Skip Repetitive Navigation Links

Certificate of Graduate Study (C.G.S.) in Autism Education

The CGS in Autism Education was driven by regional need and was developed by various constituents across Rhode Island. The program was created to support professionals who currently work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or who plan to do so in the future. The program's purpose is to extend professionals' knowledge and skills and ultimately the capacity of professionals, school districts, community providers, etc. to effectively teach and support individuals with ASD.

Autism is currently conceptualized as a spectrum of similar life-long disabilities. A prevalence increase has been reported since the early 1990s with the most recent data supporting a rate of all ASD at about 1 in 54 (Maenner et al., 2020). Causes for these dramatic increases remain controversial, but the implications are clear. Children with ASD must be identified as early as possible and subsequently provided with evidence-based practices (EBP) to meet their needs. In response to this increasing need, constituents from across Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities and an Autism Legislative Commission spearheaded the development of this program to support professionals to increase their knowledge of working with and supporting individuals with ASD. The CGS in Autism Education is designed to help professionals understand the characteristics of ASD across the lifespan, implications of these characteristics as related to educational programming and the application of using EBP to support educational programs for people with ASD. All program courses are aligned with the initial and advanced Council for Exceptional Children's (CEC) standards for Teachers/Specialists who work with Individuals with Developmental Disabilities/Autism.

In the News

CGS Graduate Co-Authors Journal Article!

Michelle Murtha, a Portsmouth special education teacher and graduate from our CGS in Autism Education program recently co-authored an article in The Science Teacher journal. Entitled Accessible Physics for All, Murtha and Sarah Haavind write about how to make high school physics accessible for all students. Guided by the Next Generation Science Standards and using practices such as Universal Design for Learning, they explain hands-on inquiry-based learning that engages all students. Congratulations Michelle!   

For more information visit the National Science Teaching Association.

Murtha with co-teacher JP Arsenault

Murtha with co-teacher JP Arsenault.

Murtha working with a lab group

Murtha working with a lab group.

Course Requirements​

The CGS in Autism Education is a two-year program. Click here for coursework details.

Requirements for Application

  1. A completed application form accompanied by a fifty-dollar nonrefundable application fee.
  2. One copy of all official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
  3. A professional license (certificate for teaching and/or related service such as occupational therapy, school psychology, speech-language therapy, etc.).
  4. Bachelor's degree required with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale in professional coursework.
  5. Three candidate reference forms accompanied by three letters of recommendation related to education and experience in special education or a related field). Submitted at
  6. A performance based evaluation that documents the candidate's experience with individuals with ASD (see application form link above for details). While experiencing working with individuals with ASD is preferred, it is not a requirement for admission to the program.
  7. An application essay that describes the candidate's commitment to the field of Autism Education, cultural awareness, collaboration, and lifelong learning (see application form link above for details).
  8. An interview may be required.

This program is currently being offered in collaboration with the Paul. V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities. Applications for admission will not be processed until all materials have been received by the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but to ensure consideration for fall matriculation, please submit complete applications by May 1.

Gainful Employment Disclosure*

Paul LaCava
Associate Professor
Bldg. 2 Rm 123
(401) 456-9703


Page last updated: February 16, 2021