Now, more than ever, our society is focusing on health. The UW-Madison physical education program is committed to developing professionals who will provide the best movement experiences possible. Improvements in physical education experiences can inspire increased physical activity, with the potential to benefit the health of millions of people.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education prepares individuals for careers in a variety of areas. At the heart of the degree is the physical education teacher education program, which has been preparing excellent physical educators since 1911. The Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education is the key to obtaining physical education teaching positions in Wisconsin, other states, and internationally.

A degree in physical education also readies individuals for other career paths. Some graduates have pursued teaching positions outside of school settings. Other graduates of the program have successful careers in many positions unrelated to teaching. Program alumni are well represented in the areas of coaching and officiating, recreation, fitness, healthcare and sport management.  

The careers of some of our physical education alumni are highlighted here.

We are committed to transforming physical education into a powerful experience in which students develop physical, mental, and social skills for life. To that end, our program includes the following elements:

  • A standards-based curriculum
  • A cutting-edge conceptual approach to teaching physical education
  • “Hands-on” guided teaching
  • Culturally responsive teaching techniques in urban, inclusive, and multicultural settings
  • Social and emotional learning that incorporates community building and behavior management
  • Appropriate and sequential motor skill development

Physical education students also benefit from:

  • Nationally and state recognized faculty and staff members
  • Certification options in Adapted Physical Education and Health Education
  • Small class sizes and advising groups
  • A strong science and technology based curriculum
  • Instruction within the nationally ranked UW–Madison School of Education

Graduates are eligible to apply for a Wisconsin Physical Education license at the Early Childhood through Adolescence (Prekindergarten though grade 12) level. Students intending to teach in Wisconsin may be eligible for the Teacher Pledge, an opt-in loan forgiveness program for teacher education students.

Physical Education Declaration Overview

Students typically enter UW–Madison as Pre-Physical Education students (PED), spend the first two years completing liberal studies, general education, and science core requirements, and declare Physical Education during the sophomore year for the final two years on campus.

On-campus students starting at UW-Madison in other majors can move to Pre-Physical Education by completing a Pre-Professional Declaration. A GPA of 2.75, based on all UW–Madison coursework or the last 60 credits, is required to transfer into Pre-Physical Education.  It is not necessary to be a Pre-Physical Education student before declaring Physical Education.

Eligibility to Declare Physical Education

Physical Education currently accepts declarations twice a year, from February 1 – May 1, and again from June 1 – August 1. The on-campus declaration form is located on the School of Education's Undergraduate Admissions page, along with information about the declaration period, deadline, and current eligibility requirements. Students should consult this site prior to submitting a declaration as this information may be modified from one declaration period to the next.

Off-campus students wishing to transfer directly into Physical Education should complete the on-campus declaration and must also be admitted to UW-Madison. See Transfer Students and Students with a Bachelor’s Degree, below.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Meet with a Physical Education or School of Education Student Services advisor during the declaration period. See Overview page for contact information.
  • Earn 40 or more credits by the end of the declaration semester.
  • Have second year academic standing, including at least two semesters of enrollment in a higher education setting prior to the declaration semester. The two-semester calculation excludes summer enrollment and college-level coursework taken while in high school.
  • Earn a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA based on all college coursework attempted or a 2.75 last 60 credits GPA by the end of the term prior to the declaration semester. This GPA must be maintained at the end of the declaration semester. 1

Last 60 Credits Rule - Two grade point averages may be calculated to determine a candidate's eligibility to declare Physical Education. A GPA may be calculated using (1) UW-Madison and all other all transferable college level coursework attempted and (2) the last 60 credits attempted. The higher GPA of these two calculations will be used for determining eligibility. Once declared, students must earn a semester GPA of 2.75 each semester after declaration. More information on this rule is available here.

Students will be provisionally accepted in the spring and summer, pending the completion of all eligibility requirements by the end of the declaration semester.

Transfer Students and Students with a Previous Degree

Transfer students and students who already hold a Bachelor’s degree must be admitted to UW-Madison to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to the campus has its own application, admission process, and application deadlines; see Office of Admissions and Recruitment for campus application information.

Students wishing to enter directly into Physical Education should complete both the on-campus declaration and the UW-Madison application. All eligibility criteria must be met. Transfers who do not meet the declaration eligibility criteria will be admitted to UW-Madison with the Pre-Physical Education designation.  

An applicant with a previous undergraduate degree will be admitted to Physical Education as a second degree candidate or as a School of Education "Special Student," depending on their academic background. Admission as an Education Special Student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing teacher certification in Physical Education and studied this subject area extensively during their initial degree. A student enrolls in Physical Education as a Special Student to complete the requirements that were not taken during the first degree; these are assessed on a case by case basis. Another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework.

Second degree candidates in the School of Education are changing their academic direction and wish to complete a degree that is unrelated to their first. A large number of credits are usually required to complete the new degree requirements and a second degree is awarded upon its completion; more information is available here.

All off-campus students are strongly advised to meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office in advance of their declaration. Consultations with advisors are available in person, virtually, or via telephone; email soeacademicservices@education.wisc.edu or call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment.

Background Checks

Pursuant to State of Wisconsin law PI 34.018(2), the School of Education is required to administer a background check on all students entering teacher education programs. This check is intended to determine if the applicant has engaged in any behavior that endangers the health, welfare, safety, or education of PK-12 pupils. Local school districts frequently conduct background checks on teacher education students prior to the start of their in-classroom field work, and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will also conduct a background check on each applicant for a Wisconsin educator license.

Students should be aware that background checks may be initiated by other agencies or organizations when they are seeking employment or a professional license. School administrators have the authority to determine the appropriateness of a student placement and may choose not to permit a placement based on a student’s background check results.

An individual who has been deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the Teacher Education Center, tec@education.wisc.edu.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs and Kinesiology have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Program Structure

The Physical Education program has six components:

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Science Core coursework offers in-depth study of the basic sciences and mathematics.
  • Kinesiology Core courses look at how the body responds and adapts to exercise, the role of psychological factors in sports and exercise, mechanics applied to biological systems, and how movement is controlled, learned, and developed over the life span.
  • The Physical Education requirements focus on advanced study in Physical Education pedagogy, including teaching methods coursework and field experiences in the schools.
  • Education coursework includes an examination of the school's relationship to our society and also of the processes by which students grow and learn.
  • Elective coursework is taken to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for the degree.

While not required, teaching certifications in Adapted Physical Education and Health Education are also offered. See Additional Certification Options, below.

Science and Kinesiology Core Courses

With the exception of KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support, KINES 119 Introduction to Kinesiology and KINES 121 Foundations of Physical Education, Kinesiology coursework must be taken after admission into the professional part of the undergraduate program.

MATH 112 Algebra3
CHEM 108 Chemistry in Our World5
or CHEM 103 General Chemistry I
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy3
ANAT&PHY 235 Human Physiology and Health4
KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support 12
KINES 119 Introduction to Kinesiology2
KINES 314 Physiology of Exercise4
KINES 318 Biomechanics of Human Movement3
KINES 350 Introduction to Exercise Psychology3
KINES 361 Motor Learning and Performance3

Students may exempt from KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support by completing American Red Cross First Aid AND one of the following: 1) American Red Cross Basic Life Support, 2) American Red Cross Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, or 3) American Red Cross CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers. 

If a student wishes to request that a different course (or courses) be considered, contact the Department of Kinesiology undergraduate office PRIOR to enrolling. 

Physical Education Courses

Effective for Summer, 2018 program admission.

KINES 121 Foundations of Physical Education2
KINES 315 Assessment and Research in Physical Activity Pedagogy3
KINES 316 Adapted Physical Activity3
KINES 325 Group Development and Behavior Management3
KINES 353 Health and Physical Education in a Multicultural Society3
KINES 370 Planning, Facilitating & Assessment in Movement and Health Professionals3
KINES 371 Methods and Practicum of Teaching PK-12 Dance and Gymnastics3
KINES 372 Methods and Practicum of Teaching PK-12 Educational Games and Fitness3
KINES 373 Methods and Practicum of Teaching Secondary Sport Concepts and Skills3
KINES 412 Organization and Administration of Physical Education2
KINES/​CURRIC  478 Elementary School Physical Education Student Teaching6
KINES/​CURRIC  479 Middle School or High School Physical Education Student Teaching6

Professional Education Courses

Learning (Minimum of 3 credits)
ED PSYCH 301 How People Learn3
Foundations of the Profession: (Minimum of 3 credits)
ED POL 300 School and Society3
or ED POL/​HISTORY  412 History of American Education

Additional Certification Options

Physical Education students are encouraged to increase their content knowledge and teaching capabilities through additional training. Although not required, teaching certifications are available in Health Education and Adapted Physical Education. Students may pursue more than one additional certification.

Health Education minor, 23-24 credits.

Contact Cindy Kuhrasch, cnkuhrasch@wisc.edu, for additional information about the Health Education minor.

Adapted Physical Education, 15 credits.

Certification in Adapted Physical Education requires the coursework listed below. Contact Cindy Kuhrasch, cnkuhrasch@wisc.edu, 608-262-4348, for additional information regarding this certification.

Required Courses
KINES 316 Adapted Physical Activity (required of all PE majors)3
KINES 300 Practicum in Kinesiology (Adapted Sport and Fitness:Adults)1-3
KINES 364 Assessment and Programming in Adapted Physical Education3
KINES 365 Practicum: Adapted Physical Education (Children)2
RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities3
Select one elective. Requires advisor approval.
RP & SE 330 Behavior Analysis: Applications to Persons with Disabilities3
RP & SE 505 Biological, Psychosocial, and Vocational Aspects of Disabilities3
RP & SE/​CURRIC  506 Strategies for Inclusive Schooling3
CS&D 110 Introduction to Communicative Disorders3
CS&D 240 Language Development in Children and Adolescents3
CS&D 424 Sign Language I2
PSYCH 405 Abnormal Psychology 13-4
PSYCH 512 Behavior Pathology-Psychoses3

Effective fall 2017, the course number of Abnormal Psychology changed from Psych 509 to PSYCH 405 Abnormal Psychology .

Continuation Requirement: Department of Kinesiology

All students admitted to undergraduate programs in the Department of Kinesiology, including Physical Education, must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75, based on all UW–Madison campus course work. Consult the School of Education's Academic Policies and Procedures for additional information about the continuation requirement.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average across all professional education courses (excluding practicum and student teaching).
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average in the major.
  • A minimum of 120 credits.
  • Major residency: Degree candidates must complete at least 15 credits of upper-level major coursework (numbered 300–699) in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus. Student teaching and practicum are considered part of the 30 credits.

Degree Audit (DARS)

UW–Madison uses “DARS” to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree, including any additional majors and certificates. A DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows all the requirements for completing a degree and, against courses that are planned or completed, shows the requirements that have been met, and those that are unmet. A report can offer suggestions about courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning and enrollment process. Students can access a DARS report in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program, major or certificate. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE), or Pre-Kinesiology should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

More information on how to request a DARS report is available on the registrar’s website.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is used as the document of record for degree program, major and certificate completion in the School of Education.

Additional Certification Requirements and Applying for a License

In addition to completing UW-Madison's program requirements, students must also complete Wisconsin statutory requirements and certification requirements established by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Many of these requirements are embedded within the program's requirements and require no additional attention. The endorsement of the program coordinator/faculty is also required to receive certification through UW–Madison.

The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license.

Detailed information about certification requirements and applying for a license is available under Certification/Licensure.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. (Standard 1) Incorporates Understanding of Human Learning and Development. Teachers design learning environments and pedagogical practices for students that are grounded in concepts and interpretive frameworks provided by disciplines that study human development and learning.
  2. (Standard 2) Understands Social Context of Schooling. Teachers understand how local, state, national, and global social and political contexts differentially affect schooling and its outcomes for students.
  3. (Standard 3) Demonstrates Sophisticated Curricular Knowledge. Teachers understand the central concepts, assumptions, tools of inquiry, ways of reasoning, uncertainties, and controversies of exercise science and physical educations.
  4. (Standard 4) Demonstrates Pedagogical Knowledge in Specific Domains. Teachers are knowledgeable about the problems, challenges, and opportunities that commonly arise as students develop understanding or competence in physical education.
  5. (Standard 5) Explains and Justifies Educational Choices. Teachers can articulate and defend their curricular and instructional choices with sound ethical and pedagogical justifications.
  6. (Standard 6) Connects School and Community. Teachers use the knowledge and abilities necessary for collaboration with individuals, groups, and agencies within the school and community. They base instruction of students on an understanding of curricular goals, subject matter, and the community, and help the students make connections between community-based knowledge and school knowledge.
  7. (Standard 7) Understands and Adapts to Multiple Forms of Communication. Teachers understand and adapt to students' multiple forms of expressing and receiving experiences, ideas, and feelings.
  8. (Standard 8) Employs Varied Assessment Processes. Teachers understand and thoughtfully use formal and informal evaluation strategies to assess students' achievements, strengths, challenges, and learning styles for continuous development.
  9. (Standard 9) Manages Learning Environment. Teachers establish and maintain an environment that engages students in learning while providing for their physical and socio-emotional well-being.
  10. (Standard 10) Employs Varied Instructional Strategies. Teachers understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to enhance students' learning.
  11. (Standard 11) Uses Technologies. Teachers appropriately incorporate new and proven technologies into instructional practice. They understand the major social, cultural, and economic issues surrounding their implementation.
  12. (Standard 12) Accommodates for All Students. Teachers design educational environments and use instructional practices that accommodate students' achievements, strengths, challenges, interests, and learning styles.
  13. (Standard 13) Is a Reflective Practitioner. Teachers are reflective practitioners who evaluate the effects of their assumptions, choices, and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seek out opportunities to grow professionally. They examine assumptions enmeshed in ways of thinking and in familial, institutional, and cultural lore, and practices.
  14. (Standard 14) Relates Well with Students, Families, and Communities. Teachers relate to students, families, and community members in a fair, respectful, and sensitive manner. They show an appreciation for the cultural diversity of our society.
  15. (Standard 15) Understands Legal Rights and Responsibilities. Teachers understand the legal rights and responsibilities of professional educators and the law as it applies to their specific domains of teaching.

Physical Education – Sample Four Year Plan

This sample four-year sample graduation plan is designed to guide your course selection throughout your academic career; it does not establish a contractual agreement. Use it along with your DARS report, the Guide, and the Course Search and Enroll app to create a four-year plan reflecting your placement scores, incoming credits, and individual interests. Consult with your academic advisor(s) to develop a personalized plan of study and refer to the Guide for a complete list of requirements. You will likely revise your plan several times during your academic career here, based on your activities and changing academic interests.

Communication A (fall or spring semester)3Communication A (fall or spring semester)3
KINES 1212KINES 1162
Liberal Studies course work7-10CHEM 1085
 MATH 112 (also meets Quantitative Reasoning A)3
 Liberal Studies course work0-3
 16 15
KINES 3253KINES 315 (also meets Quantitative Reasoning B)3
ED PSYCH 3013ED POL 300 or 4123
Ethnic Studies3Liberal Studies or General Elective course work8
Liberal Studies course work3 
 15 17
KINES 353 (Also meets Communication B)3KINES 3503
KINES 3613KINES 3723
KINES 3703Liberal Studies or General Elective course work5
KINES 3713 
 15 15
KINES 4122 
Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6 
 15 12
Total Credits 120


Physical Education Advising

Prospective off-campus and on-campus physical education students will meet with Dan Timm in the Department of Kinesiology. Students considering physical education should schedule an appointment with Dr. Timm, dtimm@education.wisc.edu, or call 608-262-0259, as soon as possible. Pre-declaration advising is conducted by the Department of Kinesiology and staff in the School of Education Student Services office, see below. 

Students with either a pre-certification (PED) or certification (BSPE) classification are required to meet with their department advisor at least once per semester. Mandatory advising meetings are conducted every semester, just before enrollment begins for the following semester.

School of Education Advising

Dedicated to supporting and promoting student success, the School of Education Student Services staff is here to assist students with the adjustment to college, understanding their degree and career goals, and connecting to resources.  ESS supports prospective and current School of Education students in all programs through:

  • academic and career advising
  • mentoring and advocacy for underrepresented and international students
  • requirements monitoring
  • interpreting academic policy
  • and more!

Students in the School of Education are encouraged to make Student Services a vital part of their academic and employment journey.

To schedule an appointment: Current students can schedule an appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW. Appointments can also be made through email at soeacademicservices@education.wisc.edu, by calling 608-262-1651, or in person.

Career Advising in the School of Education

The School of Education Career Center provides students with the knowledge needed for connecting their classroom experiences with real-world application. Through individual appointments, events, and online resources, the Career Center provides students and alumni with the tools needed to be successful in their career development. From building resumes, conducting job and internship searches, developing interview skills, and negotiation strategies, the Career Center provides a foundation for developing the essential skills for the ever-changing world of work.

Students can set up their profile on Handshake, the campus online career management system, to find open internships, jobs, and career events. In addition to Handshake, there are many other job search sites to consult, such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and some that are industry-specific. Students majoring in Physical Education have searched for titles such as Classroom Teacher, Human Resources Manager, Curriculum Specialist, Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach, Fitness Instructor, Athletes Business Manager and Camp Director.

Current School of Education students can make an appointment with a Career and Internship Advisor by logging into Starfish from the MyUW dashboard and selecting a day and time that works best with their schedule.

School of Education Alumni can schedule an appointment by completing the appointment request form.

For more information, visit the School of Education Career Center website or reach out at career-center@education.wisc.edu

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Kinesiology can be found on the department's website.

Additional Certification Requirements 

Note: In August of 2018, the Department of Public Instruction issued new administrative rules governing educator licensing. Changes in certification requirements and also the license types and levels will occur as program areas implement the new requirements. 

Students must complete all requirements and also obtain the endorsement of the program faculty to receive certification through UW–Madison. These requirements include those required by UW–Madison, the Department of Public Instruction, and those mandated by state statutes. While most of these requirements are embedded in course content, some (e.g., the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test) are not related to course enrollment. 

Students pursuing certification should be aware of the following requirements. See the Teacher Education Center website for additional information/requirements.

Certification requirements should be monitored carefully. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) periodically implements regulations that affect all certification programs; teacher certification candidates are responsible for having up-to-date information about certification requirements.

Disclosure Statement and Background Checks

Disclosure Statement

Applicants to School of Education programs that involve a practicum, internship, or other field placement must complete a disclosure statement indicating (1) whether they have been admitted to, then withdrawn from, asked to withdraw from, or been dropped from a student teaching, clinical experience, or other intern/practicum program, and (2) if they have ever been placed on probation or disciplined by any college or university for academic dishonesty.

Background Checks

Pursuant to State of Wisconsin law PI 34.018(2), the School of Education is required to administer a background check on all students entering teacher education programs. This check is intended to determine if the applicant has engaged in any behavior that endangers the health, welfare, safety, or education of PK-12 pupils. Local school districts frequently conduct background checks on teacher education students prior to the start of their in-classroom field work, and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is required by law to conduct a background check on all Wisconsin educator license applicants.
Students should be aware that background checks may be initiated by other agencies or organizations when they are seeking employment or a professional license. School administrators have the authority to determine the appropriateness of a student placement and may choose not to permit a placement based on a student’s background check results.
An individual who has been deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the Teacher Education Center, tec@education.wisc.edu.

Environmental Education

This licensing requirement is mandatory for all UW-Madison students in Elementary Education, Secondary Science and Secondary Social Studies certification programs. Students with previous degrees in their subjects must also monitor and complete this requirement for certification and licensure.

Depending on the program area, students meet this requirement through their methods courses or by taking an environmental studies course.

Student Teaching and Assessment

Students in teacher education programs are required to complete a significant performance assessment prior to certification and eventual licensure. This assessment demonstrates the candidate’s preparedness to teach. Until recently, the edTPA was the required assessment tool; it is no longer the only option. Additional tests may also be required, although this varies by certification area.

Detailed information related to these requirements, along with fee and registration information can be found on the Teacher Education Center website; see the Exams section of Become a Teacher. A brief description of these tests and assessments is provided below.

Content Proficiency

Students completing professional education programs must demonstrate proficiency in their content area. This is accomplished a number of ways, varying by certification area. For example, Elementary Education students must have a major GPA of 3.0. World Language Education students must have a 3.0 in their major or minor area, meet an ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview requirement, and also pass the ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT). A student may be required to take and pass an approved examination in their content area, usually the appropriate Praxis II: Subject Assessments/Specialty Area Tests through the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test

As of January 31, 2014, individuals seeking an initial Wisconsin license to teach in kindergarten through grade 5 or in special education, an initial Wisconsin license as a reading teacher, or an initial Wisconsin license as a reading specialist, must take and pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test. Students in Special Education have an additional portfolio option that can be used as a substitute for the WFORT. Undergraduate programs impacted by this requirement are Elementary Education and Special Education.

This test is for Wisconsin licensing purposes only. Students who choose not to pursue Wisconsin educator licensing need not take and pass this test.

Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA)

Until recently, students were required to pass the edTPA to be recommended for licensure. Students may still elect to use it as an assessment tool, but it is no longer required. The edTPA is a subject area-specific, performance-based assessment for pre-service teacher candidates, which is centered on student learning. Evidence of candidate teaching proficiency in the areas of planning, engagement and instruction, and assessment is drawn from a subject-specific learning segment, 3–5 lessons from a unit of instruction. Assessment artifacts include video clips of instruction, lesson plans, student work samples, analysis of student learning, and reflective commentaries. These artifacts will be taken together and scored by trained evaluators using the standardized set of edTPA rubrics.

Field Experiences

School-based field experiences are a critical part of students' professional preparation for teaching. Under Wisconsin State regulations, students seeking teaching certification from UW–Madison are required to complete at least one pre-student teaching practicum and at least one full semester of student teaching. Most programs at UW–Madison require students to complete additional field experiences.  

Pre–Student Teaching Practicum

The pre–student teaching practicum gives students firsthand knowledge of the classroom environment and the teacher's role. For many students, the practicum is the initial encounter with the real world of teaching. Practicum students do not assume the degree of classroom responsibility they do during student teaching. Under the supervision of an experienced teacher, practicum students observe classroom activities, assist the teacher with day-to-day classroom management tasks, interact one-to-one with students, and instruct small groups. The cooperating teacher and university supervisor use the practicum to assess the student's readiness for the student teaching experience.

Student Teaching Experience

Student teaching, the culminating field experience, is a full-time, school district semester assignment that places a university student under the guidance of an experienced, qualified cooperating teacher. After an orientation period, the student teacher gradually assumes more responsibility for planning, instruction, and overall classroom management. Student teachers follow the daily schedule of the cooperating teacher and the building policies of the school, and function as regular staff members in arrival and departure times and attendance at school events.

The student teaching experience follows the calendar of the local school district. A fall semester assignment will typically begin the latter part of August and end the latter part of January. A spring semester assignment will begin the latter part of January and end mid-June. Holiday breaks follow the school district calendar. Carrying other formal course work during the student teaching semester is strongly discouraged.

Detailed policies and regulations regarding field experiences can be found on the Teacher Education Center website. Students and staff are responsible for knowing and complying with the Field Experience policies. Many professional programs have their own separate handbooks and specific policies; students are also responsible for those policies and procedures.

Withdrawing From/Failing Field Experience Assignments

Withdrawing from a field experience has serious implications for the student’s progress in the program. Students who withdraw or receive an unsatisfactory grade (including a “D”) from a field experience may not repeat such experiences without approval from the program coordinator. Students withdrawing from or receiving an unsatisfactory grade in field experiences in one major or program may not enroll in another major or program without written permission from the program coordinator. Because of the consequences that withdrawal from a confirmed assignment may have on a student's future progress in the teaching certification program, a student who contemplates such action is strongly urged to consult with the program coordinator to fully understand the implications of such action and the options available.

Minority Group Relations and Conflict Resolution

Minority Group Relations

Wisconsin State teacher education regulations require students to complete a section titled Minority Group Relations. The rules identify Minority Group Relations as

  • The history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin.
  • The history, culture and contributions of women and various racial, cultural, language and economic groups in the United States.
  • The philosophical and psychological bases of attitude development and change.
  • The psychological and social implications of discrimination, especially racism and sexism in the American society.
  • Evaluating and assessing the forces of discrimination, especially racism and sexism on faculty, students, curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the school program.
  • Minority group relations through direct involvement with various racial, cultural, language and economic groups in the United States.

UW–Madison teacher education programs address these areas through course work and experiences in each professional education program. Students who successfully complete their professional program will have satisfied each of the areas of Minority Group Relations.

Conflict Resolution Requirement

Wisconsin State teacher education regulations require all individuals pursuing teacher certification to have formal training in conflict resolution. This includes

  • Resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff.
  • Assisting pupils in learning methods of resolving conflicts between pupils and between pupils and school staff, including training in the use of peer mediation to resolve conflicts between pupils.
  • Dealing with crises, including violent, disruptive, potentially violent or potentially disruptive situations that may arise in school or activities supervised by school staff as a result of conflicts between pupils or between pupils and other persons.

All teacher certification programs include conflict resolution training in their required course work.


As of July 1, 1998, the State of Wisconsin requires that all persons seeking initial and renewal licenses to teach reading or language arts in grades Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6 (PK–6) must have successfully completed instruction in teaching reading and language arts using appropriate instructional methods, including phonics. "Phonics" means a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning the phonetic value of letters, letter groups and syllables.

The Phonics requirement applies to students completing Elementary Education and Special Education certification programs. UW–Madison students fulfill this requirement through the successful completion of courses that are already required, so no additional course work is needed to meet this statutory requirement.


This licensing requirement is mandatory for secondary Social Studies Education certification. Students with previous degrees in their subjects must also monitor and complete this requirement for certification and licensure.

Students typically complete the cooperatives requirement after being admitted to the Secondary Social Studies program and should consult with the program coordinator regarding its completion.

Teacher Standards

UW–Madison teacher education students must meet all state licensing requirements for initial teaching certification in Wisconsin. These requirements, sometimes referred to as administrative rules "PI 34," mandate that individuals demonstrate proficiency on state-approved teaching standards. Each teacher education institution in Wisconsin has adopted a set of teacher education standards that meet state guidelines. These standards must be met by all students completing a licensing program.

Program graduates of UW-Madison demonstrate their knowledge and skills in five broad standard areas: (1) learner and learning environment, (2) planning, (3) engaging/instructing, (4) assessing, and (5) behaving in professional and ethical ways. Guided by Foundational Knowledge (Content) Standards, programs provide the knowledge and skills needed to meet the Performance Standards.

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure about whether each program meets state educational requirements for initial licensure or certification. Following is this disclosure information for this program:

The requirements of this program meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:


The requirements of this program do not meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Not applicable

The requirements of this program have not been determined if they meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, District of Columbia; American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.