Selecting FIGs

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 will help you figure out placement scores, transfer credit, and any other questions related to FIGs.

  • You should be able to participate in most FIGs if there is space available
  • Some FIGs are restricted to students admitted to specific schools and colleges like Engineering and Business
  • Pharmacy and Nursing FIGs are possible to join but require permission from those specific departments
  • If you aren’t sure about FIG eligibility, contact your CAE academic advisor

Check placement scores and course eligibility

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

In the FIG catalog when you click on a FIG option, it will tell you near the top in red text if any course has a requirement.

Here are some common placements and how that impacts your FIG eligibility.

Math 96 Placement

You would not be able to take any FIG course that requires Math 112 or the completion of Quantitative Reasoning A.

Math 112 Placement

You would not be able to take introductory Chemistry 103 until completion of Math 112. You would not be able to take any course that requires completion of Quantative Reasoning A. You should enroll in Math 112 in the fall.

Math 113 Placement (Math 112 not required) and Completion of Quantative Reasoning A.

You can enroll in any course that requires completion of Math 112 or Quantative Reasoning A.

Check Transfer 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.

Search for FIGs and Find Three Options

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

You will discuss your choices with your advisor at Pre-SOAR Advising. If you aren’t eligible for a FIG, you will need to select different one(s).

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.