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.
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.
Professional Sequence Admission
The Early Childhood Special Education professional sequence is a cohort program that begins a two-year course sequence each fall semester. Applications are due April 1 of the year you wish to begin. Generally, students apply to the professional sequence in the final semester of their sophomore year. Application to the professional sequence does not guarantee admission.
Students must meet all application requirements listed in the application packet. If you have not officially completed all coursework required to apply at the time of application but will do so before the beginning of the fall semester, we encourage you to submit a program application. We recommend you meet with an advisor to determine the best time to apply.
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.
For individuals with a bachelor’s degree without a teaching license or experience, it is a two-year program.
For individuals with a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification in Early Childhood Education, the program is generally about one year.
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.
Master’s Degree Option
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 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
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.
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 a Special Education Early Childhood Program Academic Advisor
(Last names A – L) – Andrea Azarian
(Last names M – Z) – Nikki Claas
Special Education Early Childhood Faculty Coordinator
Dr. Maggie Bartlett, PhD, Assistant Professor
Dr. 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 lens in her work both nationally and in Namibia and Tanzania.
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.