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Special Education: Teacher Certification

Master of Science in Special Education

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Become a valuable resource and advocate for students with disabilities with your special education teaching certification from UW–Madison’s Master of Science in Special Education program.


Is this program right for you?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Master of Science in Special Education is designed for current school employees to become certified as Special Education teachers. Interested but not currently working in a school district? Contact us to find out the best route to become an educator.

The four-semester program combines coursework with practicum and student teaching in local schools. The collaborative development of the program with the local school district and rural districts in Wisconsin ensures that you will be supported by your employing school district while deepening your professional skills to better serve the students with whom you work.

The Special Education Master’s is a cross-categorical certification with emphasis on intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disabilities. Graduates of the program will continue to serve the schools in which they are employed, bringing a deeper knowledge base and academic skills to their work in the field of special education.

You will be prepared to become a resource and advocate for persons with disabilities and will be able to assume a leadership role to enhance the education of all students.

Is this program right for you?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Master of Science in Special Education is designed for current school employees to become certified as Special Education teachers. Interested but not currently working in a school district? Contact us to find out the best route to become an educator.

The four-semester program combines coursework with practicum and student teaching in local schools. The collaborative development of the program with the local school district and rural districts in Wisconsin ensures that you will be supported by your employing school district while deepening your professional skills to better serve the students with whom you work.

The Special Education Master’s is a cross-categorical certification with emphasis on intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disabilities. Graduates of the program will continue to serve the schools in which they are employed, bringing a deeper knowledge base and academic skills to their work in the field of special education.

You will be prepared to become a resource and advocate for persons with disabilities and will be able to assume a leadership role to enhance the education of all students.

Admissions requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  • Submit evidence of English language proficiency, if applicable. The required proficiency scores are: TOEFL IBT 92, PBT 580; or IELTS 7.0.

Application materials required:

  • Online application
  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of purpose
  • Transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation

Connect with us

Alumni Insight: Master of Science for Professional Educators (MSPE)

October 27
5-5:30 p.m.
Join alumni from the MSPE program as they discuss their experiences in the program, how it met their academic needs, why it was a good fit and how it might help you in your future pursuits.
Register for Alumni Insight: Master of Science for Professional Educators (MSPE)

Virtual Open House: Explore and Apply to Graduate School at UW-Madison

November 10
8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Meet with staff and faculty from our 160+ graduate degree programs, gain insight into the application process, and discover the array of services and resources available to graduate students at UW–Madison.
Register for Grad School Virtual Open House

View all events

Program highlights

  • Our program is accelerated, so you earn your degree in just four semesters.
  • We work with local schools, so you can complete in-depth coursework with corresponding practicum and student teaching.
  • Upon graduation, you will be eligible to apply for a cross-categorical special education license in K-Grade 12 (age 21).
  • Students enrolled in this program are eligible to participate in the Wisconsin Teacher Pledge, a program that provides financial support to students who pledge to teach at a PK-12 school in Wisconsin for three or four years.
  • Students enrolled in this program have access to plenty of funding and grant opportunities including UW–SET Residency, Project INCLUDE and Response to Intervention. Your degree could be fully funded.

The UW–Madison School of Education is ranked #4 among schools of education in U.S. by U.S. News and World Report 2021.

How you'll learn

  • Four-semester program combines coursework on UW–Madison campus with practicum and student teaching in local schools.
  • Heavier course load during summer semesters.
  • Evening courses with some online components during fall and spring semesters.

Sample curriculum

First Semester Summer

  • Individuals with Disabilities
  • Applied Behavior Analysis: Applications for Individuals with Disabilities
  • Practicum

Second Semester Fall

  • Diagnosis, Assessment, and Instructional Planning for Students with Disabilities
  • Access to the General Education Curriculum
  • Student Teaching
  • Student Teaching Seminar

Third Semester Spring

  • Language and Reading Instruction for Students with Disabilities
  • Classroom Management for Students with Learning and Behavior Disabilities
  • Methods in Transition and Vocational Education
  • Multicultural Special Education

Fourth Semester Summer

  • Seminar: Rehab Psych and Special Ed Research
  • Development, Learning, and Educational Foundations of Special Education
  • Teaching Mathematics in Inclusive Settings

Job outlook

Top Job Titles
  • Special Education Teacher

Market Salary
$49K in 2019

Projected Job Growth
7.2% for Special Education Teachers, Middle School (2016-2026)

Job Postings
26,700 in 2019

Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight. 2020.
Burning Glass Technologies’ Market Salary is an estimated expected salary. Market Salary uses machine learning algorithms to account for experience, skill, and education among other factors that may impact individual salaries.

Ready to learn more about Special Education: Teacher Certification?
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