Life Sciences Communication

The Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC) at the University of Wisconsin – Madison offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral education in science communication. Our research, teaching, and outreach focus on both applied and theoretical communication issues. A degree in LSC prepares students for professional and academic careers related to communicating health, environmental, agricultural, and biological sciences in an era of rapid technological change and media convergence.

Established in 1908 as the first Department of Agricultural Journalism in the world, we changed our name to LSC in 2000 to reflect the extraordinary growth in our field. The study of agricultural sciences has been accompanied by rapid expansion in neighboring life sciences disciplines, such as agricultural biotechnology and nanotechnology, and in associated basic sciences such as biochemistry and bacteriology. Simultaneously, the field of communication has embraced marketing in addition to journalism, resulting in broader career opportunities for our graduates.

  • Learn from faculty and instructional staff with diverse professional experience in strategic communication, public radio and television, marketing, news writing, and consulting for multinational institutions such as the World Bank and World Health Organization.
  • Take hands-on classes in marketing, writing, digital photography, social media, web design, radio and video production.
  • Participate in extracurricular organizations such as WSUM 91.7 FM Student Radio and the National Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA).

Careers

Graduates of the program get a bachelor of science degree and are highly sought after by employers across scientific and communication industries. Key to the education that LSC students receive is a combination of theoretical grounding and state-of-the-art practical skills. Our faculty and instructors are a mix of highly regarded researchers and real-world practitioners.

  • Work for media, industry, government agencies or non-governmental organizations in every corner of the world.
  • Cover agriculture, science, health or the environment for print, audio, video or online media.
  • Market food, scientific, agricultural or health-related products and services.

The Degree

Students receive training across print, audio, video, web design and social media.  In hands-on courses they become proficient at both journalistic and strategic communications. They learn to develop and implement effective media campaigns about science, health, the environment and technology.

The major comprises 24 credits.  All majors take an introductory science writing course (3 credits), two foundation courses (6 credits), two basic presentation and skills courses (6 credits), and a capstone course (515 or 640).  The remaining credits are taken through four potential concentrations (6 credits):  Communication in the Life Sciences; Communication Strategy; Communication Skills and Technology; and an Independent Concentration.

  • Communication in the Life Sciences Concentration:  focuses on theoretical approaches to specific communication issues in the life sciences context, such as health communication, Native American environmental issues and the media, and contemporary communication and their social effects.
  • Communication Strategy Concentration: focuses on the skills and theory necessary to effectively communicate with audiences in the life sciences context, while satisfying the long terms strategic goals of an organization; it includes courses in advertising, social marketing, and risk communication.
  • Communication Skills and Technologies Concentration: focuses on the skills required to translate organized information into informative and persuasive messages for a variety of media, such as news writing, documentary photography, publications editing, web design, video production and social media.
  • Independent Concentration: is determined by the student and the advisor and approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Along with communication classes, you will take courses in the areas of science in which you wish to specialize. Many students double major, fulfilling degree requirements in two departments simultaneously. Graduates with a combination of communication skills and specialized scientific expertise are highly sought after by employers in science and technology 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 Department of Life Sciences Communication:

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

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an AA/EEO institution. University policies create additional protection that prohibits harassment on the basis of cultural background and ethnicity. Inquires concerning these policies may be directed to the appropriate campus admitting or employing unit or to the Equity and Diversity Resource Center, 179-A, Bascom Hall, (608) 263-2378, TTY (608) 263-2473.