soe-specialeducation

The special education program is the academic home to many students who enjoy working with children, and especially children with disabilities. Special education graduates enter a high-need field with an almost 100% job placement rate after graduation. Employment opportunities are available all across the country.

The special education teacher certification program prepares educators to serve as resources and advocates for persons with disabilities and their families. This includes being a leader, collaborating with others, and working creatively within and outside the schools to create inclusive educational experiences to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.

The special education program prepares students to work effectively across disability categories including intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disabilities. The program emphasizes course work and experiences in elementary, middle, and high schools with students who have a wide range of abilities, including students with severe disabilities. 

Graduates receive a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Special Education and are eligible to apply for a Wisconsin cross-categorical Special Education license at the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence level (ages 6-12/13), and also at the Early Adolescence through Adolescence level (ages 10-21).

The Special Education program emphasizes coursework in areas including:

  • Assessing learning needs in all core academic areas
  • Creating individualized education plans
  • Implementing instructional strategies for helping students with a variety or abilities succeed
  • Using assistive technology
  • Understanding behavior and intervention strategies for social and academic success
  • Diversity issues in special education
  • Working collaboratively with teachers and other school professionals to create successful inclusive learning environments

Students learn about these topics through a four-semester sequence of coursework, practicum experiences, and student teaching experiences in elementary, middle, and high schools.

Visit the departmental website for more information about the undergraduate program options in Special Education.

Elementary Education And Special Education Dual Major Certification Program

Students interested in Special Education may want to consider another program option that certifies students in both Elementary Education and Special Education. The job placement rate for students graduating from this program is almost 100%. Employment opportunities are available all across the country. 

The Elementary-Special Education teacher certification program prepares educators who foster high academic achievement in all children - particularly learners from diverse racial, cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities. The program helps students become leaders who collaborate and work creatively within and outside schools to foster inclusive educational experiences for all pupils, including those with disabilities. Program graduates understand the important role that families play in supporting students’ development and achievement.

This program emphasizes collaboration, with training in both Elementary and Special Education methodologies. It focuses on inclusion and gaining a strong background in working with students across disability categories, including learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, and other high incidence disabilities.

Graduates receive a Bachelor of Science degree and are eligible to apply for both a Wisconsin Elementary Education license at the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence level (ages 6-12/13), and a cross-categorical Special Education license at the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence level.

The Elementary Education-Special Education program emphasizes course work in areas including:

  • Recognizing how our backgrounds and experiences shape thinking and actions; reflecting and adapting to best serve students
  • Assessing learning needs in all core academic areas
  • Creating individualized education plans
  • Understanding behavior and intervention strategies for social and academic success
  • Diversity and social justice in education
  • Working collaboratively with teachers and other school professionals to create successful inclusive learning environments

Students learn about these topics through a four-semester sequence of course work, practicum experiences and student teaching experiences in elementary and middle schools. The sequence begins in the fall after program admission.

Information about requirements and application procedures for the Elementary-Special Education dual teacher certification program is available in the Elementary Education section of the Guide. The RP & SE departmental website can also provide for more information about the two undergraduate program options in Special Education.

PROGRAM ADMISSION Overview

Undergraduate students generally apply to the professional part of the special education degree program in their sophomore year. Selection is made during the spring semester. Currently, students are admitted to the program once a year, effective for the summer following selection. Once admitted, students typically spend four semesters completing their remaining coursework.

Entering the SChool of Education

New and Current UW–Madison Students

New freshmen and transfer students interested in special education are admitted directly to the School of Education with a “pre-professional” classification. This classification indicates that a student is interested in a program offered by the school, but has not applied and been admitted to the professional program. Students interested in special education receive the "pre-professional" classification of PSR.

On-campus students wishing to be admitted to the school while working on eligibility requirements and application can apply for admission to the school by completing a Pre-Professional Application. A minimum GPA of 2.5, based on UW–Madison coursework, is required to transfer into the school. This GPA may be modified by the Last 60 Credits rule (detailed below). It is not necessary to be a "pre-professional” student before applying to a professional program.

It is strongly recommended that students interested in a School of Education program meet with an academic advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS), 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. Students may call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Prospective Transfer Students

Applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the University to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Students with a Previous Degree

Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application. Consultations with advisors are available in person or via telephone; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a second degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. Admission as an Education Special student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework. Second degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.

Application and ADMISSION

Certification to teach special education requires that a student be admitted into the professional part of the degree program. The School of Education admits students into the special education program one a year, effective for summer following selection. Resources limit the number of students who can be served by the UW–Madison Special Education Teacher Education Program. In recent years the program has been able to accommodate all qualified applicants; however, if the number of qualified applicants exceeds program resources, admission will become limited and competitive. If this happens, meeting or surpassing the minimum eligibility criteria will not guarantee admission.

PROGRAM ADMISSION ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Requirements and selection criteria may be modified from one application/admission period to the next. Any changes to these criteria may occur up until the application period begins. Potential applicants should consult the School of Education's Apply to a Program page for application deadlines and detailed information regarding current eligibility requirements and selection criteria prior to submitting an application.

To be eligible for admission to the professional program, applicants must:

  • complete at least 40 transferable college-level credits by the end of the fall semester before application.
  • successfully complete RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities (3 cr) by the end of the summer semester of the application year.
  • earn a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale on all transferable college-level coursework attempted.1
  • complete the Basic Skills Requirement. All prospective teacher education students must submit test scores to the School of Education to be eligible for professional program admission. Students may use their ACT, SAT, or GRE scores, or they may take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Test (formerly the Praxis I/PPST). These tests meet Wisconsin's basic skills test requirement for prospective teachers. For more information see the document Academic Tests for Prospective Teachers.
  • submit completed program application form(s), transcripts, and all other related application materials by the application deadline specified on the School of Education's Apply to a Program page.
1

A comprehensive cumulative GPA of all college-level, transferrable coursework attempted on both the UW–Madison campus coursework and coursework taken at any other colleges or universities may be calculated for the exclusive purpose of establishing an applicant’s eligibility for consideration. Both the comprehensive cumulative GPA and the comprehensive cumulative GPA based on a student’s last 60 credits may be calculated. See Last 60 Credits Rule (detailed below). If admitted, students must earn the minimum cumulative GPA for UW–Madison coursework established by their program and the School of Education each semester after admission.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility for program consideration. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eligibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) More information on this rule is available here.

PROGRAM SELECTION CRITERIA

The special education faculty will review all completed applications that meet eligibility criteria. When reviewing an application, special education faculty want to learn as much about the applicant as possible and will make every effort to take into account the whole person. Applicants are encouraged to provide, in writing, whatever they would want to share in a face-to-face interview.

The selection committee members will consider several factors when selecting students for the program. Grade point average (GPA) and basic skills test scores will be a part of the evaluation process. Although these numerical scores are considered important indicators of success, they are not the only basis on which applicants will be selected for admission. Trends in the applicant's grades, difficulty of course load, and outside work load will be considered (see factors 1, 2, and 3 below). The basic skills test was designed primarily to assess mastery of basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics. High or low basic skills test scores may be considered in marginal situations.

In addition to GPA and basic skills test scores, faculty will consider the following factors:

  • College grading and course selection pattern. Transcripts will be examined individually. Account will be taken whether an applicant has clearly followed an unusually easy or difficult pattern of courses or if the GPA reflects a poor grade in an exceptionally difficult subject area.
  • Trends of college grades. An applicant who started very poorly or showed a decline in their early phases of college, but performed strongly in later college years, may be judged more favorably than another with the same GPA but level or declining record.
  • Diversity of experience or background. Work/life experience, college activity, political activity, and other experiences or background that adds a diverse perspective to the special education student body may work in the applicant's favor. Volunteer or paid work with people with disabilities will be taken into account in the selection process. Volunteer or paid work with people from a background different than the applicant's may also be taken into account in the selection process.
  • Writing sample (Statement of Purpose). Application materials must include an essay in which the applicant gives reasons for becoming a special education teacher. Writing is so important in the professional life of teachers and in the teacher education program that the quality of the applicant's writing will be taken into account in making admissions decisions.
  • Letters of recommendation. Recommendation letters will play an important role in helping the selection committee judge the applicant's prospects for academic success in the program. Careful, thoughtful letters from mentors, teachers, or employers will provide information about the applicant's intellect, imagination, or prospects for becoming a successful teacher. Working with people with disabilities will be taken into account in the selection process. Working with people from a background different than the applicant's may also be taken into account in the selection process.
  • Other factors. The program's quest for diversity leads the selection committee to take into account fully qualified applicants from under-represented groups. Race, ethnicity, cultural, geographic background, and economic disadvantage are among the factors that will be considered, taking into account the needs of the schools. A full-time or extra heavy part-time work load will be considered a factor in close cases.

CRIMINAL BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is required by law to conduct a background check on each applicant for a Wisconsin educator license. This check is intended to determine if the applicant has engaged in any behavior that endangers the health, welfare, safety or education of PK–12 pupils. Local school districts also will conduct criminal background checks routinely on teacher education students prior to the start of in-classroom field work. Admitted applicants to any teacher education program who have a positive background check should confer with the Academic Dean’s Office (Room 139 Education, 1000 Bascom Mall) about the potential impact of this on field placements and licensure.

An individual who is deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the academic dean in Education Academic Services.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

Program Structure

The Special Education program has four primary components:

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Professional education coursework includes an examination of the schools' relationship to our society and the processes by which students grow and learn.
  • Core Requirements offer an in-depth study of Special Education, including a four-semester professional sequence of teaching methods coursework and field experience in schools. This sequence is designed so that students can complete the program in four years.
  • Elective coursework is taken to reach the required minimum of 120 credits.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science have unique requirements in this category.

Science

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Professional Education Requirements

Individuals with Disabilities

This course is a prerequisite for admission to the Special Education program. It must be completed by the end of the summer of the application year. 

RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities3

Development (Minimum of 3 credits)

Select one of the following options:
Option 13
Human Development From Childhood Through Adolescence (Recommended for all certification levels)
Option 25-6
Human Development in Infancy and Childhood 1
Developmental Psychology
Human Development in Adolescence
1

Effective fall 2017, the course number of Child Psychology changed from Psych 560 to 460.

Learning (Minimum of 3 credits)

ED PSYCH 301 How People Learn3

Foundations of the Profession (Minimum of 3 credits)

Select one of the following:3
School and Society
History of American Education

Core Requirements (includes Professional Sequence)

RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities is a prerequisite for admission to the Special Education program. This course must be completed by the end of the summer of the application year and is calculated into the major gpa required for graduation.

Special Education Professional Sequence

Students complete a four-semester sequence of professional courses after admission to the program. The professional methods courses and clinical (field) experiences must be followed sequentially and taken in consecutive semesters. Class schedules for the professional sequence courses are determined in advance.

Semester 1
RP & SE 330 Behavior Analysis: Applications to Persons with Disabilities (may be taken prior to admission to the Special Education program)3
RP & SE 466 Diversity in Special Education (may be taken prior to admission to the Special Education program)3
RP & SE/CURRIC 506 Strategies for Inclusive Schooling3
RP & SE 464 Diagnosis, Assessment, and Instructional Planning in Special Education4
RP & SE 402 Methods in Teaching Functional Skills (recommended this semester)1
Semester 2
RP & SE 465 Language and Reading Instruction for Students with Disabilities (Meets Communication B requirement)4
RP & SE/CURRIC 365 Teaching Mathematics in Inclusive Settings4
CURRIC 374 General Educ Practicum & Instructional Planning for Diverse Learners2-5
RP & SE 473 Management: Students with Learning and Behavioral Disabilities3
RP & SE 401 Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities (recommended this semester)1
Semester 3
RP & SE 477 Special Education Student Teaching: Middle Childhood - Early Adolescence (Full-day student teaching following the school district calendar)6-12
RP & SE 467 Elementary Student Teaching Seminar2
RP & SE 403 Promoting Adolescent Literacy for Students with Disabilities (recommended this semester)1
Semester 4
RP & SE 478 Special Education Student Teaching: Early Adolescence - Adolescence (Full-day student teaching following the school district calendar))10
RP & SE 472 Methods in Transition and Vocational Education3
RP & SE 468 Secondary Student Teaching Seminar2
RP & SE 404 Methods in Teaching Science & Social Studies for Students with Disabilities (recommended this semester)1

RP&SE Modules

Students are required to complete all four of the following one-credit modules after admission to the program. Most students complete one or two modules during each semester of the professional program and a suggested sequence is listed above. Consult with the program advisor for information on when each of the modules will be offered. At least one will be offered each semester. 

RP & SE 401 Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities1
RP & SE 402 Methods in Teaching Functional Skills1
RP & SE 403 Promoting Adolescent Literacy for Students with Disabilities1
RP & SE 404 Methods in Teaching Science & Social Studies for Students with Disabilities1

Elective Coursework

Complete additional coursework to reach the minimum of 120 credits.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all requirements and also obtain the endorsement of the program faculty advisor(s) to receive certification through UW–Madison. The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license. Requirements below are based on UW–Madison coursework. 

  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average across all professional education courses (excluding practicum and student teaching).
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average in the major.
  • Minimum 120 credits (degree candidates only). Most students will need more than the minimum to complete all requirements.
  • Major residency: Degree candidates must complete at least 15 credits of upper-level major coursework (numbered 300–699) in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus. Student teaching and practicum are considered part of the 30 credits.

Degree Audit (DARS)

At UW–Madison, a DARS report is used to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree. This degree audit identifies the requirements that have already been completed, and also those that remain unsatisfied. A DARS report can offer suggestions about appropriate courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning process. 

Students can access DARS reports through their Student Center in My UW–Madison. Go to the Academics tab and find DARS on the dropdown menu.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program or major on campus. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE) should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is the document of record, i.e., certifying document of degree completion, for program areas in the School of Education.

Additional Certification Requirements and Applying for a License

In addition to completing UW-Madison's program requirements, students must also complete Wisconsin statutory requirements and certification requirements established by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Many of these requirements are embedded within the program's requirements and require no additional attention. The endorsement of the program coordinator/faculty is also required to receive certification through UW–Madison.

The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license.

Detailed information about certification requirements and applying for a license is available on the department's website and under Certification/Licensure.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Learning Outcomes

  • Professionalism: The teacher candidate will adhere to professional ethical standards and conduct her or himself in a courteous and professional manner.
  • Collaboration and Communication: The teacher candidate will collaborate and effectively communicate with students their families, other educators, related service providers and members of the community to address the needs of students with disabilities.
  • Assessment: The teacher candidate will collect information on student backgrounds, learning characteristics and achievement that can be used to determine students’ present level of performance and guide instruction.
  • Special Education Evaluation and Individualized Educational Planning: To the maximum possible the teacher candidate will participate in the Educational Evaluation and Individualized Educational Planning process.
  • Instructional Planning: The teacher candidate will plan instruction that meets the needs of students, is consistent with State and local standards and provides access to the general education curriculum.
  • Instructional Presentations: The teacher candidate will present lessons and units of instruction that gain and maintain student attention and are consistent with students’ interests and IEP goals.
  • Classroom Management: The teacher candidate will create and maintain a safe, positive and supportive learning environment that is conducive to learning and the mental health of the students.

Special Education Program Advising

Students not yet admitted to special education meet with their assigned advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS) and/or the Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (OURR), see below. Students are assigned an additional departmental advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. For general information about the program and degree requirements, contact Virginia Waddick, RP & SE Student Services Coordinator, vwaddick@education.wisc.edu, 608-263-4608.

General School of Education Advising

All undergraduate students in the School of Education are served by three offices devoted to academic and/or career advising. Each student in the School of Education is assigned at least one advisor and is encouraged to meet with the advisor on a regular basis. Students will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. Departmental advisors provide more in-depth knowledge of the major and of courses offered by the department.

Undergraduate Advising and Academic Dean's Office—Education Academic Services (EAS)

139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651
www.education.wisc.edu/soe/academics/undergraduate-students/academic-advising

Education Academic Services (EAS) is the undergraduate dean's office for students in the School of Education. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; take exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise current and prospective students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate field placements; facilitate the program admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Students should meet with an advisor during their first semester on campus (if not before) and are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a semester. This is particularly important during the freshman and sophomore years. Appointments may be arranged by calling or visiting the office.

EAS advisors answer questions and provide guidance to current and prospective students. They consult with and refer students to faculty members and departmental advisors. Once a student is admitted to a professional program within the School of Education, he or she will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor. Advising then becomes a partnership, with EAS and OURR advisors continuing to help students with course selection, degree progress monitoring, academic difficulties, and interpretation of policies and procedures.

Program advisors help students select and plan a program of study in the major, negotiate issues within the department, and, in the case of certification programs, follow the students' progress through their professional courses. These divisions are flexible, and students are encouraged to consult with all advisors who can help with a situation or answer a question.

OURR: Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (Student Diversity Programs)

105 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-8427 or 608-262-1651
www.education.wisc.edu/sdp

The UW–Madison School of Education is committed to promoting equity and increasing diversity in its programs. OURR staff work collaboratively with Education Academic Services and campus and community partners to support underrepresented students interested in majors in the School of Education.

OURR staff perform outreach, recruitment, and advising on behalf of the School. OURR staff also support current students with their personal and professional growth, their transition from high school to college, financial aid, and career exploration.  

OURR works to build a network of students and graduates who may strengthen, transform, and lead their communities through education, service, and other contributions. Students are invited to visit OURR staff at 105 Education Building—stop in, or call one of the numbers listed above to set up an appointment.

School of Education Career Center

L107 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1755
http://careercenter.education.wisc.edu/

Need assistance with any of the following? 

  • Exploring career options linked to School of Education majors
  • Seeking a major that incorporates individual passions, interests, and values that will help one reach specific career goals
  • Researching graduate schools and preparing application materials
  • Beginning a job search and learning where to start and what to do
  • Seeking assistance with developing a résumé, a cover letter, or interviewing skills
  • Networking and connecting with potential employers

The Career Center provides resources and individual consultations to assist students in reaching their career goals.  A plethora of resources can be found on the Career Center website:

  • Explore career possibilities for specific majors in Investigate Career Options. This section of the website provides tools for clarifying a student’s personal criteria for success, linking specific career options to majors, and identifying steps for career/major selection.  It includes strategies for making the most of a student’s academic and student experience.
  • Confirm major and career decisions.  Gain hands-on experience in the career field of study.  Assess the perceptions of selected career and major options for accuracy.  Develop professional and soft skills.  The Test Drive and Confirm Career Choice section provides strategies for acquiring real-world experience.
  • Preparation is critical for entering one’s next career phase.  Learn about graduate school requirements and the application process.  Develop promotional materials for employers and/or graduate schools and obtain feedback and suggestions for enhancing them.  Acquire materials that support one’s applications.  The Prepare and Connect section provides offers additional details.
  • Implement helps students plan for the future.  Attend recruiting events.  Apply for graduate school or for job opportunities.  Practice interviewing skills.  Interview.  Negotiate job and graduate school offers.

Personalized career assistance is available through individual appointments with consultants in the Career Center.  To schedule an appointment visit, http://bit.ly/CCAppt.

Informational workshops and career-related events are conducted each semester.  The schedule of these events can be found on the center’s website.

The Career Center coordinates teacher recruitment fairs each fall and spring semester and collaborates with career centers across campus to provide campus-wide career fairs at the beginning of each semester. 

Additional Resources

Students interested in special education may also want to consult the following resources:

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education can be found on the department's website.

Additional Certification Requirements 

Students must complete all requirements and also obtain the endorsement of the program faculty to receive certification through UW–Madison. These requirements include those required by UW–Madison, the Department of Public Instruction, and those mandated by state statutes. While most of these requirements are embedded in course content, some (e.g., the Basic Skills Requirement, the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test) are not related to course enrollment. 

Students pursuing certification must complete the following requirements. See the school's website for additional information/requirements.

Certification requirements should be monitored carefully. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) periodically implements regulations that affect all certification programs; teacher certification candidates are responsible for having up-to-date information about certification requirements.

Disclosure Statement and Criminal Background Investigation

Disclosure Statement

Applicants to School of Education programs that involve a practicum, internship, or other field placement must complete a disclosure statement indicating (1) whether they have been admitted to, then withdrawn from, asked to withdraw from, or been dropped from a student teaching, clinical experience, or other intern/practicum program, and (2) if they have ever been placed on probation or disciplined by any college or university for academic dishonesty.

Criminal Background Investigation (CBI)

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is required by law to conduct a background check on each applicant for a Wisconsin educator license. This check is intended to determine if the applicant has engaged in any behavior that endangers the health, welfare, safety, or education of PK–12 pupils. Local school districts also will conduct criminal background checks routinely on teacher education students prior to the start of in-classroom field work.

Students should be aware that criminal background checks may be initiated by other agencies or organizations when they are seeking employment or a professional license. School administrators have the authority to determine the appropriateness of a student placement and may choose not to permit a placement based on a student’s background check results.

An individual who is deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the academic dean in Education Academic Services.

Environmental Education

This licensing requirement is mandatory for all Elementary Education, Secondary Science, Secondary Social Studies, and Agri-Science Education certification students. Students with previous degrees in their subjects must also monitor and complete this requirement for certification and licensure.

Select one Environmental Studies course or from the following list. If appropriate, this course may also be applied toward the liberal studies requirements.

ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  121 Atmospheric Environment and Society2
ATM OCN/​SOIL SCI  132 Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use3
BOTANY 100 Survey of Botany3
BOTANY/​BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  152 Introductory Biology5
BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  260 Introductory Ecology3
ECON/​A A E/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  120 Introduction to the Earth System3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  121 Atmospheric Environment and Society2
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  127 Physical Systems of the Environment5
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  139 Living in the Global Environment: An Introduction to People-Environment Geography3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  309 People, Land and Food: Comparative Study of Agriculture Systems3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  339 Environmental Conservation4
LAND ARC/​ENVIR ST  361 Wetlands Ecology3
MED HIST/​ENVIR ST/​HIST SCI  513 Environment and Health in Global Perspective3
PHYSICS 115 Energy3
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
SOC/​C&E SOC  140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology3
SOC/​C&E SOC/​F&W ECOL  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science4
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3

Student Testing and Assessment

Students in teacher education programs are required to complete a number of tests and a significant performance assessment prior to certification and eventual licensure. Detailed information related to these requirements, along with fee and registration information can be found on the School of Education website under Academic Tests for Prospective Teachers. A brief description of these tests and assessments is provided below.

Basic Skills Requirement

All prospective teacher education students must submit test scores to the School of Education to be eligible for professional program admission. Students may use their ACT, SAT, or GRE scores, or they may take the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Test (formerly the Praxis I/PPST). These tests meet Wisconsin's basic skills test requirement for prospective teachers. All sections of the chosen basic skills test must be taken by program applicants to be eligible for program admission.   

Content Test

Students completing professional education programs must take and pass an approved examination in their content area prior to their final student teaching semester. Most students complete the appropriate Praxis II: Subject Assessments/Specialty Area Tests through the Educational Testing Service (ETS). World Language Education students must meet an ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview requirement and must take and pass the ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT). No candidates may be waived from taking the required test(s) for their license area.

Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test

As of January 31, 2014, individuals seeking an initial Wisconsin license to teach in kindergarten through grade 5 or in special education, an initial Wisconsin license as a reading teacher, or an initial Wisconsin license as a reading specialist, must take and pass the Wisconsin Foundations Reading Foundations Test. Undergraduate programs impacted by this requirement are Elementary Education and Special Education.

This test is for Wisconsin licensing purposes only. Students who choose not to pursue Wisconsin educator licensing need not take and pass this test. This test is in addition to all other required tests and assessments for certification and licensure. For instance, students must still take and pass the Praxis II content exam to be eligible to student teach.  

Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA)

The edTPA is a subject area-specific, performance-based assessment for pre-service teacher candidates, which is centered on student learning. Evidence of candidate teaching proficiency in the areas of planning, engagement and instruction, and assessment is drawn from a subject-specific learning segment, 3–5 lessons from a unit of instruction. Assessment artifacts include video clips of instruction, lesson plans, student work samples, analysis of student learning, and reflective commentaries. These artifacts will be taken together and scored by trained evaluators using the standardized set of edTPA rubrics. After August 31, 2015, initial license candidates (i.e., students completing certification programs) must complete the edTPA as part of their student teaching and after August 31, 2016, initial license candidates will be required to pass the edTPA before they can be recommended for licensure.

Field Experiences

School-based field experiences are a critical part of students' professional preparation for teaching. In fact, the student teaching experience is frequently cited in teacher education literature as the single component of a teacher education program with the highest impact on future teaching behaviors of teacher candidates. Under Wisconsin State regulations, students seeking teaching certification from UW–Madison are required to complete at least one pre-student teaching practicum and at least one full semester of student teaching. Most programs at UW–Madison require students to complete additional field experiences.  

Pre–Student Teaching Practicum

The pre–student teaching practicum gives students firsthand knowledge of the classroom environment and the teacher's role. For many students, the practicum is the initial encounter with the real world of teaching. Practicum students do not assume the degree of classroom responsibility they do during student teaching. Under the supervision of an experienced teacher, practicum students observe classroom activities, assist the teacher with day-to-day classroom management tasks, interact one-to-one with students, and instruct small groups. The cooperating teacher and university supervisor use the practicum to assess the student's readiness for the student teaching experience. For this reason, active student engagement in the practicum experience is necessary and expected.

Student Teaching Experience

Student teaching, the culminating field experience, is a full-time, school district semester assignment that places a university student under the guidance of an experienced, qualified cooperating teacher. After an orientation period, the student teacher gradually assumes more responsibility for planning, instruction, and overall classroom management. Student teachers follow the daily schedule of the cooperating teacher and the building policies of the school, and function as regular staff members in arrival and departure times and attendance at school events. Daily attendance at school, barring emergencies, is required.

The student teaching experience follows the calendar of the local school district. A fall semester assignment will typically begin the latter part of August and end the latter part of January. A spring semester assignment will begin the latter part of January and end mid-June. Holiday breaks follow the school district calendar. Carrying other formal course work during the student teaching semester is strongly discouraged.

Find detailed policies and regulations regarding student teaching in the Teacher Education Field Experience Policies (November, 2014). Students and staff are responsible for knowing and complying with the Field Experience policies. Many professional programs have their own separate handbooks and specific policies; students are also responsible for those policies and procedures.

General Eligibility Requirements for Student Teaching

Minimum eligibility requirements apply to all students. Several subject areas require a specific grade point average unique to a particular program, or additional course work as a prerequisite to student teaching. Students are urged to check with their Education Academic Services and faculty advisors to be certain that all eligibility requirements have been met. Students should check these items well in advance to preclude last-minute schedule conflicts in preparation for the student teaching semester. Minimum requirements are:

  • Admission to a School of Education certification program.
  • Completion of all course prerequisites, such as the teaching methods course(s) and pre–student teaching practica. Students should check for other possible course requirements in their specific area of study.
  • Passing a content examination in the certification area(s).
  • For world languages, an immersion experience and the appropriate score on the oral and written proficiency examinations.
Student Teaching Application Procedures

Information related to student teaching and the application process is available on the School of Education website. Please be aware that some program areas require students to file an application far in advance of the student teaching semester.

Alternative Placement Options for Student Teaching

Alternative placement options include placements with the Institute for Urban Education, and teacher internships under the auspices of the Wisconsin Improvement Program:

  • The UW System Institute for Urban Education helps pre-service teachers pursue their desire to become urban educators and to provide professional development opportunities for currently practicing teachers. Not all teacher education programs participate in the institute. Students should consult with their program coordinator for more information.
  • The teacher internship is a licensed, full-semester assignment that replaces the student teaching experience. Interns are under contract with a school district and paid a modest salary. Internships are rarely available; students are notified by the program coordinator when they are offered by a district and are available to our students.
Special Placements

The School of Education is committed to placing its students in classrooms with teachers we know, in schools led by principals we know. Thus, student teaching placements are made within the University of Wisconsin–Madison service area. In general the service area is 50 miles from Madison, but individual programs may (and do) reduce the size of their service area. Occasionally, students with extenuating circumstances are allowed special placements beyond this area. “Extenuating circumstances” have included spousal/partner relocation, family emergency, or a highly specialized placement. All special placements must be approved by the student’s program coordinator and Associate Dean Jeffrey Hamm. Students permitted special placements are usually liable for the cost of supervision (at least $500). Special placements are not permitted due to financial need or to enhance employment opportunities.

Withdrawing From/Failing Field Experience Assignments

Withdrawing from a field experience has serious implications for the student’s progress in the program. Students who withdraw or receive an unsatisfactory grade (including a “D”) from a field experience may not repeat such experiences without approval from the program coordinator and Associate Dean Jeffrey Hamm. Students withdrawing from or receiving an unsatisfactory grade in field experiences in one major or program may not enroll in another major or program without written permission from the program coordinator and after consultation with Associate Dean Hamm.

Permission to repeat field experiences is not automatically granted. A confirmed field placement is considered an informal contractual agreement between the university and the school in which the student is located. Under this agreement, university faculty, cooperating teachers, and students assume certain responsibilities and obligations to one another. A student's withdrawal from an assignment is considered to be an exception to the agreement and should occur only under the most unusual circumstances. Because of the consequences that withdrawal from a confirmed assignment may have on a student's future progress in the teaching certification program, a student who contemplates such action is strongly urged to consult with the program coordinator and Associate Dean Hamm to fully understand the implications of such action and the options available.

Minority Group Relations and Conflict Resolution

Minority Group Relations

Wisconsin State teacher education regulations require students to complete a section titled Minority Group Relations. The rules identify Minority Group Relations as

  • The history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin.
  • The history, culture and contributions of women and various racial, cultural, language and economic groups in the United States.
  • The philosophical and psychological bases of attitude development and change.
  • The psychological and social implications of discrimination, especially racism and sexism in the American society.
  • Evaluating and assessing the forces of discrimination, especially racism and sexism on faculty, students, curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the school program.
  • Minority group relations through direct involvement with various racial, cultural, language and economic groups in the United States.

UW–Madison teacher education programs address these areas through course work and experiences in each professional education program. Students who successfully complete their professional program will have satisfied each of the areas of Minority Group Relations. For more detailed information about how required courses address Minority Group Relations for each program area, see the School of Education's PI 34 site. Choose Certification Programs, select the program of interest, and click on Rules & Statutes.

Conflict Resolution Requirement

Wisconsin State teacher education regulations require all individuals pursuing teacher certification to have formal training in conflict resolution. This includes

  • Resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff.
  • Assisting pupils in learning methods of resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff, including training in the use of peer mediation to resolve conflicts between pupils.
  • Dealing with crises, including violent, disruptive, potentially violent or potentially disruptive situations that may arise in school or activities supervised by school staff as a result of conflicts between pupils or between pupils and other persons.

All teacher certification programs include conflict resolution training in their required course work. For more detailed  information about how conflict resolution is addressed in each program area, see the School of Education's PI 34 site. Choose Certification Programs, select the program of interest, and click on Rules & Statutes.

Phonics

As of July 1, 1998, the State of Wisconsin requires that all persons seeking initial and renewal licenses to teach reading or language arts in grades Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6 (PK–6) must have successfully completed instruction in teaching reading and language arts using appropriate instructional methods, including phonics. "Phonics" means a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning the phonetic value of letters, letter groups and syllables.

The Phonics requirement applies to students completing Elementary Education and Special Education certification programs. UW–Madison students fulfill this requirement through the successful completion of courses that are already required, so no additional course work is needed to meet this statutory requirement.

Cooperatives

This licensing requirement is mandatory for secondary Social Studies (and Agri-Science) Education certification. Students with previous degrees in their subjects must also monitor and complete this requirement for certification and licensure.

Students typically complete the cooperatives requirement after being admitted to the Secondary Social Studies program and should consult with the program coordinator, Professor Alan Lockwood, regarding its completion.

Portfolios

Students in certification programs are required to demonstrate their knowledge and professional development through the creation and maintenance of a portfolio. A portfolio has several purposes:

  • To serve as a tool for teacher learning, growth, and development. Portfolios are intended to support students’ efforts to become thoughtful and effective teachers.
  • To provide documentation and/or evidence that students have satisfactorily met all teacher education standards required for initial teacher certification in Wisconsin. The portfolio helps to demonstrate students' achievement of these knowledge and performance standards.
  • To provide a repository for student artifacts.
  • To enhance students' technical literacy through the portfolio creation.
  • To support the job preparation and interview process.

Portfolios consist of a variety of artifacts which students have chosen from their educational experiences to best represent their growth and development as teachers. Artifacts can include lesson plans, classroom observations, analyses of student learning, student work samples, photographs, video clips of instruction and reflective commentaries.

The student portfolio provides a foundation for the Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), a standardized evaluation required by Wisconsin for teacher licensure. The edTPA process also requires students to submit artifacts. These artifacts are scored by trained evaluators using a standardized set of edTPA rubrics.

For more information about the use of the portfolio in a specific teacher education program, please contact the program coordinator.

Teacher Standards

UW–Madison teacher education students must meet all state licensing requirements for initial teaching certification in Wisconsin. These requirements, sometimes referred to as administrative rules "PI 34," mandate that individuals demonstrate proficiency on state-approved teaching standards. Each teacher education institution in Wisconsin has adopted a set of teacher education standards that meet state guidelines. These standards must be met by all students completing a licensing program. The current standards of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education can be found on the school's website.

Applying for a Teaching License

The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license. Students intending to complete a teacher certification program should monitor program requirements carefully. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) periodically implements regulations that affect all certification programs; teacher certification candidates are responsible for having up-to-date information about certification requirements.

Licensing Levels

The following licensing options are offered at UW–Madison.

  • The Elementary Education program currently offers two licensing levels: Early Childhood and also Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence
  • The Special Education program certifies students at both the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence level and also at the Early Adolescence through Adolescence level. The Special Education/Elementary Education dual major option certifies students only at the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence level.
  • Secondary Education programs certify students to teach their subject area at the Early Adolescence through Adolescence level.
  • Students completing Language Education programs will be licensed at the Early Childhood through Adolescence level.
  • Students in special fields such as Art, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Music, and Physical Education will be licensed at the Early Childhood through Adolescence level.

Wisconsin State Licensing

The State of Wisconsin issues an initial teaching license to certified teachers. The current fee is $125. An online license application is available through the Department of Public Instruction. A Criminal Background Investigation (CBI) will also be conducted by DPI. Information about fingerprint submission, when necessary, is available through the Department of Public Instruction.

Before applying for a license, DPI requires the electronic submission of “Endorsed Candidate for Licensure" (ECL) data by the certifying officer of the institution where the teacher preparation was completed. For UW–Madison teacher certification students, the endorsement will come from the School of Education, 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. Once this information has been submitted to DPI, students are notified by email that they may begin the application online.

Before endorsing a student, UW–Madison requires that (1) all certification requirements are met; (2) student teaching (following the school district calendar) is completed; (3) final grades are posted and reviewed; (4) the degree is "posted" by the registrar's office (four to five weeks after graduation); and (5) a recommendation for certification is received from the program faculty. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction may require an additional 6 to 12 weeks for license processing. See Educator Licensing for additional information about the licensing process.

Licensing Outside of Wisconsin

To apply for a license in a state other than Wisconsin, first check out the application requirements of that state. The University of Kentucky has a website that provides links to teacher licensing agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Many states have a verification form that needs to be signed by a UW–Madison certification officer. This form verifies that a state-approved licensing program has been completed. These forms should be sent to Education Academic Services at 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, or by email (mlpatton@wisc.edu) to be completed. If the form requests information about practicum and student teaching assignments (names of schools, grade levels, dates, etc.), this information must be completed before sending the form to EAS. 

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.