Young boy with special needs painting with teacher.

Want to make a difference in the lives of students with disabilities in elementary and middle schools? A special education degree can help you do just that!

Upon successful completion of the K4-12 Special Education program, you will be eligible to apply to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for a Wisconsin teaching license in cross categorical special education, ages 4-21 (grades K4-12).

Program Type


Program Format

On Campus
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Why Choose Our Program?

  • Multiple Pathways. The K4-12 program offers multiple pathways to Wisconsin certification in special education: undergraduate, post baccalaureate career changers, UWM K4-12 fifth-year dual certification, add-on certification and para-professional to teacher.
  • Urban Focus. The program has an urban focus including culturally responsive teaching of students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Content. You will learn evidence-based teaching strategies and practices that can accelerate the progress of students with disabilities.
Male student having fun while working on activities in the classroom

Program Highlights

  • Evening classes. We offer flexible class schedules, including evening classes, to meet the needs of working professionals.
  • Field-based. You will be in schools for most semesters, putting into practice what you are learning in your classes.
  • Experienced faculty. Our faculty members have extensive classroom experience and are recognized leaders in the field of special education.
  • Master’s degree option. Post baccalaureate students can combine certification with a Master’s Degree in Exceptional Education.
  • Standards-based. This program is aligned with the Wisconsin Teacher Standards (PDF), which UWM has contextualized with an urban education framework.

Program Handbook

For additional information about the program, please see the K4-12 Special Education Program Handbook (PDF)

Program Requirements

Undergraduate Program Pathway

The K4-12 Special Education major leads to a Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Education and recommendation for Wisconsin special education certification (Grades K4-12). The professional sequence, taken after all/most of the liberal arts required courses are taken, is a cohort program that begins a two-year course sequence each fall semester.

Post-Baccalaureate/2nd Degree Program Pathways

The post-baccalaureate program is a cohort program that is two years for those entering without certification and one year for those entering with prior teaching certification in another area. Students include those earning K4-12 certification in regular education who remain at UWM for a fifth year to earn dual certification, certified teachers returning to add on a special education certification, and those beginning new careers. Career changers have the option of working as a paraprofessional and then teaching under a permit while earning certification.

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 apply to the graduate school.

Application Process

Undergraduate Program Pathway

Applications are due April 3. 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. 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 a School of Education advisor to determine the best time to apply. Once ready, complete the application form linked below to apply.

K4-12 Special Education Undergraduate Admission Application

Post Baccalaureate/2nd Degree Program Pathway

Admission criteria include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 on all coursework completed for undergraduate credit

The K4-12 post baccalaureate 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. Complete the application form linked below to apply.

K4-12 Special Education Post-Baccalaureate/2nd Degree Admission Application


Elizabeth Drame, Professor in Teaching and Learning.
  • Professor, Teaching and Learning
Sara Jozwik, Associate Professor in Teaching and Learning.
  • Associate Professor, Teaching and Learning
  • Program Director, Exceptional Education: K4-12 Special Education
Laura Owens, Professor in Teaching and Learning.
  • Professor, Teaching and Learning
Nancy Rice, Professor in Teaching and Learning.
  • Professor, Teaching and Learning
  • Department Chair, Teaching and Learning


  • (Last names A-L) – Andrea Azarian
  • (Last names M-Z) – Tyree Bolden
Andrea Azarian, Senior Academic Advisor in Office of Student Services.
  • Senior Academic Advisor, Office of Student Services
Tyree Bolden, Academic Advisor in Office of Student Services.
  • Academic Advisor, Office of Student Services
Important Dates
Application Deadline Undergraduate
April 3
Dr. Sara Jozwik
Associate Professor and Program Director

To discuss your academic plan and coursework, contact an academic advisor:

Office of Student Services Advising

Academic Advising
(Last names A-L) – Andrea Azarian
(Last names M-Z) – Tyree Bolden

If you are completing a previous program at UWM and have questions please use this contact information:

MC-EA Cross Categorical Special Education – Andrea Azarian

EAA Cross Categorical Special Education – Tyree Bolden