Graduate Programs

I-SPAN Scholars

Grant funding available

What: For eligible Nazareth graduate students, a federal Office of Special Education Programs Personnel Preparation grant from the U.S. Department of Education will pay the tuition for courses related to autism and (for teachers) students with severe disabilities. 

Goal: Improve the preparation of teachers and service providers who work with school-aged children with autism, to improve learning, therapeutic services, and results for children with autism.

Timeline: The 5-year grant runs from 2016 to 2021. A new cohort of I-SPAN scholars will begin each fall.

Maximum: 66 students over five years.

Which graduate students may be eligible?

Students must be accepted into one of the following education or health/human service graduate programs at Nazareth.

Education: For students in the following education programs, this grant can cover six courses: three focused on autism (Interdisciplinary Specialty Program in Autism (I-SPAN) specialization), an interprofessional class, and two courses to complete an annotation to teach students with severe and multiple disabilities. To be eligible, students must have, or be getting, a special education certification. Students may need additional time at Nazareth to complete the autism specialization.

Health and Human Services: For students in the following health and human services programs, this grant can cover four courses: three focused on autism (Interdisciplinary Specialty Program in Autism (I-SPAN) specialization) and one interprofessional class. Students may need additional time at Nazareth to complete this autism specialization.

Requirements to use and maintain federal funding

  • Maintain an overall GPA of at least 3.0 in your discipline-specific graduate program of study. 
  • Maintain course grades of at least B in all grant-funded courses.
  • Pass a written comprehensive exam and complete a capstone project.
  • Commit to working after graduation for two years in a school setting with children who have disabilities.

How to apply for grant funding

Prospective students: Pursue admission into one of the eligible graduate programs at Nazareth, listed above.

Current students:

  • Talk to your program director about whether you are eligible and when you should apply for this advanced specialization.
  • With your program director’s approval, submit a letter of interest to your graduate program director and to the I-SPAN Scholar project directors: Drs. Shanna Jamanis and Dawn Vogler-Elias, at autismprep@mail.naz.edu The letter of interest should address your desire to work with children on the autism spectrum and strengths that you will bring to the program.

Note: This process is only applicable to students interested in the federal grant funding. The I-SPAN courses (AUT) also continue to be available to all graduate students at Nazareth College and to practicing professionals from the community.


The I-SPAN program is supported at 100% up to $1,195,829, under award H325K160049 from the U.S. Department of Education. The content of the program is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Education.

Shanna Jamanis & Dawn Vogler-Elias

Program Directors

Left to right: Dr. Shanna Jamanis, sjamani9@naz.edu, and Dr. Dawn Vogler-Elias, dvogler9@naz.edu, can answer questions.