Looking for a broad biology education, or do you want to specialize? Either way, the UW-Madison’s biology major is a good choice. Many students start out majoring in biology while they explore various biological fields. Then, when they’ve found an area where they’d like to focus, they transfer into a more specialized major. Other students- those who desire broad training in biology- graduate in the biology major.

The curriculum provides rigorous background in mathematics and the sciences relevant to biology while allowing students to keep their options open. It offers a balanced spectrum of upper level biology courses for those who remain in the major.

Who Should Enroll in This Major?

Students with broad interest in the biological sciences who want to:

  • Prepare for graduate study
  • Prepare for professional studies (e.g. medical school, veterinary school, dentistry)
  • Receive initial biological science education prior to choosing a more specialized major (e.g. biochemistry, zoology)
  • Acquire a broad background in biology

Undergraduate Training

Biology course work includes foundation sequences in math, chemistry, and physics. In addition to these courses, students are required to take an introductory biology sequence. With these foundations in place, students go on to take advanced biology courses in a wide range of topics including: cellular biology, subcellular biology, organismal biology, ecology, evolution, systematics, applied biology, agriculture, and natural resources.

Experience Outside of Class

Many students choose to get involved in research throughout their undergraduate career via volunteering, classes, or part-time jobs. The CALS capstone experience allows students to choose a research option if they choose. For biology, this research can be in any area of biology and can take the shape of an independent study, a senior thesis, or a senior honors thesis. You will be able to work with any of over 700 biology professors on campus for your capstone experience, including professors in the Medical School and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Where You’ll be Learning

There are over 1000 students in the Biology Major, about half in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the other half in the College of Letters and Science. Because biology encompasses such a wide range of topics, biology students can be found in buildings throughout campus.

Career Opportunities

The biology major can get you started toward a variety of careers. It will prepare you for jobs in laboratories in universities or industry. It’s also excellent preparation for earning an advanced degree. The biology major can be your springboard into professional school, where you’ll train to become a physician, dentist, veterinarian or attorney. Or you can go on to earn a teaching certificate so you can teach science in high school, middle school or elementary school.

Many biology majors continue on to earn one or more graduate degrees so that they can teach or conduct research in universities, government or industry. Still others use the biology major to prepare for a career in sales and marketing in science-related industries.

Financial Assistance

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers many scholarships that are granted based on academic performance, need or extracurricular activities. For more information on scholarships, loans and work-study programs contact the UW-Madison Office of Financial Services.

For more information contact the Biology Major Office:

Prospective Student Services: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Office of Academic Affairs

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