Milwaukee About Reading Specialist Graduate Programs

Why Earn a Graduate Reading Specialist Degree?

Earning a graduate reading specialist degree may be perfect for teachers who hope to prepare for the challenges of teaching literacy. After all, fostering reading skills – and a love of books! – may be a cherished goal for many educators. Depending on your goals, you may be able to pursue reading specialist programs at the masters, doctoral, or certificate level. Plus, you could find online and hybrid programs in addition to more traditional, on-campus reading specialist degree programs.

Below, you can learn more about educational paths you might take, as well as what you could potentially study in your graduate program. Plus, browse sponsored listings for Reading Specialist Graduate Programs worth checking out!

Why Consider Reading Specialist Graduate Programs

There may be a few amazing reasons to think about earning your graduate reading specialist degree. Perhaps one of the following applies to you!

  • You’re a teacher preparing for certification [i]Whether you’re a new or experienced teacher, you may have to pursue continued education or even a master’s degree in order to earn or maintain certification. Plus, teachers may have to pass a content area test (like English) in order to earn certification. And keep in mind that some schools may employ subject specialists or teachers who exclusively teach ESL (English as a Second Language) or ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). [ii] Earning a graduate reading specialist degree may be a great way to pursue professional development in an area you’re passionate about! And if you’re wondering how to become a reading specialist, learning more about related graduate programs may be a perfect next step.
  • You hope to pursue a new career path – Some education career opportunities may call for additional preparation. For example, instructional coordinators may earn a masters degree in the subject area they plan to specialize in. [iii] And adult literacy instructors may take professional development courses to help prepare for new challenges in helping their students improve reading skills. [iv] So, if you have set your sights on a potential new role, learn if pursuing a graduate program in reading might help.
  • You’re passionate about literacy – Graduate reading specialist programs may allow you to explore literacy from many perspectives: cultural, historical, linguistic, and beyond. You could potentially learn about the role literacy plays in diverse communities, and how different kinds of learners attain reading skills. Plus, you may be able to conduct research into reading and literacy, or even discover new ways to make a difference.

Types of Reading Specialist Graduate Programs

Here are some types of reading specialist degree program you may encounter:

Masters degree in literacy – If you’re interested in pursuing a masters degree in literacy or as a reading specialist, you may find a variety of programs that focus on aspects of reading and literacy. You could study how to plan and implement curriculum that teaches reading skills , explore both theories and practices of teaching literacy, and more! And keep in mind that earning a masters degree may be required or recommended for education professionals; 19% of elementary school teachers said they needed to earn a masters for their current role[v], as did 73% of instructional coordinators.[vi]

Here are some courses you could potentially take in masters-level reading specialist programs:

  • Learning theory
  • Reading and language acquisition
  • Curriculum development 
  • Young adult literature
  • Reading and language disabilities

Browse masters in literacy program listings to learn more and find one that is great for you.

Reading specialist certification or certificate – Earning a non-degree certificate may also be a potential path. A reading specialist certification program may help education professionals prepare to teach and assess literacy skills, as well as plan curricula, implement literacy programming, and more. It may also be useful in meeting continued education requirements for certification. Keep in mind that some programs may have prerequisites, such as earning a masters degree or holding state teaching certification. Read program listings carefully and contact schools for details.

Some courses you might pursue in a certificate program include:

  • Writing in the classroom
  • Psychology of literacy
  • Literacy assessment and instruction
  • Struggling readers and writers
  • Leadership for reading educators

Doctoral degree in literacy – A doctoral degree, such as an Ed.D or PhD may be a perfect choice for those interested in teaching at the university level or holding leadership roles. Doctoral level programs may be research-intensive, and could focus on working toward new solutions for educational issues. You might study theories, practices, and policies related to reading curriculum and instruction, as well as emerging areas in the study of literacy.

Here is a sampling of potential courses you might find in Ed.D. or PhD programs in literacy:

  • Educational research and social policy>
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Literacy theory, research, and practice
  • Evaluation methods for educational programs
  • Literacy trends and research methodologies 

Visit our directory of doctoral degrees in literacy to learn more.

Formats for Reading Specialist Graduate Programs

Once you’ve chosen the degree level that matches for your interests and goals, you’ll still need to decide whether you wish to learn on campus, online, or in a hybrid format. Below, learn a bit more about each format:

On campus – The traditional way of pursuing graduate education, a campus-based reading specialist program may be perfect for those who prefer face-to-face classroom learning. Potential benefits include observing your instructors’ teaching strategies firsthand, taking part in campus activities, and being part of a cohort of students who are passionate about literacy education.

Online Online reading specialist degree programs may be perfect for those with busy schedules, like teachers hoping to continue their career prep while remaining employed. In fact, education programs were among the most popular graduate majors for online students!* You could potentially pursue your coursework at flexible times, avoid a long commute, and try out online learning tools that may inspire future lesson plans!

Hybrid – Hybrid or blended reading specialist programs typically offer some combination of on-campus and online learning. Taking some of your courses online may offer the flexibility you crave, while your in-person courses may offer opportunities to work with likeminded peers and get involved in your campus community.

Reviewing Reading Specialist Graduate Programs

Ready to make a difference in the field of literacy education? Check out some sponsored listings for Reading Specialist Graduate Programs that could help you prepare to educate that next generation of avid readers. Feel free to use the menu bar to customize your list by learning format or degree level. Good luck finding a great graduate reading specialist degree program today!


* Clinefelter, D. L. & Aslanian, C. B., (2016). Online college students 2016: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences. Louisville, KY: The Learning House, Inc.
Sources: [i]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 | [ii]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-2 | [iii]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm#tab-4 | [iv]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm#tab-4 | [v]onetonline.org/link/summary/25-2021.00 | [vi]onetonline.org/link/summary/25-9031.00

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