Female teacher helping student with class project.

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.

Program Type

Major

Program Format

On Campus
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Inclusive Early Childhood Education

Visit the Inclusive Early Childhood Education webpage to learn more about this upcoming program that will prepare students to teach in settings for young children from birth through 3rd grade.

Career

UWM’s 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.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool, kindergarten and elementary school levels are the fastest-growing areas of special education.

Scholarships

We are excited to make available awards for tuition and book costs for some full- and part-time students in the Early Childhood Special Education program. These awards are made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, through Project EI/EC Engage. Priority is given to students with a strong academic record or documentation of recent superior performance in employment.

Research

Dr. Maggie Bartlett’s research focuses on the cultural practices and complexities as it intersects with the education for children with disabilities and their families. She uses critical, decolonizing, social justice and comparative lenses in her work both nationally and in Namibia and Tanzania.

Program Requirements

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 8 (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.

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)

Program Requirements

Master’s Degree

You have the option of combining the certification program with a master’s degree, taking up to 18 credits of your certification program at the graduate level. The remaining credits, including an action research project, can be completed after certification. Your advisor will help you determine the best time in your program to apply to the graduate school.

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 8. 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:

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

Application Process

Professional Sequence Admission

The Early Childhood Special Education professional sequence is a cohort program that begins a two-year course sequence each fall semester. Please see your academic advisor to determine your readiness to begin the professional sequence.

Post-Baccalaureate Admission

The Early Childhood Special Education program has rolling admissions. Once your materials are in and all criteria met, you will be contacted for an interview. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for admission consideration.

You can find more information on our Post-Baccalaureate Special Education Teacher Certification Admissions page, which also includes the program application packet, information session dates and additional admissions information.

Faculty

Maggie Bartlett, Associate Professor in Teaching and Learning.
  • Associate Professor, Teaching and Learning
  • Program Director, Exceptional Education, MS

Advising

  • (Last names A – L) – Andrea Azarian
  • (Last names M – Z) – Nikki Claas
Andrea Azarian, Senior Academic Advisor in Office of Student Services.
  • Senior Academic Advisor, Office of Student Services
Nicole Claas, Senior Academic Advisor in Office of Student Services.
  • Senior Academic Advisor, Office of Student Services