RWU Launches a One-Year Master’s in Special Education Program

Featuring inclusive practices and extensive fieldwork, RWU’s M.A. Special Education program is the only program in Rhode Island that can be completed in just one year, as well as two years of part-time study

Education major conducting student teaching.
By Jill Rodrigues '05

BRISTOL, R.I. – With school districts in Rhode Island and across the nation facing a critical shortage of special educators, Roger Williams University is launching an innovative Master of Arts in Special Education program designed to prepare educators to support students of all abilities in the nation’s rapidly diversifying classrooms.

The only master’s in special education program in Rhode Island that can be completed in just one year, RWU’s M.A. Special Education program focuses on inclusive practices and extensive fieldwork in urban and suburban school districts.

RWU’s M.A. Special Education program will help prepare high-quality special education teachers who implement inclusive pedagogies that have a real impact on serving students and families.

“Our classrooms are becoming more inclusive and the students’ needs are quite diverse. This program recognizes that the jobs in education now, and in the future, will require educators who understand the constantly evolving needs of students in K-12 education and are able to effectively educate students of all abilities and socioeconomic and cultural differences,” said Adam Moore, program director for RWU’s M.A. Special Education program and Assistant Professor of Special Education.

Available with full-time and part-time options, the program provides flexibility for both recent graduates and employed educators who seek additional licensure in elementary special education or secondary special education. An accelerated program enables students to complete coursework in only one year, rather than the two years it takes in most comparable programs. Through a 4+1 track, RWU education majors can earn both their bachelor’s degree in elementary or secondary education and master’s degree in elementary special education or secondary special education in just five years.

Opting for part-time study, students are also able to complete the program within two years. A non-licensure track for educators who hold special education certification is also available. All courses integrate classroom time and online work, with in-person meetings occurring in the evening or on weekends to accommodate teachers working in the field.

“There is an urgent need in Rhode Island, as well as the region and nation, to have teachers certified in special education,” Dean of RWU’s Feinstein School of Humanities, Arts and Education Cynthia Scheinberg said. “Dr. Moore created an outstanding program that’s accessible and offers many different entrance points to accommodate all educators interested in a master’s degree in special education.”

While all special education programs in Rhode Island must address diversity, RWU’s program integrates social justice issues throughout the curriculum, reflecting the university’s mission of supporting diversity and inclusion through engaged teaching and learning. Candidates in the program will examine the role implicit bias plays on how they support racially minoritized students, students from the LGBTQ+ community, English learners, students living in poverty, and students with disabilities

“A significant portion of every course is devoted to understanding the role of social justice and equity in the classroom, which will help address some of the issues we’re hearing about in Providence schools and across the country,” Moore said.

The program also features a 24-week teacher residency in a variety of classroom settings, including urban and suburban school districts, all taking place in inclusive classrooms. Twice the length of most student teaching requirements, RWU’s Education Department is leading the way in supporting future educators to gain more hands-on practice in the field before going on to lead their own classrooms – and will be well ahead of the Rhode Island Department of Education teacher residency regulations that are set to take effect in December 2022.

RWU’s M.A. Special Education program is affordably priced compared to other master’s in special education programs in the region, an innovative way Roger Williams is helping keep costs manageable to support all students entering this critical field. In an effort to diversify the teaching profession, scholarships are available for racially diverse candidates with exceptional academic talent.

Applications are being accepted now for Summer 2020 admission. To apply for full-time or part-time study, visit: https://www.rwu.edu/graduate/programs/graduate-programs/special-education

For current RWU seniors or high school students interested in the 4+1 track, visit: https://www.rwu.edu/undergraduate/academics/programs/special-education-ma-41

For more information about the program and available scholarships, please contact the Office of Graduate Admission at gradadmit@rwu.edu or (401) 254-6200.