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Education - Special Education Majors and Minors

A career in special education requires understanding, extensive knowledge, specialized skills and a willingness to serve 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.

Contact Info:
Cathy Thorsen, Special Education
Centennial Hall 3102
1698 Park Avenue

Department Website


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

Where you'll find our grads

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

Since moving to Dubai five years ago, having the opportunity to work with students from multiple ethnicities and socio-economic statuses has been truly eye opening and a breath of fresh air.

Shalene Huth, '07 graduate

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

Why UW-Eau Claire

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.”

Hands-On Experience

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 and the Early Childhood in Prague programs provide 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

You will have the opportunity to do great community work through special education student organizations. Through Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC), students participate in community activities such as Special Olympics. SCEC sponsors a scholarship program for high school seniors who have a disability and who intend to receive further training or education. Best Buddies is another organization that matches college students one-on-one with adults with cognitive disabilities. To date, UW-Eau Claire Best Buddies has supported more than 100 friendships since the chapter began in 2004.

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. Students must pass the Praxis core or have the required ACT/SAT/GRE scores, complete 30 credits non-education coursework, have a minimum 2.75 resident and cumulative GPA, and complete the following two courses with a B- or better: Introduction to Diverse Learners and School and Community Experience in Special Education. Students with prior experience in classrooms or with individuals with disabilities and who have GPAs have a better chance of being accepted into the program.

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