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Application Overview

How to Apply

Earning admission to UW-Madison Graduate School involves three main steps: 

  • Application:  Each applicant must provide the necessary materials to the UWMadison Graduate School Application system (Fee: Free to start, $75 to submit, additional $6 fee for international students) 
  • Internal Review: Applicant’s submitted data is reviewed by a team of content experts within their field. This group provides a recommendation, the primary determinant used by the Graduate School. 
  • Commitment: The candidate declares their intention and provides additional information as requested. 

Here’s a general overview of the application process:

Step 1: Apply to the UW–Madison Graduate School

To apply to the English, Math, Science, Social Studies, or World Language Program, we’ll need the following information:

  1. Autobiographical data
  2. Unofficial transcripts from colleges/universities attended
  3. International Applicants
    1. English proficiency scores may be required – TOEFL, IELTS (more information available here)
    2. Adequate financial resources (more information available here)
  4. A statement of purpose explaining your motivation for a teaching career or choose your own topic to discuss something specific you want to share.
    1. Additionally, state your interest in any of the funding options (above)
  5. Resume (or short CV)
  6. Two letters of recommendation
  7. Supplemental essays
  8. Scholarships are available. Review Teacher Pledge requirements
  9. Apply to Graduate School

To apply to the Special Education Program, we’ll need the following information:

  1. One statement of purpose indicating your reasons for pursuing special education certification
    1. Additionally, state your interest in any of the funding options (above)
  2. Two letters of recommendation
  3. One current resume
  4. Unofficial transcripts from colleges/universities attended
  5. Scholarships are available. Review Teacher Pledge requirements
  6. Apply for the “Special Education MS – Teacher Certification” program via Graduate School Application Portal
    1. Choose which term you would like to start
    2. Application fee required

Step 2: Internal Review

After completing your Graduate School application, the program staff will review and verify the submitted documents. An email verification will be sent to the address listed on the application prior to the content team review. Each application file will be reviewed by a content team of specialists based on program benchmarks. Their recommendation will then be shared with the graduate school. 

 Specific benchmarks under review include:

Content Requirements 

  • Is the applicant well-qualified academically? Does the academic background reflect the needs of the profession?
    (Please see the content pages for a description of topics) 
  • Transcript Review of college-level coursework 
  • Life Experience in a professional or robust personal setting 
  • For areas that do not meet the benchmark, additional coursework or a proficiency exam may be requested 

Fit with the ideals of the program 

  • Is the applicant thoughtful and reflective about the meaning of teaching? Are their motivations for entering the profession worthwhile, and do they reflect a commitment to professional improvement? 
  • Has the applicant shown the ability to work effectively with young people, especially those different in important ways from the applicant?
    Does the applicant show a genuine commitment to working with all children, not just the privileged or highly motivated? Does the applicant provide evidence of working with adolescents? 
  • Is the applicant capable of working effectively with other professionals in the school, parents, caregivers, and community members outside of school?
    Does the applicant have work experience that may add to their ability to assist students in building their knowledge of the subject? 

English Proficiency 

  • If English is not the language of the degree-granting institution, the applicant will need to have a verbal interview with the ESL team. 
  • Verbal and written communication must be clear and fluid for a K-12 school setting 

The Graduate School will make the final determination based on: 

  • The program recommendation 
  • Academic readiness 
  • Does the candidate have a GPA above 3.0 on their last 60 credits, verified by official transcripts?* 
  • Is there evidence the candidate will be successful within the demands of the program? 
  • Language proficiency score if the undergraduate school was not taught fully in English. 

*Note: Candidates with a GPA below 3.0 are still encouraged to apply. We are committed to considering a range of factors that indicate potential success in our program. If there is strong evidence of your capability and readiness to meet the program’s demands, we will work with you to seek approval from the Graduate School.

Step 3: Communication and Commitment

After the internal review, an email will be sent to you regarding the overall recommendation of the program.

For applications submitted before December 1, you can expect to receive a recommendation notice by mid-January.  If the application comes in after December 1, determinations usually take a month to process. 

  • Once a favorable recommendation is issued, candidates will be asked to complete an intention survey by the end of January. This helps us gauge your plans and is not a binding commitment. The completion of this survey allows us to proceed with formal Graduate School acceptance processes and to manage our waitlist effectively. Please note, the official commitment to the program is required by April 1.
  • If the recommendation is unfavorable, a letter will be sent outlining the concern or issue. When applicable, candidates may be offered an opportunity to remain on a “wait list” as future spots become available. 

​PLEASE REMEMBER: Early applicant review is done for all applications received beforeDecember 1. We will review applications after December 1 as space allows.  

Application Deadlines

World Languages and Secondary Content Areas

Summer Start: Only

July/Aug Applications open
Jan. 15 Priority due date
Feb., Mar., April, May Program reviews candidates monthly, as space permits
Mar. 1 Scholarship Application Due Date (First round)
Jun. 1 Final application deadline


Special Education Program

Domestic applicants:

Oct. 15 Application due for Spring Semester Start
July 15 Application due for Fall Semester Start
May 1 Application due for Summer Semester Start

International applicants:

Oct. 15 Application due for Spring Semester Start
March 15 Application due for Fall Semester Start
March 15 Application due for Summer Semester Start


Domestic student applications may be accepted after the noted deadlines. Due to strict visa deadlines, international applications are not accepted after the noted deadlines. 

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