Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) is an interdisciplinary program offering courses devoted to Western history, philosophy, politics, art, literature, and culture. As an alternative to scattered electives, ILS offers a set of related courses specially tailored to meet the breadth requirements of the College of Letters & Science. ILS draws exemplary, dynamic faculty from departments across campus to create courses that challenge students with a rigorous program of interdisciplinary study emphasizing critical thinking and judgment rather than passive absorption of information. Although these courses may be taken as single electives, the purpose of the program is to counter the fragmentation of undergraduate education by providing a common ground of learning.

Because ILS courses are interdisciplinary, students are encouraged to make connections between the various subject areas. They study the relations between literature and the arts; science, technology, and philosophy; and political, economic, and social thought. The content of the curriculum has been developed in the belief that historical perspective is required for a full understanding of contemporary issues. Courses numbered 201-208 progress from historical to contemporary topics, in each of the three breadth areas. Together, these courses provide a comprehensive introduction to the achievements of Western culture. Those numbered 251-372 cover interdisciplinary special topics in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, from "Art and Political Activism" to "Vietnam: Music, Media, and Mayhem." ILS also includes a course (ILS 200 Critical Thinking and Expression) in Critical Thinking and Expression to sharpen communication and research skills necessary for college work. This course satisfies the university's Communications B requirement. ILS 400 Capstone Integration Seminar, a senior capstone seminar addressing an interdisciplinary topic, is required in order to complete the ILS certificate.

Bradley Learning Community

The ILS program is affiliated with the Bradley Learning Community, a residence hall. ILS faculty participate in activities and offer courses taught in the residence hall.

18 credits from:

At least 3 credits from a 230+ numbered course:3
Genres of Western Religious Writing
Contemporary Physical Sciences
Contemporary Life Sciences
Literature and Society
Literature and Science
Pre-Copernican Astronomy and Cosmology in Crosscultural Perspective
Special Topics in Integrated Liberal Studies
Directed Study
Directed Study
Peer Montoring for First-Year Liberal Education Seminar
Peer Mentor Seminar
Interdisciplinary Studies in the Arts and Humanities
Interdisciplinary Studies in the Social Sciences
ILS 401
Research in Integrated Liberal Studies
Undergraduate Honors Thesis
Undergraduate Honors Thesis
Undergraduate Thesis
Undergraduate Thesis
ILS 400 Capstone Integration Seminar3
Additional credits:12
Any ILS course from above or: 1
Principles of Environmental Science
CRC First-Year Seminar: Foundations of a Liberal Arts Education
ILS 150
Ways of Knowing in the Sciences
Bradley Roundtable Seminar
ILS 170
Directed Study
Directed Study
Critical Thinking and Expression
Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy I
Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy II
Western Culture: Literature and the Arts I
Western Culture: Literature and the Arts II
Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought I
Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought II
ILS 208
ILS 209
Total Credits18

 Residence & Quality of Work

2.000 GPA on ILS courses and courses counting toward the certificate

9 credits in the certificate, in residence


This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

  1. Ability to integrate different types of knowledge and disciplinary approaches.
  2. Knowledge of the past and its relevance to the present.
  3. Ability to handle complex ideas.
  4. Intellectual curiosity.

Advisor Contact

Richard Avramenko, ILS Chair

Career informaton

The Integrated Liberal Studies Program encourages certificate students to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus. We partner with SuccessWorks in the College of Letters & Science to help you leverage the academic skills learned in your major 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, and we are committed to your success.

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, 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). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.

Affiliated Faculty

Richard Avramenko, ILS Chair (Political Science)

William Aylward (Classics)

Florence Hsia (History of Science)

Catherine Jackson (History of Science)

Daniel Kapust (Political Science)

Laura McClure (Classics)

Cathy Middlecamp (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies)

Adam Nelson (Educational Policy Studies)

Nandini Pandey (Classics)

Kristin Phillips-Court (Italian & Art History)

Shawn Peters (The Center for Educational Opportunity—CeO)

Howard Schweber (Political Science)

Basil Tikoff (Geoscience)

Mike Vanden Heuvel (Theatre and Drama)

Craig Werner (Afro-American Studies)

John Zumbrunnen (Political Science)

"A small liberal arts EXPERIENCE within a great university" 

ILS is not only a certificate, but a community on campus. The program strives to create a place where students can take multiple classes with the same group of peers and develop lasting relationships. It's like a FIG (first-year interest group) throughout the entire undergraduate experience. 

“The University of Wisconsin needs programs like ILS to give students the indispensable liberal arts experience and I am happy that it was part of my experience here on campus." Brett Tietz (2015 ILS graduate)

“I love that the history and literature I learn in my ILS courses makes me a better conversationalist.” Paul Sutherland (2015 ILS graduate)

“I love ILS because there is so much to learn.  Through ILS I was able to trace the history of science from natural philosophy all the way up to Newtonian physics, and the impact of science on the contemporary art & literature.  I really enjoyed being able to study the humanities, and the insights these classes have provided me on the interaction between science and culture.  The program was a great way for me to study things that I am interested in, but are unrelated to my major, such as astronomy, geology, philosophy, literature, art history, geopolitics.”  Brad Glasco (2015 ILS graduate)

“The main goal of ILS is to get its students to recognize how different subjects of knowledge connect with one another. Our student-led class in our ILS capstone attempted to accomplish this goal through the topic of tattoos. By reading articles and books on tattoos, witnessing a classmate receive a tattoo, interviewing veteran tattoo artists in the field, debating case studies, and discussing stigmas and stereotypes of tattoos, we wove together knowledge from history, psychology, sociology, criminology, philosophy, and art. My views about tattoos, and people who choose to get them, will be forever better informed. I will always remember my classmates and this capstone!” Ryan Fleming (2015 ILS graduate) 

“Virtually every ILS class threatens to fundamentally change the way you see the world." Eric Schmidt, political science major

“Some of the best professors on campus teach ILS classes, and they love the program as much as the students!  How many other programs offer Aristophanes, Nietzsche and Jon Stewart in the same class?” Jeff Landow, English major

ILS offers multiple scholarship and award opportunities for declared certificate students. These are awarded every Spring at the end of the year banquet. 

Meiklejohn Travel Award 

Up to $1500

Named for Alexander Meiklejohn, founder of the University of Wisconsin Experimental College (1927–32), the forerunner to the ILS program, this prize is intended to help support an ILS student in a university-sponsored or an independent program of education-centered travel or study abroad, taking place during the summer or academic year (or in the United States if the destination is remote from the student’s home or the campus).

Pooley Prize 

Up to $2,000 each (based on available funds)

Named for Professor Robert Pooley, the first chair of the Integrated Liberal Studies program (1948), this prize is:

  • given annually to one outstanding male ILS student and one outstanding female ILS student
  • on the basis of academic achievement (GPA of at least 3.0 for the 3 preceding semesters),
  • evidence of good character,
  • student leadership in the ILS program, including involvement in extracurricular activities, and
  • available for travel purposes relating to their ILS courses.

Ruth Knatz Award

Up to $5,000 (based on available funds)

Named for Ruth Knatz Gross Wisnewsky and given by her husband, Edward Wisnewsky, this prize will be given only to a truly outstanding student who:

  • is majoring in at least one humanities discipline (including history and history of science, but not social science or science); this means you may be double-majoring in one non-humanities major, but the other must be a humanities major
  • gives promise of making a valuable contribution to the humanities
  • has done exemplary work in 15 ILS credits (6 credits above 250)
  • has achieved junior or senior standing,
  • will be travelling with the purpose of strengthening their ILS course and academic purpose, and
  • has signed up for the certificate and plans to complete the ILS certificate program.