New First-Year Students

What Advisors Do

At UW-Madison, advising is a partnership between you and the network of advisors you build during your time here. Advisors are professionals who have been trained to help you with your plans and goals during college and beyond. Your advisors are here to introduce you to opportunities and help you make informed decisions.

Every undergraduate student at UW-Madison will have at least one assigned advisor. Whether you have specific questions or just need someone to talk to, advisors are here to help you succeed.

Types of Advisors

Advising is a key aspect of the teaching and learning mission of UW-Madison. There is no one standard advising “roadmap” for all students. Your journey at UW-Madison will depend on a number of factors, including: your personal and professional goals, your graduation timeline, your majors and interests, and other commitments related to family or work.

There are several different types of advisors that you may interact with during your college experience:

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An academic advisor is a professional who provides advice and guidance to students on academic matters. Your academic advisor is the point-of-contact for topics such as:

  • Course selection & schedule creation
  • Degree requirements
  • Major exploration & declaration
  • Grades/GPA
  • Planning future semesters

Academic advisors are also here to support you during any academic or personal issues that you face. They can help connect you with other campus resources and help get the information you need.

If you start with CCAS, you will have an assigned CCAS academic advisor until you declare a major.


After you declare a major, you will work with a major advisor through graduation. A major is a specific area of study to specialize in while in college (like Political Science, Chemistry, or Psychology), that typically consists of 30-40 credits.

After students declare a major, they will work with a major advisor through graduation. A major advisor is a professional advisor or faculty member within the academic department or unit that houses that academic program. Major advisors have full expertise within the major to help students with:

  • Guiding course selection
  • Staying on track for major and degree completion
  • Learning about research and job opportunities
  • Connecting with faculty in the academic department


certificate is an optional path of study that allows students to gain skills and knowledge in a specific subject or integrate multiple subject areas. These are similar to minors at other colleges & universities. Certificates are typically between 15-24 credits.

Each certificate on campus has dedicated person or team to advise students in the program. A certificate advisor is who students work with to ensure they complete the program requirements.


A career advisor is a professional who provides students (and often alumni) with support in identifying and attaining career goals. Career advisors can help students with many aspects of career exploration, including:

  • Gathering information & personal insight based on their interests, values, and skills.
  • Discussing options on choosing a major or academic path that aligns with career goals.
  • Offering help with resume writing, job search strategies, interview preparation, and career exploration.
  • Providing information about internships, co-op programs, and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Developing networking skills and building professional relationships.
  • Organizing career-related workshops, seminars, and events.
  • Providing support for graduate school applications and entrance exams.
  • Offering guidance on job offers, negotiations, and career transitions.

For more information about career advising at UW-Madison, visit

Cohort Program

Students part of UW-Madison cohort programs may also have direct advising resources in that program. Cohort program advisors provide individualized and holistic support services for their students while at UW-Madison.

These programs include:


A specialist advisor is an expert who provides targeted guidance and support in a specific area within the university. They have in-depth knowledge and experience related to their area and help students through specific needs. These include, but not limited to:

Strategic Exploration

Choosing a major can be both exciting and challenging as you explore many possibilities. Our advisors will help you make strategic choices around course selection. We will work with you to create a customized academic plan that fits your goals and interests. We will show you how you can explore your interests while not feeling behind on degree requirements. Strategic Exploration helps you both explore majors and stay on track to graduate.

Learn more about Strategic Exploration

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A CCAS student is ANY undergraduate student who is exploring their academic options. We support many students at different points in their academic journey, and everywhere in between.

No matter where you are starting from, we are excited to work with you at CCAS!

Completely undecided and are feeling unsure and maybe overwhelmed about where to start.

Know you want to apply to a limited enrollment program and need course planning guidance while other options.

Love many subjects and do not know how to pick one major, certificate, or a combination.

Have a general sense of what you like, but do not know, or want to explore, which programs can match those interests.

Have never had the chance to pick classes you like and need some guidance about what is possible.

Know what you DO NOT like, but need guidance trying out new experiences to see what you DO like.

Understanding Credits

If you have earned any college-level credits, be sure to send them to UW-Madison! Before you attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR), the Office of the Registrar will provide you with a Transfer Credit Evaluation detailing how your previous courses and standardized tests will transfer to UW-Madison. You will be emailed when your evaluation has been completed with instructions on how to view it in your MyUW Applicant Homepage or Student Center.

Learn more about Transferring Credit to UW-Madison

How to read a Transfer Credit Evaluatuon

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Want to see how some of your credits will transfer to UW-Madison now?

Credit by Exam

You may earn credit from college credit exams, such as: AP, IB, CLEP, and A-Levels. The Placement and Credit by Examination section of the UW Guide shows how scores on these exams equate to credit at UW-Madison. Use the tables on this page to see what you will earn based on your scores. Earned credits from exams include: direct course equivalents, breadth credits, departmental electives, and general electives.

Go to the Guide

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College-Level Courses

Transferology is an online transfer equivalency database with 400+ colleges in their network. All courses evaluated by UW-Madison will appear in Transferology. This is a great place to start if you have taken at least one course through dual credit or through the institution directly.

Note: Some courses you have taken may not appear in Transferology. Those will show on your Transfer Credit Evaluation.

Learn how to use Transferology