Farm & Industry Short Course

Students from the Farm and Industry Short Course participate in animal science professor Dan Schaefer's livestock lab

The Farm & Industry Short Course, an alternative to a four-year degree, prepares you for a career in agriculture. In only 16 weeks, you can learn to operate your own farm, run an agricultural business, or work in the agribusiness sector.


Is this program right for you?

The Farm & Industry Short Course (FISC) provides short-term, hands-on education for people who want to develop or expand the skills needed to work in production agriculture. The University of Wisconsin–Madison has offered the program for over a century, providing opportunities for generations of farmers like you to expand their career options. The credits you earn are eligible for transfer to many four-year universities.

Classes begin in late fall and end in early spring—timed to coordinate with the non-growing season in the Midwest and with the UW–Madison academic calendar. In just 16 weeks, you earn a Certificate in Foundations of Farm and Agribusiness Management. Curriculum includes courses in soils, crops, dairy, meat animals, agricultural engineering, farm business planning, agribusiness, human relations, and communications—expertise you need, no matter where you work.

Return for an optional second year to earn a specialty certificate in one of the following areas: dairy farm management; management of crops and soils; farm and equipment operations; meat animal farm management; diversified agricultural operations; or turfgrass management.

As a participant in FISC, you enjoy all the benefits of being a UW–Madison student, and you are encouraged to participate in campus groups, committees, and clubs—as well as athletic, social, and alumni events. You also are invited to career fairs, employer presentations, and other opportunities to explore the possibilities for your farming future. Students may also elect to live in FISC residence halls on campus.

Is this program right for you?

The Farm & Industry Short Course (FISC) provides short-term, hands-on education for people who want to develop or expand the skills needed to work in production agriculture. The University of Wisconsin–Madison has offered the program for over a century, providing opportunities for generations of farmers like you to expand their career options. The credits you earn are eligible for transfer to many four-year universities.

Classes begin in late fall and end in early spring—timed to coordinate with the non-growing season in the Midwest and with the UW–Madison academic calendar. In just 16 weeks, you earn a Certificate in Foundations of Farm and Agribusiness Management. Curriculum includes courses in soils, crops, dairy, meat animals, agricultural engineering, farm business planning, agribusiness, human relations, and communications—expertise you need, no matter where you work.

Return for an optional second year to earn a specialty certificate in one of the following areas: dairy farm management; management of crops and soils; farm and equipment operations; meat animal farm management; diversified agricultural operations; or turfgrass management.

As a participant in FISC, you enjoy all the benefits of being a UW–Madison student, and you are encouraged to participate in campus groups, committees, and clubs—as well as athletic, social, and alumni events. You also are invited to career fairs, employer presentations, and other opportunities to explore the possibilities for your farming future. Students may also elect to live in FISC residence halls on campus.

Admissions requirements

Students who meet the following criteria are eligible to apply to the program. Eligibility criteria are subject to change. FISC uses a holistic approach considering the following criteria to make admissions decisions:

Domestic Students

  • High school diploma or GED (required).
  • Involvement in agriculture-related activities.
  • Academic record.
  • Personal and professional goals.
  • Rank in the upper 80% of graduating class*.

**Students ranking in the lower 20 percent of their high school class may be considered for admission on probationary status.

There is no foreign language or ACT/SAT requirement. Returning adult students will receive special consideration.

International Students

  • In addition to the criteria above, the following also apply to international students. These eligibility requirements are set forth by the guidelines for the F-1 VISA, as well as by the FISC program and the UW:
    • Degree or professional certificate from a foreign, post-secondary academic institution AND one year minimum of prior, ag-related work experience acquired outside of the United States, OR five years minimum of prior, ag-related work experience acquired outside of the United States
    • Minimum of a 2.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale.
    • Proficiency in the English language, as demonstrated by a TOEFL score of 550 or higher or IELTS score of 7 or higher OR proof that your most recent four years of education were taught primarily in the English language.
    • Completed Certification of Financial Support form.

To apply:

  • Online application to UW–Madison as University Special Student.
  • Official high school or post-secondary transcripts.

Applications accepted for fall enrollment.

Program highlights

  • Our Farm and Industry Short Course is accelerated so you earn your certificate in just 16 weeks, delivered entirely during the Midwest’s non-growing season, late October through mid-March.
  • You learn from the best: We combine cutting-edge technology, expert instructors, and applied learning. We provide a strong background in your sector of interest and teach critical communication and human relations skills.
  • Because you are a UW student, you can take advantage of everything our world-renowned school has to offer—from student activities and Big 10 sporting events to access to library resources and an acclaimed faculty, ready to help you succeed.

How you'll learn

  • Take courses full-time on the UW–Madison campus to earn your certificate; option to return for a second-year certificate.
  • Attend lectures and lab instruction.
  • Participate in out-of-classroom experiences at farms and businesses.

Sample curriculum

First Year: Foundations of Farm & Agribusiness Management Certificate

Core Courses

  • Business Principles of Agricultural Management
  • First Year Seminar
  • Introduction to Soils
  • Agribusiness Communications
  • Weather & Climate
  • The Business of Agriculture
  • Agricultural Safety & Health
  • Agriculture Human Resource Management

Electives (select 2 credits)

  • Animal Agriculture
  • Agronomy
  • Turfgrass
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Equipment & Facilities

Second Year: Choose from one of the following specializations

  • Dairy Farm Management Certificate
  • Management of Crops & Soils Certificate
  • Farm & Equipment Operations Certificate
  • Meat Animal Farm Management Certificate
  • Diversified Agricultural Operations Certificate
  • Turfgrass Management Certificate

Ready to learn more about Farm & Industry Short Course?
View the UW-Madison Guide

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Connect with our enrollment coaches

Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

Visit with our coaches on campus or at an upcoming student fair in your area. Search student fairs & events

Connect with a coach

 I needed a broad education on everything related to farming. FISC gives you everything you need to know to take back to your farm and apply it there. I can look at a piece of machinery that I’ve never taken apart before and know how to fix it. That ultimately saves the family farm money.  

Mason Spencer, Farm & Industry Short Course Student
Read more about Mason