Master’s degree in reading and literacy program guide

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Master’s in reading and literacy

A good book can transport you to another work or time period on a magical adventure that inspires you to see the universe differently. Most of us have favorite books that we reread many times, but reading doesn’t come easy for everyone. Some people struggle with reading, writing, and fluency. Books that should be fun and relaxing escapes become stressful experiences. This unenviable problem needs the skills of a professional who is trained in reading and literacy. Should you earn a master’s degree in reading and literacy, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to help children and adults with reading problems. In this role, you will have the key that opens up the wonderful world found in books. This rewarding responsibility is not limited to teaching positions but can be instrumental in educational reform, administration, and leadership roles.

What do I need to apply?

Deciding to continue your education can be an exciting prospect, that can also feel a little overwhelming. The plunge into a master’s study program will first entail the compilation of documents requested for admission. This starts with transcripts from your bachelor’s program, in a related field such as child development or elementary education, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to 4.0. Additional coursework may need to be completed if your undergraduate degree is in an unrelated field. You will also need standardized test scores, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and an academic writing sample. Some master’s programs also demand that you have a minimum of 3 years of teaching experience. Information about the specific entry requirements is available on the school websites.

Online vs. on-campus

Something to consider before applying for a master’s program is whether you’d like to take online or on-campus classes. Some programs offer an entirely online master’s program which may be preferable if you like flexible, self-paced learning. Perhaps you’d benefit from a hybrid course that combines traditional education with an online component, such as a weekly on-campus lecture and online tutorials. Finally, many students prefer to complete their master’s program on campus, with full access to university academic, sports, and social facilities. The type of study program on offer varies according to the university you choose. Before applying to any institution make sure it is an accredited program.

Does my university need to be accredited?

The difference between accredited and non-accredited programs is that accredited programs have been thoroughly vetted by an accreditation agency and have met a standard of excellence set by the U.S. Department of Education. Graduating from an accredited university shows future employers, licensing or teacher preparation programs, and academic institutions that your qualification is credible. Also worth noting is that if you apply for financial aid through a federal grant or loan, your proposed study program must be an accredited program.

What will I learn?

By the end of this program, you will have an advanced understanding of the foundations of literacy, how to help individuals with reading disabilities, the importance of multicultural education in literacy, and how to assess readers to set them up for successful achievement. In addition to the coursework, you will be responsible for the creation and completion of a master’s project or thesis, which is essential in earning this degree. Coursework in this program could include the following courses:

Literacy teaching and theory

In this course you will study the foundations of literacy, the current trends, and historical perspectives which have shaped our understanding of teaching, literacy development, and how to create environments where children’s reading, fluency, and writing skills can grow.

Diagnosis of reading difficulties

In order to properly diagnose and assess children with reading difficulties, you will need to take a course or 2 to gain fieldwork experience. The amount of time needed to fulfill this course will be decided by your department’s faculty. This course focuses on assessment and instruction of individuals who need reading intervention.

Educational psychology

You will examine theories of learning, cognition, memory, and how it relates to educational fields. You will encounter the major theorists, behavioral principles, and different approaches of school learning.

Children’s literature

This course will cover the different genres commonly available in children’s literature. Further, it looks at the books and authors that have been influential in the lives of many children and adults from a historical perspective.


This is a supervised portion of the master’s program where you will be working with individuals in need of additional reading instruction. The hours needed and where the practicum will take place will depend on the program requirements. You can apply the knowledge and skills learned in coursework to actual assessments, interventions, and reading exercises in a classroom or clinical setting.


A concentration is additional coursework to your master’s program that focuses on a specific area of reading and literacy. Your choice of concentration is generally based on your interests and professional goals.

Early literacy

This concentration focuses on the theory and practice behind teaching reading and writing to children from preschool to 3rd grade. Taking the subject further than the books that encourage reading in this age group, you will consider other factors, like family and culture, that may impact on the acquisition of early reading skills.

Reading specialist

This concentration is ideal for those who wish to become certified reading specialists. You will learn about the foundations of reading and writing, diagnosis of reading and writing disabilities, literacy leadership, and methods for teaching English language learners.

Adult literacy

A report conducted by the National Center of Education Statistics found that 21 percent of Americans are either illiterate or functionally illiterate, and that the majority of these people were white U.S. born adults, thus ruling out language as being the major factor. This concentration will look at the reasons behind this shocking statistic while teaching you the skills needed to teach adults how to read.

Certificate opportunities

Certification is earned by becoming competent in a specific area of reading and literacy, and generally includes coursework and practical experience. A certificate can help you develop your knowledge and expertise in the area you plan to work in.

Dyslexia certificate

A certificate in dyslexia will provide you with the knowledge and skills, based on evidence-based research, to be competent in teaching people with dyslexia how to read. You will learn about approaches, assessment techniques, and how to implement a program to improve the writing, reading, and fluency development of a child or adult with dyslexia.

Teaching licensure track

If you are interested in pursuing a teaching career in a public or private school then you will need to complete a teacher preparation program and assessment exams to become licensed. This program will mainly focus on student teaching, which will put you in a classroom of students, under the supervision of a licensed teacher.

Reading specialist certificate

After the completion of this certificate, you will understand how literacy develops across the lifespan, look into research-based instructional practices, assessment strategies, and develop the leadership skills needed to become a certified reading specialist.

Assistive technology professional certificate

This certificate recognizes the competency and understanding of assessing, analyzing, and assisting customers with disabilities by selecting the appropriate assistive technology. Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America offers certification, continuing education, and professional development. This is for students who want to pursue a career as an assistive technology professional.

Autism graduate certificate

This certificate is designed to equip you with what you need to know to help students who are on the autism spectrum. It will provide you with essential knowledge of evidence-based interventions and support strategies.

Financial aid

After making the decision to pursue a master’s degree, the last thing you want to be saddled with is a hefty student loan. Further education is a great way to advance your academic knowledge, but it doesn’t need to increase debt. Federal Student Aid offers federal financial support for students based on their financial needs. As a master’s student, your FASFA application will be based on your being independent, hence you need only supply your own financial details. The online application is free, and you should hear back within 3 to 5 days. Remember, you only qualify for federal aid if your academic institution is accredited. Scholarships are also a great way to help pay for college and there is a myriad of qualifying factors that can appeal to different types of students.

Career options

The completion of a master’s program is a monumental academic achievement that can equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to enter the workforce. There are several career opportunities for those who are ready to devote their career to helping others with literacy.

A reading specialist, quite simply, is a teacher who specializes in teaching reading. They may work in elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools providing additional support to students who are struggling with reading. Reading specialists conduct assessments to determine the students who need extra reading help.


According to PayScale, the average salary for a reading specialist is $53,650.

An instructional coach provides support to teachers and administrators by creating coaching plans, developing systems to improve teacher instruction, and giving helpful resources to teachers to improve the academic success of their students.


Glassdoor reported the median salary for an instructional coach as 64,778.

Education writers focus on creating content for newspapers that is in the interest of students, administrators, and teachers. As educational journalists, they conduct investigative interviews, make observations, analyze, then report on the information they’ve collected by writing articles for print and online media sources.


In 2020, Glassdoor reported the average salary for an education writer as $54,582.

Continuing education

If your thirst for more knowledge still hasn’t been quenched, there are opportunities to advance your academic career further. Earning a doctorate degree can qualify you for professional opportunities only available with this level of education and expertise. A large part of your doctoral degree will be working on a dissertation based on a particular aspect of reading literacy that you want to understand deeply.

Doctorate in special education

A doctorate in special education will develop your expertise and skills in special education by focusing on issues, policy development, the curriculum of special education programs, human development, and educational research. You will also look into statistics and research methodology to prepare you for a possible career in research facilities or post-secondary institutions.

Doctorate in educational leadership

If you already work or are interested in working in education in the public sector, or in other positions that have the power to influence public education, then a doctorate in educational leadership may be the academic qualification you need. This program is designed to teach students about education reform, organizational change, and skills needed for effective leadership.

Doctorate in child development

A doctorate in child development focuses on developmental foundations, research, early childhood curriculum, diversity, and early intervention. It will prepare you to successfully work in research or academia.

Education Writers Association

The Education Writers Association provides training, high-quality programs, and networking opportunities to individuals interested or working in a career as an educational writer. They also organize seminars and events to develop knowledge for writers.

International Literacy Association

This global association aims to provide teachers and leaders with resources, journals, publications, and additional information so they can better teach their students in reading, writing, and fluency. They advocate for high standard literacy instruction and evaluation at all levels.

International Dyslexia Association

This association provides information to users about dyslexia to support their professional or personal development. They provide certification, workshops and information for teachers to aid their students who have dyslexia. For anyone who has a family member with dyslexia, they also have information and workshops to enhance their knowledge.