LSC faculty and graduating seniors at the LSC graduation reception

LSC 111: Science and Technology Newswriting students filmed their final story presentations as a way to help them critique their performances.

LSC students and Director of Graduate Studies at the LSC scholarship reception


Major Overview

Understanding science and technology is not enough if you want a job that involves reporting and writing about science, agriculture, natural resources, business, health, or other specialized subjects. You also need good communication skills.

Undergraduate courses in the Department of Life Sciences Communication focus not only on writing, editing, and producing messages, but also on planning, designing, and evaluating effective communication programs. Students can emphasize print, broadcast, marketing communication, or take a broader scientific and technical communication perspective.

Our students acquire both communication training and specialized knowledge. About one-third of LSC students choose to pursue double majors, combining their interest in communication with another discipline, such as animal sciences, forest and wildlife ecology, or entomology or certificates in departments across campus. These students have been particularly attractive to prospective employers.

Our graduates secure communications positions in areas like advertising and marketing, public relations, writing, and digital media in industries related to health, agriculture, biotechnology and the environment. Many students also go on to graduate or professional school in the social, biological, or physical sciences.

Learning outside of class is a big part of undergraduate education here at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Internships are strongly recommended. We help place our students in a wide range of industries, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Students can hone their communication skills with a broad range of campus media organizations and special interest groups. Many of our marketing students are active in the student chapter of the National Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA), a consistent finalist in national competitions.


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Communication Strategy

Focuses on the skills and theory necessary to effectively communicate with audiences in the life sciences context, while satisfying the long-term strategic goals of an organization. This concentration includes courses in advertising, social marketing, and risk communication.

Courses Include:

LSC 431: Advertising in the Life Sciences
LSC 432: Social Media for the Life Sciences
LSC 435: Theory and Practice of Integrated Marketing Communication
LSC 440: Contemporary Communication Technologies and Their Social Effects
LSC 444: Native American Environmental Issues and the Media
LSC 617: Health Communication in the Information Age
LSC 625: Risk Communication
LSC 660: Data Analysis in Communications Research

Communication Skills and Technologies

Focuses on the skills required to translate organized information into informative and persuasive messages for a variety of media, such as news writing, documentary photography, publications editing, web design, and video production.

Courses Include:

LSC 430: Communicating Science with Narrative
LSC 432: Social Media for the Life Sciences
LSC 450: Documentary Photography for the Sciences
LSC 532: Web Design for the Science
LSC 614: Advanced Video Production


Students with “senior status” cannot declare the LSC Major. Senior status equals students with 86 or more cumulative credits taken as an undergraduate student (e.g. AP credits do NOT count against you).
For a list of courses in each concentration, please see the Guide.

Interested in learning more about the major?

Please use the Starfish app in My UW to arrange a meeting with LSC advisor, Tera Holtz Wagner, to learn more about LSC or declare the major. You can also contact Tera at or 608.262.1241.

Students can declare at SOAR or use the Starfish app in My UW to arrange a meeting with LSC advisor, Tera Holtz Wagner. You can also contact Tera at or 608.262.1241.

Please note:

Students with “senior status” cannot declare the LSC Major. Senior status equals students with 86 or more cumulative credits taken as an undergraduate student (e.g. AP credits do NOT count against you).

Where can I find a list of classes?
A list of courses is provided in the Guide.

Is there a specific course sequence I should follow?
Not necessarily, but you do need to take an introductory science writing course (LSC 111 or 212) before taking more advanced courses in the major. Additionally, LSC 250, 251, and 350 are prerequisites for some other classes. You will work closely with your advisor to better understand when courses are taught, how often they’re taught, and when you’ll likely be able to enroll.

What resources (classrooms, labs, and studios) does LSC have?
In addition to one regular classroom, LSC has two computer labs (with dual boot Mac and PC machines) and three radio labs.

Is financial aid available?
Yes, financial aid is available through the University of Wisconsin Office of Student Financial Aid.

Are scholarships available?
Yes, LSC is committed to recognizing student excellence. LSC uses the Common Scholarship through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. CALS announces the scholarship application “open date” every fall and the deadline is typically late January or early February. Multiple reminders are sent to LSC students to complete this application. For the 2016-17 school year, LSC was able to award $42,250 in scholarships to LSC students (grad and undergrad), and CALS awarded another $54,375 in scholarships.

What can I do with my LSC major?
A degree in LSC prepares students for a variety of communication opportunities. Learn more about the diverse and interesting career paths of LSC graduates.

Why are students with “senior status” not allowed to declare the LSC major?
Unfortunately, the LSC undergraduate program cannot accommodate students with senior status who want to first begin taking the LSC major requirements as a senior. The LSC classes are in very high demand and the department must ensure that students who declare the major as a freshman, sophomore, or junior are able to get access to classes in order to complete their major requirements on time. The LSC department is simply enforcing a policy put in place by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Why do I have an “advisor hold” on my account?
LSC places “advisor holds” on all declared majors (who are not graduating) every semester prior to enrollment for the following semester. The department values the information students receive in advising meetings and wants to ensure that all students meet with their advisor at least once a semester. It is the students’ responsibility to schedule an appointment with their advisor in advance of their enrollment time. Students will likely see an “advisor hold” on their account in October (prior to spring enrollment in November) every fall semester, and in March (prior to summer term and fall semester enrollment in April) every spring semester. An email notification is sent to the LSC listserve and signs are posted around Hiram Smith Hall when the advising holds are put in place.

When should I meet with my advisor?
You can meet with your advisor anytime throughout the year. However, you should schedule an appointment to talk with your advisor specifically about classes/enrollment/your DARS/etc. as soon as the LSC course schedule is released. LSC releases their course schedule in mid-October (for the following spring semester) and in March (for the following summer term and fall semester). LSC provides their course schedule in advance of the UW’s course schedule release for the convenience of all students.

Are there opportunities to enroll in Independent/Directed Study credits in the LSC major?
There are limited opportunities to enroll in independent study credits in the LSC undergrad major. Instructors and students are under strict requirements to adhere to the UW Independent Study Policy. Independent study opportunities should first be discussed with your LSC academic advisor. Independent Study enrollment is treated like a regular class, e.g. for a 3-credit independent study enrollment, the estimated amount of student work is 8-10 hours per week, including independent work and weekly meetings with the instructor.

Are there opportunities to enroll in Internship Credits in the LSC major?
Yes, the LSC department, faculty, and advisors highly encourage internship experience. However, it is not always necessary to enroll in internship credits if you have been offered an internship. Some internship employers/sponsors require students to enroll in internships for credit and some employers have no preference. Internship enrollment/credits are the same as regular class enrollment/credits and are also assessed the same for tuition purposes. You can count up to eight academic internship credits toward your required 120 credits to graduate. LSC allows a maximum of four internship credits per semester, including summer. For each credit you enroll in, you must work 80 hours on site with your internship. Your first step is to speak with your LSC advisor to determine if your internship is eligible for internship credit. If your internship is eligible, you must work with both your LSC advisor and your internship supervisor to complete the necessary paperwork. Internship enrollment requires the completed paperwork to be turned into your LSC advisor before you begin your internship, and progress and final reports.