Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I declare the Biochemistry or Microbiology major?

You need to schedule an appointment with an academic advisor in the Biochemistry / Microbiology Undergraduate Advising Hub to declare the major.

Please schedule with the advisor assigned for your last name. You can find your advisor here.

Appointments are made via Starfish in MyUW.

Learn more about the Biochemistry major or Microbiology major here: https://biochemmicrobio.wisc.edu/majors/.

Who is my major advisor?

Your advisor is assigned to you based on the first letter of your last name. You can find your advisor here.

Can I complete an additional major and/or certificate as a Biochemistry or Microbiology major?

Yes! There are many majors and certificates offered at UW–Madison that you can pair with your Biochemistry or Microbiology major! Second majors and certificates that are adjacent to science or complementary to science are especially good choices because they give you skills that you will need in your career as a scientist – like communicating your results, campaigning for funding, managing other scientists as you advance in your career, and more!

Please work with your advisors early to plan out your classes to ensure all requirements can be reasonably met within your timeline to graduate.

If you’re looking for some ideas to get inspired, some of the most popular and recommended certificates paired with the Biochemistry and Microbiology majors are Certificates in Global Health, Life Sciences Communication, Data Science, Health and the Humanities, Statistics, and/or Environmental Studies. Some of the more popular double majors paired with our majors are Global Health, Chemistry, Life Sciences Communication, Statistics, and Spanish.

Here are tools to explore majors and certificates at UW–Madison: https://www.wisc.edu/academics/majors/#majors

How do I know what courses to take and when?

This is a great question to talk about with your academic advisor! Please use Starfish in MyUW to schedule an appointment with your academic advisor to talk about course selection and degree progression.

If your advisor is not available as soon as you would like to meet, here are a few things you can do before meeting with your advisor:

What Upper-Level Biology courses or Microbiology Set A and Set B elective courses are offered this semester?

Biochemistry Major: Upper-Level Biology Courses

The complete list of Upper-Level Biology courses is on the Guide website. To navigate to this list, select the following options on this Guide website: “REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR” then scroll to the “BIOLOGY” section, then open the drop-down menu “+ AND Option A Upper-Level Biology”.

A list of courses offered each semester can be found on the Biochemistry Courses webpage as a PDF. Please note that these PDFs are intended to be helpful resources, not official resources. The Guide is the authoritative resource.

Microbiology Major: Microbiology Elective Courses

Microbiology majors must complete at least 6 credits of Microbiology electives; at least 3 credits must come from Set A. If you have any questions, please contact biochemmicrobio-advisor@wisc.edu.

The elective courses below were offered recently. Please note that course offerings are subject to change and that you should use Course Search & Enroll to verify what courses are offered each semester.

Microbiology Electives from the Set A list:

  • Fall: MICROBIO 324, MICROBIO 325, MICROBIO 425, MICROBIO 612, MICROBIO 626
  • Spring: MICROBIO 335, MICROBIO 345, MICROBIO 520, MICROBIO 523, MICROBIO 545, MICROBIO 657, MICROBIO 668
  • Summer: MICROBIO 525

Microbiology Electives from the Set B list:

  • Fall: BIOCHEM 601, BOTANY 330, CHEM 565, COMP SCI/BMI 57, F&W ECOL/SURG SCI 548, MM&I 301, MM&I 554, ONCOLOGY/PL PATH 640, PATH-BIO/MM&I 528, BOTANY 655
  • Spring: BIOCHEM 570, BIOCHEM 575, BOTANY 332, BOTANY 505, CHEM 565, FOOD SCHI 550, MM&I 341, MM&I 350
  • Summer: N/A

I’m having troubles with enrolling in courses, what do I do?

Here’s a detailed guide on how to enroll in courses: https://kb.wisc.edu/helpdesk/4134

Course Search & Enroll How-To’s

  • Add & Enroll in Classes – Step-by-step guide to add and enroll in classes using Course Search & Enroll.
  • Dropping a Class – An overview and step-by-step guide to dropping classes using Course Search & Enroll. Dropping a class after the semester begins could have significant impacts on your academic plan, your status as a full-time student, financial aid, and more. You are always encouraged to talk with your advisor before dropping.
  • Swapping a Class – An overview and step-by-step guide to swapping classes using Course Search & Enroll. Swap is a special action that lets you enroll in one class and drop another in one move. Swapping classes is useful when you really don’t want to drop a class first, before enrolling in a new class. Swapping is especially important if dropping the old class would make you have less than 12 credits or if you want to keep the old class if you don’t get the seat in the new class.

You can drop, swap, or add courses after you have already enrolled in courses and once the semester has started. If you decide to drop, swap, or add a course AFTER the semester has already started, there are specific Dates and Deadlines each term that you are allowed to take these actions. If you have additional questions on these Date and Deadlines, please reach out to your academic advisor.

Trouble-shooting Techniques

If you are having troubles enrolling in courses, here are a few trouble-shooting tips to try:

  • Check to see if you have any Holds on your account. Holds can prevent you from enrolling in courses until the Holds are released.
    • You can see a list of different Hold types and their meanings here: https://bursar.wisc.edu/holds For additional questions on Holds, please contact the Bursar’s Office (scroll to bottom of the page).
  • “Revalidate” the course if it is already in your cart.
    • You may also need to log out, clear your browser cache/cookies, restart your computer, log back in, and revalidate again.
  • Try different web browsers. Course Search and Enroll is optimized for Chrome, but if you’re already using that, you should try another browser.
    • Browser examples: Chrome, FireFox, Microsoft Edge, Safari

If enrollment still not working after trying the trouble-shooting techniques above, please contact the DoIT Help Desk ASAP: https://kb.wisc.edu/helpdesk/.

Can I study abroad as a Biochemistry or Microbiology major?

Yes! Some study abroad programs may even be able to fulfill major/degree requirements. If you know you want to study abroad, please work with your advisors early to make a plan so that you can fit in all the courses you need between now and graduation.

Study Abroad Resources:

How do I get involved in an independent study lab or research at UW–Madison?

We encourage undergraduate students to participate in research! The Biochemistry and Microbiology majors do not require you to do research as part of your graduation requirements, so you get to decide what kind of researcher you want to be. You can find more information about getting involved in research on the Biochemistry Undergraduate Research webpage.

Here are a few resources to help you search for independent study opportunities as an undergraduate student. The resources provided are beneficial for any undergraduate student on campus who is in a science-related major and/or is interested in getting involved in science-related research:

Are there specific scholarships or awards specific to my major?

Yes! Current and incoming students can also apply for campus-wide or college-specific scholarships and awards through the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH) at: https://wisc.academicworks.com/. Note: Many scholarships have a February 1st deadline to apply. Apply early!

Biochemistry Scholarships and Awards

The Biochemistry Department offers a number of awards for undergraduate and graduate students in Biochemistry. To learn more about the awards and apply, visit the department’s Scholarships & Awards page.

Microbiology Scholarships and Awards

The Bacteriology Department offers a number of awards for undergraduate and graduate students in Microbiology. To learn more about the awards and apply, visit the Scholarships & Awards page

What mental health, physical health, wellness, and basic needs resources are available on campus?

Yes! Below is a list of resources available to students on campus. You and an academic advisor can go over these resources in a meeting if you have any questions. Please be aware that some of the resources may have limited summer hours, that resources and offerings may change, and that new resources are being added all the time. You can and should reach out to an advisor to talk about the best and most up-to-date resources for you and your needs.

Academic advisors are here to help you navigate resources and help you find the help and support you need. We care deeply for our students’ wellbeing. As part of our support, some academic advisors are mandatory reporters and are obligated to report violations of the UW–Madison Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy.

University Health Services (UHS)

On-campus services through University Health Services (UHS) (https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/)

Badger SPILL

Badger SPILL (Supporting Peers in Laid-back Listening) is another a wellness resource — and a serving opportunity!  Get and/or give student-to-student anonymous and confidential support at https://win.wisc.edu/organization/spill. Students can “spill” privately about anything and get empathy, feedback, and resources from other students in a safe, confidential, and anonymous setting.

Open Seat

The Open Seat is a food pantry for UW students run by UW students. If you have a valid Wiscard, you are welcome at The Open Seat — to serve and/or to get a meal. There are no financial or background checks of any kind, and the Open Seat is open during the academic year and all summer (Wednesdays 5-7 pm, Fridays 11am-1pm, and by appointment). Please find more information here. The Open Seat is located in Room 4209 of the Student Activity Center (SAC), 333 East Campus Mall.

Dean of Students

The Dean of Students Office is a primary resource for connecting students who are navigating personal, academic, or health issues, to the supportive campus and community resources that they need. The Dean of Students Office also serves as a central location for reporting issues of hate and bias, sexual assault, and hazing. They have confidential and non-confidential resources. In certain circumstances, they can even provide small short-term loans to cover groceries or rent to bridge a tough month or semester. For more information, please visit: https://doso.students.wisc.edu/.

McBurney Disability Resource Center

The McBurney Disability Resource Center has an electronic accommodation and case management system. You can use McBurney Connect to generate a Faculty Notification Letter for each class in which you are seeking accommodations. These notification letters will replace the student VISAs (Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations plans). Please seek assistance from your Accommodation Specialist in the McBurney Center with any questions you have. Learn more about the McBurney center and access the application process here.

I have a question not listed here – who do I contact?

Please email biochemmicrobio-advisor@wisc.edu or schedule an appointment with your advisor with any questions. Expect a response in 1-5 business days.

During certain times of the year, you may find it difficult to get a response from your advisor on short notice. If you have a quick question, please email your advisor and wait for a response in 1-5 business days. If you have a longer question or questions, please still email your advisor and schedule an appointment with them to go over your question(s) together.

Schedules open two to three weeks in advance. If no appointments are available right now, come back and check Starfish often.