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Education - Special Education

A career in special education requires understanding, extensive knowledge, specialized skills and a willingness to serve and collaborate with others. If these are some of your attributes, then special education may be the major for you. UW-Eau Claire offers outstanding teacher preparation and continuing education paths in special education.

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The special education staff is dedicated and committed to providing quality education. They inspired me to be the best possible version of myself. I am lucky to have gone through the special education program at UWEC.

Lauren R. Weber Special Education


Comprehensive majors (no minor required)
  • Special Education - Specific Learning Disabilities and Intellectual Disabilities
  • Special Education - Specific Learning Disabilities and Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence
  • Special Education - Unified Early Childhood (birth to 9 years)


  • Learning Disabilities - Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence
  • Special Education - Specific Learning Disabilities and Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence


  • Cognitive Disabilities
  • Emotional Behavioral Disabilities

Contact Info

Cathy Thorsen, Ed.D., Special Education and Inclusive Practices
Centennial Hall 3102
1698 Park Avenue

Department website

Prepared for success

UW-Eau Claire special education graduates are in high demand and report around 100 percent placement rate. You will prepare for specialized jobs in a variety of settings including school, mental health facilities, social service agencies, rehabilitation agencies and hospitals.

Typical positions held by special education graduates include teaching in public or private schools, administering special education programs or services for children and youth with disabilities, conducting research, developing curriculum and supervising teachers, and developing instructional materials.

Where are our grads?

  • Chippewa Valley
  • Richfield, MN
  • Juneau, WI
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Why UW-Eau Claire

Experiential Learning

In Centennial Hall you’ll have access to hands-on experiences and modern facilities, including the department’s Resource Library, the University Human Development Center and the Literacy Boost program. For more than 20 years, faculty have directed students within the Literacy Boost program, a community-based summer program that addresses literacy needs. This program has served 40-60 students per year from the Eau Claire Area School District as well as from other area school districts. This hands-on opportunity provides our graduates with a distinct advantage and cultivates competence and confidence that leads to 100 percent job placement.

All Special Education majors participate in over 400 hours of field placements prior to student teaching, and all complete service learning as part of their program.

Cultural Immersion

The Special Education in Scotland program provides majors with an international experience in the field of special education. This experience includes a two-week school placement with students with disabilities and allows students to understand what comprises special education in other countries. In addition, students can be placed in urban and reservation schools to gain cultural immersion experience.

Get Involved / Student Orgs

The extras can make all the difference! At UW-Eau Claire, campus resources such as the children’s literature collection help students become outstanding teachers. In addition, student organizations provide extra social and learning opportunities for those in education. Aspiring Educators is a student organization for all pre-service teachers that offers many opportunities to get involved in the community. Best Buddies is an organization that matches college students one-on-one with adults with intellectual disabilities. To date, UW-Eau Claire Best Buddies has supported more than 100 friendships since the chapter began in 2004.

Rankings / Reputation / Well-funded programs

The Special Education program at UW-Eau Claire was named #8 in the country (out of over 400 qualifying colleges) by This list was compiled by scoring several areas including relative size of the program, graduation rates, default rates, tuition affordability, and online education options availability. They said, “Students who graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire enter a job market that has a high need for qualified professionals who possess certification in both Special Education and Unified Early Childhood Education (birth to age 9). The program's faculty is committed to creating great teachers through instilling confidence and competence. This is achieved through a mix of community involvement, theory and field placements.”

Student Teaching

As a senior you will apply your knowledge through a full semester of student teaching or interning. Students may participate in student teaching experiences in a variety of settings outside of the Eau Claire area.

First-Year Suggested Curriculum

University writing requirement—depending on placement exam.

  • Mathematics for Elementary/Middle Teachers I
  • Intro to Special Education
  • General Biology
  • Computers in Education
  • Fundamentals of Speech
  • School and Community Experience in Special Education
  • Intro to the Visual Arts
  • Humanities course
  • Social Science course
  • Physical education course

Special Admission Guidelines

Students must apply for entrance to the Special Education program. Application deadline to the program is March 1 or October 1 of each year. Application does not guarantee admission to the program. Individual programs may require additional application materials. Contact our office for more information.

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Academic Program Sheets