College of Education & Professional Studies

Department of Special Education

Department Mission Statement

The Department of Special Education is a collaborative community of learners whose mission is to prepare educators who are agents of change on behalf of children and families. Graduates of the program will:

  1. Possess the knowledge, skills and dispositions of professional organizations like CEC, NAEYC
  2. Implement research based practices
  3. Advocate for equitable education of all children and adults in all setting across the lifespan
  4. Facilitate purposeful change on behalf of all persons with disabilities
  5. Value lifelong learning and reflective practice.


The College of Education and Professional Studies (COEPS) is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The Department of Special Education is a collaborative community of learners whose specialty program is accredited by the Council for Exceptional Children.

What is Special Education?

A special education degree prepares teachers to work with children with disabilities. Teaching special education is a professionally challenging and rewarding experience.

What are the tests or special requirements for special education? There are a number of requirements at different levels:

  • Meet the Praxis I / CORE / ACT / GRE requirements
  • Admission to professional education
  • GPA must be 2.75 or higher
  • Pass the Praxis II test in order to sign up for student teaching.  This test and the CORE test is available at (For licensure, DPI requires test 0146 or 5146)
  • Pass the Wisconsin Foundation in Reading Test (WIFOR)

When do I apply to College of Education and Professional Studies? Apply to professional education during the semester you are taking your pre-block classes.  

What classes do I need to take? There are two emphases you can major in. Please see: Major and Minor Programs (Undergraduates). This link will take you to a description of the majors and minors. There is a link on that page which shows the four year plan for the majors and minors.

Can I take both CD and EBD/LD emphasis?While you can take the courses associated with both emphasis, the cross categorical license allows you to teach in all three areas. If you go with a CD emphasis you can teach in EBD/LD areas and vice versa.

If my major is outside the College of Education and Professional Studies, can I still minor in special education?Yes, please see Non-Licensure Minor and Students outside COEPS

What is professional education and how do I apply? 
See this page for further information on professional education: Admission to Professional Education

What sciences satisfy university and PI-34 requirements? The university requires a lab science and a second science from a different  discipline. PI-34 specifically requires a biological science and a physical science.  One of which must be a lab science.

I have an associate's degree and want to get my Bachelor of Science, where do I start? What classes will transfer?The admissions office can answer all of these questions.  Here is a link to their web site:

What technological resources are available? College of Education and Professional Studies has a lab for student use. You can find more information at Wisconsin Instructional Technology Resource Center.

With a special education degree, do I qualify for Loan Forgiveness Incentives? For the most up-to-date answer to this question go to:

Placement after GraduationThere is a national shortage of special education teachers. Upon graduation, there are many options for employment, including teaching residential and adult services. 

Where is the website for tuition information? The website for tuition information is

Where is the website for financial aid? The website for financial aid is

Can I apply online? Yes. Go to

What is an official transcript?  A transcript with an official university seal that is in a sealed envelope from the university.

Where do I send my official transcripts?  To the School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education 2013 Roseman Hall.

Can I have my undergraduate university/college fax you my official transcript?  No. Graduate School policy dictates that only transcripts with a university seal, delivered in a sealed envelope from the university, can be considered an "official" transcript.

I graduated from UW-Whitewater. Do I have to order an official transcript?  No. The School of Graduate Studies will order transcripts from the Registrar's Office for you.

What GPA do I need to be admitted in "good standing"?  At least, a 2.75 cumulative undergraduate grade point average; at least, a 2.90 cumulative undergraduate grade point average in the last half of the undergraduate degree program; a master's degree or higher from an institution regionally accredited at the graduate-level; or to have completed, at least, 12 graduate-level credits at UW-Whitewater with a cumulative graduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

As an international student, are there special steps or requirements for me to be admitted to a graduate program?  Yes. 

How much field experience do you have in your program?  There are three field experience prior to the student teaching semester. For a description, please visit:  Fieldwork.

Can you finish the special education program in 4 years?  Yes indeed! See our plan on  Major and Minor Programs (Undergraduates).



  • The Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) is a nationally recognized student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children. Special education students frequently participate in other professional organizations to promote collaboration across disciplines in education.
  • Students also participate in Best Buddies and CARE.
  • Check out the bulletin boards in Winther Hall for these organizations for information on upcoming activities.
    • Best Buddies matches people with intellectual disabilities with college students and creates one-to-one friendships. In the past, individuals with an intellectual disability often didn't have the opportunity to have friends outside their own isolated environment. When a college student becomes a Peer Buddy, he or she offers their Buddy the chance to explore friendship and all it offers.
    • Our Best Buddies Whitewater Chapter partners with St. Colletta's in Jefferson, to form lifelong friendships. Our members are responsible to be in contact weekly with their buddy as well as be at our mandatory group events, which are held once a month. Best Buddies at UW-Whitewater is extremely rewarding and a fun great way to make new friends with and without disabilities.

The majority of graduates become teachers, with a Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE). Early Childhood Education majors receive licensure for children birth to age 8. Students in the Cross Categorical program earn licensure for both middle childhood to early adolescence and early adolescence to adolescence (Grades 1-12).Many students return to UW-Whitewater to pursue advanced degrees in the Master of Science in Education (MSE) programs and assume responsibilities as:

  • Autism Specialists
  • Program Support Teacher(s)
  • Public School and Community Agency Administrators
  • Transition Specialists
  • Staff Development Coordinators
  • In-service Coordinators
  • Teachers in Vocational/Technical Schools or Community Colleges
  • Consultants
  • Behavioral Specialist
  • College Faculty
  • Group Homes/Residential Service Coordinators


The Online Bachelor in Special Education has been designed to prepare you for success as a student and in your career path.

General Education courses are offered fully online, and throughout the year to ensure completion based on students' schedules. Many of these courses are slotted in 16-week sessions.

The cohort courses are fully online in 8-week (academic semesters) and 3-week (summer) course sequences, this allows students the opportunity to work in their current school district and partner with UW-Whitewater for on-the-job field experiences and student teaching.

This partnership is an excellent opportunity for districts to help support their educational assistants in seeking special education licensure. Students will have an opportunity to practice and implement the knowledge and skills obtained from their classes to positively impact the children and support their cooperating teachers.

For more information, please review the Online Bachelor's in Special Education webpage.