Dreams to opportunities

We’re all born with different gifts, but not all of us receive the same opportunity to do something with them. When you have an intellectual or developmental disability, opportunities can seem even slimmer. Concordia University of Wisconsin offers the Bethesda College of Applied Learning in an effort to change that. Bethesda College is a unique, two-year post-secondary certificate program that allows people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to realize their dream of receiving a college education.

Building bright futures

Set in the inclusive university environment of Concordia University of Wisconsin, Bethesda College is a two-year program designed to meet the higher education needs of students with intellectual, developmental, and other complex disabilities. It gives students with disabilities the ability to experience the full range of college learning and life and provides a “blended” model of instruction centered on the intellectual, vocational, social, personal, and spiritual growth of students. Our goal is simple: to prepare students for independent adult living.

The program integrates a sequence of formal instruction in four areas: Academics, Career Preparation, Adult Living Skills, and Campus/Community Life. We emphasize the development of the whole person through group instruction, supported by individual advising, coaching, and tutoring.

Program components academics

The program features a combination of Bethesda College classes and Concordia University undergraduate and continuing education classes. For-credit and non-credit classes are offered (according to abilities and goals), along with support in advising, peer mentoring, and tutoring. All classes nurture a mindset for lifelong learning and expand general knowledge in a liberal arts format, while promoting the growth of thinking and problem-solving skills.

Career preparation

The program also offers preparation for employment through a sequence of work experiences in internships both on campus and in the community. All the while, students are supported by individualized on-the-job coaching and group instruction so they can gain skills that help with employment, the philosophy of work, and career choices.

Adult living skills

Students receive group instruction combined with individualized guided practice in a range of skills that apply to adult independent living. We cover topics such as budgeting and money management, organization and time management, personal care, and homemaking.

Campus and community life

Bethesda students enjoy full immersion in all aspects of campus student life and activities, including participation in spiritual life activities, service to the community, residence life, relationship building and forming friendships, leadership and advocacy. They can also participate in CUW co-curricular clubs and activities. Students are supported by structured planning meetings, peer mentoring, seminar study of social skills, and problem-solving guidance in an effort to integrate community resources, communication, and group living into the everyday lives of the students to create a successful experience.


General Inquiries

Email: bethesda.college@cuw.edu
Phone: 262-243-2183

Direct Contact

Carol Burns - Director

Christopher Wright - Assistant Director

Sue Dowe - Program Assistant

Samantha Bear - Living Skills and Community Life Professor