Selecting FIGs

As a CAE student, you are expected to do at least one type of high impact practice such as first-year interest groups, undergraduate research, residential learning communities, the Summer Collegiate Experience, and/or internships. In fact, most CAE students do a FIG in their first semester and students often really enjoy these grouping of courses.

Every FIG has different courses with different eligibility requirements, so this guide will help you find FIGs that you are eligible to enroll in.

Please read and understand the section Things To Do First before you search for and select FIGs. If you don’t select FIGs now, you will have to choose whatever FIGs are still available at SOAR.


Things to do First

1. Confirm your placement scores for Math, English, and/or Languages

You are not able to do a FIG if you aren’t eligible for one or more of the courses in the FIG. For example, some FIGs with courses such as Chemistry 103 and Economics 101 have specific requirements to enroll in them.

Common FIG Courses With Pre-requisites:
Computer Science 200 – Satisfied Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A)
Chemistry 103 – Completion of the equivalent of Math 112
Economics 101 – Satisfied Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A)
Math 112 – Placement in Math 112
Physics 115 – Satisfied Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A)
Spanish 226 – Placement in Spanish 226, or Completion of Spanish 204 or Equivalent

To view your placement test scores, follow these steps:

  1. Login to My UW-Madison.
  2. Open the Student Center module (located in My Home, Academic, and Finances tabs).
  3. Click on the My Academics link in the Student Center.
  4. Click the View My Scores link.

2. Check Your AP/IB/Dual Enrollment/etc. Credit

Transfer credit will take priority over placement test scores. For instance, if you took the AP English Language and Literature test and score a 4 or 5, you would satisfy the general education requirement for Communication A.

For courses, especially English 100, Math 112, and Psychology 202, make sure you aren’t duplicating a course in a FIG that you may already have credit for or fulfills a requirement. Use the UW-Madison College Level Coursework guide to help you understand how your credit might apply

PLEASE NOTE: You must have official scores available to enroll in any course with pre-requisites.

3. Search for FIGs, Find Three Options, and Email Your Advisor

Email your assigned advisor with your top three FIG choices by Sunday, June 30 | 11:59pm; including the FIG number and title.

In the email, let us know if you have any AP/IB/Dual enrollment/etc. credit that you aren’t sure about. We will check your eligibility and submit your FIG selections for you.

Go to to begin searching. If you have any further questions, see the information below for CAE students.

What CAE Students Need to Know About FIGs

You and your CAE advisor will first confirm that you are eligible to take all the FIG classes and that these classes fit your academic plan.

You enroll in your first-semester classes, including FIG classes, during summer orientation (SOAR) in Madison.

You take all the classes in your FIG; you cannot drop one FIG class without dropping the rest of the FIG classes.


Who can enroll in a FIG?

Most First-Year Interest Groups are open to all new freshmen (including first-year students whose incoming AP/retroactive credits give them class standing of sophomore or higher).

A few FIGs are designed just for students who plan to enter specific degree programs, schools, or colleges, such as Business, Education, and Engineering. As a CAE student you aren’t eligible for these FIGs, however, there may be availability in Nursing and Pharmacy FIGs for some students.

Some FIG classes require certain minimum scores on your placement tests. For example, a FIG that has a foreign-language class may be open only to students who have achieved a tested level of competency in that language. UW–Madison’s chemistry classes require a specific math competency.

When do I enroll?

CAE students will enroll in FIGs at UW–Madison’s Summer Orientation, Advising, and Registration program, also known as SOAR. CAE students’ SOAR dates are July 11 and 12.

Are the FIG classes the only ones I take?

Most freshmen will also enroll for at least one other class of their choosing, along with the classes that make up the FIG.

Undergraduates are usually full-time students, which means enrolling for a minimum of 12 credits each semester. Each class is assigned a certain number of credits, depending on how many hours a week the class meets and other factors.

The credits of all the classes in a FIG are added together, and you can find that total number listed for each current FIG. If you enroll in a 9-credit FIG, you will likely also choose a class with at least 3 credits to meet the 12-credit minimum credit load.

We publish a schedule grid for each of the FIGs to help you see what class times are reserved for the FIG classes. When you choose additional classes, look for class times that don’t overlap with your FIG.

Do FIGs cost extra?

Nope, there is no fee beyond your usual tuition expenses. All FIG classes are regular UW classes. The main class will always only be open to you and the other students who enrolled in that FIG, but otherwise it’s just like other standard classes.

Some optional activities, such as a study-abroad component, may have costs not covered by your UW tuition.

Can I take two classes in a FIG with three classes?

First-Year Interest Groups are a whole package: when you enroll, you commit to taking the full set of classes in that FIG. Each class will meet at specific class times, which you can see in the FIG catalog and at

If you only want to take some, but not all, classes in a FIG, then you (with your SOAR advisor’s help) would enroll in those classes separate from the FIG Program. The main FIG seminar wouldn’t be open to you, but the linked classes may (if seats are still available).

Can I drop a class in a FIG?

Just as you must enroll in all of the classes in the FIG, dropping a class within a FIG means dropping all the classes in the FIG. This is because we reserve equal numbers of seats in all of the FIG classes and we want everyone in the FIG to have the whole experience.

Can I reserve a space in a FIG before SOAR?

You will work with your CAE advisor to identify potential FIGs. At SOAR we will confirm availability in any FIGs you’re interested in.