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.

Contact Us

For more information or questions about the program

Office of Student Services Advising
(414) 229-4721

Dr. Nancy Rice
Master of Science in Exceptional Education Graduate Representative

Questions about admissions?

Allison Hochmuth
Graduate Program Admissions Coordinator
Office of Student Services
(414) 229-4599


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.

Master’s Degree 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 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 four post-baccalaureate teacher certification programs:

Early Childhood – Special Education (Birth – Age 8)
Middle Childhood – Early Adolescence (Ages 6-13)
Early Adolescence – Adolescence (Age 10-21)

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

Certificate 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 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.

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.