Special Education Certificate

The Special Education Certificate program will prepare teachers who already hold a WI teaching license in another area to teach students with disabilities, thus increasing the number of licensed special education teachers in Wisconsin. In areas of high need such as special education teachers, school districts in Wisconsin want programs for their teachers that are easily accessible and available. This IPSE program will offer fully online cohorts to meet this need. Teachers who complete the certificate program will be endorsed for a Wisconsin cross-categorical K-12 special education license, #2801. The philosophy of the program is a learning-in-community, constructivist model with an emphasis on culturally relevant teaching.


· To prepare additional K-12 cross categorical special education teachers.

· To meet the needs of school districts in this high need area.

· To prepare educators to serve as advocates and resources for individuals with disabilities and their families.

· To create inclusive educational experiences for children with disabilities.

· To prepare in-service teachers to work effectively across disability categories.

· To prepare, through coursework and clinical experiences, in-service teachers to work students with a wide range of abilities, including students with severe disabilities. The coursework and experiences will span the elementary, middle, and high school ranges, with clinical experiences focusing on the school/developmental range where candidates are already employed.

· To work with teachers with diverse teaching backgrounds and grade levels through differentiating course content in assessment courses, the methods course, and practicum. IPSE already successfully does this in our Learning Community and Reading programs that are K-12 programs.

Standards for Special Education Professionals:

Learning outcomes for the Special Education Certificate program are fully aligned to The CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) Initial Practice-Based Professional Standards for Special Educators and WI Teaching Standards.

This program is offered as a cohort model and will start when 14 or more students are admitted. The program is offered in spring, summer and fall terms.


Applicants for admission must:

  • Meet all UWL graduate application requirements.
  • Hold a bachelor's degree in education from an accredited institution.
  • Have an overall undergraduate grade point average of 2.85 or higher on a 4.00 scale.
  • Provide evidence of teaching license or certificate (i.e. copy of teaching license).
  • Provide a resume that documents at least one year of full-time regular teaching experience in a K-12 classroom and current teaching position in a K-12 classroom.
  • Complete a successful criminal background check (initiated by UWL).

Criminal background check

The WI Department of Public Instruction (DPI) requires that candidates for admission to a teacher education, administration, or pupil services program successfully pass a criminal background check (CBC) as one criterion for admission. By applying for admission to one of these programs, candidates agree to provide the necessary personal information to UWL in order to initiate their CBC and to complete their portion of the process prior to the deadline specified in their admission letter. Program candidates are responsible for all costs associated with their criminal background check(s).

Out-of-state applicants

This program may meet other states' licensing requirements. An applicant's state may or may not require that the applicant get a Wisconsin teaching license to be endorsed for their program of study. The Wisconsin licensing process may include taking coursework in Native American Studies (ACT 31). The applicant should check with their state licensing board prior to applying to ensure they understand the appropriate pathway to meet their state's licensing requirements.


The graduate Special Education Certificate Program is aligned with Wisconsin Teacher Standards (WTS) and Council on Exceptional Children (CEC) Standards.

RDG 704Emergent Literacy3
EDU 755Introduction to Special Education for In-Service Teachers3
EDU 756Inclusive Classroom Practices in Special Education3
EDU 757Co-Planning and Co-Teaching in Inclusive Learning Environments3
EDU 758Advanced Special Education Assessment3
EDU 759Advanced Methods: Teaching Students with Disabilities3
EDU 760Classroom Management and Positive Behavioral Practices3
EDU 761Practicum in Special Education3
Total Credits24

Program completion and eligibility for certification

Eligibility for K-12 Cross-Categorical Special Education (2801) certification is contingent upon:

  • Completion of all K-12 Cross-Categorial Special Education Program coursework, associated experiences, and artifacts.
  • Cumulative graduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.
  • Completed DPI employment verification form indicating at least 3 years of employment as the teacher of record in K-12 schools or hold a WI Lifetime Educator license.