Early intervention is key for many children with disabilities, and so the early childhood special education teacher has the potential to make a lifelong impact.

Special education teachers who specialize in early childhood are also in demand as more and more children with disabilities are diagnosed earlier — in fact, the preschool, kindergarten and elementary school levels are the fastest-growing areas of special education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Undergraduate Program

The Early Childhood Special Education major leads to a Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Education. Teacher candidates are admitted to the Early Childhood major upon declaring the major or transferring from another institution. Upon completion, you will be eligible to apply for a Cross-Categorical Special Education Teaching License from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for ages birth to eight (Grades 0-3).

Candidates can be admitted to the certification track(s) of the major upon:

  • Successful completion of 40 credits.
  • Completion of UWM competency requirements in English and Mathematics.
  • Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Communications Requirement: passing scores on CORE Exam or sanctioned alternative.

Program Sheet

Undergraduate Program Sheet (PDF)

Post-Baccalaureate Program

UWM’s Post-Baccalaureate Early Childhood Special Education Program prepares teachers to provide special education services in infant/toddler, preschool or primary settings up to third grade. It emphasizes multicultural, family-centered and interdisciplinary preparation. After you successfully complete the program, you are eligible for an early childhood special education teaching license from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Post-Baccalaureate Program Certification Summary (PDF)

For individuals with a bachelor’s degree without a teaching license or experience, it is a two-year program.

Two-Year Program Sheet (PDF)

For individuals with a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification in Early Childhood Education, the program is generally about one year.

One-Year Program Sheet (PDF)

809 Add-On License

The Department of Exceptional Education is authorized by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to extend the certification held by Early Childhood: Exceptional Education Needs teachers (license 808) from birth through kindergarten to birth through age eight. This is known as an 809 add-on license.

The 809 license extends your teaching options, allowing you to teach children with disabilities in infant/toddler programs and in kindergarten through third grade. The 809 add-on program requires the following courses:

EXCEDUC 570 Curriculum & Methods for Special Ed.: Primary
EXCEDUC 682 Language and Literacy in ECSE
CURRINS 330 Teaching of Mathematics: Early Childhood
EXCEDUC 649 Early Childhood Field Experience: Primary
CURRINS 504 Teaching of Reading and Writing in Early Childhood: Primary

Students must also complete any state-required testing requirements (e.g.: Praxis II, Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test) they have not previously met.

Additional Opportunities for Learning

UWM/MPS Internship

The ECSE program participates in the UWM/MPS Special Education Internship Program. This innovative program provides opportunities for post-baccalaureate special education certification students who have a commitment to teaching in Milwaukee Pubic Schools to begin teaching while earning certification.

Interns are teachers-of-record in MPS schools with full pay and benefits while earning certification at UWM. They receive the support of MPS mentor teachers and are supervised by UWM instructors.

Contact Us

Contact a Special Education Early Childhood Program Academic Advisor

Office of Student Services Advising
(414) 229-4721

(Last names A – L) – Andrea Azarian

(Last names M – Z) – Nikki Claas

Dr. Maggie Bartlett
ECSE Faculty Coordinator