University of Wisconsin–Madison

Advice for Freshmen & Transfer Students

If needed, take your Communication-A course

Some students test out of this requirement on the English Placement Test or are exempted through a score of 4 or 5 on either of the English AP exams. Completion of a Communication-A course is a prerequisite for J201, which is a prerequisite for admission to SJMC.

Work on your foreign language, math and science requirements

If you choose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, you must complete up to either the fourth level of one foreign language, or the third level of one foreign language and the second level of another. A level usually equals one semester of college language or one year of high school. Doing two semesters of a second language may be preferable if you took two or three years of a foreign language in high school but do not feel confident taking the same language at the next level of difficulty at UW-Madison. This is an extensive requirement and shouldn’t be delayed.

If you choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, you will need to complete up to the third level of only one foreign language; however the science and math requirements are more extensive than for the BA.

Math and science requirements are also important, and students in our major often find these challenging. It’s a good idea to get assistance from an L&S, Cross-College or SJMC advisor in picking the right courses for non-math or non-science majors.

Take Journalism 201: Introduction to Mass Communication

J201 is a prerequisite for admission to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It isn’t essential that you take J201 during your first semester on campus; it may even be in your best interest to wait a semester as you make the transition from high school to the university. The admissions committee does give the grade earned in J201 some weight in the application review process.

Consider humanities and social science courses

Our major and degree require students to take an enhanced mix of humanities and social science courses, including courses in at least three different fields, and 12 credits at the intermediate or advanced level. Humanities and social science courses are good options to get you ahead of the curve in our major.

Meet with the undergraduate advisor and attend an information session

Though you won’t be assigned an SJMC advisor officially until you’re admitted to the major, you’re welcome to meet with our undergraduate academic advisor in advance for help in planning your courses and general information about the program. Call 608-262-3690 to schedule an appointment.

For advice about the application process, however, you should attend an admissions information session. (See the Undergraduate Application for dates and times when these will be held.) These one-hour sessions contain far more information and advice about the application and admissions process than can be given in a one-on-one meeting, and they include a question-and-answer period. Once you sign in at an information session, you’ll be placed on an email list announcing drop-in advising hours specifically for applicants.

If needed, take your Communication-A course

If you did not get Communication-A credit through one of your transfer courses and believe you should have, contact UW Admissions as soon as possible. You may want to consider taking the English Placement Exam before you begin school at UW-Madison to try to test out of this requirement, especially if you did not transfer an equivalent to Journalism 201.

Complete your math requirements and science requirements

If you have an outstanding Quantitative Reasoning-A or math requirement, take the appropriate course or courses (often Math 112, but there are many options) as soon as possible. All SJMC students, BA or BS, must complete 12 credits of natural science – the BS degree requires additional biological and physical science. Students in our major often find math and science challenging. It’s a good idea to get assistance from an L&S, Cross-College or SJMC advisor in picking the right courses for non-math or non-science majors.

Complete your foreign language requirement

Check to ensure that any foreign language you may have transferred is applying appropriately to your BA or BS requirements.

Complete Journalism 201: Introduction to Mass Communication

J201 is a prerequisite for applying into the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Introductory Journalism courses at other institutions sometimes transfer to UW-Madison as equivalent to J201, but more often they transfer as electives (e.g. “JOURN X12”) that don’t count for the major prerequisite. Transfer students without a J201 equivalent from their prior college should take J201 their first semester at UW-Madison if they intend to apply to the Journalism major.

Consider humanities and social science courses

Our major and degree require students to take an enhanced mix of humanities and social science courses, including courses in at least three different fields, and 12 credits at the intermediate or advanced level. Humanities and social science courses are good options to get you ahead of the curve in our major.

Consider taking one or two journalism theories and topics courses

Courses numbered in the 500s and 600s are called Theories and Topics courses. They are not restricted to declared majors. If you have junior status, you are eligible to take most of these classes. You must complete three courses at this level to earn your SJMC degree.

Meet with the undergraduate advisor and attend an information session

Though you won’t be assigned an SJMC advisor officially until you’re admitted to the major, you’re welcome to meet with our undergraduate academic advisor in advance for help in planning your courses and general information about the program. Call 608-262-3690 to schedule an appointment.

For advice about the application process, however, you should attend an admissions information session. (See the Undergraduate Application for dates and times when these will be held.) These one-hour sessions contain far more information and advice about the application and admissions process than can be given in a one-on-one meeting, and they include a question-and-answer period. Once you sign in at an information session, you’ll be placed on an email list announcing drop-in advising hours specifically for applicants.