic advising and make decisions regarding exceptions to college policy. They work closely with advising staff in L&S Academic Advising Services, department advisors, and other student service personnel on the UW–Madison campus. In an institution as diverse as the University of Wisconsin–Madison, students have a wide range of values, interests, and skills. Moreover, as they progress through an academic program, their questions and concerns often change. Therefore, students are encouraged to seek the help of several different types of academic advisors during their years on campus. The university provides a system of staff and faculty advisors to address these ongoing and changing concerns.  

Contact Information

L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services
101 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1319
Send us an email
Tel: 608-262-0617

Advising in the Major

Juniors, seniors, and any other students who are preparing for, or have declared, a major or are contemplating a major in the College of Letters & Science, are encouraged to meet with an advisor in that major department. Each department has a faculty or staff member who serves as a department advisor. This person knows about prerequisites to courses, program planning for students majoring in the department, major requirements, and in some cases, general career information related to the field. A department advisor can help students make satisfactory progress toward completing requirements in the major, and can suggest courses that address students' interests and help them achieve their goals.

Juniors and seniors are encouraged to seek advice from these department advisors as soon as possible. Please note that the assignment of a departmental advisor and declaring a major in a particular department(s) are not automatic. Students must go to the department office to declare their major and to be assigned a departmental advisor for the major. Students are also advised to meet with departmental advisors early in their academic career since some majors require students to fulfill prerequisite classes and earn a minimum GPA in the designated coursework before they are eligible to declare the specific major. It is very important that students contact the major department(s) as early as possible so they aware of any prerequisites.

Transfer students often come to the campus knowing their intended major. These students may go directly to the department advisors for any help they need in pursuing/declaring the major.

Students classified in any of the special degree programs (Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics, Journalism, Landscape Architecture, Music, Social Work) may refer to the specific special degree under Degree/Majors/Certificate tab within this Guide for names of professors associated with the various programs, then consult with the appropriate advisor.

Students pursuing Honors in the Major (HM) are encouraged to work closely with the honors coordinator in their major department regarding course and research opportunities within the department or field of interest. Special departmental advisors are available to help any students, primarily sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who have decided on their major. These advisors are located in department offices throughout the campus. Office hours vary among departments. Consult a staff telephone directory for a list of department offices and locations, or see the department descriptions in this catalog.

International Internship Program (IIP)

The International Internship Program (IIP) at UW–Madison is a resource for undergraduate students from all disciplines seeking to gain hands-on international experience. IIP’s mission is to identify, cultivate and promote high-quality internships that advance the professional training of UW–Madison undergraduate students; foster global competency; and reinforce academic learning through practical application.

IIP cultivates internship opportunities around the world specifically for Badgers. IIP also identifies and promotes existing international internship and research opportunities offered by other campus offices or international organizations. Both types of opportunities can be found via the IIP database and other search resources are also listed on the website. IIP offers advising for any undergraduates who are exploring internships abroad whether they are just getting started, applying to an IIP-cultivated position, or finding their own. IIP can help with the many questions that come up related to international internships including visas, agreements, academic credit, and scholarships.

The Worldwide Internship Program (WIP), a partnership with International Academic Programs (IAP), is a program for students interning outside their home countries to earn academic credit through an online course via which they engage with other UW–Madison students interning around the world. WIP offers students interning abroad structure through academic reflection, insurance and emergency support and may help with eligibility for visas or scholarships. IIP works with students doing internships for credit or not and offers advising, pre-departure and re-entry programming for any student interning abroad. For information about scholarships and other funding, see IIP's need-based WIP grants and IIP Funding

An international internship is often located outside the United States, but IIP also promotes internship opportunities to apply international skills and interests domestically. There are many variables in international internships (compensation, duration, location, fees, credit and more) that IIP can help navigate. 

For more information on interning abroad visit International Internship Program (IIP) or call or e-mail to discuss how IIP can support departments or students.

Contact Information

International Internship Program (IIP)
261 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1314
Tel: 608-262-2851
Advising and appointments
Send us an email

Pre-Professional Study

General information can be found at Pre-Law and Pre-Health.

Scholarships

The College of Letters & Science welcomes incoming and continuing students to apply for scholarship opportunities created by the support of our donor friends. The undergraduate scholarships program provides support to students who intend to receive a degree from the College of Letters & Science. With over 63 majors and special degree programs which include journalism, landscape architecture, music, social work, and applied mathematics, engineering, and physics, the College of Letters & Science (L&S) strongly supports the role of a broad and deeply educated citizenry. Letters & Science graduates use this strong foundation to flourish in their chosen careers. For more information, see overview of scholarships.

Student Academic Affairs (SAA)/College of Letters & Science Resources

Advising & Academic Programs and Services

General academic questions: Academic Help Line, 608-262-5858

Academic Information Management (AIM)
326 Bradley Memorial Building
Provides several services such as accurate curriculum audit and degree progress information to students, advisors, and other stakeholders, as well as policy analysis & data to L&S administration, committees, departments & academic enrichment programs

Center for Academic Excellence
B47 Bascom Hall, 608-263-5068
Advising, academic support, advocacy, and community connections for first-generation, low-income, and multicultural underrepresented students within the College of Letters & Science

College of Letters & Science Academic Advising Services (AAS)
101 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, 608-262-5858
Provides comprehensive advising services for students investigating and preparing for majors in the College of Letters & Science

Cross-College Advising Service (CCAS) [a part of the Office of Undergraduate Advising under the Provost Office]
10 Ingraham Hall, 608-265-5460
Undecided students exploring options

L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Services
101 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, 608-262-0617
Provides up-to-date information on college policies, procedures, and deadlines; campus resources; and degree requirements

L&S Honors Program
Washburn Observatory, 1401 Observatory Drive, 608-262-2984
Students admitted to or interested in the Honors Program

L&S SuccessWorks
711 State Street, Suite 300, 608-262-3921
Career advising and development for students and alumni in L&S

Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS)
311 Red Gym, 716 Langdon Street, 608-890-3696
Helps first- and second-year undergraduates get hands-on experience in research

Study Abroad

About 25% of undergraduates make study abroad an integral part of their UW–Madison experience.

International Academic Programs (IAP) at UW–Madison offers over 200 study abroad options in about 60 countries on 6 continents. In addition to taking the opportunity to learn new languages, understand new cultures and see the world, UW–Madison students study abroad to complement their on-campus academic goals, strengthen their professional potential and enrich their personal lives.

Students of all academic levels and majors study abroad. While many programs include language training—from the basics to full language immersion—most IAP programs have no language requirement and include courses taught in English.

All courses taken abroad through IAP count as “in-residence” credit, just like taking courses on campus at UW–Madison, so students advance toward their degrees while abroad. And study abroad isn’t limited to classroom experience. Many students also complete internships, do research, fieldwork and service learning.

In addition to resources on health, safety, academic planning and other aspects, UW–Madison students receive the information and guidance they need to plan a study abroad experiences that fits their budgets. Many study abroad programs cost about the same or less than studying on campus, and student financial aid can be applied in most cases. 

While IAP offers programs to students of all majors, including to students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in collaboration with the CALS International Programs office, the College of Engineering and the School of Business also offer programs tailored specifically to the needs of their students. All of these program options are listed at Study Abroad.

For more information on study abroad at UW–Madison, see Study Abroad or call 608-265-6329.

SuccessWorks

SuccessWorks, 3rd Floor University Book Store, 711 State Street, Suite 300, 608-262-3921.

SuccessWorks helps students build a bridge from the academic skills learned in the classroom to the internships that inspire them and the jobs they dream of starting after graduation.

In addition to providing basic career support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers students ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

SuccessWorks Career Communities encourage students to explore jobs and fields where alumni have built fulfilling careers, then dive deep into building skills and experiences once they have discovered the right path - or paths - for them.  Each Career Community connects students to expert one-on-one advising, plus a network of supportive alumni mentors and highly engaged employers seeking to hire L&S students for jobs and internships.  Through Career Communities, students take advantage of experience-based programs that help them build skills and try out different occupations with real employers.

SuccessWorks recognizes students don't need to have it all figured out right away.  They're here to help students take their first steps, then craft their unique paths toward a lifetime of success.  It's never too early to get inspired and get started!

Undergraduate Research Scholars Program

The Undergraduate Research Scholars program (URS) is dedicated to enhancing the academic experience of UW–Madison students by providing first- and second-year undergraduates with opportunities to earn credit for participating in the research and creative work with UW–Madison faculty and staff. The program has been designed to include partnerships between students and mentors, seminars on research-relevant issues, and practice in research/artistic presentations. The many benefits of the program are found in the fluid interaction between these activities. Please refer to Undergraduate Research Scholars for more information.

L&S Honors Program

The College of Letters & Science Honors Program seeks to provide students with a small, liberal arts college experience within this large university. The Honors Program is home to more than 1,200 motivated, curious and high-achieving students, all pursuing one of three degree tracks: Honors in the Liberal Arts, Honors in the Major, or Comprehensive Honors—the highest undergraduate degree awarded by the college. In addition to an enhanced curriculum that offers small, faculty-led courses, the program also offers academic advising services; grants, scholarships, and awards; and many professional development and co-curricular opportunities. Events, term-specific deadlines, course descriptions for the upcoming semester and much more can be found on the L&S Honors Program website. We welcome inquiries via phone at 608-262-2984. The L&S Honors Program is located in the historic Washburn Observatory at 1401 Observatory Drive in Madison, WI 53706.

How to Get In

Students may apply to enter the L&S Honors Program in any semester of their undergraduate careers. Any UW–Madison Honors credits earned before admission to the Honors Program may be applied toward Honors degree requirements. Eligibility criteria and admissions procedures differ for the different Honors degrees.

Admission to Honors In the Liberal Arts (HLA)

To become a candidate for the Honors in the Liberal Arts degree, a student must apply directly to the L&S Honors Program. Students may apply at any point in their undergraduate careers provided they meet the eligibility requirements described below.

All students admitted to the university and to the College of Letters & Science are invited to apply to be considered for admission to the Honors Program to pursue the Honors in the Liberal Arts degree. Interested students can apply via an online application form. L&S admitted students receive an invitation message by email that contains the URL to the online application. Admission to the program is competitive, and space is limited.

Continuing and transfer students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.300 or above who are currently enrolled at UW–Madison or who are transferring to UW–Madison from another college or university may apply to the L&S Honors Program at any time. Applications are available from the Honors Program website and admission decisions are usually made within three weeks of submission of the completed application and supporting materials. While continuing or transfer students having 60 or more credits at the time of application to the Honors Program are eligible to participate in the Honors in the Liberal Arts (HLA) degree track, they are encouraged to consider Honors in the Major (HM) as an option (see below), since they may find it difficult to complete the HLA degree requirements if beginning that program in the junior or senior year.

Admission to Honors in the Major (HM)

Students interested in pursuing an Honors in the Major degree are encouraged to consult the department listings in this Guide and speak with the department's academic advisors, who will be able to explain admissions procedures and requirements for the degree. After officially declaring the major and receiving authorization from the department to declare Honors in the Major, students must submit a completed Honors in the Major Declaration Form to the Honors Program office. These forms may be obtained from either the departmental advisor or the Honors Program office.

Requirements

Honors may be earned in any L&S undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Science; Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering, and Physics; Bachelor of Arts–Journalism or Bachelor of Science–Journalism; Bachelor of Music; and Bachelor of Social Work). For students who complete the requirements, Honors will appear on diplomas and transcripts (for example, B.A. with Honors in the Liberal Arts or B.S. with Honors in the Major).

Honors in the Liberal Arts (HLA)

Honors in the Liberal Arts is often the primary focus for most first- and second-year Honors students. It requires students earn Honors credits in a breadth of disciplines and is meant to enrich and enhance a student's academic experience outside of the major. Students who complete this curriculum develop strong skills in communication, critical thinking and complex problem solving, which will serve them well regardless of career path. The specific requirements for the HLA degree are:

  1. completion of the L&S general degree requirements;
  2. a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.300;
  3. completion of at least 24 credits in Honors courses with grades of B or better;
  4. of the 24 Honors credits, at least 6 must be in the humanities, 6 in the social sciences, and 6 in the natural sciences; and
  5. of the 24 Honors credits, at least 15 must be "Automatic Honors" credits—that is, in courses that carry the "Honors Only" or "Accelerated Honors" designations in the Course Guide.

Honors in the Major (HM)

After formally declaring a major in the College of Letters & Science, students may opt to pursue Honors in that Major. Honors in the Major requirements can be completed independently from Honors in the Liberal Arts; they may also be completed in conjunction with Honors in the Liberal Arts (which would result in a Comprehensive Honors degree). Each academic department and program in the college, with approval of the Faculty Honors Committee, establishes its own requirements for the Honors in the Major degree. Honors in the Major is intended for students who are interested in original research and who wish to graduate with the best possible undergraduate training in the discipline. Honors in the Major is especially appropriate for students who are considering graduate work, or who want a particularly rigorous training in research, reasoning, and writing skills useful to a wide range of career choices.

Although many of the specific requirements for HM vary by department, all students pursuing Honors in the Major must:

  1. complete the L&S general degree requirements;
  2. complete the regular major requirements;
  3. obtain an overall cumulative grade point average of at least 3.300;
  4. earn a grade of B or better in all courses counting towards Honors in the Major requirements; and
  5. successfully complete a capstone experience during their senior year, typically a Senior Honors Thesis (see below for more information).

In addition to these collegewide requirements, Honors in the Major students may be required to complete additional upper-level, Honors coursework; participate in department research colloquia; and meet a minimum grade point average in all classes in the major (typically between 3.300 and 3.500).

As mentioned above, most departments require a Senior Honors Thesis as the culmination of their Honors in the Major curriculum. In departments for which a research thesis is not the most appropriate capstone, an alternative such as a performance, a professional practicum, or a major piece of creative writing may be required instead. The two-semester Honors thesis or capstone project is often the most challenging part of the Honors in the Major experience, and for most students it also proves to be the most rewarding. The Senior Honors Thesis is a two-semester (or summer and semester) effort; students first enroll in Senior Honors Thesis 681, followed the next term by Senior Honors Thesis 682 (some departments may use different numeric designations for Senior Honors Thesis options). These two courses may not be taken concurrently. The final grade for the entire thesis is assigned after 682 has been completed.

Students who intend to complete Honors in the Major and write a Senior Honors Thesis should consult with department advisors as early as possible. They are also strongly encouraged to begin working with a faculty advisor no later than the beginning of the junior year in order to formulate a research topic, which will enhance the student's potential for success in research grant funding cycles for their senior year. Some departments offer special courses designed to facilitate the organization, planning, and execution of Honors thesis projects. Other departments encourage (and some require) students to take a directed study or tutorial course with the thesis advisor sometime during the junior year. Students who receive funding from the L&S Honors Program for their thesis research should submit an unbound copy of their thesis to the Honors Program Office.

Students pursuing Honors in the Major in two majors may apply for Dual Thesis Authorization, which will allow them to write one interdisciplinary thesis to satisfy both major capstone requirements. Please see the Honors Program Associate Director for Academic Services to learn more about the application process prior to enrolling in the 681 course.

Prior authorization is needed when students intend to complete either 681 or 682 while away from UW–Madison. Consult with the Associate Director for Academic Services if this is your intention.

Comprehensive Honors

Students who complete the requirements for both Honors in the Liberal Arts and Honors in the Major in at least one department or program earn Comprehensive Honors, the highest undergraduate degree awarded by the College.

How to Earn Honors Credit

There are three unique Honors course designations, each described here:

  • "Honors Only" courses are reserved for Honors candidates. They are generally small classes, led by a faculty member and designed for substantive engagement, or discussion sections or labs reserved for Honors students in larger non-Honors lecture courses. The enrollment system will automatically assign Honors credit to all enrolled students. These "Honors Only" courses are sometimes denoted with the symbol "H".
  • "Accelerated Honors" are open to all students. Honors credit is awarded in recognition of the rigor and pace of the course. These Honors courses are often conducted at a faster pace than the non-Honors course counterparts or are upper-level capstone courses in a major that require significant engagement with the course material. As with "Honors Only" designated courses, the enrollment system will automatically assign Honors credit to all enrolled students. These "Accelerated Honors" courses are sometimes denoted with the symbol "!".
  • "Honors Optional" designates courses for which Honors is available through an optional Honors component of the course curriculum. These courses are open to all students for enrollment. Opting into the Honors component of the course is done through the enrollment process. Students enrolled in an "Honors Optional" course are advised to consult with the instructor during the first weeks of the term to determine the Honors curriculum if it is not outlined on the syllabus. Instructors either have designated Honors curricula or students may be encouraged to develop a project idea of their own. These "Honors Optional" courses are sometimes denoted with the symbol "%".

When the Schedule of Classes is published for the upcoming term, students can use the Enroll App to identify which courses are being offered for Honors and with which designation. A course being offered for Honors in a past term in no way guarantees that it will be offered for Honors in a future term.

Honors candidates may also earn Honors credit through the following methods:

  • Designing and successfully completing an additional Honors project for a course not carrying any of the Honors designations above in the given term. This option requires consent of the instructor and approval of the L&S Honors Program. To request permission from the Honors Program, students must submit a completed Green Sheet Agreement form and all supporting documentation to the Honors Program office no later than the sixth week of a regular semester, or the fourth week of an eight-week summer term. Green Sheets are available on the Honors Program website. Supporting documentation includes a formal proposal outlining the additional Honors project in up to 500 words, and a completed Course Change Request Form. Additional information is available from Honors advisors and on the Honors Program website.
  • Students who study abroad on a non-Honors study abroad program may petition to have one course (up to four credits) per semester abroad count toward Honors requirements. Upon returning from abroad, students are asked to write a petition in which they are required to reflect on the nature of the course taken abroad and explain why the course meets the desired criteria for general Honors credit, Honors breadth credit and/or Automatic Honors credit. For more details about the petition process, please consult the Honors Program website.
  • Studying abroad in an Honors Study Abroad Program. (Currently programs are available in Ecuador and Utrecht, Netherlands.) Students may earn up to 16 Honors credits. Students receive Honors credit in these cases through the study abroad equivalency process upon their return from abroad.

In all cases, to receive Honors credit in a course, students must earn a final grade of B or higher in that course. If a grade of BC or lower is earned in an Honors course, the Honors notation remains on the student's record, but the course does not count toward Honors degree requirements. If the course is retaken for Honors, regardless of the grade earned during this second attempt, the course cannot satisfy an Honors degree requirement.

Students may not receive Honors credit in courses carried on a pass/fail basis.

Advising and Careers

The University of Wisconsin–Madison can seem overwhelming because of its size and the complexity of its policies and procedures. Academic advisors help students get (and maintain) their bearings on campus. The L&S Honors Program has a team of specially trained academic and peer advisors who accompany and support Honors candidates as they pursue diverse educational and co-curricular experiences compatible with their long-term goals. Advising occurs through a variety of formats including small group workshops, individual appointments, drop-in hours and email. Additional information is available on the Honors Program website.

The L&S Honors Program encourages our students to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus. We partner with the L&S SuccessWorks office to help students leverage the academic skills learned in your major(s) and liberal arts degree, explore and try out different career paths, participate in internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

Letters & Science graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important to us that our students are career ready at the time of graduation, regardless of major or career goals.

People

Please see the L&S Honors website to find Honors Team Members, including the Director, Associate Directors, Program Administrators, and Academic Advisors.

Policies

Criteria for Remaining in Good Standing in HLA

Students must obtain a grade point average of 3.300 or higher to be eligible to graduate with an Honors in the Liberal Arts degree. As such, we encourage students to strive for at least this GPA each academic term. The Honors Program advising team will work with students on an improvement plan should their GPA drop below 3.300. Students must also make satisfactory progress toward degree requirements, meaning:

  1. successfully complete (grade of B or higher) at least one Honors course (any designation) by the end of the third semester on campus and
  2. successfully complete (grade of B or higher) at least two Automatic Honors courses by the end of the fifth semester on campus.

Students may withdraw from HLA at any time by completing an Honors in the Liberal Arts Withdrawal Form, available from the Honors Program office, and submitting it to the Honors Program.

Criteria for Remaining in Good Standing in HM

Because each department sets its own criteria for the HM degree program, students are encouraged to work closely with departmental advisors to stay on track towards successful completion. In addition to the criteria established by individual departments, all students must obtain a cumulative grade point average of 3.300 or higher in UW–Madison coursework to be eligible to graduate with the Honors in the Major degree. Students may withdraw from HM at any time by submitting a completed Honors in the Major Withdrawal Form, available from either the department advisor or the Honors Program office.

Honors in the Individual Major

To complete the Individual Major with Honors, the student must earn Honors credit in at least 20 of the 36 or more credits comprising the Individual Major and must complete a Senior Honors Thesis of 6–8 credits.  Students wishing to complete an Honors in the Major degree with an Individual Major should append to their Individual Major proposal a specific outline of how the Honors in the Major requirements would be met, including appropriate Honors-caliber courses, upper-level seminars, and a two-semester capstone project, typically a Senior Honors Thesis. The proposal for Honors in the Individual Major will be reviewed by the Honors Program Associate Director for Academic Services. This individual is authorized to determine whether requests for exceptions to the approved HM requirements will be approved.

Honors Transfer Credit

Honors credit earned at other institutions is not currently accepted towards L&S Honors Program degree requirements.

Grants and Awards

The L&S Honors Program strives to support Honors students as they pursue original research, study abroad, attend academic conferences, and pursue other endeavors that complement their learning and growth. The following funding opportunities are regularly offered. Please see the L&S Honors Program website for additional opportunities, specific deadlines and additional information about the applications process.

Welton Sophomore Summer Honors Research Apprenticeships

These competitively awarded grants provide funding for Honors students who learn more about the research process by working as research apprentices with UW–Madison faculty. Students may not earn course credit for this work. For past students, these apprenticeships often evolved into paid research positions and/or Senior Honors Thesis projects. Applications for the Welton are submitted and considered early in the spring term.

Trewartha Undergraduate Thesis Research Award

This grant enables Honors students to undertake more demanding and extensive Honors Senior Thesis research projects than might otherwise be possible. Besides recognition of an excellent thesis proposal, grant recipients receive funds (up to $1500) to cover travel expenses and other costs needed to complete the research. These resources may enable students to travel to archives or research sites, or to initiate other research activities that require special funding. Each year 12–16 Trewartha awards are granted. Applications for the Trewartha are submitted and considered during the fall term.

Mark Mensink Honors Research Grant

The Mark Mensink Honors Research Grant is the L&S Honors Program's most prestigious grant, awarded in recognition of an exceptional thesis proposal. The purpose of the grant is to enable its recipient to undertake more demanding and extensive Honors senior thesis research than might otherwise be possible due to limited resources or time. Students do not apply specifically for the Mensink award. The Mensink is awarded to a particularly promising Trewartha applicant.

Honors Summer Senior Thesis Research Grant

These grants enable students to undertake more demanding and extensive senior thesis research projects than might otherwise be possible. Besides recognition of an excellent thesis proposal, grant recipients are awarded a cash stipend of up to $3000 to cover research-related expenses. Such resources may enable students to travel to archives or research sites, arrange participant interviews or initiate other research activities that require special funding. Applications for summer research grants are submitted and considered during the spring term.

Leadership Trust Award

The Leadership Trust Award supports students as they plan, develop and implement projects designed to improve UW–Madison, the community and/or the university student body. Each year, up to two (2) students receive awards equal to two (2) semesters of resident, full-time tuition plus project funds up to $3000 as justified in the submitted project budget. Past award recipients have established mentoring programs for underrepresented students; collaborated with local organizations to improve community access to fresh, healthy and local produce; and founded an academic journal, the Madison Journal of Literary Criticism, to increase students' opportunities to see their work published. Applicants are asked to identify a UW–Madison faculty member who will serve in an advisory/resource capacity and award winners are expected to submit progress reports to the L&S Faculty Honors Committee. Applications for the Leadership Trust Award are submitted and considered during the spring term for the following academic year.

Study Abroad Awards

Up to four $1,500 travel awards will be awarded to eligible L&S Honors Program students who plan to study abroad. Students studying for either a semester or a year abroad are eligible, however preference will be given to students participating in a year-long program. Applications for this funding opportunity are available in the spring term.

Bromley Research Conference Travel Grant

These awards are meant to support students who present at and/or attend regional or national professional conferences. Priority is given to those who plan to present. The award amount is up to $500. The application process is competitive and students with the most promising proposals are selected.

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