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Website: Master of Arts in Special Education

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Overview
The Need for Exemplary Special Educators: What the Research Tells Us

Current research overwhelmingly supports the need to prepare high quality pre-service special educators to enter the field of education.  Meeting the needs of all students in the K-12 educational environment can be challenging. Professional programs need to adequately prepare competent educators and provide them with grounded experience in working with students with disabilities.

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The skills that students will need to thrive in our 21st century global economy are vastly different than those of the Industrial Age – an age for which our schools were built. Therefore, meeting the needs of all students is even more critical.

For years research has indicated that our nation is less likely to service children with disabilities well because of our failure to appropriately train, recruit, and mentor special education teachers. This failure was illuminated in The 2002 President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education Report. Ultimately, this will not only hinder our efforts to increase levels of achievement for students with disabilities; it will also lessen our overall effectiveness to improve our educational system for all children. Thus, there have been changes in licensure requirements and preparatory teacher education programs.

Consequently, educational preparatory programs are shifting. There has been an increase in data accountability, and more emphasis on experiential learning, replacing theory based practices about how to work with children with special needs. It is certain that special educators will need to be talented, confident and well versed with N.J.A.C. 6A: 9-10. They need to understand the philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education; characteristics of students with disabilities; standardized and functional assessment; strategies for the development of literacy; curriculum planning, learning environments, modifications, and materials for students with disabilities; and inclusive education practices, positive behavioral support, communication, collaborative partnerships and assistive technology. Teachers also need to understand transitional planning, program development and navigating the various agencies available for students with disabilities.

About the Program

The Ramapo College Master of Arts in Special Education (MASE) program is specifically designed to address the aforementioned critical need. It is the mission of the Ramapo College Master of Arts in Special Education program to provide prospective special educators the opportunity for professional growth and development. This effective balance in both theory and practice will allow for experiential learning and instructional strategies to enhance the education of persons with disabilities. Prospective special educators need to understand the law and how to diagnose, educate, and appropriately advocate for special education students. Highly competent educators must be able to interpret data and apply the results. They need to internalize best practices through observation and experiential learning in actual school and community settings. The Master of Arts in Special Education program will allow prospective special educators to study under exemplary leaders in the field who specifically demonstrate essential behaviors, beliefs, characteristics and research-based best practices.

The program curriculum and course offerings are uniquely designed to realize this mission. The 36-credit MASE program is comprised of:

  • Seven (7) 4-credit courses, each organized around required experiential learning opportunities and related authentic performance tasks; and One (1) two-credit Thesis Seminar course; and
  • Capstone Research Project 1 & 2 consisting of three credits each.

The curriculum requires a total of 36-credit hours in a two-year sequence and leads to a Master of Arts in Special Education Endorsement. Each of the course offerings will be designed to maximize individual engagement through relevant, interactive and collaborative instruction.  Course objectives and desired outcomes are achieved through learning experiences that promote collegial discourse, collaborative problem solving, reflective practice, and performance-based applications that require participants to apply specific content and competencies in their professional practice.

The program is designed in a manner that is practical, flexible and accommodating to the unique needs of the practicing educational professional. Harnessing the power of modern communication and distance learning technologies, students can effectively and comfortably complete all program requirements within a two-year sequence. Students who successfully complete all MASE program requirements are eligible for the New Jersey Students With a Disability Endorsement Certificate.

Candidates are admitted in the Fall semester only. Review of applications begins on December 1, in the year preceding the Fall session for which admission is being sought. All candidates are required to meet all requirements set by the Graduate School. Admission decisions will be made on a rolling basis beginning May 1 of the year for which admission is sought.

Outcomes for the Program

Goal 1:  MASE graduate students will demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the theories, principles, and concepts of special education.

Outcome 1:  MASE graduate students will further develop a working knowledge of professional, legal, and ethical obligations when working in a special education environment.

Outcome 2: MASE graduate students will participate appropriately in professional, legal, and ethical obligations when working in a special education environment.

Goal 2: MASE graduate students will demonstrate knowledge of the various assessments used when working with children with special needs.

Outcome 1: MASE graduate students will demonstrate the ability to know effective school-based research methods, assessments and related strategies.

Outcome 2: MASE graduate students will clearly describe the specific assessment that they will be using to analyze their data.

Curriculum

The MASE program of study is comprised of a cohesive framework of courses that are well grounded in important theoretical studies; a progressive sequence of field-based opportunities to allow for the application of such theoretical models in the school environment; and an integrated applied research requirement that serves as one of the program’s capstone experiences.

Each of the course offerings are designed to maximize individual engagement through relevant, interactive and collaborative instruction. Course objectives and desired outcomes are achieved through learning experiences that promote collegial discourse, collaborative problem solving, reflective practice, and performance-based applications that require participants to apply specific content and competencies in their professional practice.

Requirements of the Program
  1. Courses are taken in specified sequence and each student must register for the courses that are being offered each semester.
  2. A minimum cumulative grade of B must be maintained at all times for the successful completion of this program.
  3. To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.