L&S SOAR Overview

During the academic advising portion of SOAR, you will:

  • meet one-on-one with a professional advisor who will help you begin your academic journey
  • learn about your liberal arts education and how it can be customized to reflect you and your interests
  • review your placement test scores
  • discuss any AP, transfer, and other credits
  • learn how to search for, choose, and enroll in classes
  • discover how your classes and credits meet degree requirements
  • learn how to make changes to your schedule

Academic advisors will guide you at SOAR. You are responsible for your academic choices, including choosing your classes and managing your enrollment.


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I have been admitted to UW-Madison. Can I meet with an academic advisor before SOAR?

Congratulations on being admitted to UW-Madison! If your questions are primarily about course selection and academic options, we will go over this at SOAR and you will be meeting with an academic advisor then. We do not meet with incoming students before SOAR, since we will not have all the necessary academic records to properly advise before then.

Prior to academic advising at SOAR, we encourage you to attend one of UW’s prospective/admitted student events and information sessions that take place throughout the year.

How do I know if AAS is the right place for me at SOAR?

When you make a SOAR reservation, the system will ask you questions that will help choose your SOAR Advising Group

Where can I learn more about what to expect at SOAR?

Review the SOAR website for information on how to prepare for your SOAR experience.

How do I contact my advisor after SOAR?

After SOAR, you will be assigned to an advisor in AAS. If you have questions after SOAR, email your assigned advisor. Once the term following SOAR begins, you can schedule an appointment with your advisor in Starfish. 

L&S Orientation
Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison

Your Liberal Arts Education

In the College of Letters & Science, you have freedom and flexibility to choose the courses that fit your interests. You can customize your learning in many ways.

This is your liberal arts education. Think of liberal as meaning “free, unrestricted,” and arts as “skills-knowledge.” A liberal arts degree is a journey of self-discovery as you explore new topics, discuss ideas with a wide range of people, and delve deeply into a broad range of subjects beyond just your major.

When you graduate, you are not narrowly prepared for one field. You have developed communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills. You have been exposed to the scientific method, as well as literary analysis. A chemistry major, for example, will also graduate with skills and knowledge in communications, the humanities, and the social sciences, while an English major will also graduate with an understanding of the physical and biological sciences, quantitative analysis, and more.


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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Arts (BA) vs. Bachelor of Science (BS)

The two most commonly sought degrees in the College of Letters & Science are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees.

You can find more details about BA and BS degree requirements here.

General Education and Breadth

All UW-Madison students will develop competencies in college-level communications, quantitative reasoning, language, and an understanding of the culture and contributions of persistently marginalized racial or ethnic groups in the United States.

All L&S students will also develop competencies across the liberal arts:

  • social sciences – the study of groups, institutions, and society, including data collection and analysis
  • humanities – explore the human condition to build empathy and appreciation your own and other people’s perspectives, including interpretation of literary texts
  • natural sciences – systematic study of living organisms and the physical world, including abstraction and logical reasoning.


The part of your degree for focused, in-depth study of a subject is your major.

Most majors in L&S require between 30 and 40 credits, meaning they make up about one-third of your entire 120-credit degree.

You must have at least one major.

You Shape the Rest!

General education, breadth, and one major will only make up a part of your total coursework. Most students will have substantial room to further customize their degree to reflect their interests.

Students choose a variety of paths such as pursuing a second major, exploring certificates, mastering a language, or preparing for professional and graduate schools.

What is a Certificate?

A wide array of certificate programs is also available for students who have special interests in diverse topics. Certificates generally require 15-18 credits to complete and are similar to what other universities commonly call “minors.”

Certificates are optional.

campus aerial
Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison