Bascom Hall atop Bascom Hill is pictured in a fisheye-lens aerial view of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus during an autumn sunset on Oct. 5, 2011. Other majority campus facilities include, clockwise from lower left, South Hall, Birge Hall, Van Vleck Hall, the Medical Sciences Center, Ingraham Hall, Van Hise Hall and Observatory Drive. In the background at upper right is Lake Mendota and Picnic Point. The photograph was made from a helicopter looking west. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Declaration and Classes

To declare, make an appointment with Academic Advising Manager, Ginny Jackson on Starfish.

If students are not currently in the College of Letters & Science (L&S), you must transfer into L&S before declaring. However, students are welcome to meet with the Conservation Biology advising manager to discuss the major before transferring or declaring.

Conservation Biology Majors must take at least 50 credits in the major. Students must complete all core requirements (I), 12 credits of Field/Species Biology (II), and an elective Social Science course plus additional elective coursework (III) to get to the required 50 credits.  In addition, students must also satisfy all University requirements and the L&S B.A. or B.S. requirements.

Because the Conservation Biology major has many elective courses and because career and professional goals vary widely among students, pursuing advice and guidance is important. For this reason, students are encouraged to meet with their Academic Advising Manager regularly to discuss their academic plans.  In addition, students considering graduate study must choose courses that will provide a strong foundation. In addition, such students should seek out advanced courses in their chosen field if possible as well as a research experience.

The Conservation Biology Personal Statement requirement is completed by students in the major during their final year.  Students choose a conservation program or organization of interest, then evaluate their mission and explore potential barriers or challenges to meeting the program’s goals.   The requirement includes a writing exercise and allows students to work with their faculty advisor or affiliate reviewer to connect UW-Madison experiences to future career or academic goals.

How does it work?

  1. Use the Personal Statement Evaluation Form as a rubric.  Choose a conservation organization of interest and complete an assessment of the program.  Be ready to talk through your findings with your reviewer.
  2. For the writing portion, choose between a cover letter for a position at the conservation organization reviewed, a personal statement for a conservation related graduate school, or a one-two page assessment of your chosen conservation organization.
  3. Set up an appointment with your Conservation Biology affiliate reviewer (the affiliate reviewer is your choice of a UW instructor, TA, or researcher with a biological or ecological background-think about someone you might ask to be a reference for your job search or grad school application).  Feel free to use this affiliate review letter if helpful.  Send your writing portion to your reviewer in advance of your meeting.
  4. This Personal Statement Evaluation Form is to be completed and signed off by your reviewer and submitted to Ginny Jackson ( by finals week of your graduation semester.