Become a champion for at-risk youth!

Marian University’s Area of Focus on At Risk and Alternative Education prepares concerned educators, youth workers, counselors, and juvenile services personnel to be more effective with at-risk youth – those students at-risk of not achieving educational or personal success in their lives.

Our program allows you to:

  • Complete coursework 100% online around your busy professional schedule
  • Earn your degree in just 14 to 18 months
  • Immediately apply what you learn to your job
  • Study innovative education models, differentiated instruction techniques, and response to intervention theory
  • Obtain an add-on Alternative Education License (1952) if you hold an initial license to teach in Wisconsin

Earn your Master of Arts in Education with a focus on At Risk and Alternative Education from Marian University and discover methods for effectively mentoring and communicating with at-risk youth.

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The curriculum consists of ten courses (see below). Each class is 7 weeks in length. If taken consecutively, the degree can be completed in 14 to 18 months, depending on your entry term.

Sample Course Plan:
Download Sample Course Plan

30 Credit Program: 10 courses ***

Designed to assist both mainstream and alternative educators to more effectively understand, assess, reach and teach at-risk youth. Learning theories and practices will be reviewed; diverse methods for diverse students will be identified and practiced. Recent research and best practice in using a variety of methods and strategies will be targeted.

This course explores individual differences in students and the concepts of Differentiated Instruction and how it applies to RTI initiatives and Understanding by Design. Universal Design for Learning will serve as a conceptual framework for making information and activities equally accessible to all people of all functional and ability levels without distinctions.

Candidates will demonstrate professional planning, applied research, evaluation and reflective skills to support the delivery of more effective teaching of diverse or alternative education PK-12 students. The course content and analysis of student achievement project will provide a context for the teacher to analyze instructional practices and assessment data to maximize student learning. Candidates will apply methods of assessing student achievement and analysis of results in order to document student progress toward specific learning goals.

Exploration of multimodal literacies and expansion of ways information is acquired and interpreted. Research in cognitive load and learning implication is examined. Multimodal literacy tools are evaluated to support candidates in information acquisition. Candidates explore many aspects of the writing, design, and distribution processes of multimodal literacies. Candidates identify how digital technologies have increasing capacity for individuals to adapt the tools for their own information and communication purposes. Candidates apply literacy skills to real world problems and knowledge-building.

This course explores individual differences as well as normative development in children from birth through adulthood. Children vary in physical, intellectual, emotional and social development, and this course will familiarize educators with conceptual foundations as well as applied methodologies that are consistent with current human development and learning theory. Learning needs of all children, particularly at risk learners are the focal point for discussion, review of methodologies and applications to development and learning theories.

This course is designed to assist both mainstream and alternative school educators to more effectively understand, assess, reach, and teach the increasing population of discouraged, difficult, and alternative learners. A major emphasis in the course is the discovery of how cultural, family, and societal issues can and do influence youth both outside and inside the school environment, and what alterations and adaptations educators may need to make to remain effective with the affected student.

This course examines how philosophy, classroom strategies, and known research may be combined into a team approach including students, parents, and other professionals to better meet the intellectual, personal, social needs of diverse populations of alternative learners at the classroom, building, and district levels. Special emphasis will be given to the effective schools body of research.

An exploration into the historical, ethical, and contemporary foundations of social justice education. Particular attention is given to scriptural teachings, Catholic social teaching, and the work and writings of historical and contemporary peacemakers. Further attention is given to how to dialogue with others who analyze the world’s needs so those challenges can be addressed within religious educational settings.

Study of current, effective resiliency programs and mental, emotional and physical health and stress issues for at-risk learners. Attention is given to latest research findings as well as existing, successfully working programs and models working in these areas.

Overview of the latest prevention and intervention programs operating in communities. Examination of potential interaction with social services, the judicial system, law enforcement and community programs that have been, are currently, and will be effective in redirecting at-risk students when needed. An exploration of family dynamics, parent programs and school practices for parental involvement will be included.

* The Capstone Portfolio: In each course a portion of the Portfolio is completed and assessed. A reflective paper is a required as the Portfolio’s terminal activity. ** Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree with a 2.75 minimal GPA, but do not need a teaching license. Only those with a bachelor’s degree AND teaching certificate will be eligible for the add on license in alternative education. **** Summer Term is the only occurrence where two courses will overlap.

The Education Programs offered by the Marian University School of Education are approved by the:

wi-dept-public-instruction-logo         aacte-logo          caep-logo

Marian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Application Requirements
To be accepted into the Master of Arts in Education, you must have at least a 2.75 GPA from a regionally accredited college or university. Marian University does not require the GRE.

Follow this link to the application page. You will be required to complete the application and submit an official transcript showing that your degree was conferred.

Graduation Requirements
To receive the Master of Arts in Education degree, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Completion of the coursework or its equivalent with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Grades below C (2.0) are not counted toward meeting degree requirements
  • Submission of an application for degree completion
Debra Lins

The work is challenging, but challenging in a way that is applicable, rather than just busy work. Each student has the opportunity to take assignments and apply them to their own unique (or potential future) work setting, school, etc. Every time I log on, I learn something new.

– Debra Lins, President – Alternative Education

Dr. Anthony Dallmann-Jones (Dr. “DJ”)
Dr. Anthony Dallmann-Jones was one of the original designers of the at-risk strand at Marian University. Because of his previous work as a psychotherapist, a prison instructor, and an educational psychologist, he saw a tremendous need for the ARAE Program. Dr. DJ (as his students call him) authored the book, SHADOW CHILDREN — Understanding Education’s #1 Problem, as a way of helping educators see the truth about the burdens some children face. As founder and Director of the National At Risk Education Network, Dr. Dallmann-Jones has pushed the boundaries of at-risk education in American into new frontiers.

Dr. Gladys Arome
Dr. Arome began her career in TV media, moved to K-12 library media, and then to higher education. She has designed instruction, taught both face-to-face and online (Educational Technology Programs), and mentored graduate students toward completion of teir dissertations for over 15 years. Dr. Arome enjoys teaching because it provides an opportunity to interact with students and share the potential capabilities of technology to enhance teaching and learning in educational settings.

Tuition information for the Master of Arts in Education can be found here.

Term Starts & Application Deadlines

Terms Application Deadline Term Start
Fall I 2019 Aug 26th Sep 3rd
Fall II 2019 Oct 14th Oct 21st

Learn More

For more information, please call Kelly Patrick, our Admissions Counselor, at 920.581.5820. Or you can email her at