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Study in Wisconsin

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'America’s Dairyland', Wisconsin is known for its cheese. In fact, cheese is such an integral part of the state's identity that Wisconsinites – most notably fans of American football team the Green Pay Packers – identify themselves as ‘cheeseheads’, and wear foam cheese hats. Fan of the yellow stuff? Wisconsin is the place for you!

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As you might expect from the nickname, Wisconsin has a rich agricultural heritage. This was celebrated by the commemorative state quarter produced in 2004, which depicts a cow, an ear of corn and, of course, a wheel of cheese.

But this doesn’t paint the whole picture; the vast majority of the state’s population lives in urban areas, the largest of which is Milwaukee, situated on the borders of Lake Michigan; around 135km north of Chicago and just over 350 south of the Canadian border.

One of the biggest cities in the United States, Milwaukee is known for beer brewing, a legacy of its German immigration population. Though it no longer underpins the economy as it once did, it is still a key part of the city’s identity. For one thing, Wisconsinites are among the country’s biggest drinkers.

The other key city for students, is state capital Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin- Madison. It has consistently been ranked as one of the best cities to live in the United States, and is known for its sporting culture as well as its music scene.

Wisconsin: Fast facts

•    Total population of around 5.7 million, around a third of which is based in the Milwaukee metropolitan area

•    The Green Bay Packers, 2010 Super Bowl champions, are the country’s only publically owned American football team

•    Around a quarter of US cheese is produced in Wisconsin, around 1.2 billion kg a year (that’s roughly 27,000 large African elephants) in 600 different forms!

•    Famous Wisconsinites include architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Oprah Winfrey and musician and producer Butch Vig

•    As well as the America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin is known as the Badger State, which has its origins in a 19th century nickname for miners who lived in temporary caves instead of houses

•    Barbie is another Wisconsinite, living in the fictional town of Willows (although she has been more recently relocated to New York)

•    The Harley Davidson motorcycle company was founded in Milwaukee

•    Wisconsin has around 15,000 lakes

Top universities in Wisconsin

The best known university in Wisconsin is the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ranked 41st in the 2011/12 QS World University Rankings. A public university, belonging to the University of Wisconsin system, UW-Madison is home to nearly 39,000 students, around a tenth of which are from overseas.

It is a research intensive university, and is considered to be one of thirty ‘Public Ivies’ – elite public universities as identified by Howard and Matthew Greene in their 2001 book The Public Ivies: America's Flagship Public Universities. You can expect entry, therefore, to be competitive. It is also known from its sport teams.

Milwaukee has one of the highest proportion of students in the US, and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is the second largest branch of the public system. It is the only other public university in Wisconsin from which you can get a doctoral degree.

Marquette University, a private Catholic university based in Milwaukee, is known for its business and medical courses. Also notable in the latter sphere is the Medical College of Wisconsin, which was formerly affiliated with Marquette University.

More states in the Great Lakes region:

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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