Cut into rusted-steel, backlit and iconic graphics of the Badger Pride Wall – including Bascom Hall, Abraham Lincoln, the Numen Lumen seal and Vitamin D research

The biology major is designed for students with broad interests in the biological sciences. It is intended primarily to:

  1. prepare undergraduates for graduate studies in diverse areas of biology;
  2. prepare certain preprofessional students (e.g., medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry) for advanced study in the health professions;
  3. provide a broad exposure to biology for students who want a general science education as biologists; and
  4. serve as initial preparation for students who later choose a more specialized major.

The major is offered by the College of Letters & Science and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

How to Get in

Students interested in declaring the biology major should set up an appointment to speak with biology academic advisor. Information can be found at advising.

Students who intend to major in Biology in either the College of Letters and Science (L&S) or the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) may not combine this major ("double major") with the Molecular and Cell Biology Major or the Neurobiology Major.

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 Science (BS)

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 the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree requirements.

Bachelor of Science Degree Requirements

Mathematics Complete two courses of 3+ credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level in MATH, COMP SCI, or STAT subjects. A maximum of one course in each of COMP SCI and STAT subjects counts toward this requirement.
Language Complete the third unit of a language other than English.
LS Breadth Complete:
• 12 credits of Humanities, which must include at least 6 credits of Literature; and
• 12 credits of Social Science; and
• 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include 6 credits of Biological Science and 6 credits of Physical Science.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework Complete at least 60 credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
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 in all coursework at UW–Madison
• 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

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. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

Students must complete a minimum of 31 credits of Biological Science courses within the Introductory Biology, Foundation Course, Upper-Level Breadth in the Major, and Additional Lab or Field Research requirements.  Unless specifically stated otherwise, courses may not be used to meet multiple requirements of the major.  

In addition to the standard Biology major, there is a Named Option in Evolutionary Biology. Students may complete only one Biology major/named option and must declare the named option they are pursuing.

Core Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics

Complete one of the following:4-10
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Survey of Calculus
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Complete one of the following:3-4
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
Data Science Modeling I
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Total Credits7-14


General Chemistry (Complete one of the following):5-10
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Organic Chemistry
CHEM 343 Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Organic Chemistry II3
Total Credits13-18


First Semester Physics (complete one of the following):4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Second Semester Physics (complete one of the following):4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Total Credits8-10

Introductory Biology

Select one of the following options:10-13
Option A:
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
Option B:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Principles of Physiology
Option C:
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
General Botany
Total Credits10-13

Foundation Course (complete one of the following):

Students may use BIOCORE 381 and BIOCORE 383 toward both Introductory Biology and Foundation.

AGRONOMY/​HORT  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 508 General Biochemistry II3-4
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Cellular Biology
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
GENETICS 468 General Genetics 23
MICROBIO 470 Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines3

Upper-Level Breadth in the Major

Minimum of 13 credits required and must include one approved lab course. Approved lab courses are indicated by footnote. A course taken to meet the Foundation requirement may not also count as Upper-Level Breadth in the Major.

  • Complete at least two credits from either category A or B.
  • Complete at least two credits from either category C or D.
  • Complete at least two credits from an unused category (A, B, C, D or E).

A.  Cellular and Subcellular Biology

AGRONOMY/​HORT  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​HORT  339 Plant Biotechnology: Principles and Techniques I 14
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​HORT  340 Plant Cell Culture and Genetic Engineering3
AN SCI 336 Animal Growth and Development3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  362 Veterinary Genetics2
AN SCI 366 Concepts in Genomics3
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 507 General Biochemistry I3
BIOCHEM 508 General Biochemistry II3-4
BIOCHEM/​NUTR SCI  510 Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism3
BIOCHEM/​NUTR SCI  560 Principles of Human Disease and Biotechnology2
BIOCHEM 570 Computational Modeling of Biological Systems3
BIOCHEM/​M M & I  575 Biology of Viruses2
BIOCHEM 601 Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function2
BIOCHEM/​GENETICS/​MICROBIO  612 Prokaryotic Molecular Biology3
BIOCHEM/​GENETICS/​MD GENET  620 Eukaryotic Molecular Biology3
BIOCHEM/​BOTANY  621 Plant Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 625 Mechanisms of Action of Vitamins and Minerals2
BMOLCHEM/​MICROBIO  668 Microbiology at Atomic Resolution3
BOTANY/​ENTOM/​PL PATH  505 Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects3
CRB 640 Fundamentals of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology3
CRB 650 Molecular and Cellular Organogenesis3
CRB/​B M E  670 Biology of Heart Disease and Regeneration3
DERM 601 Skin Biology and Skin Diseases3
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
GENETICS 467 General Genetics 13
GENETICS 520 Neurogenetics3
GENETICS 527 Developmental Genetics for Conservation and Regeneration3
GENETICS 588 Immunogenetics3
GENETICS 627 Animal Developmental Genetics3
GENETICS/​MD GENET  662 Cancer Genetics3
H ONCOL/​MED PHYS  410 Radiobiology2-3
MICROBIO 345 Introduction to Disease Biology3
MICROBIO 470 Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines3
MICROBIO/​SOIL SCI  523 Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry3
MICROBIO 607 Advanced Microbial Genetics3
MICROBIO 626 Microbial and Cellular Metabolomics3
M M & I 341 Immunology3
M M & I/​PATH-BIO  528 Immunology3
NEURODPT/​NTP  610 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience4
NEURODPT/​ZOOLOGY  616 Lab Course in Neurobiology and Behavior 14
NEURODPT/​NTP  629 Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Memory3
NTP 675 Special Topics (Stem Cell in Neurobiology)1-3
NTP 675 Special Topics (Reproductive Neuroendocrinology)1-3
NTP 675 Special Topics (Molecular Mechanisms of Brain Damage)1-3
ONCOLOGY/​M M & I/​PL PATH  640 General Virology-Multiplication of Viruses3
PHM SCI 254 Tiny Earth Genomics - Researching Uncultured Antibiotic-Producing Microbes 13
PHM SCI 558 Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology and Toxicology 12
ZOOLOGY 370 General Molecular Biology3
ZOOLOGY 444 Neuronal Cell Biology in Health and Disease2
ZOOLOGY 470 Introduction to Animal Development3
ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  523 Neurobiology3
ZOOLOGY 555 Laboratory in Developmental Biology 13
ZOOLOGY 570 Cell Biology3
ZOOLOGY 604 Computer-based Gene and Disease/Disorder Research Lab 12
ZOOLOGY 625 Development of the Nervous System2
ZOOLOGY 655 Modeling Neurodevelopmental Disease3

 B. Organismal Biology

AN SCI/​DY SCI  373 Animal Physiology3
AN SCI 377 Integrative Animal Physiology Laboratory 11
AN SCI/​DY SCI  434 Reproductive Physiology 13
AN SCI/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  520 Ornithology3
AN SCI/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  521 Birds of Southern Wisconsin 13
ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology 15
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy3
ANAT&PHY 338 Human Anatomy Laboratory 12
ANAT&PHY 435 Fundamentals of Human Physiology 15
ANTHRO/​NTP/​PSYCH/​ZOOLOGY  619 Biology of Mind3
BIOCORE 486 Principles of Physiology Laboratory 12
BOTANY 300 Plant Anatomy 14
BOTANY 330 Algae 13
BOTANY/​PL PATH  332 Fungi 14
BOTANY/​PL PATH  333 Biology of the Fungi2
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  402 Dendrology: Woody Plant Identification and Ecology 13
BOTANY 500 Plant Physiology 13-4
CS&D 503 Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language3
DY SCI 378 Lactation Physiology 13
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  302 Introduction to Entomology 14
ENTOM 321 Physiology of Insects3
ENTOM 331 Taxonomy of Mature Insects 14
F&W ECOL 401 Physiological Animal Ecology3
GENETICS 545 Genetics Laboratory 12
GENETICS/​MD GENET  565 Human Genetics3
GEOSCI/​ZOOLOGY  542 Invertebrate Paleontology3
KINES 314 Physiology of Exercise 14
MICROBIO 303 Biology of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 304 Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory 12
MICROBIO 330 Host-Parasite Interactions3
MICROBIO 526 Physiology of Microorganisms3
M M & I 301 Pathogenic Bacteriology2
M M & I/​ENTOM/​PATH-BIO/​ZOOLOGY  350 Parasitology3
NTP/​NEURODPT/​PSYCH  611 Systems Neuroscience4
NTP/​ZOOLOGY  620 Neuroethology Seminar2
NTP 675 Special Topics (Functional Brain Imaging of Cognitive Disorders)1-3
NUTR SCI 431 Nutrition in the Life Span3
NUTR SCI 631 Clinical Nutrition I3
ONCOLOGY 401 Introduction to Experimental Oncology2
PATH 404 Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases3
PL PATH 558 Biology of Plant Pathogens 13
PSYCH 406 Psychology of Perception3-4
PSYCH 414 Cognitive Psychology3
PSYCH 454 Behavioral Neuroscience3
PSYCH 513 Hormones, Brain, and Behavior4
PSYCH 606 Hormones and Behavior3
ZOOLOGY 303 Aquatic Invertebrate Biology3
ZOOLOGY 430 Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates 15
ZOOLOGY 603 Endocrinology3-4
ZOOLOGY 611 Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology3
ZOOLOGY 612 Comparative Physiology Laboratory 12

C. Ecology

AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL/​M&ENVTOX  632 Ecotoxicology: The Chemical Players1
AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL/​M&ENVTOX  633 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Individuals1
AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL/​M&ENVTOX  634 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Populations, Communities and Ecosystems1
AN SCI 420 Microbiomes of Animal Systems3
BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  450 Midwestern Ecological Issues: A Case Study Approach2
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin 14
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology 14
BOTANY/​ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  473 Plant-Insect Interactions3
BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology3
ENTOM 450 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology3
ENTOM 451 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology Laboratory1
ENTOM 490 Biodiversity and Global Change3
ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  361 Wetlands Ecology3
F&W ECOL 448 Disturbance Ecology3
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  660 Climate Change Ecology3
GENETICS 528 Banking Animal Biodiversity: International Field Study in Costa Rica1
MICROBIO/​AN SCI/​BOTANY  335 The Microbiome of Plants, Animals, and Humans3
PL PATH 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology 14
PL PATH 315 Plant Microbiomes 14
ZOOLOGY 304 Marine Biology2
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources 12-3
ZOOLOGY 320 Field Marine Biology 13
ZOOLOGY 504 Modeling Animal Landscapes3-5
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  510 Ecology of Fishes3
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  511 Ecology of Fishes Lab 12

D. Evolution and Systematics

ANTHRO 302 Hominoid Evolution3
ANTHRO 304 Heredity, Environment and Human Populations3
ANTHRO/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  410 Evolutionary Biology3
ANTHRO 411 The Evolution of the Genus, Homo3
ANTHRO 458 Primate Behavioral Ecology3
ANTHRO 603 Seminar in Evolutionary Theory3
BIOLOGY/​GENETICS  522 Communicating Evolutionary Biology2-3
BOTANY 305 Plant Morphology and Evolution 14
BOTANY 400 Plant Systematics 14
BOTANY 401 Vascular Flora of Wisconsin 14
BOTANY 422 Plant Geography3
BOTANY/​PL PATH  563 Phylogenetic Analysis of Molecular Data3
ENTOM 432 Taxonomy and Bionomics of Immature Insects 14
ENTOM/​GENETICS/​ZOOLOGY  624 Molecular Ecology3
ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
GENETICS 468 General Genetics 23
GEOSCI/​ZOOLOGY  541 Paleobiology3
MICROBIO 450 Diversity, Ecology and Evolution of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 520 Planetary Microbiology: What Life Here Tells Us About Life Out There3
MICROBIO 525 Field Studies of Planetary Microbiology and Life in the Universe 13
PSYCH 449 Animal Behavior3
PSYCH 450 Primate Psychology: Insights into Human Behavior3
ZOOLOGY 300 Invertebrate Biology and Evolution3
ZOOLOGY 301 Invertebrate Biology and Evolution Lab 12
ZOOLOGY 415 Genetics of Human History3
ZOOLOGY 425 Behavioral Ecology3

E. Applied Biology, Agriculture and Natural Resources

A A E/​AGRONOMY/​NUTR SCI  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3
AGRONOMY 300 Cropping Systems3
AGRONOMY 302 Forage Management and Utilization3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  360 Genetically Modified Crops: Science, Regulation & Controversy2
AGRONOMY 377 Global Food Production and Health3
AGRONOMY/​DY SCI  471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  501 Principles of Plant Breeding3
AGRONOMY/​ATM OCN/​SOIL SCI  532 Environmental Biophysics3
AMER IND/​ANTHRO/​BOTANY  474 Ethnobotany3-4
AN SCI/​DY SCI/​NUTR SCI  311 Comparative Animal Nutrition3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  320 Animal Health and Disease3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  361 Introduction to Animal and Veterinary Genetics2
AN SCI/​DY SCI  363 Principles of Animal Breeding2
AN SCI 503 Avian Physiology 13
AN SCI 512 Management for Avian Health 13
BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions3
BOTANY 403 Field Collections and Identification1-4
ENTOM 351 Principles of Economic Entomology3
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  371 Medical Entomology 13
ENTOM/​F&W ECOL  500 Insects in Forest Ecosystem Function and Management2
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  471 Introduction to Environmental Health3
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  581 Prescribed Fire: Ecology and Implementation 13
F&W ECOL 306 Terrestrial Vertebrates: Life History and Ecology 14
F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  335 Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues3
F&W ECOL 410 Principles of Silviculture3
F&W ECOL 415 Tree Physiology3
F&W ECOL 458 Environmental Data Science3
F&W ECOL/​SURG SCI  548 Diseases of Wildlife3
F&W ECOL 561 Wildlife Management Techniques 13
FOOD SCI/​MICROBIO  324 Food Microbiology Laboratory 12
FOOD SCI/​MICROBIO  325 Food Microbiology3
FOOD SCI 532 Integrated Food Manufacturing 14
GENETICS 548 The Genomic Revolution3
GENETICS/​HORT  550 Molecular Approaches for Potential Crop Improvement3
HORT/​LAND ARC  263 Landscape Plants I 13
HORT 370 World Vegetable Crops3
HORT/​AGRONOMY  376 Tropical Horticultural Systems2
HORT 378 Tropical Horticultural Systems International Field Study2
MED PHYS/​PHYSICS  265 Introduction to Medical Physics2
MED PHYS/​NTP  651 Methods for Neuroimaging Research3
MICROBIO 357 General Bioinformatics for Microbiologists3
MICROBIO/​SOIL SCI  425 Environmental Microbiology3
M M & I 554 Emerging Infectious Diseases and Bioterrorism2
NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs3
PL PATH/​SOIL SCI  323 Soil Biology3
PL PATH 517 Plant Disease Resistance2-3
SOIL SCI 321 Soils and Environmental Chemistry3

Additional Lab or Field Research

In addition to the Lab requirement, complete one of the following requirements: 

  • Complete one additional lab course and at least two credits from categories A–E in the Upper-Level Breadth in the Major course lists, or
  • Complete at least two credits of directed study in a biological science discipline, or
  • Complete a two-semester thesis in biological science.2

Approved Directed Study Courses

To have Directed Study count for the Additional Lab/Field Research requirement, students must first complete an Introductory Biology sequence.  

Special Problems
Independent Study
Independent Study
Special Problems
Special Problems
Directed Studies
Directed Study
Special Research Problems
Directed Study
Independent Study
Special Problems
Special Problems
Directed Study
Special Problems
Special Problems
Special Problems
Independent Study in Human Cancer Biology
Special Problems
Special Problems
Independent Study
Directed Study
Special Problems
Directed Study
Directed Studies in Molecular Biology
Directed Study
Directed Research in Neurology
Neurosurgery: Directed in Study in Research
Directed Study in Nursing
Special Problems
Directed Study
Special Research Problems
Directed Study
Independent Study
Directed Study
Independent Study
Advanced Independent Study
Independent Study
Independent Work
Special Problems
Independent Study
Special Problems
Directed Study
Independent Study

Approved Thesis Sequences

Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honor Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
and Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis in Human Oncology 1
and Senior Honors Thesis in Human Oncology 2
Senior Thesis in Human Oncology 1
and Senior Thesis in Human Oncology 2
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
First Semester Senior Thesis
and Second Semester Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis-Nutrition
and Senior Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis I
and Senior Honors Thesis II
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis

Biology Named Option

Instead of completing the requirements above, students may choose to select the named option below.

Residence & Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all BIOLOGY and major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on at least 15 credits of Upper-Level work in the major, in Residence2
  • 15 credits in the major, taken on the UW–Madison campus

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Biology major with permission of the major advisor.  

Honors in the Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 GPA in the major
  • Complete 13 credits from Foundation and Upper-Level Breadth in the Major requirements, taken for Honors
  • Complete an approved two-semester Senior Honors Thesis for a total of 6 credits



Course also approved for lab credit


Foundation and Upper-Level Breadth in the Major are considered Upper-Level for purposes of this requirement.

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.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Know and understand core concepts that unify the breadth of biological sciences including: evolution; structure and function; information flow, exchange, and storage; pathways for transformations of energy and matter; and systems.
  2. Demonstrate practical skills of a professional biologist including: problem‐solving by engaging the process of science; written and verbal proficiency; laboratory skills; quantitative analysis skills; and teamwork skills.
  3. Graduates will be able to engage and make broader connections to other scientific disciplines and society.

Four-Year Plan

This Four-Year Plan is only one way a student may complete an L&S degree with this major. Many factors can affect student degree planning, including placement scores, credit for transferred courses, credits earned by examination, and individual scholarly interests. In addition, many students have commitments (e.g., athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, work and volunteer experiences) that necessitate they adjust their plans accordingly. Informed students engage in their own unique Wisconsin Experience by consulting their academic advisors, Guide, DARS, and Course Search & Enroll for assistance making and adjusting their plan.

Four-year Plans for the Biology major are designed to support biological science major exploration and planning your academic career. Your specific program of study could, and probably will, look different. You should customize the Four-Year Plan to fit your unique interests at UW–Madison. Consult with your advisor about the best plan for you.

Sample Biology Major Four-Year Plan

CHEM 1034CHEM 1045
MATH 22115STAT 37113
Communication A3Literature Breadth3
Social Science Breadth3Ethnic Studies/Social Science Breadth4
 15 15
CHEM 3433CHEM 3442
Literature Breadth3CHEM 3453
Social Science Breadth3Humanities Breadth3
INTER-LS 2101Elective2
 15 15
Foundation Course for Major3Upper-Level Breadth in the Major4
Social Science Breadth3Humanities Breadth3
Declare the Major 
 15 15
Upper-Level Breadth in the Major3Upper-Level Breadth in the Major6
Upper-Level Breadth in the Major Lab or Field Research 3Additional Lab or Field Research2
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Follow the guidance of Math placement scores when choosing a Mathematics and/or Statistics course.


Students may complete one of three Introductory Biology sequences.  See the Requirements tab for more information.

Advising and Careers


Your advisor is here to guide you through the biology major. We can address your questions and concerns, provide advice, help you create a four-year degree plan that meets your major and professional goals, and connect you to resources. It is important to remember that advising is about the process, and some questions do not have a quick and easy answer. Your advisor will challenge you to self-reflect, to critically think about your goals and strategies, and to develop decision-making skills. For more information about what to expect during your advising appointment, visit UW Undergraduate Advising.

In the biology major, students are assigned to an adviser according to last name. Please visit us here to schedule an advising appointment.


The biology major encourages our students to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus. We partner with SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. L&S 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.


Advising Leadership and Staff

Brian Asen
Carley Garvens
Sarah Kuba, Program Director
Brittany Magrady
Damien Parks

Biology Major Program Committee

(voting members)

Joseph Dillard
Nazan Gillie, ex officio
Anna Kowalkowski
Sarah Kuba, ex officio
Kate McCulloh, L&S Co-Chair
Timothy Paustian, ex officio
Federico Rey
Nathaniel Sharp, Evolutionary Biology Named Option Representative
Jon Woods
Jae-Hyuk Yu, CALS Co-Chair

Wisconsin Experience

The following opportunities can help students connect with other students interested in biology, build relationships with faculty and staff, and contribute to out-of-classroom learning:

  • Many study abroad programs offer a plethora of excellent upper level bioscience courses. Students often complete courses abroad that meet upper-level breadth in the major requirements (categories A-E) while others use this opportunity to focus on non-science coursework and explore other topics that interest them. Review the Biology Major advising page on the Study Abroad website to explore international academic programs.

  • Students are encouraged to get involved in research in any life science department. Research can be performed for either course credit or pay, depending on the opportunity.  Research opportunities can be identified by inquiring directly with faculty members, reading the Biology Major Newsletter, or announcement on the Student Job Center.