Special Education Degree Programs

MS in Special Education

red doors of the education building which houses the master's in special education program

Do you have your bachelor’s degree? Interested in being a leader, collaborating with others, and improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families?

The special education master’s program is the academic home to many students who enjoy working with children and youth, especially children and youth with disabilities. Special education master’s graduates enter a high-need field with an almost 100% job placement rate after graduation. Employment opportunities are available all across the country.

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Watch our comprehensive program overview video that covers the program basics including curriculum, time to completion, and application process.

Watch the Program Overview on YouTube

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Student Loan Forgiveness

Federal Loan Forgiveness: All students in the teacher certification track of the Master of Science in Special Education program may be eligible for loan forgiveness as a teacher. To learn more about loan forgiveness or cancellation, please check the Loan Forgiveness page on the Federal Student Aid website.

Teacher Pledge: All students in the teacher certification track of the Master of Science in Special Education program are eligible for the Teacher Pledge Program. Pledge to work at a Wisconsin pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school for three to four years after graduation. The School of Education pledges to pay the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees, testing and licensing costs. Learn more about the Teacher Pledge


  • Previously earned bachelor’s degree (can be unrelated to education)
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Seeking initial special education teaching license
  • Interested in changing the lives of and empowering those around them

Application Process

  • To apply you will need:
    • 1 statement of purpose indicating your reasons for pursuing special education certification
      • Additionally, state your interest in any of the funding options (above)
    • 2 letters of recommendation
    • 1 current resume
    • Unofficial transcripts from colleges/universities attended
  • Apply for the “Special Education MS – Teacher Certification” program via Graduate School Application Portal
    • Choose which term you would like to start
    • Application fee required

Deadline to Apply

  • Spring: October 15
  • Summer: May 15
  • Fall: January 15


Courses are offered on campus, Monday-Friday, during the day and evening. Information regarding program requirements, course descriptions, and graduation requirements can be found in The Guide.

Additional coursework may be required if accepted into one of the funded programs.

Program Length

The master’s in special education with teacher certification can be completed in as little as 14 months, including summer coursework.

Jesus Cortez was an engineering major at UW–Madison, until he changed his mind and changed direction. Having a lot of time to think and examine his values in the midst of the pandemic allowed him to home in on his passion. He’s now enrolled in a special education master’s program through UW–Madison School of Education, and he’s sharing his journey from New York City to Madison.