1-2 years

Credits earned




Time commitment


Upcoming deadline

January 3, 2025

Preparing special education teachers

The Early Childhood Special Education Program (ECSE) is a six quarter program that offers field and course work for students interested in working with young children (ages birth - eight) with disabilities and their families. This program is designed to prepare teachers to be leaders in the field, school, and community. Graduates may apply for Washington teacher certification in Special Education and an endorsement in Early Childhood Education (P-3).

Our ECSE program meets students where they are by offering three options. All program graduates earn their M.Ed. You can earn additional accreditations that meet your goals:

M.Ed. + initial special education teaching certification
  • For students who already hold a teaching certificate.
  • Enables the completion of your general education P-3 certification simultaneously, meeting Washington state requirements.
  • This program can be completed in two years
M.Ed. + special education endorsement
  • For students who already hold a special education teaching certificate.
  • This pathway can be completed in less than two years
M.Ed. only
  • For students with a special education teaching certificate in Washington state and a special education endorsement
  • This pathway can be completed in one year
Two early childhood students working on an arts project

What you'll learn

  • How to identify the learning needs for each of your students and develop differentiated instruction
  • How to create a safe and nurturing learning environment
  • How to work collaboratively with families, colleagues and specialists to create individualized education plans (IEPs) that are effective and measurable
  • How to utilize assistive technology to support student learning
  • How a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion can support the learning for all students

After graduation

Graduates this program have gone on to rewarding and fulfilling careers as like:

  • Elementary special education teachers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Family resource coordinators
  • Birth to three providers

What's next? After earning your M.Ed., you might consider our Special Education Doctoral program. This is a great option if your career goals include university faculty, administrator, researcher or other leadership positions.

Let's connect

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    The initial endorsement program is a cohort program. The course of study is preset for all students. There are a minimum of 45 credits required to complete this program. You will work with your advisor to know what courses to enroll in. Your advisor will share the  required courses. A maximum of 12 credits can be waived depending on your previous education. Your coursework will include:

    • Educational foundations (6 credits)
    • Relevant Early Childhood Special Education courses (21 credits)
    • Assessment and research methodology (9 credits)
    • Practicum, internships and other assignments (12 credits)

    Fieldwork is a large component of the ECSE program. Under the mentorship of cooperating teachers and practicum coaches, you will complete fieldwork in local birth to three centers, early childhood programs, preschools, and kindergartens.

    Admission requirements and process

      Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution

      Your bachelor’s degree can be in-progress when applying but must be completed before the program starts.

      Unofficial transcript(s) with minimum 3.0 GPA
      • Include one from each institution from which you've earned a degree and one from every institution you have attended in the previous 5 years.
      • Your transcripts must include your name, coursework and degree (if completed)
      • If you are offered admission, the UW Graduate School will request an official transcript from your most recent degree earned

      The UW Graduate School requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0, or 3.0 for your most recent 90 graded quarter credits (60 semester credits). However, we review your application holistically. If your GPA is below 3.0, contact us at edinfo@uw.edu for advice on how to strengthen your overall application by connecting with a Graduate Admissions advisor.

      Two letters of recommendation

      During the online application process, you will be given instructions for adding your recommenders and getting their letters submitted electronically. All recommenders must submit their letters online.


      A current academic and professional resume or vita is required. In addition to educational degrees and professional experience, you should include a listing of all relevant awards, publications, presentations or other achievements that will help us evaluate your application.

      Statement of Purpose

      The admissions committee uses your statement of purpose, along with other evidence, to determine whether your goals are well-matched with our programs. Your statement should address goals, relevant experience, future plans and how the desired specific program meets your needs. Be sure to include personal experiences that have prepared you for the challenge of graduate school, topics like:

      • Scholarly interests
      • Career goals
      • Your match for the program
      • Faculty interests

      Your statement should be 1-2 pages, double-spaced.

      Personal history statement (optional)

      While optional, you can add to your application by submitting a personal history statement with each application. This statement should address your intellectual growth and development, inclusive of and beyond your academic goals. Speak to topics like:

      • Educational, cultural and economic opportunities and disadvantages you've experienced
      • Ways these experiences affected the development of your special interests, career plans and future goals.
      • Any additional topics requested on a specific program's page

      Statements should be no longer than two pages long. And while there are no standard formatting requirements, we encourage double-spaced text with a legible font.

      WEST-B: Basic skills test

      You must include basic skills test scores with your application.

      Most applicants take the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B) for their basic skills test. In lieu of WEST-B, you may also use reading, writing and math subtest scores from the following providers:

      • Praxis I
      • CBEST
      • ACT
        • Older scores that do not include a writing subtest can be used for reading and math, but must be supplemented with a new writing test
        • Call 319-337-1270 to order your ACT score report, to request that your scores be sent to University of Washington, Seattle (code 4484)
      • SAT
        • Older scores that do not include a writing subtest can be used for reading and math, but must be supplemented with a new writing test
        • Call 866-756-7346 and ask that your scores be sent to University of Washington, Seattle (code 4854)

      You can upload your score report when completing your application. Official scores are only needed if you don’t have a score report or if you haven’t previously submitted scores to UW as an undergraduate.

      1. Gather all required documents
      2. Visit the Graduate School website
      3. Log into your account or create a new profile if you are a first-time applicant
      4. Complete all steps in application process and upload your documents
      5. Pay the nonrefundable $90 application fee
        • You may request a fee waiver during the application process
      6. Submit your application

      When completing your application, be sure to select: MEd - Special Education - Early Childhood Special Education. If you are not earning your M.Ed., you will need to indicate that you are a GNM student

      Here is our general timeline for decisions. Have questions about the process? Visit our graduate admissions page.

      Step 1: Application processing

      • Within 7 business days after the deadline, we will check if your application if fully complete
      • We will email you whether your application is complete or incomplete
      • If your application is missing anything, you will have a short amount of time submit these items
      • You can also log into the online application and check your status and see any missing items

      Step 2: Application review

      • Committees begin reviewing applications about three weeks after the deadline
      • You will receiving an email when your application has entered the review phase

      Step 3: Decision notification

      • The final decision will be emailed to you
      • Your status will also be updated in the online application

      We value and welcoming applications from international students! If you are applying from outside the United States, there are additional requirements and application materials.

      Prior degree requirements
      • At minimum, you must have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree (a four-year degree from an institution of recognized standing)
      • Evaluation of your degree will be based on:
        • The national system of education in the foreign country
        • The type of institution
        • The field of study and level of studies completed
      • International transcripts must be submitted in the original language.
      • Your transcript should include date of graduation and title of the awarded academic degree
      • If your transcript is not in English, you must also provide a certified English translation
      • You do not need to have your transcript evaluated for the degree by an agency
      English language proficiency

      Per UW Graduate School policy, you must submit a demonstration of English language proficiency if your native language is not English and you did not earn a degree in one of the following countries:

      • United States
      • United Kingdom
      • Australia
      • Bahamas
      • Canada
      • Ireland
      • Jamaica
      • New Zealand
      • Singapore
      • South Africa
      • Trinidad and Tobago

      The following tests are accepted if the test was taken fewer than two years ago:

      • TOEFL
        • Minimum score: 80
        • Recommended score: 92+
        • The UW's 4-digit code is 4854
      • IELTS
        • You must request from the center where you took the test that your scores be sent electronically using the IELTS system (E-TRF) to the following address:
          • University of Washington All Campuses, Organisation ID 365, Undergrad & Graduate Admis, Box 355850, Seattle, WA, 98105, United States of America
        • Minimum score: 6.5
        • Recommended score: 7.0+
        • School information for submission:
          University of Washington, All Campuses
          Undergraduate & Graduate Admission
          Box 355850
          Seattle, WA 98195
      • Duolingo
        • Minimum score: 105
        • Recommended score: 125+
        • Follow the instructions on the Duolingo website to submit your scores
      Financial ability

      If apply and are offered admission to UW, you will need to submit a statement of financial ability.

      Costs and funding

        We are a tuition-based program. Estimated tuition rates are based on your residency: 

        • Washington state residents: $19,584 per year
        • Out-of-state students: $35,352 per year

        Estimates are subject to change and may differ due to course load and summer quarter enrollment. Estimates include building fees, technology fees, U-Pass, etc. Additional program-specific fees are not included in this estimate.

        View the UW tuition dashboard →
        Visit the Office of Planning & Budgeting →

        Federal financial aid is available for students. Visit the UW Financial Aid website for information and resources. The College of Education also provides scholarship and other funding opportunities.

        Graduate students can be awarded $2,000 - $5,000 if they are earning their M.Ed, Ed.S, Ed.D or Ph.D through a College of Education program.

        Program Director

        Teaching Professor

        Program Faculty

        Associate Professor
        Associate Professor
        Associate Professor

        Program Affiliated Faculty

        Teaching Professor

        Program Staff

        Recruitment and Support Specialist, Teacher Education