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. An 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.
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.
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.
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;
- One (1) two-credit Thesis Seminar course; and
- Two (2) Capstone Research Project, which are each three credits
The curriculum requires a total of 36-credit hours in a two-year sequence and leads to a Master of Arts in Special Education. Each of the course offerings is 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. 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 1st in the year preceding the Fall session for which admission is being sought. All candidates must meet all requirements set by the Graduate School. Admission decisions will be made on a rolling basis beginning May 1st of the year for which admission is sought.