New & First-year Students

Prospective undergraduate students should apply to the University of Wisconsin through the online application. The Office of Admissions and Recruitment provides detailed information on the admissions process. If you are a Junior or Senior in high school we encourage you to visit UW-Madison and take a tour with Visit Bucky. You can view requirements for the IS major on the UW Guide page. If you have specific questions about the International Studies Major, the IS Major advisors are also happy to meet with you. Please schedule a meeting via e-mail in advance of your visit.

  • IS Major sample 4-year plan – See how you can fit the courses in 4 years
  • For Parents – The Parent Program, a service provided by Visitor & Information Programs, helps you stay connected to campus and serves as your ongoing resource throughout your student’s college career
  • Visit Bucky – Learn about upcoming Information Sessions & Tours on campus
  • Sign up to our newsletter – Filled with IS-related events and opportunities on/around campus, a great way to stay informed if you’ve just joined us or are simply considering the major.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What sets UW-Madison apart from other schools with International Studies Programs?

UW-Madison offers around 80 different languages, with roughly 40 languages offered each semester, giving your student the chance to study a wide variety of languages such as Spanish and Urdu. This is more languages than any other university in the US. In addition, UW-Madison is home to many scholars who specialize in international topics within departments such as history, language, literature, law, sociology, anthropology, geography, film, political science, and more. As an interdisciplinary major, students will have the chance to work with a broad number of departments and professors.

Overview of the International Studies Major

I am interested in studying abroad. Is it required for the major, and is it expensive?

UW-Madison offers over 140 study abroad programs in various countries, some with prerequisite requirements such as language study, and some without. Study abroad is not required for the IS major, although it is highly encouraged. Students can bring back up to 20 credits for the Issues and Electives requirement within the major. Please note that the two Track courses cannot be completed abroad and plan accordingly. International Academic Programs (IAP) offers many resources regarding funding study abroad programs which can be found here.

What resources within the major will I have access to in addition to meeting with an advisor?

The advisors in the International Studies Major offer numerous workshops to help guide your student through their time in college in order to help them be well-rounded students and better prepared for the job market after college. These workshops include topics such as: International Studies career advice, general information and advice about the major, study abroad, working abroad, and language acquisition skills. All workshops are free and open to any student in the IS major. In addition information about internships is frequently disseminated to students through newsletters, the department Facebook page, as well as emails.

I am interested in another major as well. Is it possible for them to have two majors?

Absolutely! Many students in the International Studies Major have a second major, or a certificate. Common second majors include history, political science, economics and languages.

What is a certificate? Can I choose a minor?

Certificates are similar to minors. For example, students can pursue a certificate in global health if they fulfill class requirements. UW-Madison does not offer any minors. Students enhance their studies with one or more certificates, such as the Global Health Certificate, the School of Business Certificate, or those offered by the Regional Studies Centers within the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS). To explore all majors and certificates offered at UW-Madison, please click here.

I’m concerned that the intended major won’t get me a job. What should I do?

There doesn’t always appear to be a direct link between a college major and a career. This shouldn’t, however, raise any alarms. A college degree in the liberal arts teaches learners how to think critically and broadly about a variety of issues — something employers value. Moreover, it is common for individuals to find work in a field that is not directly related to their degree once they graduate. A liberal arts degree helps students become well-versed in numerous areas, which prepares them for many career options.