Academic Policies and Procedures

Download a copy of the CALS Academic Policies and Procedures brochure.

This brochure contains the most commonly referenced undergraduate policies and procedures in CALS. For questions about issues not addressed here, please contact the CALS Office of Academic Affairs (608-262-3003). For University policies and procedures, refer to the Office of the Registrar website. For graduate academic policies and procedures, refer to the Graduate School Catalog or website.


  1. Class attendance and final exam schedule
    1. Every student is expected to be present at all classes.
    2. The final exam schedules are listed in the Class Schedule and via MyUW.
    3. Students are expected to avoid registering for classes that will result in conflicts in class and final exam schedules.

  2. Academic Integrity
    1. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences takes academic integrity very seriously. For full details of the UW-Madison Academic Misconduct Policies, please refer to Student Assistance and Judicial Affairs and the Dean of Students Office.

  3. Enrollment/Registration
    1. The Office of the Registrar publishes university deadlines for adding and dropping individual courses, withdrawing (from all courses), and selection options such as pass/fail and audit.
    2. Changing enrollment can have consequences for academic standing, tuition, progress toward degree, etc. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with an academic advisor, or an academic dean in 116 Agricultural Hall, prior to initial enrollment and before making any changes to enrollment.
    3. Exceptions to or extensions of the university deadlines may only be granted for CALS students by the academic dean in 116 Agricultural Hall.


  1. Degree-Granting Classifications
    CALS offers 5 undergraduate degrees;

    1. Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree
      1. majors offered under this degree include: agricultural & applied economics, agronomy, animal sciences, biochemistry, biology, community & environmental sociology, dairy science, entomology, environmental sciences, food science, forest science, genetics, horticulture, individual major*, landscape architecture, life sciences communication, microbiology, nutritional sciences, plant pathology, poultry science, soil science, and wildlife ecology

    2. Bachelor of Science – Agricultural Business Management
    3. Bachelor of Science – Biological Systems Engineering*
    4. Bachelor of Science – Dietetics*
    5. Bachelor of Science – Landscape Architecture*

    * = program requires additional pre-requisites be met for declaration
    New students may enroll in CALS without declaring a major/degree, but must declare a major by the end of their third semester.

  2. On-Campus Transfer into CALS
    1. Students will be considered for transfer to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences from other schools and colleges at UW–Madison if they:
      1. are in good academic standing with the college or school in which they are enrolled,
      2. meet any admission requirements as specified by the intended major, and
      3. have earned fewer than 86 credits, which is the threshold of senior status.

    2. Students who have been dropped by another college or school must be readmitted to that college or school before being considered for transfer into the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. However, being readmitted for transfer purposes by another school or college does not guarantee acceptance by CALS.
    3. Ideally, the transfer should be initiated in advance of the semester in which enrollment is planned. Students may initiate the transfer process at any time between the second and twelfth week of the semester (specific dates for each term are available in 116 Ag Hall). Students may transfer during the summer session only if they are enrolled in summer courses. Consult the Office of Academic Affairs for details.


  1. Study Load and Progress
    1. Each full-time student is expected to take class and laboratory work totaling 12 to 18 credits per semester. Anyone desiring to take more than 18 credits must obtain permission in advance of registration from the advisor and the Office of Academic Affairs. Students registering for more than 18 credits will be subject to additional tuition and fees. See the registrar’s website for the definition of maximum credit load in the summer sessions.
    2. At least 120 credits are required for graduation for all majors (more credits are required for some majors), and so generally a student should be enrolled for 15 or 16 credits per semester to complete degree requirements within eight semesters.

  2. Course Numbers
    1. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors may earn independent study credit (usually 299) with consent of an instructor and approval of their academic advisor. Seniors may earn credit for special problems work (course 699) with consent of instructor and approval of their academic advisor. There is no limit on the number of credits a student may receive for courses numbered 299 or 699.
    2. Students may not receive more than 8 credits total for courses numbered 399 (internship). Students must have approval of a CALS advisor and complete a learning contract prior to registration for internship credits. Contact the Office of Academic Affairs, 116 Agricultural Hall, for more information.

  3. Thesis
    1. The undergraduate thesis, when required as part of the major requirements, consists of 4-8 credits (691/692). Students admitted to the Honors Program must complete a senior honors thesis for 4-8 credits (681/682) or a substitute project approved by the Honors Committee.

  4. Pass/Fail Privilege
    1. All undergraduate students are eligible to take a course on a pass/fail basis if they request the option prior to the deadline and are in good academic standing at the time they request pass/fail. When a course is taken on a pass/ fail basis, the instructor reports a letter grade, which is converted by the registrar to an S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory). The grade of S shall be re- corded by the registrar in place of instructors’grades of A, AB, B, BC, or C. The grade of U shall be recorded by the registrar in place of instructors’grades of D or F. Neither the S nor the U is used in computing the grade point average. A student must earn at least a C to receive credit for the course.
    2. The following conditions apply to pass/fail courses:
      1. Deadline to apply: Students may submit pass/fail requests via their Student Center link from the time that they register until midnight on the Friday at the end of the fourth week of fall and spring semesters. (For modular and summer session courses, pass/fail requests must
      2. be submitted by midnight Friday of the week in which the session is one-fourth completed). Students may not cancel or add the pass/fail option after the deadline for submitting Pass/Fail Option Forms.
      3. Pass/fail can only be chosen for elective courses: Required courses cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis. CALS may reject pass/fail requests for non-elective work, but it is the student’s responsibility to be sure that the requested course is an elective.
      4. Pass/fail courses do not meet specific requirements: Courses taken on a pass/fail basis will not count for non-elective requirements even if they would normally count toward such requirements.
      5. Number of pass/fail courses: Undergraduates may carry one course on a pass/fail basis per term and a maximum of 16 credits during their undergraduate career. The summer sessions collectively count as a single term.
      6. Exceptions: CALS is authorized to make exceptions to the pass/fail policy.

    3. Notification: Students can see whether a course is pass/fail in their student center. Instructors are not notified when a student elects the pass/fail option.

  5. Repeating College Courses
    1. Students thinking about repeating a course should talk with their advisor. Students must do all the work in the repeated course, including laboratory; attend regularly; participate in class discussions; and take examinations. Students will earn a final grade in the course. Such credits are indicated with an X on the transcript. Students should know that: (1) the original grade still counts in GPA and remains on the transcript; (2) credits in the repeated course do not count toward the degree, unless the course was failed the first time; (3) grade points in the repeated course do count toward calculation of cumulative GPA; (4) credits carried on courses being repeated count toward the maximum credits permitted in a semester.
    2. Transfer students must be particularly careful to avoid taking courses on the Madison campus that duplicate courses taken at another school. Credit will not be given twice for the same or similar courses, nor will credit be given for a lower-level course in a sequence if students have already received credit for a higher-level course in that sequence. Students should carefully check the Evaluation of Transfer Credits prepared by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and should consult with their advisor. Duplicate courses may include transfer, Farm and Industry Short Course, and Advanced Placement credits coming in as course equivalents.

  6. Independent Learning
    UW Independent Learning (UW IL) is a branch of UW Extension that offers online and print-based courses. Courses taken through UW IL are considered concurrent enrollment and require special permission to enroll in the fall, spring or summer.

    If a student believes that taking a course through UW IL would assist in their degree progress, the student may request permission to enroll concurrently by completing the Concurrent Enrollment Request. Note that UW IL allows up to one year for course completion; however, approved requests for concurrent enroll- ment require completion of the UW IL course within the requested UW-Madison fall or spring term. When applicable, students may also request a tuition waiver (see below)

    Students with full-time status (minimum of 12 credits) at UW–Madison may request a tuition waiver for UW Independent Learning courses provided that the following conditions are met:

    1. the student requests the waiver and enrolls in the course by the UW–Madison Add/Drop deadline (second Friday of the semester); waivers will be accepted for the following semester up to one week before the start of the fall or spring semester
    2. the course is taken during the regular academic session
    3. the course is completed during the term for which the tuition waiver is requested*

    *The minimum length of time to complete a UW IL course is typically three months. Foreign language courses often require more time. Students should take this into consideration as they are planning the completion of their degree.

    If the tuition waiver is approved, UW-Madison pays UW IL for the credits the stu- dent is taking as part of the student’s full-time course load (12-18 credits) that term. Therefore, if a student exceeds 18 credits total between the two campuses, he or she will be responsible for paying for the additional credit(s) and must have received prior approval to complete more than 18 credits in a semester (see Credit Overload). Students are responsible for the $75.00 administrative fee for enrolling in a UW IL course.

  7. Retroactive Language Credit
    1. Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences may earn retroactive foreign language credit for foreign language skill developed in high school or elsewhere. For more information, please see http://www.languageinstitute.


Under certain circumstances it may be possible for a student to earn more than one undergraduate major or degree. It is expected that the programs be significantly different from each other and that approval be received prior to the student’s senior year. More information is available below and via the Office of Academic Affairs in 116 Agricultural Hall.

  1. Earning two College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Majors
    1. CALS permits undergraduates to pursue two CALS majors simultaneously.
    2. The following policies and procedures have been established for this program:
      1. The student must have advance approval from their CALS major advisor, the advisor of their desired second major, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Office of Academic Affairs in CALS. This approval must be granted before the student has senior standing.
      2. The student must satisfy all requirements of both majors. The student must meet all CALS general course requirements and the degree program requirements, as well as all major field requirements.
  2. Earning a Letters and Science Major while Completing a Degree Program in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
    1. The College of Letters & Science (L&S) permits undergraduates currently enrolled in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to complete an additional undergraduate major offered by L&S and have this fact noted on the transcript.
    2. The following policies and procedures have been established for this program:
      1. The student must have advance approval from their CALS major advisor, their L&S major advisor, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Office of Academic Affairs in CALS. This approval must be granted before the start of the student’s senior year.
      2. The L&S major is not to substitute for any major in CALS.
      3. The student must satisfy all requirements of the L&S major, both the requirements established by the department (i.e., certain courses) and those established by L&S (e.g., 15 credits of advanced work in the major in residence at UW–Madison). The student must meet all CALS general course requirements and the degree program requirements, as well as all major field requirements.
      4. Requests for substitutions or other modifications of the requirements of a given L&S major must be acted on by an L&S dean, in consultation with the associate academic dean of CALS, before enrollment in the course.

  3. Earning Two Degrees Simultaneously
    1. A student who wishes to earn two undergraduate degrees simultaneously (in contrast to earning two undergraduate majors simultaneously) should consult with the Office of Academic Affairs as early as possible in the academic career, regarding feasibility.
    2. If the two degrees to be earned are within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, at least 30 additional credits and all course and grade point requirements must be completed. Thus, a minimum of 150 credits (for most majors) would be required. Some courses may satisfy requirements for both degrees. A student must have an advisor in both major fields. To work on two degrees simultaneously within the college, a student should seek permission as early as possible to ensure that it is feasible to complete both degrees.
    3. the two degrees to be earned are from two different colleges (one degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences and one degree in another school or college on this campus), the undergraduate dean in both colleges must approve the student’s plan. Note that not all colleges will allow dual degrees. Where allowed, the following academic policies shall be followed (additional policies may exist):
      1. Admission into the other college or school shall be based on that particular college or school admission criteria.
      2. A student may seek two baccalaureate degrees simultaneously (in contrast to two majors), each from a different college, providing that the two degree programs differ sufficiently so that the combined total requirements for the two degrees are at least 150 credits and that the student’s program is approved by both colleges before the start of a student’s senior year in residence. The degrees from each college will be awarded simultaneously.

    4. Special applications and additional information pertaining to the earning of two undergraduate degrees simultaneously are available from the Office of Academic Affairs, 116 Agricultural Hall.

  4. Second Bachelor of Science Degree Requirements
    1. Those with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison or other accredited institutions may, if eligible, pursue a second bachelor’s degree from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
    2. Those who have been out of school for one semester or more must apply for admission (or readmission) with the regular undergraduate application. Continuing UW–Madison students do not need to submit this form. All candidates need a dean’s permission from the Office of Academic Affairs to work toward a second bachelor’s degree. A minimum of a 2.0 GPA is required. Several college majors require a higher GPA.
    3. The following requirements for the second bachelor’s degree must be met:
      1. Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits in residence, of which 15 or more must be in the major field as specified by the major department. These credits are in addition to credits earned for the first degree.
      2. Candidates must complete all university, college, major, and curricular degree program requirements. Credits earned for the first degree will apply toward appropriate requirements for the second. However, students must take at least 30 additional credits,as noted above. Students with their first B.S. degree from the college must select a new major or degree program.

    4. All second-degree candidates must be accepted by the department offering their program of interest and have their program approved by the college before beginning the program.


  1. Year Classification
    Name of Year Minimum Credits Passed
    Freshman 0
    Sophomore 24
    Junior 54
    Senior 86
  2. Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS)
    1. The Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) provides a continuous record of progress toward fulfillment of degree requirements. For more information on DARS, see the Student Services tab of My UW-Madison. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all requirements for graduation are fulfilled. Requests for exceptions must begin with the student’s academic advisor and be approved by the department (or equivalent) and by the academic dean. Students who believe their DARS report is in error should contact 116 Ag Hall directly.

  3. Senior Year In Residence Requirements
    1. CALS students must complete their final 30 credits for the bachelor’s degree“in residence;”that is, students must have the CALS undergraduate classification during the last 30 credits of their degree, and the last 30 credits must be UW- Madison coursework or courses earned on an approved UW-Madison study abroad program. This is so students can obtain helpful advising and exposure to advanced topics, seminars and current issues in their major field, and to assist in the transition to a career or advanced study, students should spend at least the last year of their undergraduate program as a declared major in the department. Appeals of this policy may be considered by the Office of Academic Affairs (for requests up to 6 credits) or the Scholastic Policies and Actions Committee (for request of more than 6 credits).

  4. Expecting To Graduate
    1. Students who expect to graduate must apply to graduate in the Student Center. They may visit the University Book Store website for information about ordering caps and gowns and the Commencement website for information about the graduation ceremony. Also, their academic records will receive a final evaluation by staff in the Office of Academic Affairs. Students should also inform their advisors and report any change in graduation plans to the Office of Academic Affairs. If a student has received permission to complete final course work off-campus (not in residence) the student must notify the Office of Academic Affairs so that records can be reviewed and certified for graduation.

  5. Graduation
    1. Students are graduated with a bachelor’s degree when they have met all the university, college, degree program, and major requirements; have earned 120 credits; and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher on all courses carried for a grade at UW-Madison. Students who are on academic probation are eligible for graduation provided they meet these requirements. Graduating students should know that the date they finish any outstanding incompletes (I) will determine their semester of graduation. Students in the Biological Systems Engineering degree program should check with the department for additional graduation requirements.


  1. Scholastic Actions
    1. A student shall be considered in good standing if that student has:
      1. a GPA of 2.0 or above in the semester just completed, and
      2. a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above

    2. A student shall be placed on academic probation when, in a fall or spring semester (summer grades do not impact academic standing) just completed, that student has:
      1. Attained less than a 2.0 GPA, or
      2. Earned two or more grades of F

    3. Once on probation, the student is continued on probation until either removed from probation or dropped
    4. A student shall be removed from probation when that student has:
      1. Attained a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, and
      2. Earned a GPA of at least 2.0 in the semester just completed, and
      3. No outstanding Incompletes

    5. A student on academic probation shall be dropped (academically dismissed) for at least one semester at the end of any semester in which that student has earned a GPA of less than 2.0
    6. A student who has been placed in dropped status and who desires to be readmitted to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences must present to the Office of Academic Affairs evidence that time between being dropped and applying for reentry has been used gainfully. Such activity must give evidence of serious desire to gain an education, careful thought about academic goals, and strategies that will improve academic performance. If the application is accepted, the student will be readmitted on probation.
    7. A student who has been readmitted on probation and who fails to earn a semester GPA of 2.0 or above will be dropped again and will not be permitted to reenroll for at least one year and then only upon appeal to the Scholastic Policies and Actions Committee with good evidence of changed circumstances that would indicate a reasonable probability of success.
    8. A student dropped for a third time will not be readmitted.
  1. Student Appeal Procedures
    1. On behalf of the Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Scholastic Policies and Actions Committee may suspend or modify the operation of these regulations if their enforce- ment is judged to work an injustice to the student. Students should contact the Academic Affairs Office in 116 Agricultural Hall, 608-262-3003, for appeal procedures.

  2. Student Grievance Procedures
    1. Students who believe they have been treated unfairly, in any academic or nonacademic matter may contest the treatment. The complaint may involve any matter of perceived unfairness, including grading or classroom treatment, or sexual or racial harassment.
    2. These steps are spelled out in a statement titled “Achieving Fairness: Grievance Procedures for Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.”This statement is available from any department office, the Academic Affairs Office, or the CALS website.
    3. Matters of interpretation of academic requirements not involving questions of fairness should come via the student’s advisor to the college’s Scholastic Policies and Actions Committee.

  3. Dean’s List
    1. Students who achieve at a high level academically are recognized by the dean. Selections to the Dean’s List are announced at the close of each semester.The student’s achievement for only the single semester is considered and is noted on the transcript. To be placed on the Dean’s List, a student must have achieved at least a 3.5 GPA or above for the semester’s study load of not less than 12 credits, on a regular grade basis (A, AB, B, BC, C, D, F), regardless of overall grade point average, and must not have received a grade of F or an Incomplete for any course, or a U (for a pass/fail course) or an N (for Credit/No Credit graded course that was not passed).

Last updated May 2016 – This version supersedes any previous version