Student Services FAQs

Click the boxes below to see the answers.


+How can I contact my Academic Advisor?

To meet with Allee, please schedule an appointment in Starfish.

The best way to reach Allee for one-on-one advice is to schedule an appointment in Starfish. Allee can also be reached via email, but may be slow to respond to individual messages.

  1. Urgent Requests
    Students: please contact Russell Labs Hub Student Worker(s) at to triage.
    Colleagues: please feel free to contact Allee through the chat feature in Microsoft Teams.
  2. Non-Urgent Requests
    If you have a non-urgent request, would like a status update on something, or would like to consult with others who may have similar experience – please consider stopping by for Allee’s virtual office hours!
  3. Quick question? Want to collaborate with others to get ideas?
    Join Allee for “Ask Allee Anything” – for hours and additional info, see the Ask Allee Anything page.
+How can I contact my Faculty Advisor?

Faculty advisors can be reached via email, and typically schedule their own appointments.

+I am a Wildlife Ecology student. Why don’t I have a faculty advisor yet?

Your faculty advisor may not be immediately assigned to you once you join the major. As of Spring 2023, there are currently 7 faculty members who serve as undergraduate faculty advisors. They are:

  • Jim Berkelman
  • Jon Pauli
  • David Drake
  • Tim Van Deelen
  • Zach Peery
  • Anna Pidgeon
  • Ben Zuckerberg

The best way to start is to review the bios for individual faculty in the department. Read about their research areas and explore their lab website if they have one. If there is a professor you think you want to make a connection with, reach out to them directly. You can also find out what classes they teach and enroll in one of them. Taking a class with a professor whose research you are interested in is a great way to make a first connection. Faculty tend to remember students who enroll in their classes, participate, and are enthusiastic about learning more. If you aren’t sure where to start, your staff advisor can assign you to someone based on their availability and current advising load.

+What’s the difference between a faculty advisor and a staff advisor?

Faculty advisors serve as mentors in a professional sense and are instrumental for students who wish to become involved in scientific research. Having a faculty advisor is crucial for students who want to complete and independent research project for their capstone.

Your staff advisor is more like a high school guidance counselor who can help you choose classes and understand program requirements. There is crossover between areas of expertise, so please feel free to ask either advisor any question. If one of us doesn’t know the answer, we will make a referral!

+How often should I meet with my advisor? Do I have to do it every semester?

Freshman, transfer students, and any student who has recently declared the major are required to consult with their staff and/or faculty advisor at least once to go over your plan for degree completion. This consultation must occur prior to enrollment for the upcoming term. Students may have an enrollment hold placed on their record that can be lifted after consulting with an advisor. Most often, consulting happens through an advising appointment scheduled through Starfish but can also be done through drop-ins or via email. Students who have built their 4-year plan and have it saved as their “Primary Plan” in degree planner are encouraged to meet with an advisor regularly to discuss electives and progress towards degree completion.


+Requesting permission to enroll in a course with the Entomology, Plant Pathology, or Forest and Wildlife Ecology subject listings?

Please email for assistance.   

If the course you are planning to enroll under requires an authorization form, you should be able to find forms on the relevant department website:

Once the form is filled out, please sent it to and be patient while it is processed. You will be informed when permission has been granted for you to enroll.

+Enrollment troubleshooting tips

Enrollment Troubleshooting Tips

  • Holds: If you are unsure why you have a hold, use this resource!  
  • Revalidate: Holds all gone, but still having issues? Select the courses in your cart that have the error and click the “Revalidate” button.  
  • Requisites and Class notes: Be sure to read through a course’s full section page on Course, Search, & Enroll, to learn about pre-requisites and course-specific enrollment information.  

Reference images for all the above and more can be found here.    


Certain courses are starting to fill. In these cases, try to obtain a place on the course’s waitlist. Though this will not guarantee you a seat in the course, it will help show that you are interested in enrolling in the course if a space becomes available. 

If you did not get on to a course’s waitlist:

  • continue to monitor for available space as students could drop at any point between now and the start of the term. 

If you did get on to a course’s waitlist and seats open in the course:

  • often closer to the start of the new term, please be assured that staff are actively monitoring the waitlist. If a seat becomes available for you, you will receive directions on how to enroll off the waitlist. These invitations expire after 2 days, so make sure to monitor your campus email closely. Priority on waitlists is usually given to seniors, then juniors, then sophomores, etc.
+How do I know when to enroll?

The Office of the Registrar will contact you with your enrollment appointment time. This happens in early November for Spring enrollment, and late March/early April for Summer and Fall enrollment. After times are assigned, you can find yours on the “Course Search & Enroll” tile in MyUW.

Note that this date is simply the earliest date and time you can enroll. You do not need to meet with your advisor on this date specifically. In fact, it is better to meet with your advisor prior to your enrollment appointment so you have enough time to build a schedule in your enrollment cart. Advisors’ calendars start filling up once enrollment begins, so be proactive and plan accordingly.

+How do I know if I have an enrollment hold?

You can check to see if you have a hold on your account by logging onto your MyUW Student Center, selecting Tasks and reviewing any Holds listed. Some holds require you to take action; others are informational only. Please see this KB document for details. 

Course Planning

+Can I take a class as pass/fail for my major requirements?

No, courses taken pass/fail are not able to satisfy major requirements, nor can they be used to meet specific college or university requirements (e.g. Comm A, Ethnic St., Humanities, etc.).  Detailed pass/fail policies can be found here 


+What courses should I take if I want to go to graduate school?

One of the best things you can do if you plan to attend a research-based graduate program is to get involved in undergraduate research.

Beyond research lab experience, having a strong background in statistics and data science is very useful in preparing for advanced graduate study. Some programs may also prefer for students to have taken advanced mathematics and physics during their undergraduate career, but this is not always the case.

Minimum GPA requirements will also come into play. Most graduate programs require students to maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout their graduate career. Showing that you can maintain a strong GPA as an undergraduate student will be crucial to your success. While it may be possible to be admitted to some graduate programs with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0, it may make you a less competitive applicant or require that you provide additional evidence of admissibility to be considered. So keep up your GPA, especially in junior and senior years!

+What’s the Deal with 375 “Special Topics” Courses?

Departments use the 375 subject listing is a placeholder for new courses (without their own permanent number) or courses that are taught very infrequently. With advanced planning and advisor approval, these courses can count as substitutions for program requirements. If you have a question about any specific special topics section, talk to your advisor about requesting a substitution/DARS exception.


+If I re-take a course, will the new grade replace my old grade?

No, if you retake a course both grades will be on your transcript and calculated into your GPA. In most cases, it is not advisable to re-take a course where you earned a poor grade. Talk to your advisor for specific situations when it may be required to re-take a course you did not pass with a D or better.


+I’m planning to graduate soon. What steps do I need to take?
  1. Apply to Graduate, ideally by the beginning of your final semester.
  2. Run your DARS prior to the start of your final semester to ensure you will have satisfied all requirements.
  3. At least 1-2 months before graduation, check the Commencement website to learn about attire rental and other important details.

Note: Attending the commencement ceremony is optional. Students do not receive their diplomas at the commencement ceremony. Diplomas are mailed approximately 6-8 weeks after the end of each semester. This allows time for final grading, reviews by school/college degree clearance staff, posting of the degree to the student record (transcript), and processing of the diploma.

Your diploma will not be mailed if you still have certain types of holds on your academic record. When you clear your holds, your diploma will then be automatically released for mailing. Contact the Registrar’s Office with any specific questions about your diploma.

+Completing a milestone of graduate study this semester (MS thesis defense, prelim exam, or final PhD defense)?

Don’t forget to request your warrant! Your first step will be to fill out this webform: Warrant request form (online). The web form goes to Russell Labs Student Services and is then used to generate your warrant with the Graduate School.

If you have requested your warrant but have not heard back, please sit tight and trust that in queue and will be ready by your defense date.

Once the warrant is generated, Russell Labs Hub Staff will be in touch about the next steps. 

Webpage outlining graduate student milestones and steps to graduation. 



+How do internships work in Wildlife Ecology?

See the department’s Internship and Job Resources for general information and a list of popular internship sites. We recommend that students find paid internships, although some may be conducted on a volunteer basis. Even though it is not required for graduation, Wildlife Ecology students often elect to do a summer internship to gain additional skills. Students are encouraged to talk to their advisor about internship possibilities, departmental internship policies and how to receive credit (F&W ECOL 399) for an internship. The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department strongly encourages all students pursuing an internship to use the internship forms on this page.

Students should note that any internship done for credit will require a faculty sponsor to enroll in a section of F&W ECOL399 Coordinated Internship/Cooperative Education.

+How do internships in Forest Science work?

See the department’s Internship and Job Resources for general information and a list of popular internship sites. We recommend that students find paid internships, although some may be conducted on a volunteer basis. All Forest Science majors are required to complete an internship, which must be pre-approved by a faculty member and a site supervisor. See the Forest Science internship form on this page.


+I’m a sophomore – is it too late to join the Wildlife Ecology major and graduate on time?

Not at all! However, you do want to make sure you are taking math, chemistry, and biology courses relatively early in your undergraduate career. These courses are often prerequisite requirements for more advanced courses in the major. If you are transferring from a major outside CALS or have not taken an introductory biology sequence, it may be more difficult to catch up. You will also want to take F&W ECOL 101 and 318 as early as possible, noting that these classes are only taught in Fall.

+I am a Wildlife Ecology major. Can I double major?

Yes, students are able to double major in Wildlife Ecology and many other majors on campus. However, because the Wildlife Ecology major has several core courses that are term-specific, careful planning is crucial.

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) policy and procedures can be found here. The best way to start the process is by building a 4-year plan to complete your primary major. Then, an advisor from your intended second major can help determine if adding an additional major is a good fit with your goals and overall student experience. In some cases, a certificate or other opportunities may be more beneficial than adding an additional major.

Research Credits

+How do I enroll in research credits?

Independent study credits like F&W ECOL 299 and 699 require instructor consent to enroll. This means you will need pre-approval from the professor you will enroll under and who will give you a grade. You will also need to negotiate with the professor to determine how many hours you will be spending in the lab, which determines how many credit hours you should earn.

Once you have come to an agreement with your professor, they should notify an appropriate staff member to grant you the permission necessary to enroll for credits. Each section has its own unique five-digit class number. The staff member who grants you permission can give you this number, which can also be found in Course Search & Enroll. When enrolling for research credits, we suggest using the “Add by class number” feature which looks like this:

Add by Class Number Screen Illustration

Study Abroad

+Can I study abroad in Wildlife Ecology?

Yes! Refer to the Wildlife Ecology Study Abroad MAP webpage for more information. Students in the major have completed a variety of different field experiences abroad. The best way to plan for a study abroad experience is to build out your plan to complete your degree in advance. If you plan to study abroad in a Fall or Spring semester, set aside a semester with lots of room for electives. There are also several study abroad programs that can be completed over the summer.

Courses taken abroad with direct equivalencies to courses in the major will automatically show up in DARS once posted. Students should consult with their advisors when considering what courses to take abroad and how the equivalency process works.

Transfer Credits

+Where can I find more information on transfer credits?

To review how courses from other institutions transfer to UW-Madison we recommend using the Transferology database and resources from the Registrar’s Course Equivalency Service (CES). For more information please visit the CES website.


+What’s the process for requesting a DARS Exception? Who makes the decisions?

Meet with your advisor if you would like to request a substitution for any major requirement. If you are taking a new course that has not been approved as an exception in the past, you may be asked to provide a syllabus that will be reviewed by the program’s Curriculum Committee. Your advisor can help you navigate this process. Ultimately, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) approves and processes all exceptions to curricular requirements.

+I am a Wildlife Ecology major. If I complete this major, will I automatically be eligible for certification as a Wildlife Biologist through The Wildlife Society (TWS)?

Not necessarily, however our curriculum is well-aligned with the educational requirements needed for certification. Most students will need additional credits in Botany and Physical Sciences to satisfy TWS requirements. You also may need additional credits in communication, English, and environmental law/ natural resources policy. Please refer to TWS website for current requirements:

Additionally, Professor Tim Van Deelen is a great person to talk to with any questions about TWS certification. He has served as a member of the certification review board and has held strategy sessions for the student chapter of The Wildlife Society.