Admissions to the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology B.S. have been suspended as of fall 2017 and will be discontinued as of fall 2020. If you have any questions, please contact the department.

To study history is to study change: historians are experts in examining and interpreting human identities and transformations of societies and civilizations over time. They use a range of methods and analytical tools to answer questions about the past and to reconstruct the diversity of human experience: how profoundly people have differed in their ideas, institutions, and cultural practices; how widely their experiences have varied by time and place, and the ways they have struggled while inhabiting a shared world. Historians use a wide range of sources to weave individual lives and collective actions into narratives that bring critical perspectives on both our past and our present. Studying history helps us understand and grapple with complex questions and dilemmas by examining how the past has shaped (and continues to shape) global, national, and local relationships between societies and people. 

Admissions to the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology B.S. have been suspended as of fall 2017. If you have any questions, please contact the department.

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 Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.


Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison


Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non-L&S-degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)


The major requires a minimum of 30 credits.

Select at least 24 credits in history of science 124
Select 6 credits in science or mathematics above the elementary level (not to include mathematics courses numbered 223 and below)6
Total Credits30

One 3-credit course toward the 24-credit minimum may be chosen from approved courses in related disciplines. These courses include:

PHILOS 520 Philosophy of the Natural Sciences3
PHILOS 521 Philosophy of the Social Sciences3
PHILOS/​ENVIR ST  523 Philosophical Problems of the Biological Sciences3
PHILOS/​MED HIST  558 Ethical Issues in Health Care3
MED HIST/​AGRONOMY/​C&E SOC/​PHILOS  565 The Ethics of Modern Biotechnology3-4
SOC 531 Sociology of Medicine3

Other substitutions may be allowed at the discretion of the undergraduate advisor. ILS 201 Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy I or ILS 202 Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy II may be used in place of HIST SCI 201 The Origins of Scientific Thought or HIST SCI 202 The Making of Modern Science to count toward the major requirements; ILS 271 Pre-Copernican Astronomy and Cosmology in Crosscultural Perspective may be used as a regular course in the major.


2.000 GPA in all courses that count toward the major

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level credits that count toward the major, completed in residence.1

15 credits in courses that count toward the major, taken at UW–Madison

1Courses that count toward the major that are intermediate or advanced level count as upper level.


Students may declare Honors in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology Major in consultation with the departmental undergraduate advisor.


To earn Honors in the Major in History of Science, Medicine and Technology, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA for all upper-level1 HIST SCI courses
  • Of the 24 departmental credits required, at least 15 must come from courses numbers 300–599 or HIST SCI 615 The History of Evolutionary Thought 
  • Complete one of the following: HIST SCI 180 Freshman Honors Seminar: History of Science, Technology and MedicineHIST SCI 280 Honors Seminar: Studies in Science, Technology, MedicineHonors Seminar: Studies in Science, Technology, Medicine, HIST SCI/​MED HIST  284 Physician in History (Honors) (in conjunction with HIST SCI/​MED HIST  212 Bodies, Diseases, and Healers: An Introduction to the History of Medicine), or one seminar (minimum of 3 credits) offered by the department at the upper-division level.
  • HIST SCI 555 Undergraduate Seminar in History of Science should be taken before embarking on the Senior Honors Thesis; in exceptional cases, HIST SCI 555 Undergraduate Seminar in History of Science may be taken concurrently with HIST SCI 681 Senior Honors Thesis.
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in HIST SCI 681 Senior Honors Thesis and HIST SCI 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits.

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. (Define important historical questions) Pose a historical question and explain its academic and public implications.
  2. (Define important historical questions) Using appropriate research procedures and aids, find the secondary resources in history and other disciplines available to answer a historical question.
  3. (Define important historical questions) Evaluate the evidentiary and theoretical bases of pertinent historical conversations in order to highlight opportunities for further investigation.
  4. (Collect and analyze evidence) Identify the range and limitations of sources available to engage the historical problem under investigation.
  5. (Collect and analyze evidence) Examine the context in which sources were created, search for chronological and other relationships among them, and assess the sources in light of that knowledge.
  6. (Collect and analyze evidence) Employ and, if necessary, modify appropriate theoretical frameworks to examine sources and develop arguments.
  7. (Present original conclusions) Present original and coherent findings through clearly written, persuasive arguments and narratives.
  8. (Present original conclusions) Orally convey persuasive arguments, whether in formal presentations or informal discussions.
  9. (Present original conclusions) Use appropriate presentation formats and platforms to share information with academic and public audiences.
  10. (Contribute to ongoing discussions) Extend insights from research to analysis of other historical problems.
  11. (Contribute to ongoing discussions) Demonstrate the relevance of a historical perspective to contemporary issues.
  12. (Contribute to ongoing discussions) Recognize, challenge, and avoid false analogies, overgeneralizations, anachronisms, and other logical fallacies.

Professors Boswell, Cronon, Desan, Dunlavy, Enke, Enstad, Hansen, Hirsch, Hsia, S. Johnson, Kantrowitz, Keller Kleijwegt, Koshar, Lederer, McCoy, McDonald, Michels, Mitman, Neville, Nyhart, Plummer, Reese, Roberts, Sharpless, Shoemaker, Sommerville, Sweet, Thal, Wandel, Wink, Young

Associate Professors Chan, Cheng, Dennis, Gómez, Hall, Ipsen, Kim, Kodesh, Murthy, Ratner-Rosenhagen, Taylor, Ussishkin

Assistant Professors Brown, Callaci, Chamedes, Ciancia, Haynes, Hennessy, Hicks, Iber, Jackson, Kinzley, Lapina, Nelson, Whiting

Teaching Associates Carlsson, Cullinane, Keyser