University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education

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University of Wisconsin–Madison
School of Education
University of Wisconsin seal.svg
Type State university
Established 1930
Dean Diana Hess
Academic staff
538 (Fall 2012)
Administrative staff
272 (Fall 2012)
Students 2,983 (Fall 2012)
Undergraduates 1,884 (Fall 2012)
Postgraduates 1,084 (Fall 2012)
Location Madison, Wisconsin, USA
43°04′33″N 89°24′08″W / 43.0757167°N 89.4023°W / 43.0757167; -89.4023Coordinates: 43°04′33″N 89°24′08″W / 43.0757167°N 89.4023°W / 43.0757167; -89.4023
Campus Urban
Education Building on Bascom Hill

The University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education is a school within the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Although teacher education was offered at the university’s founding in 1848, the School was officially started in 1930 and today is composed of nine academic departments. U.S. News & World Report in its 2016 Best Grad School rankings rated UW-Madison's School of Education No. 1 among public institutions and tied for fourth overall.[1] In all, seven UW-Madison education specialty programs were ranked by U.S. News among the top three nationally. Diana Hess succeeded Julie Underwood as the school's ninth dean in August 2015.


Before 1924, the UW School of Education was a small department within the College of Letters and Science.[2] Public universities, including Madison, had been facing issues surrounding underclassmen attrition and education quality.[3] While many parties asserted opinions, the leading voice for change was the University Board of Visitors, a university oversight board of prominent alumni that reported to the regents.[4] The Board's composition during the twenties, led by Bart McCormick,[5] lent towards alliance with professional educators.[6] Their progressive priorities included increased educational efficiency through managerial reforms derived from scientific educational psychology research.[6]

The Board studied national and statewide teacher education for a year, which culminated in their 1924 annual report's recommendation for the education department's independence.[7] They felt that the department suffered from a lack of autonomy, and that its split would raise the standing of education training to that of other professions with independence (engineering, law, agriculture, and medicine).[2] Professional educators and university administrators had previously disagreed on whether the structural change was necessary, though the annual report claimed widespread support and cited the precedents in Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.[7] UW President Edward Birge did not act on the report.[2]

In November 1927, new UW President Glenn Frank began plans for the School of Education.[8] Its first director, psychology professor V. A. C. Henmon, had departed for Yale in June 1926[note 1] and had been against the School of Education's split.[9] Henmon was replaced by acting director Willis L. Uhl, but Frank found Uhl's leadership inadequate for the impending changes and in April 1928 encouraged his departure.[8] Uhl left for the University of Washington's education deanship in June 1928.[10] Frank appointed an associate professor with whom he had been collaborating, Charles J. Anderson, to the directorship.[11] In November 1928, a group from the Board of Visitors called for immediate progress towards a College of Education, and Anderson presented a plan to Frank and the Board of Regents on January 1, 1929.[11] He presented a vision of Wisconsin teacher education where those trained at the existing nine teachers colleges return to the university after some experience to continue their education, and that the School of Education's independence would allow for the system's tighter integration.[12] The five points of his argument were as follows:

  1. Education is now recognized as a profession.
  2. Teachers trained wholly in liberal arts colleges are academic rather than professional in view point.
  3. Public education sorely needs professional leadership.
  4. Other professions have found it necessary to establish independent colleges in order to create a craft spirit.
  5. Education needs the same opportunity.
— Charles J. Anderson, Memoranda re the School of Education to President Frank, January 1, 1929[13]

His presentation was successful, which left Frank with the task of convincing the practice-driven education professionals and the scholarship-driven College of Letters and Science that Anderson's proposal struck the proper balance of theory and practice.[12] Anderson suggested joint-appointments for professors in related major academic fields, and Frank suggested using a single budget line and staying within the College of Letters and Science, but neither was suitable.[14] Their efforts were temporarily halted when College of Letters and Science Dean George Sellery publicly criticized Frank's pet project, the Experimental College.[15] By the end of 1929, the three worked together towards a solution, and Sellery suggested bypassing the faculty balance concern by instead including all faculty who taught courses within the education major program.[16] The "coordinate" school proposal circulated on January 31, 1930 as Letters and Science Document 44, and was unanimously approved by the college faculty in February and by the university faculty in April. The regents approved the proposal later in April, and the School opened for the 1930 academic year with Anderson as dean.[17]

Historians E. David Cronon and John W. Jenkins wrote in their 1994 history of the university that the School gained esteem apace and remained close with the College of Letters and Science. They added that those relationships had endured to the time of print, and that the School's closeness with other faculty was idiosyncratic as compared to other American institutions of higher education.[17]

Since 1930[edit]

Julie Underwood served as the school's eighth dean[18] for a decade before returning to the faculty in 2015. She was succeeded by Diana Hess.[19]


Nine departments[contradictory] make up the School of Education. The largest, Curriculum & Instruction, offers teacher certification for undergraduates and master's and Ph.D. programs. Students can also earn a bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees through the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education. Art, the second-largest department, has undergraduate and graduate programs in art education, graphics, the 2-D area and the 3-D area. The Department of Kinesiology has three undergraduate and seven graduate areas of specialization. The Dance Program (part of Kinesiology) was the first of its kind at any American university[citation needed] and is only for undergraduates. The other four departments—Counseling Psychology, Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis, Educational Policy Studies, Educational Psychology—are designed specifically for master's and Ph.D. students.

Departments in the School of Education before its 1931 reorganization included: Educational Organization and Administration, Educational Measurements and Scientific Techniques, Educational Psychology, Educational Supervision and Methods, Elementary Education, History of Education, Secondary Education, Men's Physical Education and Athletic Coaching, Women's Physical Education, Professional Training of Teachers, Rural Education, Curriculum Construction, and Vocational Guidance and Vocational Education. The latter four were established in 1926, as was the undergraduate dance major (under women's physical education). A physical education master's degree program began for both sexes in 1927. After the 1931 reorganization through 1945, departments included Educational Organizations and Administration, Measurements, Statistics, and Scientific Techniques, Educational Psychology, Educational Supervision, Educational Methods, Elementary Education, History of Education, Philosophy of Education, Physical Education for Men, Women's Physical Education for Women, Instructional Procedures, Educational Sociology, Educational Curricula and Objectives, Guidance and Welfare, Special Fields (e.g., Home Economics Teaching), and Industrial Education. Art Education left Letters and Science to join the School in 1940.[20]


Because of its wide range of departments, the School of Education is housed in many buildings throughout the UW–Madison campus. The Education Building, located in the heart of campus on Bascom Hill and built in 1900, originally housed the College of Mechanics and Engineering. The building was scheduled to be completely renovated by the end of 2010. The George Mosse Humanities Building is home to the Art Department, which has additional studio and gallery space scattered around campus. Kinesiology is housed in the Natatorium, with Occupational Therapy in the Medical Sciences Building; Dance is located in Lathrop Hall; Curriculum & Instruction is in the Teacher Education Building; Educational Psychology and Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis are in the Educational Sciences Building; and Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education is located at 432 N. Murray St.

Journals and publications[edit]

Three times a year, the School’s External Relations Office publishes a newsletter, Campus Connections, which is sent to over 40,000 alumni.

Notable faculty, past and present[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Henmon was wooed back to Wisconsin in 1927 as part of a new UW Bureau of Educational Records and Guidance, and with word that the study of psychology would leave the philosophy department's jurisdiction.[22]



External links[edit]

Media related to University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education at Wikimedia Commons