The Guide: Your key to all UW-Madison courses

June 30, 2017 By Meg Hamel

Do you know where to find the requirements for your chosen degree? What about a list of all the certificates offered by UW–Madison?

Every college and university publishes an academic catalog, a comprehensive collection of its degrees, majors, departments, and courses. This month, UW–Madison published the 2017–2018 edition of our Guide, the combined catalog of undergraduate and graduate academic offerings and the Wisconsin Experience.

The dynamic new Guide has been upgraded in many ways. Not only is it easily searchable, students who are undecided on a major can choose from 16 areas of interest, such as “Plants & Animals” and “Historical Studies” to show which majors might be a good fit. That interactive filter also shows the 62 certificates approved for the coming academic year.

“I’ve been referring students to the Guide so often because it’s a nice bank of the information that they need,” says Melanie Galdes, a student peer advisor at SOAR who completed her degree in Human Development and Family Studies this spring. “It’s so much easier than searching for different majors and different department websites. As peer advisors, we have to learn all the various ways that departments have listed information about their majors. This changes whenever websites get redesigned. The Guide is so helpful getting information to students in the most straightforward way.”

The Guide shows students how to gain admission to or declare a major, and is the official record of that major’s requirements. Because the publication is updated annually, an archive of past years is maintained so students can always refer to the requirements in place in the year they declared their major.

Galdes says, “Students at SOAR are getting so much information. If we have them navigate to too many different things, they start to stress about remembering all those places to click to. When they navigate to the Guide, all that information is in one place, including links out to department sites.”

Take a look at the 8,900-plus courses approved by faculty. The Guide’s index represents all the courses formally on the books. Each department and program selects from these to create the Schedule of Classes for a given term. While the Guide is separate from enrollment systems, all draw from the same course database maintained by the Office of the Registrar. Students will continue to use the Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) for personalized tracking of their degree progress, based on their own combination of courses taken.

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