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University to launch online master’s program in special education

Teenager girl studying online at home looking at laptop

Starting in the fall of 2020, Rider University’s Master of Arts in Special Education and Teacher of Students with Disabilities Certification program will be offered 100% online.

While the pandemic has led may traditional programs to transition to remote formats, the decision to create the online special education program was made before the COVID-19 crisis to support student needs. The fully online format is part of an effort to further accommodate the needs of potential students, many of whom are looking to earn advanced credentials without disrupting their full-time teaching careers. While instruction is online, the professors are available on campus to meet in person if the student desires.

“We understand that our graduate students have busy lives outside of the classroom, whether it’s raising families, working or other pursuits,” says Dr. Diane Casale-Giannola, the director of special education programs at Rider. “This new format will make the program accessible to more students and give them greater flexibility to complete their coursework on their own schedule.”

Casale-Giannola adds that while the program will be moving fully online, it will stay the same in two critical areas. “We are working diligently to keep the integrity of the program by maintaining the same rigorous coursework and dedicated student personal support that have become a trademark of the Rider experience,” she says.

Rider’s special education program is designed to help students understand the nature and causes of disabilities, become familiar with agencies and resources for persons with disabilities, and learn best practices for teaching students with disabilities.

Students have the option of choosing between the Teacher of Students with Disabilities graduate education certification program or the Master of Arts in Special Education program.

“More and more students with severe cognitive disabilities are being included in the general education classroom,” says Casale-Giannola, adding that on average 10-20% of students in any given school district are now considered as having special needs.

For more information, contact Dr. Diane Casale-Giannola at or Jamie Mitchell in graduate admissions at

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