Special Education (M.A. 4+1)

Designed to prepare teachers for supporting students of all abilities, the M.A. Special Education 4+1 opportunity allows exceptional senior elementary or secondary education majors to complete the master’s program in just one calendar year by taking two graduate courses during the senior year.

The M.A. Special Education program is accredited by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and is aligned to the Rhode Island Professional Teaching Standards (RIPTS) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Special Educator Professional Ethics and Standards. The program has a particular focus on equity, culturally responsive and evidence-based teaching practices, and inclusion of students with high incidence disabilities. 

Candidates seeking licensure in special education will be immersed in clinical placements in local schools, completing a residency with a school-based clinical educator certified in special education.  The program requires candidates to complete the equivalent of a year-old residency and 60 additional hours of clinical placement designed to meet the Rhode Island certification regulations that take effect in December 2022.  The program also requires a minimum of 30 hours in an urban school district, and encourages candidates to spend more time in high-need districts.    

If you already have your bachelor's degree, please view the full-time and part-time M.A. Special Education information


The 4+1 M.A. Special Education program allows for exceptional Roger Williams University undergraduate elementary education or secondary education majors the opportunity to earn six graduate credits during their senior year and, if in good standing, continue on in one additional year of full-time study (either elementary or secondary special education). Students accepted into this program take two courses (one in the fall and one in the spring semester) of their senior year. The remaining eight courses (nine for secondary certification candidates) are completed as matriculated graduate students in one full-time year of study. Candidates interested in this program must apply during their undergraduate junior year for conditional acceptance in this program.  

4+1 Program Benefits
  • Save Money
    The M.A. Special Education 4+1 Program allows students to start graduate coursework during the senior year, which results in a net savings of nearly $4,000 during graduate coursework. 
  • Save Time
    While most graduate degrees in Special Education take a year and a half or more to complete, the 4+1 opportunity is completed in just one calendar year, allowing students to enter the workforce and begin earning sooner than other programs.
  • Early acceptance and advisement
    Special Education 4+1 candidates will apply during the junior year and start some graduate coursework in the senior year. The early courses provide a no-risk opportunity to take graduate classes without a significant financial commitment.
  • Experiential
    Much like undergraduate study in the Department of Education at RWU, the M.A. Special Education program provides extensive field work to prepare students for their careers in the classroom.                                                                                      
  • Convenience
    Students end up loving Roger for one reason or another. By pursuing the Special Education 4+1 opportunity, students can continue their RWU experience for one additional year on a campus they know and love.              
Senior Year Fall Term
EDU 608: Legal & Ethical Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)Online
Senior Year Spring Term
EDU 607: Exceptionality Research (3 credits)Online
Summer II Term
EDU 612: Collaboration, Co-Teaching, & Consultation (3 credits)Hybrid
EDU 613:  Cultivating Pro Social Behavior (3 credits)Hybrid
Fall Semester
EDU 622: Research-Based Literacy Practices III: Preparing Strategic Readers, K-12 (3 credits)Hybrid
EDU 635: Assessment & Planning (3 credits)Hybrid
EDU 640: Interventions in Mathematics & Content Areas in Special Education (3 credits)Hybrid
EDU 644: Post-Secondary Transition Planning (2 credits - Secondary Candidates Only)Hybrid
Winter Term
EDU 642: Special Education Practicum (3 credits)Clinical Placement
Spring Semester
EDU 651: Special Education Internship (9 credits)Clinical Placement
EDU 652: Special Education Capstone  (3 credits)Hybrid


Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts in Special Education degree program, 4+1 candidates must be in good academic standing. 

Admission requirements include:

  1. Completed online application.
    The graduate application fee is waived for RWU undergraduates.
  2. Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
    The Office of Graduate Admission will obtain these on your behalf.
  3. Statement of Intent (three pages, double-spaced maximum) detailing: A) Why you hold the dispositions to become a special education teacher committed to equity; and B) Experiences that inspired your desire to work with youth with exceptionalities
  4. Two professional letters of recommendation attesting to your potential success in graduate school and to work with children with exceptionalities (one letter must be from a direct supervisor who has observed you working with children)
  5. Interview with a faculty member from the RWU Special Education Program.
  6. Current resume.
  7. A copy of a current BCI (Bureau of Criminal Identification) background check or equivalent document
    RWU undergraduate teaching candidates will have completed a BCI during the undergraduate studies. We will obtain this from the RWU Department of Education. 

RWU discloses that the Master of Arts in Special Education and Bachelor of Arts in Education do not satisfy all educational requirements for licensure as an elementary or secondary public-school educator. Certification and licensure requirements are set by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and students interested in learning about RIDE requirements, including state reciprocity policies, should enquire via the RIDE website or the students’ resident state websites for the most current information on licensure requirements for educators.