The US Department of Education has awarded a grant to both Lasell University and UMass Lowell's faculty to develop an interdisciplinary graduate-level programs to prepare professionals to meet the special education needs school-aged (K-8) students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related disabilities. There are 24 full scholarships available where 12 students from each school would be awarded full tuition. The availability of these generous scholarships will allow graduate students to continue their training, preparing them to work with the rising number of children and teens with a variety of other behavior needs. 

Scholarship Highlights

  • 24 students will be awarded a full-tuition scholarship (12 from Lasell University and 12 from UMASS Lowell) equivalent to the tuition for 45 credit masters along with paid travel for conferences and books
  • 12 scholarships from both institutions will be awarded to students starting Fall 2022 and will continue for the next 3 years
  • Adds a unique focus on special education and applied behavior analysis and autism, addressing the needs of diverse student populations in grades K-8.
  • Courses will be taken at both Lasell and UMass Lowell
  • Attend interdisciplinary seminars and workshops where both Lasell and UMASS Lowell students will learn and collaborate on projects together
  • Students eligible for the scholarship should be from underrepresented groups, including veterans, people with disabilities, multilingual people and students of color

Students who apply can pick a specialized path: 

The master’s program will encourage the next generation of educators to work in concert to support students in grades K-8 by introducing a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to special education and applied behavior analysis while integrating culturally responsive methodologies to address the needs of a diverse student population. Together, Lasell and UMass Lowell graduate students will attend coordinated seminars and workshops that promote best practices, reinforce collaboration and problem-solving, and explore Applied Behavioral Analysis to benefit students with disabilities.

“Schools here and across the country have grown increasingly more diverse, yet the educator workforce does not reflect this evolution within our communities,” said Rinaldi. “Today, in the U.S, as many as 92% of all teachers are white. The more students see and hear themselves, their cultures, and languages in the classroom, the more likely they are to obtain academic success and pursue teaching as a career.” 

Though the demand for qualified educators is high, numerous factors have resulted in a shortage of teachers, including a sharp decline in the number of high school graduates enrolling in college-level teacher preparation programs. Further, while children of color represent 51% of all students in the United States, only 13% of teachers represent diverse backgrounds. And the disparity within the special education sector is even more significant and requires additional support.

How do I apply?

Students only need to fill out the application for the Master's in Special Education & Moderate Disabilities and let your enrollment counselor know you are interested in the scholarship that is being offered and your application will be considered. 

Learn more about the Master's in Education: Special Education & Moderate Disabilities program.

Fill out an application >>


The team behind this new alliance includes faculty from both Lasell University and UMASS Lowell who are experts in special education, applied behavior analysis, key public schools and nonprofit autism service organizations. UMass Lowell School of Education, assistant professor, Robai Wernuga, whose work focuses on special education and early intervention, and Psychology Associate Professor, Rocio Rosales, program coordinator, Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Studies, are partnering with Professor Claudia Rinaldi, program chair of Education, in leading this endeavor.

Lasell University

Claudia Rinaldi, Ph.D. Professor of Education

Expertise in MTSS, Special Education and the Needs of Bilingual Learners with Disabilities

UMass Lowell

Rocio Rosales, Ph.D. BCBA-D, LABA

Expertise in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism


Robai Werunga, Ph.D.

MTSS, literacy & behavioral Intervention, Immigrant Family empowerment and engagement