Majors & Certificates

What is a major?
A major is a specific subject that you choose to specialize in while in college - like Political Science or Chemistry. You can think of a major as an area of emphasis in your overall course of study in college.
A typical major represents only about one quarter to one third of the minimum 120 credits you need to graduate with a degree from UW-Madison. You only need to complete the requirements for one major in order to be eligible to graduate with a bachelors degree from the university. Most undergraduate degrees (including the requirements for one major) can be completed in four years.
Make sure to talk to your advisor about planning Your Graduation Timeline.

What is a certificate?

A certificate is a course of study, usually considerably smaller than a major, that allows students to gain skills or training in a specific subject. Certificates at UW-Madison are sometimes compared to “minors,” but they are not quite the same thing.

Certificates often span multiple subject areas. Certificate programs require fewer credits than a major (typically between 15 to 24). You also don’t need a certificate in order to graduate.

However, a certificate is a great way to gain more knowledge or skills in a subject area that might complement your major or career goals, or simply satisfy an interest that you have. For example, you could major in Anthropology and also complete a certificate in Folklore, or major in International Business and work toward a certificate in Southeast Asian Studies.