Declaring a Major

As a general guideline, you should be ready to declare a major by the end of your third or fourth semester (and even if you're not 100% sure, there are many Benefits to Declaring a Major that you should be aware of).
 
However, there are three main ways for students to declare a major at UW-Madison, and some have strict rules on how and when to declare a major.  It's extremely important for you to be aware of these differences as you make your decision to declare or switch your major as these decisions can affect your graduation timeline. It's a good idea to run some of your ideas by your advisor so they can give you a heads up if you mention a major that has a strict deadline. 
 
Click on the sections below for a brief overview of the different ways to declare a major. Talk to your advisor if you have questions about when or how to declare a major.
 
Flexible Declaration Programs
 
Flexible Declaration is the most common way to declare a major.
 
In this type of program, students spend the first several semesters taking classes that satisfy basic requirements while still exploring possible majors.
 
Some majors require specific prerequisite courses and a minimum GPA before you declare the major. Sometimes you need to declare the major before achieving senior standing (or completing 86 credits).

Examples:

• History
• English
• Anthropology
• Political Science
• Sociology
• Philosophy
• Zoology
• Psychology
• Communication Arts
 
 
 
Competitive Enrollment Programs
 
Some majors have limited space available, and students need to apply to enroll in that program after 1-2 years of coursework.
 
All programs have prerequisites, and most have a minimum GPA requirement. Some programs limit the number of times that students may apply.

Examples:

• School of Business
• College of Engineering
• School of Nursing
 
 
 
Freshmen Declaration Expected
 
In these programs students enter the major or degree as early as possible, usually their first year. Though this might not be strictly required, it is strongly encouraged due to the progressive structure of the coursework.
 
Some programs like Music and Dance may also require passing an audition for admissions.

Examples:

• Music
• Dance
• Art
• Design Studies
• Dairy Science
• Food Science
 
 
 
 
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