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The Major in Applied Social Science (MASS) is completed with the Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree. The BLS and MASS are offered fully online and are ideal for returning students with some college credit. UW-Madison Online programs are designed with adult students in mind; they give students the flexibility to earn their degree while still meeting obligations at work and home. 

Students in the MASS program will learn about how Social and Behavioral Science apply to their own lives and the world around them. BLS and MASS students will learn about world language study and global issues; understanding and engaging with diverse communities; ethical communication; and broader social issues that shape current events. Applied Social Sciences explores systematic and evidence-based study of the social world, encompassing all of the political, economic, legal, technological and cultural ideas, structures and processes that humans create to live together as a society. Social science data, methods, and theories help students understand how social life works to help social life work better. 

Applied study across the social sciences, combined with integrated study of the liberal arts and sciences, is an ideal framework for identifying issues, questions, and opportunities that are important to humans, groups, institutions, and society. Students in this program will improve their skills as communicators, and as knowledgeable participants in a civil and just society. They will increase their skills and develop their abilities to create and support more effective and equitable solutions to social problems.

For more information, visit the UW-Madison Online admissions website or email a UW–Madison Online enrollment coach. They are here to help you navigate the application process.

Only students admitted to the BLS degree may declare this major. Students new to UW-Madison apply to the Bachelor of Liberal Studies program through UW-Madison Online. UW–Madison Online undergraduate programs are for those applying as transfer students (i.e., those transferring at least 12 college credits). For more information, email a UW-Madison Online enrollment coach.

Reentry students who have previously attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison may also be considered for the Bachelor of Liberal Studies. Reentry students considering applying should email a UW–Madison Online academic and career advisor for more information.

current students

Students currently enrolled in an on-campus degree program are not eligible to transfer into this  UW-Madison Online degree program or to combine this major with an in-person degree.

University General Education Requirements

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

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

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

College of Letters & Science Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS)

Bachelor of Liberal Studies Degree Requirements

Breadth in the Degree Complete:
• 9 credits of Humanities breadth; and
• 9 credits of Social Science breadth; and
• 9 credits of Biological, Physical or Natural Science breadth.
BLS Broad Field Requirement Complete:
• 6 credits of Beyond US: Global & Language Study; and
• 3 credits of Data Science & Digital Communication; and
• 3 credits of Race, Diversity, & Global Issues in Context.
Integrating College, Career, and Liberal Studies Complete at least 6 credits of Integrating College, Career, and Liberal Studies coursework.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework Complete at least 30 credits at Intermediate or Advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major within the BLS degree program.
Elective Complete elective credits to reach 120 total credits for the degree.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience Complete both:
• 30 credits in residence, overall; and
• 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work • 2.000 GPA in all coursework at UW–Madison
• 2.000 GPA in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison
Notes • Eligible courses may apply to multiple requirements unless specifically noted otherwise.
• Pass/Fail courses do not meet requirements, but may count as Electives.
• Courses with multiple breadth designations may only be used to meet one breadth requirement.
• Courses used to meet Communication A and Quantitative Reasoning A may not also be used to meet Breadth Requirements.

BLS Broad Field Requirement

Beyond US: Global and Language Study (complete at least two):6
World Regions in Global Context
Global Language Issues
Data Science and Digital Communication (complete at least one):3
Media and Human Behavior
Media Fluency for the Digital Age
Introduction to Digital Information
Data Storytelling with Visualization
Code and Power
Race, Diversity, and Global Issues in Context (complete at least one):3
Introduction into Cultural Diversity of Families
Mass Media in Multicultural America
Code and Power
Total Credits12

 Integrating College, Career, and Liberal Studies

Complete at least 6 credits from: 6
How to Succeed in College
L&S Career Development: Taking Initiative
Communicating About Careers
Internship in the Liberal Arts and Sciences
Total Credits6

Requirements for the Major

Complete 30 credits from the following:              

Foundations (complete both):6
Methods in the Applied Social Sciences
Problems in the Applied Social Sciences
Integrative Depth (complete 18 credits, including at least one course in each of the four areas below):18
Ethical Communication (complete one):
Ethics in Business
Media and Human Behavior
Communication and Conflict Resolution
Navigating the Data Revolution: Concepts of Data & Information Science
Information Ethics and Policy
Diverse Communities (complete one):
Intercultural Communication & Rhetoric
Mass Media in Multicultural America
Code and Power
Research Tools (complete one):
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introduction to Digital Information
Language & Immigration in Wisconsin
Methods of Sociological Inquiry
Statistics for Sociologists I
Social Issues (complete one):
Navigating the Data Revolution: Concepts of Data & Information Science
Information Ethics and Policy
International Migration, Health, and Human Rights
Law, Politics and Society
Capstone (complete both):6
Applied Social Sciences Problem Proposal
Applied Social Sciences Problem Analysis
Total Credits30

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all major courses
  • 15 upper-level credits, taken in residence1
  • 15 credit in the major, taken on campus



Upper-level courses in the major are course with the Intermediate or Advanced level designation

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Recognize, reason with, and combine multiple forms of qualitative and quantitative information and data that are common to the social sciences, from diverse perspectives and sources.
  2. Critically evaluate and analyze information using a variety of methods common to the social sciences, informed by diverse perspectives.
  3. Approach complex social, interpersonal, and institutional issues and opportunities for innovation from multiple perspectives, understanding them in a variety of contexts and from different cultural lenses.
  4. Use tools and techniques common to the social sciences to combine their rigorous analysis of relevant evidence to develop and defend creative insights and effective solutions concerning these important issues.
  5. Based on an understanding of the varied ways in which people experience social life and social institutions, students will collaborate and communicate proposed solutions effectively and ethically with people from a range of perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds.

This program is designed for transfer students, most of whom will enroll on a part-time basis. As such, there is not a four-year plan for this program. Please refer to the Requirements tab for more information about the curriculum and program plan. 


Each UW-Madison Online student is assigned an academic and career (AC) advisor.

Contact Information
Office of Online Student Success
Ingraham Hall
155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706


Completion of the BLS+MASS complements many career paths. Coursework designed around a liberal arts education provides students with critical thinking, qualitative and quantitative analysis, and communication skills needed in all industries. A focused study of social sciences helps graduates understand how: 

  • The social world can be understood and explored in a structured and guided way.

  • The tools used in the study of the social world can help identify issues that need attention, and problems that could be solved.

Active engagement in the career development process is a vital component of a student’s personal growth in college and future success as a lifelong learner, professional, and global citizen. AC advisors help prepare students for life post-graduation through individual and group advising. 

BLS+MASS Program Committee

Derek Bean, Faculty Associate (Statistics)
Nina Valeo Cooke, Director of Curricular & Student Services (Gender & Women’s Studies)
Greg Downey, Professor of Journalism and of Information Studies, Associate Dean for the Social Sciences Founding Chair
Amy Gangl, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Instructor (Political Science)
Melanie Jones, Undergraduate Program Coordinator (Psychology)
Rick Keyser, Senior Lecturer (Legal Studies)
Lyn Macgregor, Academic Advisor & Curriculum Planner (Sociology)
Sara McKinnon, Associate Professor (Communication Arts)
James Messina, Associate Professor (Philosophy)
Kris Olds, Professor (Geography)
Greg Pac, Senior Lecturer (Economics)
Rajiv Rao, Associate Professor (Language Sciences)
Hernando Rojas, Professor (School of Journalism and Mass Communication)
Dorothea Salo, Distinguished Faculty Associate (The Information School)
Rebecca Shields, Instructional Administrator (Language Sciences)
Michelle Szabo, Academic Department Manager (Geoscience)
Benedek Valko, Professor (Mathematics)
David Zimmerman, Professor (English)

Ex Officio        

Kimbrin Cornelius, Assistant Dean for Teaching & Learning Administration and Interim L&S OUD Coordinator
Elaine M. Klein, Associate Dean (Academic Planning)
Christopher Lee, Assistant Dean and Director, Academic Deans Services
Shirin Malekpour, Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning Administration)