The mission of Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) is to provide an integrated exploration of the great themes of human inquiry and expression in scientific, literary, political, economic, historical and artistic thought. 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 201-206 progress from historical to contemporary topics in each of the three core areas. Those numbered 250 and above cover interdisciplinary special topics in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, including "Magical Realism," "Modern Jewish Thought," and "Machiavelli and His World." 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.


There are no prerequisites for declaring the Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) certificate. Students interested in declaring the ILS certificate should contact the ILS Academic Advisor as early as possible to plan the required coursework.


The certificate in Integrated Liberal Studies consists of two Core ILS courses, one additional ILS course, another non-ILS course from an approved list, and the ILS Capstone Experience seminar.   

A total of 15 credits are required, of which 6 are in Core ILS courses, 3 in Integrative Breadth, 3 in Integrative Diversity, and 3 in the Capstone Experience.

Core ILS courses 

Complete any two of the following core ILS courses:6
ILS 200 Critical Thinking and Expression3
ILS 201 Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy I3
or HIST SCI 201 The Origins of Scientific Thought
ILS 202 Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy II3
or HIST SCI 202 The Making of Modern Science
ILS 203 Western Culture: Literature and the Arts I3
ILS 204 Western Culture: Literature and the Arts II3-4
ILS 205 Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought I3
ILS 206 Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought II3

Integrative Breadth

Excluding any ILS courses used towards the required Core ILS courses above, complete one additional ILS course from the following:3
ILS 110 First-year Topics Seminar in Integrated Liberal Studies3
ILS/​ENVIR ST  126 Principles of Environmental Science4
ILS 138
& ILS 139

ILS 153 Ways of Knowing in the Sciences4
ILS 200 Critical Thinking and Expression3
ILS 201 Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy I3
or HIST SCI 201 The Origins of Scientific Thought
ILS 202 Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy II3
or HIST SCI 202 The Making of Modern Science
ILS 203 Western Culture: Literature and the Arts I3
ILS 204 Western Culture: Literature and the Arts II3-4
ILS 205 Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought I3
ILS 206 Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought II3
ILS/​RELIG ST  234 Genres of Western Religious Writing3
ILS 251 Contemporary Physical Sciences3
ILS 252 3
ILS 253 Literature and Society3
ILS 254 Literature and Science3
ILS/​ENVIR ST  255 Introduction to Sustainability Science4
ILS 298 Directed Study3
ILS 299 Directed Study3
ILS/​ITALIAN  350 Rome: Lust for Glory3-4
ILS/​ITALIAN/​LITTRANS/​POLI SCI  365 Machiavelli and His World3
ILS/​LACIS  367 Migration and the Migrant Experience in the Americas3
ILS 369 Magical Realism and Postmodernity3
ILS 371 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Arts and Humanities3
ILS 372 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Social Sciences3
ILS/​JEWISH/​SOC  423 Modern Jewish Thought3

Integrative diversity

Complete any one non-ILS course from the following:3
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SOC  277 Africa: An Introductory Survey4
AFRICAN/​INTL ST  302 Arabic Literature and Cinema3
AFRICAN 402 Theory of African Literature3-4
AFROAMER/​HISTORY  321 Afro-American History Since 19003-4
AFROAMER/​HISTORY  322 Afro-American History to 19003-4
AFROAMER/​RELIG ST  404 African American Religions3
ANTHRO 300 Cultural Anthropology: Theory and Ethnography3
ANTHRO 424 Historical Anthropology3
ART HIST/​CLASSICS  300 The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece3-4
ART HIST 301 Myths, Loves, and Lives in Greek Vases3-4
ART HIST 302 Greek Sculpture3-4
ART HIST/​CLASSICS  304 The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome3-4
ART HIST 305 History of Islamic Art and Architecture3
ART HIST 307 From Tomb to Temple: Ancient Chinese Art and Religion in Transition3
ART HIST 308 The Tastes of Scholars and Emperors: Chinese Art in the Later Periods3
ART HIST 310 Icons, Religion, and Empire: Early Christian and Byzantine Art, ca. 200-14533
ART HIST 318 Romanesque and Gothic Art and Architecture3-4
ART HIST 331 Angels, Demons, and Nudes: Early Netherlandish Painting from Bosch to Bruegel3-4
ART HIST 346 British Art and Society from the Eighteenth Century to the Present3
ART HIST 354 Cross-Cultural Arts Around the Atlantic Rim: 1800 to the Present3-4
ART HIST 355 History of Photography3
ART HIST 357 History of Wisconsin Architecture, 1800-present3
ART HIST 360 Gore Luxury Identity Mimesis: Northern Renaissance3
ART HIST 364 History of American Art: Art, Material Culture, and Constructions of Identity, 1607-present3-4
ART HIST 365 The Concept of Contemporary Art3-4
ART HIST 372 Arts of Japan3-4
ART HIST/​RELIG ST  373 Great Cities of Islam3
ART HIST/​ASIAN  379 Cities of Asia3
ART HIST 405 Cities and Sanctuaries of Ancient Greece3
ART HIST 413 Art and Architecture in the Age of the Caliphs3
ART HIST/​ASIAN  428 Visual Cultures of India3
ART HIST 440 Art and Power in the Arab World3
ASIAN/​HISTORY  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  430 Indian Traditions in the Modern Age3
ASTRON/​HIST SCI  206 History of Astronomy and Cosmology3
CLASSICS/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS/​RELIG ST  227 Introduction to Biblical Literature (in English)4
CLASSICS/​ART HIST  300 The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece3-4
CLASSICS/​ART HIST  304 The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome3-4
CLASSICS 308 Sex and Violence in the Ancient Near East3
CLASSICS 321 The Egyptians: History, Society, and Literature3
CLASSICS/​JEWISH/​RELIG ST  335 King David in History and Tradition3
CLASSICS 340 Conspiracy in the Ancient and Modern Worlds3
CLASSICS/​GEN&WS  351 Women and Gender in the Classical World3-4
CLASSICS/​GEN&WS  361 Sex and Power in Greece and Rome3
CLASSICS 420 Ancient Texts, Modern Contexts3
CLASSICS/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  517 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean3
COM ARTS 360 Introduction to Rhetoric in Politics and Culture3
COM ARTS 370 Great Speakers and Speeches3
COMP LIT 350 Problems in Comparative Literatures and Cultures3-4
CURRIC 277 Videogames & Learning3
CURRIC/​CHICLA  306 Latinx Literacies3
CURRIC/​CHICLA  321 Chicano/Latino Educational Justice3
CURRIC/​C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST  405 Education for Sustainable Communities3
CURRIC/​ED POL/​HISTORY/​JEWISH  515 Holocaust: History, Memory and Education3
ECON/​HIST SCI  305 Development of Economic Thought3-4
ENGL 224 Introduction to Poetry3
ENGL 241 Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century3
ENGL 242 Literature and Culture II: from the 18th Century to the Present3
ENGL/​GEN&WS  250 Women in Literature3
ENGL 328 The Sixteenth Century3
ENGL 331 Seventeenth-Century Literature and Culture3
ENGL 334 Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture3
ENGL 335 Stage and Page in the Long Eighteenth Century3
ENGL 336 Eighteenth-Century Novel3
ENGL 345 Nineteenth-Century Novel3
ENGL 353 British Literature since 19003
ENGL 357 Major American Poets3
ENGL/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  360 The Anglo-Saxons3
ENGL 361 Modern and Contemporary American Literature3
ENGL/​CHICLA  368 Chicana/o and Latina/o Literatures3
ENGL 374 African and African Diaspora Literature and Culture3
ENGL 375 Literatures of Migration and Diaspora3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  427 Chaucer's Canterbury Tales3
ENGL 431 Early Works of Shakespeare3
ENGL 432 Later Works of Shakespeare3
ENGL 433 Spenser3
ENGL/​RELIG ST  434 Milton3
ED POL/​HISTORY  412 History of American Education3
ED POL/​HISTORY  478 Comparative History of Childhood and Adolescence3
ED POL/​HISTORY  612 History of Student Activism from the Popular Front to Black Lives Matter3
ED POL 505 Issues in Urban Education in the U.S.3
ED POL/​CURRIC/​RELIG ST  516 Religion and Public Education3
ED POL/​GEN&WS  560 Gender and Education3
ED POL 595 Language Politics and Education3
ED POL/​HISTORY  622 History of Radical and Experimental Education in the US and UK3
ED POL/​HISTORY  665 History of the Federal Role in American Education3
GEOG 301 Revolutions and Social Change3
GEOG 318 Introduction to Geopolitics3
GEOG 342 Geography of Wisconsin3
GEOG/​AMER IND/​ENVIR ST  345 Managing Nature in Native North America3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​HISTORY  460 American Environmental History4
GEOG 501 Space and Place: A Geography of Experience3
GEOG 518 Power, Place, Identity3
GEOG 566 History of Geographic Thought3
HIST SCI 222 Technology and Social Change in History3
HIST SCI/​HISTORY  323 The Scientific Revolution: From Copernicus to Newton3
HIST SCI/​HISTORY  324 Science in the Enlightenment3
HIST SCI 343 The Darwinian Revolution3
HIST SCI 404 A History of Disease3-4
HIST SCI/​MED HIST/​POP HLTH  553 International Health and Global Society3
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  208 Western Intellectual and Religious History to 15003-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  209 Western Intellectual and Religious History since 15003-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  212 The History of Western Christianity to 17504
HISTORY 269 War, Race, and Religion in Europe and the United States, from the Scramble for Africa to Today3-4
HISTORY 278 Africans in the Americas, 1492-18083-4
HISTORY 279 Afro-Atlantic History, 1808-Present3-4
HISTORY 302 History of American Thought, 1859 to the Present3-4
HISTORY 303 A History of Greek Civilization3-4
HISTORY 306 The United States Since 19453-4
HISTORY 307 A History of Rome3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN/​RELIG ST  308 Introduction to Buddhism3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam3-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  315 Gender, Race and Colonialism3
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST  328 Environmental History of Europe3
HISTORY/​INTL ST  332 East Asia & The U.S. Since 18993-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  335 The Koreas: Korean War to the 21st Century3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
HISTORY 340 Cultural History of Korea3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  342 History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present3-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  346 Trans/Gender in Historical Perspective3-4
HISTORY 350 The First World War and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Europe3-4
HISTORY 351 Seventeenth-Century Europe3-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  353 Women and Gender in the U.S. to 18703-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  354 Women and Gender in the U.S. Since 18703-4
HISTORY 361 The Emergence of Mod Britain: England 1485-16603-4
HISTORY/​INTL ST  366 From Fascism to Today: Social Movements and Politics in Europe3-4
HISTORY 367 Society and Ideas in Shakespeare's England3-4
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST  369 Thinking through History with Animals3-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  392 Women and Gender in Modern Europe3-4
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  393 Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction, 1848-18773-4
HISTORY 410 History of Germany, 1871 to the Present3-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  411 The Enlightenment and Its Critics3
HISTORY 417 History of Russia3-4
HISTORY 418 History of Russia3-4
HISTORY 424 The Soviet Union and the World, 1917-19913-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  426 The History of Punishment3-4
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​LEGAL ST  430 Law and Environment: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives3
HISTORY 434 American Foreign Relations, 1901 to the Present3-4
HISTORY 438 3-4
HISTORY 441 Revolution and Conflict in Modern Latin America3-4
HISTORY 444 History of East Africa3-4
HISTORY 450 Making of Modern South Asia3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  454 Samurai: History and Image3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN  458 History of Southeast Asia Since 18003-4
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST  465 Global Environmental History3-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  476 Medieval Law and Society3
HISTORY/​JEWISH  518 Anti-Semitism in European Culture, 1700-19453
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  519 Sexuality, Modernity and Social Change3
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  564 Disease, Medicine and Public Health in the History of Latin America and the Caribbean3
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  628 History of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States3
LEGAL ST/​HISTORY  261 American Legal History to 18603-4
LEGAL ST/​HISTORY  262 American Legal History, 1860 to the Present3-4
LEGAL ST/​HISTORY  459 Rule of Law: Philosophical and Historical Models3-4
LEGAL ST/​HISTORY  510 Legal Pluralism3
LITTRANS 220 Chekhov: The Drama of Modern Life3
LITTRANS 221 Russia's Greatest Enigma: Nikolai Gogol3
LITTRANS 222 Dostoevsky in Translation3-4
LITTRANS/​ENGL  223 Vladimir Nabokov: Russian and American Writings3
LITTRANS 224 Tolstoy in Translation3-4
LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  253 Of Demons and Angels. Dante's Divine Comedy3
LITTRANS 254 In Translation: Lit of Modern Italy-Existentialism, Fascism, Resistance3
LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL  255 Black Death and Medieval Life Through Boccaccio's Decameron3
LITTRANS 302 What is Life? Biological Life in Literature and Culture3-4
LITTRANS/​THEATRE  335 In Translation: The Drama of Henrik Ibsen3-4
LITTRANS/​SCAND ST  428 Memory and Literature from Proust to Knausgard3
PHILOS 220 Philosophy and the Sciences3-4
PHILOS 241 Introductory Ethics3-4
PHILOS 341 Contemporary Moral Issues3-4
PHILOS 430 History of Ancient Philosophy3-4
PHILOS 432 History of Modern Philosophy3-4
PHILOS 516 Language and Meaning3
PHILOS/​ENVIR ST  523 Philosophical Problems of the Biological Sciences3
PHILOS 530 Freedom Fate and Choice3
PHILOS 541 Modern Ethical Theories3
PHILOS 549 Great Moral Philosophers3
PHILOS 551 Philosophy of Mind3
PHILOS 555 Political Philosophy3
POLI SCI 356 Principles of International Law3-4
POLI SCI 361 Contemporary American Political Thought3-4
POLI SCI 363 Literature and Politics3-4
POLI SCI 463 Deception and Politics4
POLI SCI/​AFROAMER  519 African American Political Theory3-4
RELIG ST/​ENVIR ST  270 The Environment: Religion & Ethics3-4
RELIG ST 300 America and Religions3
RELIG ST 302 Christianity: Interpretation and Practice3
RELIG ST/​GEN&WS  305 Women, Gender and Religion3
RELIG ST 311 Sects and Cults3
RELIG ST/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  328 Classical Rabbinic Literature in Translation3-4
RELIG ST 333 Early Christian Literature: Matthew-Revelation3
RELIG ST/​AFROAMER  404 African American Religions3

Capstone experience

Complete the ILS Capstone Experience:3
ILS 400 Capstone Integration Seminar3

 Residence & Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA with all courses taken on graded basis
  • 8 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. Identify and explain how people make meaning across times, cultures, media, and disciplines.
  2. Critically analyze diverse approaches to how people make meaning in the past and present.
  3. Recognize and synthesize diverse types of knowledge and disciplinary approaches to how people make meaning.
  4. Formulate new questions about and integrate new approaches to how people make meaning.


The Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) academic advisor can help you create a meaningful course plan and stay on track as you complete the certificate requirements. We recommend that you connect with the ILS advisor as early as possible. The advisor is available to consult on a variety of topics including: declaring the certificate, course selection, exploring how ILS courses fit with breadth and general education degree requirements, campus resources, and getting the most from your Wisconsin Experience. 

Contact Information

Laura Bradley
Integrated Liberal Studies Academic Advisor
201 Meiklejohn House

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

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

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

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.

Affiliated Faculty

Richard Avramenko, Professor of Political Science; Director of the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy

William Aylward, Professor of Classics; Herbert and Evelyn Howe Bascom Professor of Integrated Liberal Studies

Beatriz Botero, Lecturer of Integrated Liberal Studies

Karen Britland, Halls-Bascom Professor of English

Chad Goldberg, Professor of Sociology

Florence C. Hsia, Professor of History of Science; Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Arts and Humanities

Dan Kapust, Professor of Political Science, Judith Hicks Stiehm Chair in Political Theory

Devin Kennedy, Assistant Professor of History

Timothy Lindstrom, Lecturer of Environmental Studies; Student Intern Program Manager for the Nelson Institute

Laura McClure, Halls-Bascom Professor of Classical Literature Studies

Grant A. Nelsestuen, Professor of Classics; Director of ILS

Adam Nelson, Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History; Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs, School of Education

Kristin Phillips-Court, Associate Professor of Italian and Art History

Ulrich Rosenhagen, Lecturer of History; Director of the Center for Religion and Global Citizenry

Michelle Schwarze, Associate Professor of Political Science

Howard Schweber, Professor of Political Science

Basil Tikoff, Professor of Structural Geology and Tectonics

Mike Vanden Heuvel, Professor of Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies

John Zumbrunnen, Professor of Political Science; Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Administrative Staff


Laura Bradley, ILS Academic Advisor

Grant Nelsestuen, Director of ILS

Beth Shipman, Program Administrative Manager

"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.

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 outstanding ILS students 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.


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 their ILS courses,
  • has achieved junior or senior standing, and
  • has signed up for the certificate and plans to complete the ILS certificate program.