UW Madison Business School Requirements

Last Updated on March 10, 2023 by

The Wisconsin Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree program is based on a broad educational foundation combined with courses in business and economics. This curriculum is designed for those students who wish to prepare for careers in business.

The University of Wisconsin—Madison offers a unique and challenging MBA program, well suited to highly-focused students with clear career goals. Whereas most MBA programs require a wide array of course work in general management topics, the Wisconsin MBA curriculum is designed around career specializations, through which students focus their studies on a single business area such as real estate, brand management, or marketing research. Through their career specialization, students work within the business school’s Centers for Expertise, which “ensure that students have lots of exposure to alumni, specific industry news, and professionals at various levels.” A current student explains, “I chose the University of Wisconsin because they have a specialized program in marketing research that would give me the specialized skill set to continue in this field.”

While career specializations are the hallmark of the Wisconsin MBA curriculum, “the program emphasizes strong learning within a specific discipline while allowing flexibility to learn cross-functional skills.” Before beginning their studies within a specific center, students must complete the general management core curriculum, which provides a solid foundation in management essentials. Students comment that “the specified ‘center ’ does make it difficult at times to expand into other departments.” Throughout the curriculum, applied learning is an important component of the Wisconsin MBA, and students participate in live business projects for a wide range of companies. For example, students may conduct market research for leading companies, manage stock portfolios, or manage a portfolio of real estate securities.

The business school draws a team of top-notch faculty “committed to up-to-date teaching styles and topics.” Student input here is valued. “Feedback is taken from the students at the end of every semester and the recommended changes are implemented for the next incoming class,” says one MBA. “It’s a constantly evolving and improving program that is viewed as a collaborative effort between the administration and students.” On the whole, “Wisconsin represents a culture of collaboration and teamwork,” and students reassure us that “when students compete, there is a general collegiate respect for one another.” Another major perk of a Wisconsin MBA education is its public school price tag, made better by the fact that through assistantships: “The tuition is covered, benefits are covered, and you get a stipend.” A student exclaims, “You might find it hard to catch your breath, but it’s a great way to avoid loans.”

Pre-Business Requirements

Students applying through the pre-business or direct transfer process need to complete or be in the process of completing all pre-business courses at the time of application.  In-progress courses must be completed by the end of the application term and cannot be deferred to a later term.

Students admitted through the direct admit process must complete these courses by the end of their first year.  

Communication Part A
Complete one course designated Communication Part A, preferably:0-3
COM ARTS 100 Introduction to Speech Composition
ENGL 100 Introduction to College Composition
ESL 118 Academic Writing II
Completion of Communication Part A based on UW Placement Test
ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics4
or ECON 111 Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
PSYCH 202Introduction to Psychology3-4
Select one of the following:5
MATH 211 Calculus
MATH 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Total Credits12-16

Liberal Studies Requirements

Liberal studies requirements must be completed prior to graduation. Students may not use courses offered by the Department of Economics or by the School of Business to fulfill liberal studies requirements.  In addition, a single course may not be used to fulfill multiple liberal studies requirements.   

Select one 3 (or more) credit course designated Literature (L)3
Select six credits designated Biological, Natural or Physical Science. Courses that MAY NOT COUNT include: Courses in Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics or Economics.6
Select one of the following:3-4
PHILOS 241Introductory Ethics
PHILOS 243Ethics in Business
PHILOS 341Contemporary Moral Issues
PHILOS/​ENVIR ST  441Environmental Ethics
Select one 3 (or more) credit course designated Humanities (H or Z) 13
Ethnic Studies
Select one 3 (or more) credit course designated Ethnic Studies (e)3
Social Science
Select one 3 (or more) credit course designated Social Science (S or Z)3
Total Credits21-22
1Note: If a student completes an additional Literature (L) course, this requirement will be satisfied

Business Foundation Requirements

All BBA degree candidates are required to complete foundation courses in business and economics. The foundation courses, in conjunction with a broad educational base, are designed to integrate the student’s specialized training with an understanding of the structure and functions of business and its role in the larger social system. Business foundation courses make up the business preparatory, core, and breadth requirements.   Sequencing of courses in business preparatory, core, and breadth sections may vary based on a student’s academic plan or major.  Consult with your academic advisor for specific recommendations.

Business Preparatory Requirement

All students must take the following:

GEN BUS 110Personal and Professional Foundations in Business1
or GEN BUS 120Personal and Professional Foundations in Business
GEN BUS 106Foundational Skills for Business Analysis1
GEN BUS 360 Workplace Writing and Communication3
ECON 102Principles of Macroeconomics3-4
or ECON 111 Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
ACCT I S 100Introductory Financial Accounting3
ACCT I S 211Introductory Managerial Accounting3
Business Analytics (options for this are found below)6-9
Total Credits20-24

Business Analytics Requirement

The business analytics requirement is part of the Business Preparatory Requirement, and has 3 options. Most students complete Option 1. GEN BUS 306 & GEN BUS 307 should be taken as soon as possible and in subsequent semesters. Actuarial science majors and economics majors or certificate students will fulfill Option 2 or 3. Number of credits for this requirement varies between options:

Option 1:
Business Analytics I
and Business Analytics II
Option 2 (Required for Actuarial Science Majors):
This is a 3-course sequence. Choose one course from each of the three options:9
MATH/​STAT  431Introduction to the Theory of Probability
or STAT/​MATH  309Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
or STAT 311Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics I
STAT/​MATH  310Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics II
or STAT 312Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics II
ACT SCI 654Regression and Time Series for Actuaries
or ACT SCI 655Health Analytics
or GEN BUS 656Machine Learning for Business Analytics
Option 3 (Recommended for Economics Double Majors or Certificate Students):
This is a 2-course sequence. Choose one course from each of the two options:8
ECON 310 Statistics: Measurement in Economics
ECON 410Introductory Econometrics
or ECON 400Introduction to Applied Econometrics

Business Core Requirement

Business Core courses are recommended to be completed by the end of a student’s junior year.

FINANCE/​ECON  300Introduction to Finance3
MARKETNG 300Marketing Management3
M H R 300Managing Organizations3
OTM 300Operations Management3
Total Credits12

Business Breadth Requirement

Business Breadth courses must be completed by graduation.

GEN BUS 301Business Law3
Business Breadth Course 13
Business Breadth Course 13
Total Credits 23-9
1Students must complete two business courses (3 credits each) that are outside their major from two separate School of Business departments. Courses taken to satisfy this requirement may not include preparatory or core courses, courses required by or cross-listed with the student’s major, general business courses, any 399 (Readings and Research) course, or business courses cross-listed with foreign language departments. Courses taken at another institution must be directly equivalent to a UW-Madison business course and title (i.e. not elective credit which is sometimes given an X10 course number). 
2Students with two majors in business or students with one major and a business related certificate need only one course (3 credits) outside their majors/certificate to satisfy this requirement. Students with three or more business majors or two majors and a business related certificate are not required to take additional breadth courses.

Credits For BBA Degree

Credits Requirements

Candidates for the BBA degree must meet all of the following credit requirements in addition to completing the required coursework.

120 Degree Credits

All students who plan to graduate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a bachelor’s degree must complete a minimum of 120 degree credits.