University of Wisconsin–Madison

Requirements

Baccalaureate Level/Bachelor’s Degree

The UW Graduate School requires a bachelor’s or comparable undergraduate degree for admission to any graduate program. Undergraduate degrees must be complete before the start of the Secondary Program classes in Summer 1. You may submit your application with courses in-progress, and you may be accepted as early as November 15. However, all offers of admission are provisional until final undergraduate grades are reviewed and your degree is confirmed.

Your undergraduate degree must be in a field of study relevant to the licensable area. In some cases, life experiences in the content area may augment or count in place of necessary course work. Each certification area has its own criteria. Please select a subject area below to learn more about specific prerequisites.

If you do not have one of the degrees listed for your desired subject area and believe you have a special case for consideration, including significant professional experience, or comparable University courses, you may send an email to the Program Head explaining your situation.

  • English

    Applicants need to have (or have completed by June) a Bachelor’s of Science or a Bachelor’s of Art with a major or a minor in one or more of the following areas:

    • English
    • Comparative Literature
    • Linguistics
    • Theater & Drama
    • Other areas will be considered, ie: Journalism, Social Sciences, Media
  • Social Studies

    Applicants need to have (or have completed by June) a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts with a major in one or more of the following areas:

    • History
    • Political Science
    • Geography
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • or some other Social Science-related degree
  • Science

    Applicants need to have (or have completed by June) a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts with a major in one or more of the following areas:

    • Biology or other Life Science-related major
    • Environmental Science
    • Geology or other Geoscience
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • or some other Natural Science or Science-related degree
  • Mathematics

    Applicants need to have (or have completed by June) a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts with coursework comparable to an undergraduate degree in mathematics.

Transcripts

The Program does not require printed (official) transcripts when you first apply. The admissions evaluation will be done using transcript data electronically submitted. Applicants who accept an offer of admission to the Program, however, will need to submit an official transcript to document courses taken and grades earned prior to admission.

If the Baccalaureate degree is still in-progress at the time of admission selection, a second official transcript will need to be submitted to document the degree once it is conferred. UW-Madison Graduate School policy allows the degree conferral to be documented after the Program classes have begun.

GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.0 or Better

The UW Graduate School admits students based on the GPA earned over the last 60 credits of the Bachelor’s Degree. The minimum, 60-credit GPA is 3.0. However, the Secondary Education Program may request a GPA waiver for an applicant whose qualitative factors are felt to be strong. If your GPA is under 3.0, you might wish to communicate with the Secondary Education Program Coordinator about your circumstances.

Students who don’t have a 3.0 gpa or higher may take and pass an approved content examination. This test may be taken after you have been admitted into the program, but must be passed prior to the commencement of Summer 1 coursework.

If this exam score is necessary, a common exam is the Praxis II: Subject Assessments/Specialty Area Tests through the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Area tests and passing scores for each of our offered program subject areas are below.

  • English: General English Exam #5038, passing score 167
  • Social Studies: Social studies Content Knowledge Exam #5081, passing score 153
  • Science: General Science Exam #5435, passing score 154
  • Mathematics: General Mathematics Exam #5161, passing score 160

The Graduate School’s GPA evaluation normally will not include additional courses taken beyond the completion of the Bachelor’s Degree. In certain cases, an advanced degree might have relevance. If you have a degree beyond the bachelor’s (or courses toward such a degree), please list the details in your application. The Program may consider these in determining your eligibility for admission.

Prerequisite Courses and Experiences

Several specific courses are required for admission to the Program. Be sure to read the prerequisite information for your subject area listed below.

All of the prerequisite course work is in the content area. No education courses are required. However, we encourage undergraduate students to complete the Education Certificate at the UW-Madison or explore the field of education at your university.

It is also beneficial for applicants to have some experience working with adolescents or populations that include speakers of languages other than English.

  • English

    Prior to admission applicants must demonstrate competency in the following domains through coursework or other experiences.

    Language

    • Applying language to fit a variety of audiences and purposes
    • Study of the structure or history of language, typically found in linguistics
    • Exploring the interrelatedness of language arts, including:
      • reading, writing, speaking, listening, creating and responding to media

    Writing/Composition

    • Writing as a recursive thinking process (e.g., pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, publishing, and presenting)
    • Writing, speaking and creating media for a variety of audiences and purposes

    Literature

    • Literature is broken into genres and connects to the world around
    • The breadth of literary exposure includes culturally-rich and diverse (broadly-speaking) representative works of major writers that span Classic, Contemporary, and Futuristic genres from the United States to around the world
  • Social Studies

    Prior to admission, all applicants must demonstrate competency in one or more of the following areas through coursework or other experiences. For more information, see the Social Studies Certification Areas.

  • Science

    Prior to admission, all applicants must demonstrate competency in the following general areas through coursework or other experiences.

    • Structure and Properties of Matter
    • Chemical Reactions
    • Forces and Interactions
    • Energy
    • Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation

    For content competencies required for each of the certification areas offered in science, please see the Science Certification Areas.

  • Mathematics

    Prior to admission, all applicants must demonstrate competency in the following general areas through coursework or other experiences.

    • Calculus
    • Linear Algebra
    • Modern Algebra
    • Geometry
    • Combinatorics/ Probability
    • History/ Philosophy of Mathematics
    • Statistics
  • Mathematics: Additional details for former or current UW-Madison students

    University of Wisconsin-Madison graduates may use the following list of courses as guide towards fulfilling each content domain.

    Content Domain
    UW-Madison Courses
     Calculus  Math 221, Math 222, Math 234, and Math 421 or Math 521
     Linear Algebra  Math 320, Math 340, Math 341, or Math 376
     Modern Algebra  Math 441 or Math 541
     Geometry  Math 461
     Combinatorics and Probabilty  Math 431 and Math 475
     History and Philosophy of Math  Math 473
     Statistics  Stats 301 or Math 309

    Current UW-Madison undergraduate students planning to apply to this program should follow the Option-2 Math major guidelines at the Math department website.

GRE Scores and TOEFL for international students

General GRE scores are required only if GPA <3.0. (We do not need subject specific GRE exams.) Applicants should instruct the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) provider to send scores to UW-Madison. The GRE Institution Code for UW-Madison is 1846.

If the GRE exam is necessary, it may be completed after the UW Graduate School online application is submitted and reviewed. For the GRE scores to be used to meet the state’s licensing requirement for basic skills assessment in communication, minimum acceptable scores  are 150 Verbal and 145 Math. Please refer to the Wisconsin DPI website for the most current information.

Using previously taken GRE scores.  The GRE must be completed not more than ​ten years prior to applying to be valid.

TOEFL Scores: Applicants whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must arrange to have Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores sent to UW-Madison. Applicants may also be requested to have a conversation with the Secondary Education ESL Staff. Refer to English Proficiency on the Graduate School Admission Requirements page.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation are required.

Ideally letters should come from a respected individual (such as a professor, an academic advisor, a supervisor, or an educational professional) who knows you well enough to address the following qualities: leadership skills, maturity, responsibility, working with diverse populations, skill in communicating, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. It is beneficial if your recommender can also comment on the depth and breadth of your experience working with adolescents and why you show potential for success in the field of secondary education.

The UW-Madison Graduate School online application allows applicants to give contact information for individuals to whom the Graduate School would then email instructions for submitting online recommendations directly to the Graduate School.

Statement of Purpose/Reasons for Graduate Study

The statement of purpose should communicate your reasons for wanting to become a Secondary Education teacher.
You should also use it to introduce yourself to program faculty, highlighting experiences, related skills, and personal attributes which make you an exceptional candidate for the Secondary Education Program.

​As the statement of purpose is one of the most important components of the application, you should carefully read, revise, and edit it prior to submission. It may be wise to seek assistance from external resources. See the link to the UW Graduate School’s advice on writing the Statement of Purpose. UW-Madison students may wish to contact the UW-Madison Writing Center for additional help.

Resume

A resume upload via the UW-Madison Graduate School supplemental application is required. This should include your professional and academic experience, as well as any other information you believe is pertinent. No specific format is required. The resume should not exceed two pages in length.

Admissions Criteria

The admissions process of the Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction -Secondary Education is highly competitive. The Program will select students in each subject area for admission based on the following:

  • Is the applicant well-qualified academically? Does the academic background reflect the needs of the profession?
  • 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?
  • 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 members of the community outside of school?
  • Does the applicant have work experience that may add to their ability to assist students in building their own knowledge of the subject?

Additional Notes

The Graduate School makes the final admission decision based on the Secondary Education Program recommendation.

When to Apply for the Next Cohort

Each year in June the application process opens for the next year (each cohort begins the following June). The admission process remains open until May 15th of the following year or until a subject area fills. Check the website blog to see updates on availability.

The DEADLINE for completing applications for priority review is October 15th of each year. (See Application Timeline for details.)

Your application is “complete” when all Graduate School fees have been paid, GRE (TOEFL) scored and transcripts received, all required fields on the Graduate School application completed, and supplemental materials (including the content-domain survey and short-answer response) received by Department of Curriculum and Instruction. The UW-Madison Graduate School Online Application (with Supplement) must be submitted on or before October 15 for priority status.

Monitor Your Application

When you apply you will create a Log-In and Password that will let you access your online student center to check arrival/ verification of online application components.

Notification of Application Status

Priority Applicants will be notified in writing no later than December 15th of their status for admission in June the following year. All offers of admission are provisional until all bachelor’s level grades are final and documented (if the bachelor’s degree was pending at the time of application) and until criminal background investigation results are reviewed. If, after a student has been offered admission, the final transcript review or the results of the criminal background check indicate that a student did not satisfy all the eligibility criteria, the offer of admission will be rescinded. Students should be aware that under these or similar ineligibility conditions the offer of admission could be rescinded.

Program Restrictions

Students accepted into this program are not permitted to accept teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships, or any other appointments that would provide a tuition waiver.

Also, students cannot enroll (or be currently enrolled) in other graduate programs nor take courses outside the prescribed curriculum.

Questions?

Contact Joey Lubasi, UW Secondary Education Program Coordinator at joanderson@education.wisc.edu or phone 608-263-3404.