We prepare educators to serve as change agents in their schools and communities by promoting the full participation of individuals with disabilities.

We help students develop strategies and new ways of thinking in a wide variety of contexts, with particular emphasis on working within a multicultural and urban context.


Master of Science in Exceptional Education

The Exceptional Education master’s degree is a 30-credit degree, with 12 core credits required in all focus areas. The required credits are:

  • 3 credits EXCEDUC 715 Issues and Trends.
  • 3 credits EXCEDUC 770 Research Course.
  • 3 credits EXCEDUC 890 Thesis/Research Course.
  • 3 credits Advanced Issues or Methods in Urban Special Education (determined in collaboration with a faculty advisor).

To fill the remaining credits, students complete the master’s degree in Exceptional Education as a teaching certification focus or individual focus.

Additional information available on the Exceptional Education MS Academic Catalog Requirements webpage.

Academic Catalog Requirements Sheet

  • Visit the Academic Catalog webpage linked above, then click on the Print Options link in the lower right hand column
  • Click the Download Page (PDF) link
  • Print or save the condensed program requirements document

Certificate Option

If you are interested in earning certification as a special education teacher as part of a master’s degree, you must first apply directly to one of our post-baccalaureate teacher certification programs:

Visit our Post-Baccalaureate Special Education Teacher Certification Admissions page for the program application packet, information session dates, and additional application information.

Individual Focus Option

If you are not seeking a post-baccalaureate teaching certification through the Exceptional Education master’s degree, you must select one of the following focus areas:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Transition from School to Life
  • Literacy and Learning Disabilities
  • Multicultural Special Education
  • Students with Significant Disabilities
  • Early Intervention/Early Childhood
  • Teacher as Leader

The courses required for your chosen focus area are determined in collaboration with your faculty advisor.

Doctoral Specializations

Exceptional Education Specialization

The doctoral specialization in Exceptional Education provides a program of advanced study of special education. The program emphasizes the study the socio-cultural context, educational policy, research-based practices and systems change and reform. Students in Exceptional Education take advanced coursework in special education and choose to focus on related areas such as administration, research, teacher education, curriculum design and development, and community-based supports and partnerships. In addition, students declare a minor area of interest.

Exceptional Education PhD Academic Catalog Requirements


How to Apply

MS Admission

Complete the UWM Graduate School Online Application.

The Master’s Degree Application Checklist (PDF) may be a helpful resource. For more information on international admissions, please visit the Center for International Education.

Certificate Focus Admission

To apply for Certification Focus admission, review the Graduate School’s admissions requirements.

Once admitted to a post-baccalaureate program, you will work with a faculty advisor to determine the most appropriate time to apply to the Graduate School to make the most of your post-baccalaureate credits. You may apply 18 credits of coursework in the certification program toward the 30-credit master’s degree.

We recommend you submit a complete application at least four weeks prior to the semester in which you plan to start taking post-baccalaureate courses at the graduate level.

Individual Focus Admission

In addition to the Graduate School’s admissions requirements, we require two letters of recommendation.

Once you apply to the graduate school and your eligibility is confirmed, you will be invited to a faculty interview for program entry. In your Reasons Statement for Graduate Study you will detail the special education area of interest you want to focus on (e.g.: literacy, autism spectrum disorders, transition, etc.).

If admitted, you will be paired with a faculty advisor and begin the process of completing your master’s degree.

The graduate school recommends that you begin the application process one year before the semester you plan to start. The Exceptional Education Department recommends that you submit a complete application at least four weeks prior to the semester in which you plan to start.


profile photoElizabeth DrameProfessorTeaching and Learningerdrame@uwm.eduEnderis Hall 397
profile photoSara JozwikAssociate ProfessorTeaching and Learningjozwik@uwm.eduEnderis Hall 319
profile photoLaura OwensProfessorTeaching and Learninglowens@uwm.eduEnderis Hall 361


Program Information

For general information or questions about the program, contact:

Dr. Maggie Bartlett
Master of Science in Exceptional Education Graduate Representative

Office of Student Services
(414) 229-4721