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School of Education

Admission and Application Information: Science Education

IMPORTANT: The secondary education faculty members are restructuring their teacher certification programs at UW–Madison. These programs are moving to post-baccalaureate certification, which means that students will only be certified to teach these subjects through graduate-level work in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. The current undergraduate teacher licensing programs will be discontinued and certification will no longer be offered at the undergraduate level. Students will begin the new graduate programs in summer 2015.

The affected programs are English, Mathematics, Social Studies (Broad Field Social Studies, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology), and Science (Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Broad Field/Natural Science, and Physics).

The last group of undergraduates will be admitted to the current professional programs in fall 2013. The application period for this admission period will extend from October 2012 to February 1, 2013.

[catalog update 10/1/12]

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-Secondary, Pre-Elementary, Pre-Kinesiology, etc. This classification indicates that a student is interested in a particular program area, but hasn't completed the eligibility requirements for admission into the professional program.

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. 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.

Admission to the Professional Program

Resources limit the number of students who can be served by UW–Madison Secondary Education teacher preparation programs. Thus, admission to this Secondary Education program is limited and may be competitive. Over the last few years 14-15 students have been admitted annually to this program. Obtaining or exceeding the minimum criteria for eligibility does not guarantee admission. Requirements and admission criteria may change from one admission period to the next.

Applicants to these programs will be admitted once a year, during the spring semester. Admission decisions will be based on course work completed through the preceding fall semester. Admission is provisional until spring semester work has been completed and posted and Education Academic Services staff have verified that students have met minimum grade point averages and earned minimum credits in their major. Admitted students will begin the sequence the following fall semester.

Eligibility for Admission for Fall 2013

To be considered for admission, students must meet the following criteria by the end of spring semester, 2013:

  • Total Credits: Earn 54 or more transferable semester credits (junior standing).
  • Major Credits; complete the following: [catalog update 10/10/11] 
    • Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Physics: Complete a minimum of 18 credits of the major requirements. 
    • Broad Field (Natural) Science: Complete a minimum of 40 credits of the major requirements.  
  • Major Grade Point Average: Earn a minimum GPA of at least 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale) on all completed major courses.
  • Cumulative Grade Point Average: Earn a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale). Note: Both the cumulative GPA and the cumulative GPA based on the last 60 credits will be calculated. The higher will be used for program selection. See Last 60 Credits Rule below. Grade point averages are based on all transferable college level course work attempted.
  • Take all three sections of the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) and submit scores to Education Academic Services by March 1, 2013. 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.
  • Submit application materials by February 1, 2013. These are expected to include the following:
    • Application form.
    • Autobiographical questionnaire. 
    • Recommendation. One recommendation form or letter from a supervisor, preferably one familiar with the applicant's work with young people.
    • Essays. Applicants must submit two brief essays. These are designed to help faculty learn about applicants, their professional decisions, their insights into teaching, and how they think critically about the complexities of teaching their subject in middle school or high school. Essays are evaluated by a committee of faculty, staff, and cooperating teachers on the basis of awareness of complexities in education, depth of thought, and clarity and coherence of writing. Following are the essay prompts used last year:
      Part I: How and why did you choose to be a teacher in your subject area? (400 words or less)
      Part II: What are one or two of the most significant challenges that you anticipate in teaching a class in your subject area? How have your experiences or background given you insight into the complexities of these challenges? Challenges can be issues that you personally find difficult or that teachers in your subject area generally find difficult. For purposes of this essay, do not offer solutions to these challenges. (700 words or less)

    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 is available here.

    Applying for Certification in More than One Subject Area

    Students may apply to two certification programs. Eligibility requirements must be met and separate applications must be filed for each area of interest. Students must be admitted as a major in at least one of the program areas as it is not possible to be admitted to Secondary Education only in a minor program area. Certification in two subjects requires the consent and cooperation of the faculty coordinators of both subject areas. While multiple majors or major-minor combinations are feasible and may be advantageous as a career strategy, the additional subject area course work may require extra time beyond the sequence to complete course work. Students are encouraged to work closely with their EAS academic advisor to coordinate the requirements of multiple certifications.

    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. Find more detailed information for prospective transfer students here. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application.

    Selection Procedures for Fall 2013

    A holistic judgment of each eligible applicant's dossier will be made by a panel of Secondary Science faculty and staff. Each judge considers the applicant's proficiency or potential proficiency on the criteria below by examining the contents of the applicant's file.

    1. Is the applicant well-qualified academically? Is this academic background consistent with the needs of the profession?
    2. Is the applicant thoughtful and reflective about the meaning of teaching? Are the applicant's motivations for entering the profession worthwhile and do they reflect a commitment to professional improvement?
    3. Does the applicant show the ability and genuine commitment to work with all children, not just the privileged or highly motivated?
    4. Is the applicant capable of working effectively with other professionals in the school, parents, caregivers, and members of the community outside of school?
    5. Does the applicant bring unique qualities to the cohort and the profession? These may include ethnic background, being the first in the family to attend college, unusual work experiences, etc.

    To ensure that each science licensing area is represented, limits will be established for Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, and Physics. Broad Field (Natural) Science majors will be classified and admitted by their minor area of interest. If any area is not filled, the extra space available will be added to the limits in the other areas.

    Criminal Background Investigation and Disclosure Statement

    Criminal background checks will be required of all admitted students. Applicants will also be asked to complete a disclosure statement. More detailed information is available here.

    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 details are available here.

    This page was updated 1/12/12.