2016-17 Catalog

Publication date June 2016

Special Education Program

The special education minor prepares teacher education candidates to earn a Cross-Categorical Special Education Certification (#801). Teacher candidates choose an emphasis area within the fields of Cognitive Disabilities (CD), Emotional Behavior Disorders (EBD), or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD). Certification courses generally follow a fall-only or spring-only course delivery model at the undergraduate level. Candidates may choose between two developmental ranges: middle childhood-early adolescence (MC-EA) (ages 6-13 years) or early adolescence-adolescence (EA-A) (ages 11-21 years). Early childhood-adolescence (EC-A) candidates may choose to complete the special education certification at the EA-A developmental range. All candidates must apply for admission to the special education minor separately from other teacher education programs.

The special education minor is comprised of the following program tracks:

  1. Undergraduate degree-seeking certification minor
  2. Undergraduate non-degree-seeking (add-on) certification sequence

Note: Federal financial aid is not available for students pursuing an ad-on teaching certification. Private educational loan opportunities are also limited for non-degree seeking students.

The special education minor has two tracks1 for which candidates may seek admission at the undergraduate level:

  • Degree-seeking minor and
  • Non-degree-seeking add-on certification.

The special education minor track is for undergraduate degree-seeking candidates completing a traditional undergraduate major and minor course sequence. The non-degree-seeking add-on track is for candidates who have already completed an undergraduate degree in education and hold or are eligible to hold a Wisconsin teaching license.


Please choose the appropriate program track when applying for admission, as applying for the wrong track may cause a delay in your admission.


Degree seeking:

Degree seeking teacher education candidates that desire to earn cross-categorical special education certification must complete a separate application for admission to the special education minor. Candidates must be admitted to a teacher education major program in order to be admitted into the degree-seeking special education minor. However, candidates may apply for admission to the minor in the same semester as application to the major program. Admission to a Department of Educational Studies major (Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence Education), program (Early Childhood-Adolescence), or Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP, Early Adolescence-Adolescence) does not guarantee admission to the Special Education Program. 

Application Requirements:

  • Candidates must meet all of the requirements for admission to a teacher education major program (MC-EA, EC-A, or STEP). 
  • Candidates must have at least 25 hours of experience working directly with individuals with exceptionalities. All experience should occur after high school graduation. The age level of individuals is not limited (birth through adult is acceptable); however, experience within the developmental range of certification is highly encouraged. Candidates must upload a document showing at least 25 hours of experience with individuals with disabilities with a verifying signature and signer’s contact information at the time of application for admission to the minor.
  • Candidates must include a Statement of Intent that speaks to their rationale for choosing a special education minor at UWL. Statements should be no longer than two pages, double spaced using 12-point font. This statement must be uploaded at the time of application for admission to the minor.

Extenuating circumstances:  

On occasion, a student may have significant extenuating circumstances that prevent them from meeting one of the admission criteria listed above or in the major program admission requirements. These applicants should provide a request for consideration with their online application. The request for consideration should include:

  • A detailed letter documenting why the applicant should still be considered for admission. Documentation should include evidence to support the request for consideration (for example, why the GPA requirement was not met).
  • Contact information for two individuals who can support the applicant's request for consideration and who can speak to the applicant's ability to be successful in the Special Education Program. The contact information should be added to the end of the letter requesting consideration, and this document must be uploaded at the time of application for admission to the minor. The contact information should include, at a minimum the following:
    1. Name of contact person
    2. Phone number
    3. Address
    4. Email
    5. Information on how the contact knows the applicant

Special Education Program applications are accepted during the third week of each semester. All application materials are due by 4:00 pm on the Friday of the third week each semester.  Incomplete applications will not be accepted.  

Non-degree seeking add-on:

Non-degree seeking teacher education candidates that desire to earn a cross-categorical special education add-on certification must apply for admission to the Special Education Program. All application materials must be submitted to the Special Education Program Director for admission consideration. Special Education Program applications are electronic and accepted on a rolling admission basis. Complete details, including requirements for admission, are available in the Department of Educational Studies.


(38 credits)

All core courses are required for each certification option.

Core courses:
EDS 308Foundations of Literacy3
SPE 401Introduction to Exceptional Individuals3
SPE 424Classroom Management and Positive Behavior Practices3
EDS 463Designing Instruction and Ongoing Assessment for Diverse Learners3
SPE 431Language Development and Communication Disorders3
SPE 440Collaboration and Transition: From School to Community3
SPE 452Individual Educational Assessment3
SPE 461Clinical in Special Education2
Cross-categorical special education professional practice courses (see options below)15
Total Credits38

Professional practice option 1: Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence (MC-EA)

SPE 446Methods in Cross-Categorical Special Education-Middle Childhood/Early Adolescence3
SPE 483Student Teaching Cross-Categorical Special Education: Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence11
SPE 430Seminar in Special Education1
Total Credits15

Professional practice option 2: Early Adolescence-Adolescence (EAA)

SPE 447Methods in Cross-Categorical Special Education-Early Adolescence/Adolescence3
SPE 484Student Teaching Cross-Categorical Special Education: Early Adolescence-Adolescence11
SPE 430Seminar in Special Education1
Total Credits15

All certification coursework must be completed prior to the professional practice semester. Candidates must also earn passing scores on the Middle School Content Knowledge test (Praxis Subject Assessment test #5146) and the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading test (FoRT), complete self-report criminal background check documents, complete the pre-student teaching portfolio prior to student teaching, and the post-student teaching electronic portfolio benchmark requirement.

Degree-seeking candidates must have a combined cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of at least 2.75 in order to enroll in the student teaching semester.

Non-degree-seeking candidates must have a 2.75 GPA in the special education coursework in order to enroll in the student teaching semester.

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