You are here

Undergraduate Majors in Biology

Agronomy is an undergraduate major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Agronomy is the branch of biology that focuses on improving plants for food and other uses, and producing them in sustainable ways.
Animal Sciences is a major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The sciences of Genetics, Physiology, Reproductive Physiology, Nutrition and Muscle Biology are used to understand food animals, animal-derived products, and horses. This major provides training in animal biology, the human-animal symbiosis and associated human endeavors in domestic and international cultures.
Anthropology is a major in the College of Letters and Science. Biological anthropology is the study of the behavior, ecology, evolution, anatomy, and variation of primate species, including humans past and present.
The Biochemistry major can be pursued through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences or the College of Letters & Science. Biochemistry is the study of life processes at the molecular level, including the chemistry of nutrition, metabolism and genetic regulation.
Biological Systems Engineering is a major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It is the application of engineering principles to biological and agricultural systems.
The Biology major can be pursued through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences or the College of Letters & Science. Biology is the study of living organisms and the processes that make life possible. Special options are available in Neurobiology, Evolutionary Biology, and Plant Biology. The major is jointly administered by the Departments of Bacteriology and Zoology; advising offices are in the Bacteriology Department.
The Biomedical Engineering major is in the College of Engineering. Biomedical Engineering is the design of medical devices, instruments, and treatments and the application of engineering tools for solving problems in biology and medicine; an engineering discipline that is practiced by professionals trained primarily as engineers, who specialize in medical and biological applications.
The Botany major is in the College of Letters and Science. Botany is the study of plants, including algae, bacteria, fungi, lichens, mosses, ferns, conifer and flowering plants. The Botany curriculum is comprised of courses in plant structure (anatomy and morphology), ecology, genetics, cryptogamic botany, molecular biology, physiology, systematics, and ethnobotany.
Communicative Science and Disorders is a major that can be pursued in either the College of Letters & Science or the School of Education. Communicative Science & Disorders is the study of three complex aspects of human behavior: speech, language and hearing. This discipline developed primarily out of concern for people with disorders in the process of communication, but now encompasses a whole range of basic sciences (e.g. general and neuro-anatomy, linguistics, cognitive neurosciences, acoustics, child development) for complete expertise.
The Conservation Biology major is administered by the Botany Department in the College of Letters and Science. It is the study of the issues and problems surrounding efforts to conserve biodiversity, including natural history, whole organism biology, ecological relationships, impacts of human activities, and how humans respond to nature.
Dairy Science is a major within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It is the science of milk production, including animal genetics, animal nutrition, lactation, reproduction and management. Dairy scientists seek to improve milk composition, animal health, milk quality, environmental management and production efficiency.
The Dietetics major is in the Nutritional Sciences Department of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Dietetics is the practice of integrating biochemical, physiological, social, and managerial concepts into the science of nutrition, and applying this knowledge to individuals to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
The Entomology major is offered by the Entomology Department in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Entomology is the study of insects at sub-organismal, organismal and population levels, including their interactions with one another and their relationships to other animals and plants.
The Environmental Sciences major can be pursued within either the College of Letters & Science or the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The program gives students a rigorous foundation in the basic physical and biological sciences, a common core understanding of the key domains of the field, and contextual understanding via the social sciences. Students can choose to have a distributed focus or concentrate on Ecology, Physical Environment, Geospatial Information Systems, or Environmental Policy & Social Perspectives.
The Environmental Studies major is administered by the Nelson Institute, and students in this major must complete another major in any school/college. The program provides students with an academically rigorous course sequence that encompasses introductory through advanced understandings of the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies. This major includes courses from across campus that expose students to the perspectives and methods used by the physical, biological, social sciences and humanities to wrestle with environmental questions and solutions.
The Evolutionary Biology Option is available through the Biology Major.
Food Science is a major within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It is a multidisciplinary field in which several traditional disciplines (chemistry, microbiology, engineering, business) are applied to solve problems in food processing, storage and distribution.
Forest Science is a major in the Forest & Wildlife Ecology Department in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Students complete an interdisciplinary education based in the biological and social sciences, including skills essential for leadership and service in the conservation and management of forest ecosystems. The curriculum emphasizes an integrated set of courses including forest ecology, inventory and monitoring practices, silviculture, resource economics and policy, decision methods for management, wildlife ecology, plus appropriate research and professional work experiences.
The Genetics major is in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Genetics is the science of heredity, including Mendelian genetics, molecular genetics, genetics engineering, cytogenetics, quantitative genetics, population genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics.
The Horticulture major is in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Horticulture is the study of the genetics development, production, growth, distribution, and use of fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.
Kinesiology is a competitive admission major in the School of Education. Kinesiology is the study of fundamental physiological processes involved in the responses and adaptations to exercise in mammalian systems.
Landscape Architecture is a major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It is the study and application of artistic and scientific principles to the research, planning, design and management of both natural and built environments. Addresses problems of natural resources, social and environmental concerns; including urbanization and suburban sprawl, rural land use and landscape preservation. There are two programs: Bachelor of Sciences degree program in Landscape Studies (ALS) and Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture degree program (BSLA).
Microbiology is a major in the Bacteriology Department in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, including their genetics, physiology, biochemistry, ecology, diversity, and their importance in biotechnology and health.
The Molecular Biology major is administered by the Department of Zoology in the College of Letters and Sciences. Molecular Biology is the study of life processes at the molecular level (in physical and chemical terms).
The Neurobiology major is administered in the Zoology Department in the College of Letters and Science. Neuroscience is the scientific study of the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (nerves in body) nervous system. The neurobiology major at UW–Madison will provide a rigorous education in neuroscience principles that will prepare students for health-related careers (physician, physician assistant, veterinarian, dentist, neuroimaging technician, speech-language pathologist, neuropsychologist, drug rehabilitation counselor, physical therapists), academic careers (college and university faculty, research scientists, lab technician, K-12 teachers), and careers in pharmaceutical and biotech industries, venture capital and scientific consulting firms, medical and scientific journals, intellectual property law, neuroscience-related nonprofit organizations and foundations, and government agencies.
Preparation for positions in nursing. The School of Nursing offers a BS (Bachelor of Science) in Nursing, a BSN@Home program for RN's returning for a baccalaureate degree, and a five-year combined BS-MPH (Masters of Public Health) degree option.
The Nutritional Science major is in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. It focuses on how we utilize food for growth and metabolism in both normal and disease states. This major helps students develop a strong background in biology, chemistry, physiology and biochemistry to allow them to understand the mechanisms through which dietary factors act and are metabolized. The program offers study in zoology, microbiology, genetics, chemistry, physics, and mathematics along with classes in Nutritional Sciences.
Pharmacology & Toxicology is a major in the School of Pharmacy. Pharmacology and toxicology are biomedical sciences often referred to as sister disciplines. Pharmacology is the study of the sites, properties, effects, and mechanisms of drug action—the interactions of chemicals with biological systems. Toxicology addresses adverse effects of chemicals on humans and animals and includes exposure assessment, hazard identification, dose response assessment, and risk characterization. Both subjects integrate multiple scientific disciplines. Both fields rely on cutting-edge biotechnological approaches to gain insight into drug and toxicant action at the molecular level.
The Plant Biology Option is available through the Biology Major.
The Plant Pathology major is in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Plant pathology integrates the fields of botany, molecular biology, microbiology, ecology, biochemistry, genetics, and crop production to understand, prevent, and combat plant diseases.
Poultry Sciences is a major in the Animal Sciences Department in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Poultry Science is the science of domesticated birds kept for eggs or meat (or of wild birds of the same families) and study of their anatomy, physiology, nutrition and reproduction.
There is no official pre-health major—lots of majors can be great for students interested in health careers. Visit the Center for Pre-Health Advising to get advice about structuring your education to meet your career goals.
The Psychology major is in the College of Letters and Sciences. Psychology is the science of behavior (both human and other animals), including analysis from genetic, physiological, developmental, learning, cognitive, social, and clinical perspectives. The department emphasizes biological approaches to the study of behavior.
The Soil Science major is in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Soil Science is concerned with the soil, the most fundamental of all natural resources. The focus is on sustainable land use and protection of the environment.
Wildlife Ecology is a major in the Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Wildlife Ecology is the study of wildlife populations and communities with a special view to understanding their interactions with people.
Zoology is a major in the College of Letters and Sciences. Zoology is the study of animals and their role in the biosphere, ranging from the study of activities at the molecular and cellular level to whole organism and community interactions.