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School of Education

Note: This page was replaced 10/29/12 to reflect revisions to the Elementary Education program. It is retained in the catalog for archive purposes.

Overview: Elementary Education [archived]

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Elementary Education program prepares teachers who can foster high academic achievement in all students—particularly learners from diverse racial, cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities. Teacher education students learn to recognize how their own background and experience shape their thinking and actions, to reflect on their practices, and to develop and adapt practices that serve the needs of their students.

Through their preparation, students gain awareness of how schools reflect both the strengths and inequities of our increasingly multicultural society and become more committed to advancing social justice and equity through their classroom practice and community interactions. They learn to welcome parents, caregivers, and community members into their classrooms as partners in the educational process. They integrate research-based practices in their teaching and, in doing so, acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to grow professionally throughout their teaching careers.

At UW-Madison, students preparing to teach in elementary schools engage in substantial supervised fieldwork (especially in diverse schools), community field experiences, self-examination of teaching practice, and development of multicultural classroom activities. Fieldwork opportunities include student teaching in Madison Professional Development Schools, Milwaukee Public Schools, and classrooms abroad.

The Elementary Education program currently consists of two complementary program options:

  • The Early Childhood/Middle Childhood option prepares teachers to work at the preschool, primary, and intermediate levels (approximately ages birth through 11).
  • The Middle Childhood/Early Adolescence program option prepares teachers to work in intermediate and middle school settings (approximately ages 6 through 12-13).

Course requirements vary slightly by option. Both lead to a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a major in Elementary Education. Formal definitions of these levels will be determined by each school district based on the organizational structure of its schools and the philosophy and needs of the district.

Recent Changes to the Elementary Education Program: The Elementary Education program is currently being restructured by the faculty in this area. New undergraduate certification options are being considered and program requirements are changing accordingly.

Effective with fall 2012 program admission, students will be admitted to either a new, Early Childhood with English as a Second Language (EC/ESL) program option, or to a new version of the Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence (MC-EA) option. Students completing the EC/ESL option will eventually be certified to work in preschool through grade 3 settings; the MC-EA program option will focus on grades 1-8.

The professional sequence in both options will be four semesters long, reduced from the current five-semester sequence. Current plans are to discontinue offering the Early Childhood through Middle Childhood certification option. The application period for fall 2012 admission extends from October 1, 2011, through February 1, 2012.

Please stay in touch with Education Academic Services (EAS) regarding the changes in elementary education. Additional program options are currently being developed and will probably be implemented in the fall of 2013. EAS is located in Room 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651. Updates will also be posted on the EAS website.

Program Structure

Through four separate program components, students of Elementary Education:

  • Are exposed to a broad range of academic disciplines through liberal studies and general education courses.
  • Undertake an in-depth study of an academic discipline through their minor course work.
  • Examine schools' relationship to society and the processes of learning in their education course work. Many of these courses can be taken before formal admission to the professional sequence.
  • Study teaching methods and gain experience in schools through supervised field placements during their five-semester professional sequence.

Students interested in Elementary Education usually begin their academic careers in the School of Education with a "pre-professional" designation (Pre-Elementary Education or "PRE"). Pre-Elementary Education students enroll in liberal studies, general education, and minor area courses during their freshman and sophomore years. Most begin taking education course work as sophomores, although a few freshmen enroll in education courses. Students who do not begin on campus as Pre-Elementary Education students must complete an application. Current on-campus students wishing to transfer to the School of Education can find a pre-professional application form at this link.

Students generally apply to the professional program during their sophomore year and begin the five-semester professional sequence as juniors. Most students require five years to complete the Elementary Education degree program.

Program Admission

Students generally apply for admission to the Elementary Education program during their sophomore year. Minimum eligibility requirements currently include 40 credits earned by the end of the fall semester before application; a minimum 2.5 cumulative grade point average or minimum scores on the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST; also called Praxis I); and completed application materials submitted by February 1. Admission is limited and competitive.

The Elementary Education program faculty selects candidates based on a variety of criteria. In particular they seek individuals who can demonstrate academic competence, multicultural and interpersonal competence, and reflective competence. See Application and Admission: Elementary Education for more details.


Students are encouraged to meet regularly with their advisor at Education Academic Services (EAS). Each student interested in a School of Education program is assigned a specific EAS advisor. Contact an EAS advisor at Room 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall (call 608-262-1651 to make an appointment).

Incoming freshmen discuss program options with advisors during the Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) Program. At SOAR, advisors help students select courses and plan their first semesters at UW-Madison. Recognizing that students often have many academic interests and more than one possible career goal, School of Education advisors help students explore options and maintain academic flexibility. Prospective off-campus transfer students and on-campus students considering teacher education may meet with an advisor in an individual advising session.

This page was updated 10/7/11.