Undergraduate Program Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective and Incoming Students

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I am interested in becoming an environmental studies student with the Nelson Institute. How do I apply?

The environmental studies major and certificate programs can be paired with any other program at UW-Madison. As an undergraduate you do not need to directly apply to the Nelson Institute, but rather contact us once you decide which school or college you plan to also be a part of.

I would like to visit the environmental studies department to take a tour and talk with the staff. Would this be possible?

Since our program is highly interdisciplinary, our students take classes across campus and not just within Science Hall, where our administrative and academic offices are located. We recommend you sign up for a general campus tour to get an overview of the campus.

Since the environmental studies major is a double major structure (it requires students to have another major on campus), what other majors on campus pair best with it?

The environmental studies program is incredibly interdisciplinary so there is no one “best” major to pair with it. We have students in each school or college across campus: the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, School of Business, School of Education, College of Engineering, School of Human Ecology, College of Letters & Science and School of Nursing.

Current UW Students

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How do I get in touch with the environmental studies advisors?

The best way to reach us is to email undergrad@nelson.wisc.edu.

How can I stay in touch with the environmental studies program?

Like our Environmental Studies Student Opportunity Forum page on Facebook. We post a variety of engagement opportunities ranging from lectures, workshops, and events, to internship postings, volunteer and student involvement opportunities, and other interesting Nelson Institute and campus happenings.

How do I set up an appointment to speak with an advisor?

If you are not currently declared as an environmental studies student, please set up an appointment by writing undergrad@nelson.wisc.edu with your general availability and student ID. If you are currently declared in the undergraduate program, you can schedule appointments via the WiscCal Scheduler or via email. You’ll find instructions for using the WiscCal scheduling assistant and a tutorial video.

I was hoping my transfer course would fulfill an environmental studies requirement, but it ended up coming back as something else. What can I do now?

If your course did transfer to UW-Madison, just as a different number, please send or bring us your course syllabus as well as what course you thought it would transfer as. We will review the information for its relevance to our program.

I am having difficulties enrolling in an environmental studies class. Where can I go for assistance?

If you have questions regarding enrollment in an environmental studies course, please contact undergrad@nelson.wisc.edu with your name, student ID, class number, and a description of the issue. For example: Bucky Badger, 9061234567, Envir St 112, Discussion 306, I got error code #51 and was not allowed to add the class.

Can anyone take a section of Environmental Studies 600, the environmental studies major capstone class?

Since a capstone course is required of all environmental studies majors, we only allow access to declared majors during the enrollment period and at SOAR. After the majority of continuing students have registered, we will allow certificate students, and other interested students, access to any open seats in the class. The environmental studies certificate curriculum allows this course to count toward the theme requirement.

Where do I find internships? How do I get one?

There are a variety of resources to locate internships and other experiential opportunities both on campus and off. Many opportunities are posted on our Environmental Studies Student Opportunity Forum page on Facebook. In addition, environmental positions and internships are posted to the Nelson Institute’s jobs board and you can subscribe to receive a weekly email update with new listings.

have an internship set up for the future. Can I get course credit for it?

Students interested in receiving credit for their internship should contact their home school career services unit to inquire about the process. In all cases, students should note that the academic credit is awarded not for the internship per se, but for academic work (in or out of a typical classroom experience that generally involves assigned coursework and that encourages meaningful reflection on the internship experience).

I did an internship in the past. Can I get course credit for it?

Generally speaking, if you are interested in earning credit for an internship experience, it needs to be arranged before the experience. Unless there are extenuating circumstances surrounding the nature of the experience, campus policy does not allow for credits for past experiences.

I am interested in studying abroad. Which program is best for environmental studies? How can I be sure I will earn credits toward my major in my study abroad program?

Our most fundamental philosophy, and a foundation on which the environmental studies program was created, is to offer an interdisciplinary curriculum that spans all contemporary disciplines that touch upon the environment. In addition, all of our students in the environmental studies major have another major.

Certainly, what works for one student, may not be the best fit for another. There is no “best” or “perfect” study abroad program, but rather many study abroad programs that you might choose from.

We recommend you begin the process of exploration by talking to a study abroad advisor about your interests, academic goals, experience goals and finances. Start by looking at the different programs available and bring your ideas to the study abroad advisor. Once you have a program narrowed down or chosen, please set up an appointment to talk with an environmental studies academic advisor.