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Biological Sciences Majors

Get an Overview: Explore Majors by Biology Category, Organizational Level, and School/College
Majors Exploration Tool

Use this sorting tool to easily pull up a list of majors in your areas of interest, with brief descriptions and links to more information. There are over 30 undergraduate majors within six different schools/colleges, so you can tap into a wide array of expertise. With more than 750 faculty teaching and doing research in the biological sciences, UW-Madison is a great place to study the life sciences.

Which Biology Major? Tips for Making an Informed Decision:
  1. Evaluate your interests, values, and skills. What can you do well that you also find enjoyable and satisfying? The Exploration Center has computerized guidance programs and other tools to help you find out about yourself as well as career trends and options.
  2. Find out about the majors by using the table on this page, which has basic information and links to more. You can also read more in the Undergraduate Catalog. Departmental offices for the majors may have additional information. Each major is located in one or more school/college, which gives it a particular flavor.
  3. Connect with one or more advisors. There are advisors in each major as well as advisors for students who are undecided. No single advisor will be able to answer all questions about all of the majors, options, and opportunities available on this campus, so keep looking until you find answers. Here are some questions to ask an advisor about a major:
    • Are there any requirements for entry into the major?
    • Is admission to the major competitive? Are there deadlines to remember when applying for admission to the major?
    • Are there different degrees or options offered within the major? If so, how do they differ?
    • If there are several courses or course sequences that can be used to meet a requirement of the major, which course or course sequence is recommended? Why?
    • How many students major in the department each year? How are advisors assigned in the major?
    • What percentages of students in the major have a research experience before they graduate?
    • What types of careers are typically entered upon graduation with a bachelors degree? With a masters degree? With a Ph.D.?
    • What is the job outlook? What percentage of the last (2-3) years' graduates who were seeking jobs obtained employment related to their field of study?
  4. Talk to students in the majors you are interested in.
  5. Learn more about careers and what employers are looking for. The careers section of this site is a good place to start.
  6. Learn more about graduate schools and professional schools and what their admissions staff are looking for. The advanced study section of this site and the Center for Pre-Health Advising are good places to start.