Mission and Purpose of the UW-Madison General Education Requirements

The purpose of the General Education Requirements is to ensure that every graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. These requirements provide for breadth across the humanities and arts, social studies, and natural sciences; competence in communication, critical thinking and analytical skills appropriate for a university-educated person; and investigation of the issues raised by living in a culturally diverse society. The Wisconsin Experience begins with this core of intellectual and practical skills, basic knowledge of human cultures and the physical world (and, importantly, the strategies used to understand these topics), and tools intended to contribute to their sense of personal and social responsibility; the work students do in their majors and to complete their degrees also helps them to learn what they need to know not just for making a living, but also for making a life.


Completing the general education requirements is an important part of achieving these competencies, and to do so, students choose from many courses in communication, quantitative reasoning, natural science, humanities/literature/arts, social studies, and ethnic studies. Many of these courses also count toward degree requirements.

All students except those who matriculated at a college or university before May 20, 1996, must satisfy the university-wide General Education Requirements. Students should always check with their advisors to see if their school or college has any additional requirements that go beyond the basic UW-Madison requirements, or if the programs in which they are enrolled ask them to fulfill these requirements through specific courses or by pursuing them in a particular order.

Please also see the Undergraduate Catalog description of the General Education requirements.