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School of Education

Application and Admission: Elementary Education

Admission to the School of Education as a Pre-Professional Student

New freshmen and transfer students are admitted directly to the School of Education with a “pre” classification of some sort—Pre-Elementary, Pre-Kinesiology, etc. This classification indicates that a student is interested in a particular program offered by the School of Education, but hasn't completed the eligibility requirements for admission into it. Students interested in Elementary Education receive the pre-professional classification of PRE.

On-campus students wishing to be admitted to the School of Education while working on a program’s eligibility requirements can apply for admission to the School of Education by completing a pre-professional application form. A minimum GPA of 2.5, based on UW-Madison course work, is required to transfer into the School of Education. However, it is not necessary to be a "pre" before applying to any of the School of Education's professional programs.

It is strongly recommended that students interested in a School of Education program meet with an academic advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS), 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1651.

Recent Changes to the Elementary Education Program

The Elementary Education program has recently been restructured by the area faculty. Four new undergraduate certification options are now offered at two licensing levels—Early Childhood (approximately preschool through grade 3) and Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence (approximately grades 1-8). The specific program options include the following:

  • Early Childhood/English as a Second Language Certification (EC/ESL)
  • Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence/Special Education Dual Major (MC-EA/Special Education)
  • Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence/English as a Second Language (MC-EA/ESL)
  • Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence/Content Focus (MC-EA/Content Focus)

Admission to the Professional Program for Fall 2014

Resources limit the number of students who can be served by some UW-Madison teacher education programs; thus, admission to the Elementary Education program is limited and may be competitive. Obtaining or exceeding the minimum criteria for eligibility does not guarantee admission. Requirements and admission criteria may be modified from one admission period to the next.

Students will be admitted to the program only once a year, effective in the fall. Selection is made in the spring. Students in two of the four Elementary Education options—Early Childhood/ESL and the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence/Special Education Dual Major—will begin the professional sequence in the subsequent fall semester. Students in the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence/English as a Second Language option and Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence/Content Focus option begin the professional sequence in the spring semester.

The professional sequence in all options will be four semesters long, reduced from the former five-semester sequence. The application period for fall 2014 admission extends from October, 2013, through February 1, 2014.

Program Admission Eligibility Requirements for Fall 2014

To be eligible for admission to the professional program, applicants must

  1. File a completed program application form and all related application materials by February 1, 2014. Program application deadlines are strictly enforced and applications will not be accepted after the deadline.
  2. Submit the required essay. See last year’s essay questions and instructions: “In an essay not to exceed 1000 words, respond to the following: 'What do you see as a challenge faced by U.S. schools? In relation to that challenge, conceptualize what you believe to be the role of a teacher as one who can help to address that challenge.' In preparing the essay it is best to select a single or limited number of related challenges and develop them in depth. This focused approach is preferable to one in which you identify many challenges but develop them poorly.” Note: The format and/or topic of the essay is expected to change for fall, 2014, admission.
  3. Successfully complete at least 40 transferable college-level credits by the end of fall semester 2012.
  4. Take all three sections of the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) and submit scores to Education Academic Services by March 1, 2014. Also known as the Praxis I: Academic Skills Assessments, the PPST is a basic skills test offered by Educational Testing Service (ETS) and required for admission to all state teacher preparation programs by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The test is designed to measure reading, writing, and mathematics skills. State-mandated minimum scores are Reading, 175; Writing, 174; and Mathematics, 173. Students may be considered who have not earned minimum scores. See the ETS website for more detailed information. Important note: The UW-Madison School of Education's institutional recipient code is 1846; use of another code will prevent Education Academic Services from receiving scores.
  5. Earn either
    • a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale on all transferable college-level course work attempted. Note: Both the cumulative GPA and the cumulative GPA based on the last 60 credits will be calculated. The higher of the two will be used for program selection; see "Last 60 Credits Rule" below. Grade point averages are based on all college-level course work and calculated from all course work attempted, OR
    • minimum scores on the Pre-Professional Skills Test/Praxis.

Applicants will be considered who have met either the minimum GPA or all minimum PPST scores, but will not be eligible if both GPA and PPST scores are below the minimum. Students must take all three sections of the PPST (reading, writing, mathematics) to be eligible for consideration.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility and selection to programs. GPAs will be calculated using (1) all transferable college level course work attempted, and (2) the last 60 credits attempted. The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of admission. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate course work will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" course work indicates course work for which a grade has been earned.) More information regarding this rule is available here.

Transfer Students

Applicants who are not already enrolled on the UW-Madison campus must be admissible to the University to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW-Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. More detailed information for prospective transfer students is available here.  Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application.

Program Admission Selection Criteria for Fall 2014

Note: The selection process for Elementary Education is under review and may change for Fall 2014 admission. Information regarding any changes will be available prior to the beginning of the application process. 

The Elementary Education program admissions procedures are intended to result in an academically qualified student body that is diverse in terms of both academic strengths and life experiences and has a commitment to providing the best possible education to elementary and middle school students. Having students with diverse life experiences, backgrounds and attitudes is critical if faculty are to prepare students to teach in schools that themselves have diverse enrollments. A diverse student body enriches the Elementary Teacher Certification Program as well as the profession in order that all public school students are afforded an education that is both intellectually rich and accepting of their diverse backgrounds.

Faculty will accept only those students judged to have the potential to be successful in the academically challenging Elementary Education Program. In making admissions decisions, no factor will outweigh judgment that a particular applicant's credentials, taken as a whole, represent unacceptably high academic risk.

Because admissions to the Elementary Education program is competitive, faculty realize that applicants are interested in knowing how best to present their applications and whether they will have reasonable possibility of acceptance. The Admissions Committee will take the following into consideration when making admissions decisions: Academic Competence, Multicultural Competence, and Reflective Competence. Applicants will provide evidence of these competencies in the materials that they submit academic transcripts from all campuses where course work has been completed, an admissions essay, an autobiographical sketch, and letters of recommendation.

Academic Competence

The Mission Statement of the Elementary Education Area points to the role that our graduates have in creating academically rigorous classrooms that lead to high academic achievement in all students. For elementary and middle schools to promote academic achievement, elementary and middle school teachers must have demonstrated high levels of success in core disciplines throughout their university studies. Therefore, program faculty expect that students admitted to the program will have demonstrated high levels of academic preparation.

Academic achievement is, in part, reflected in an applicant's grade point average; however, GPA alone does not provide an adequate picture of academic performance. Therefore, the Elementary Education Admissions Committee will also closely examine the unique academic strengths of each candidate in comparison to others. The types of evidence that will be taken into account will include:

  • trends in grades over the course of an applicant's university career;
  • the course-taking pattern of each applicant, looking for evidence that the applicant challenged herself or himself by taking advanced-level courses, especially in fields that are uncommon in the applicant pool.
  • evidence of academic accomplishment or potential. A careful, thoughtful letter of recommendation from an instructor or employer may provide additional information about an applicant's intellect, imagination, or diligence and potential for success in the program—information that is not easily identified from GPA;
  • evidence of overcoming academic challenges such as being a first-generation university student, having a diagnosed learning difficulty, or not having English as a first language.
Multicultural and Interpersonal Competencies

The Elementary Education program's mission is to prepare teachers who are able to promote academic achievement in all elementary-school and middle-school students. This includes those from diverse races, cultures, language backgrounds, family forms, and sexual orientations, as well as those from diverse economic, gender, and ability groups. The program faculty seek prospective teachers who will demonstrate both commitment to this mission and the prospect of contributing to it. The Admissions Committee will therefore examine the materials from each candidate for evidence of such commitment and prospect. A person's life experiences are a significant part of what she or he will contribute to fellow students and to teaching. Faculty are therefore interested in information about applicants' life experiences so that admissions decisions will result in a cohort that will contain reflection-provoking and mutually instructive diversity. Such evidence is likely to be found in the candidate's admission statement, autobiographical sketch, and the letters of recommendation. When examining the evidence submitted, the Admissions Committee will be looking for evidence of Multicultural and Interpersonal Competencies as reflected in:

  • proficiencies in languages other than English;
  • work (volunteer or paid) with individuals or groups who are linguistically, racially, or ethnically diverse;
  • work (volunteer or paid) with individuals or groups who face physical or cognitive challenges not faced by the applicant;
  • work (volunteer or paid) with groups whose members include a diversity of languages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, physical challenges, and/or cognitive challenges;
  • other cultural or personal background that adds a unique perspective or ability to the Elementary Education student body.
Reflective Competence

To have performed at high academic levels or to have had diverse life experiences is not adequate for admissions purposes unless these are accompanied by evidence that the applicant has been able to reflect on and learn from them. Demonstration of reflective competence is important as it likely contributes to one's interpersonal skills as well as to the qualities such as integrity, social awareness, and cultural sensitiveness that are qualities of a well-rounded human being who will be an excellent elementary or middle school teacher. The ability to reflect on one's life experiences is one factor that will allow the Admissions Committee to look for evidence that our students will be reflective practitioners who evaluate the effects of their assumptions, choices, and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who will actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally. Evidence of reflective competence is likely to be found in the candidate's admissions essay, autobiographical sketch, and in letters of recommendation.

Criminal Background Investigation and Disclosure Statement

Criminal background checks will be run on all students at admission. Applicants must also complete a disclosure statement. See this link for more detailed information.

Students with a Previous Degree

Persons who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a Second Degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. The term Special student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; the student does not receive a degree for this "certification only" course work. Second Degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.


This page was updated 10/29/12.