Soil Science

Soil Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Ken Sanapaw (left) and Leon Fowler (right), both students from the College of the Menomonee Nation, gather soil samples to be tested for carbon levels in a maple forest near Minocqua, Wisconsin. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Advisor: If you’re interested in becoming a Soil Science major, contact Julie Garvin, She can help you schedule an appointment with one of our faculty advisors or provide you with further information about the department.Departmental Office: 263 Soils Building (608-262-2633)

Field of Study: Soil science is the study of the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils. Soil Science allows us to optimize use and preservation of land for agriculture, forestry, recreation, transportation systems, urban development and many other endeavors.

Why study Soil Science? The food that nourishes us, the water that we drink and the air that we breathe all depend on soils and their life-sustaining properties. Soil Science at the UW-Madison provides an understanding of the practical application of biology, chemistry, physics and earth science principles to integrated land use and environmental protection.

Soil Science graduates enjoy a wide array of science, technology and business opportunities in economic and environmentally sound management of natural, agricultural and urban ecosystems.

Possible Careers: Environmental soil scientist or soil conservationist in government agencies, industry, or private consulting firms; crop consultant; farm conservation or land use planner; golf course superintendent; athletic field manager; waste management consultant; urban soil scientist; arboriculturist; positions in bioremediation; physician; veterinarian.

Special Opportunities & Additional Information

  • UW Soils Club. and the Badger Turf and Grounds Club.
  • Attend state, regional and national conferences with fellow students.
  • More than a dozen scholarships are annually awarded to soil science majors.
  • Many positions are available in research laboratories.
  • We offer courses that fulfill requirements for the CALS Leadership certificate.
  • Our Natural Sciences degree now includes a Bioscience specialization, specifically for either soils majors interested in biology or those interested in double majoring with either Biology or other biological majors. The Environmental Sciences specialization is also a good second major for Biology majors.
Selected Required Courses for the B.S. Degree
  • Intro Biology: Biology 151-152; or Botany 130 and Zoology 101-102
  • Calculus: Depends upon specialization
  • General Chemistry: Chemistry 103-104, or Chem 109
  • Organic Chemistry: Depends upon specialization
  • Physics:  Depends upon specialization
  • Statistics: Depends upon specialization