About

Cira_Nate_lab11_8676The Biology Major is designed for students who are interested in a broad exposure to the concepts and methodologies of the biological sciences, as well as those interested in a more specific sub-discipline. The focus of the student’s program is determined by the student with a biology advisor of the student’s choosing. This major is appropriate for students interested in post-graduate careers in any biological science or health profession. It is also appropriate for students who think that a good knowledge of biology and the scientific process will help them in a non-biological career.

Students majoring in Biology must complete 31 credits of biological coursework plus the college requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in either the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences or the College of Letters & Science. The Major is designed to facilitate students moving to more specialized majors as their interests develop.

Students are encouraged to declare a preference for CALS if they expect to eventually move to a CALS major (e.g., Genetics or Horticulture).

Options within the Major

There are Options within the Biology Major that students may choose if they want a more focused degree program.

The Evolutionary Biology Option allows Biology Majors to concentrate their studies in evolution and to have this reflected on their transcript. Since there is no Evolutionary Biology Major available at UW-Madison, this is the only mechanism to indicate specialization in this rapidly growing and popular field. In taking this option students will be able to fulfill their intermediate/advanced biology requirement with courses that emphasize evolutionary biology, ranging from a required courses in fundamental evolutionary biology to more advanced optional courses that cover a wide range of evolutionary biology topics. They will also get to take a one-credit seminar course in evolutionary biology.

Who should enroll in this Option?  Students with broad interest in the biological sciences who want to:
  • Prepare for graduate study in evolutionary biology or related fields
  • Prepare for professional studies (e.g. medical school, veterinary school, dentistry)
  • Concentrate their biological studies in evolutionary biology

The Neurobiology Option allows Biology Majors to concentrate their studies in neurobiology and to have this reflected on their transcript. Students in this option are able to fulfill their intermediate/advanced biology requirement with courses that emphasize neuroscience, ranging from two required courses in fundamental neuroscience to more advanced optional courses that cover a wide range of neuroscience topics. They also get to take a one-credit seminar course in which different neuroscience faculty from the campus present their work in an informal setting.

Who should enroll in this Option?  Students with broad interest in the biological sciences who want to:
  • Prepare for graduate study in Neurobiology or related field
  • Prepare for professional studies (e.g. medical school, veterinary school, dentistry)
  • Concentrate their biological studies in neurobiology

The  Neurobiology Option is now closed for new major declarations. (Students interested in exploring or declaring the new Neurobiology major should visit their website.) For students who previously declared the option, requirements must be completed by Summer 2019.

The Plant Biology Option allows Biology Majors to focus their studies on plant science and to have this reflected on their transcript. There are a number of departments at UW-Madison who host plant science-based majors, including Agronomy, Botany, Horticulture, Plant Pathology, and Forest and Wildlife Ecology. While those specialized majors offer in-depth programs in their disciplines, the Plant Biology Option allows students to pursue a course of study within the Biology major and explore plant biology at the same time. Students in this option can fulfill their requirements with courses that emphasize various aspects of plant science, including anatomy, physiology, genetics, crop production, disease resistance, and molecular techniques in plant improvement. Students also participate in a one credit seminar called Frontiers in Plant Science taught by two faculty from plant science departments.

Who should enroll in this Option? Students with broad interest in biological sciences who also want to:
  • Prepare for graduate work in a plant science field
  • Prepare for advanced study or graduate work in a natural or environmental science field
  • Concentrate their studies on the biology of plants