What are the General Education Requirements?
All students entering UW-Madison as freshmen or undergraduate transfer students must satisfy the General Education requirements. Students should always check with their advisers to see if their school or college has additional requirements that go beyond the basic ones, or whether specific programs will require them to fulfill requirements with specific courses or in a particular order. The fundamental goal of these requirements is to produce an individual that has attributes appropriate for a university-educated person, such as competence in communication, critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to investigate issues raised by living in a culturally diverse society, that has been cultivated by breadth of study across the humanities and arts, social studies, biological and physical sciences.
The basic General Education Requirements are listed below. Some colleges within the university impose additional requirements. And remember, requirements for majors are usually fulfilled over and above the general requirements. Through the "Course Lists" area of this website (see links below), students and advisors have access to a continuously updated list of approved courses that satisfy the Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, and Ethnic Studies requirements. Students should work with their advisors to select options that best suit the academic programs they are pursuing. However, since actual course offerings vary from semester to semester, students should check the Schedule of Classes when registering. The Schedule of Classes indicates whether courses satisfy General Education or other requirements with a code that appears in the listing. Students may also want to read through the FAQ section for tips on locating classes, or can visit the Advice for Students page.
- Communication, 3 to 5/6 credits
- Part A: Literacy Proficiency. 2-3 credits at first-year level dedicated to reading, listening, and discussion, with emphasis on writing. Students may be exempted from Part A by high school course work or testing.
- Part B: Enhancing Literacy Proficiency. 2-3 credits of more advanced course work for students who have completed or been exempted from Part A.
- Quantitative Reasoning, 3 to 6 credits
- Part A: 3 credits of mathematics, statistics, or formal logic. Students may be exempted from Part A by approved college coursework while in high school or by testing.
- Part B: 3 additional credits in quantitative reasoning.
Courses fulfilling the following are noted in the Schedule of Classes, indicated by the L&S "breadth requirements" code: a, b, q, r
One 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits.
Students can choose from more than 200 courses that fulfill this requirement. Many designated courses allow students to fulfill both the ethnic studies requirement and another graduation or major requirement. Directions for finding available ethnic studies courses is available on this site. Please refer to the "Frequently Asked Questions" page for students and for faculty and staff for more information about the requirement.