What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s Reading and Literacy Program?

An online master’s in reading and literacy helps you develop strong communication skills and the knowledge to help improve your students’ reading comprehension and language skills. This degree also expands your ability to educate students of various ages from different economic, cultural and educational backgrounds. Because many reading and literacy graduate students are already teachers, earning your degree online offers the flexibility you need to continue working while enhancing your teaching skills and improving your career advancement. To find the right online master’s degree program for your personal and professional goals, compare admission requirements, curriculum, concentrations and delivery format.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy

Literacy Coaching A concentration in literacy coaching teaches you to assess students and provide targeted literacy instruction and is ideal for advancing into a leadership role. Literacy coach, reading specialist, adult literacy specialist
Elementary Education Concentrations in elementary education delve into reading development in early childhood education and how literacy develops among elementary students. Reading and literacy specialist in elementary education, primary school teacher, reading teacher, remedial reading educator
Secondary Education Concentrations in secondary education focus on adolescent literacy and developing curriculum to increase reading skills among middle and high school students. Reading specialist in secondary education, ESL teacher in secondary education, secondary school teacher, reading teacher, remedial reading educator
Literacy and Technology Literacy and technology concentrations focus on the skills and strategies for integrating digital tools and media literacies into the classroom. Reading and literacy specialist in elementary and secondary education, reading teacher
English as a Second Language ESL concentrations prepare you to create and modify lesson plans to teach English literacy to students of varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds. ESL teacher in elementary and secondary education, adult ESL teacher, reading specialist, special education and remedial reading teacher
Literacy Leadership A concentration in literacy leadership focuses on the key leadership skills needed to excel as a reading specialist and successfully lead literacy programs. Literacy program manager

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy

Many online reading and literacy master’s degree programs feature courses that focus on research and curriculum development, but programs vary depending on the school’s course requirements, and your concentration and elective choices. No matter the program, the curriculum should incorporate the latest methodologies in literacy education. Your program might include some of the following courses:

Literacy Development and Instruction in Early Childhood Literacy development for pre-school through third grade students, including instructional approaches and techniques.
Research Methods in Language Education Research methodologies for teaching language in relation to reading literacy at all education levels.
Remediation of Reading Courses In-depth study of reading comprehension with an emphasis on cognition and learning and comprehension of text in the reading process.
Issues in Vocabulary and Word Study Theory and research of reading and writing vocabulary instruction and causes of literacy disabilities.
Teacher Research Methods in Reading Covers developmental levels in reading comprehension in the elementary and secondary school levels and how cultural and linguistic varieties affect reading literacy.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy?

Admission into some online master’s in reading and literacy programs requires you to already possess your teaching certification or licensure and/or have a set amount of professional teaching experience. Many programs also require a capstone assignment to qualify for graduation, which could be a project or a comprehensive exam. The length of time it takes to complete all requirements varies based on whether you’re taking classes full- or part-time. Classes offered asynchronously are self-paced and may allow you to finish quicker than classes delivered synchronously, which means you take classes at a set time with other students. Online programs that can be taken at an accelerated pace can be completed even quicker.

The total credit hours in your program also affects completion time. On average, a 30-credit hour program can be completed in two to three semesters when pursued full-time and four to five semesters studying part-time. Many online master’s in reading and literacy programs require 32 to 36 credits and take two years to complete

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy Prepares For

Reading Specialist Certification Earning your online master’s degree in reading education, along with your teaching certificate and previous teaching experience may qualify you for Reading Specialist Certification. However, exact requirements vary by state.
English Language Learner License Only a bachelor’s degree is required to apply for an ELL license, but a master’s degree may better prepare you to pass the ELL instructor exam. Requirements for this license also vary by state, but many require you to participate in a practicum and pass the exam.
Literacy Coaching Certification An advanced education helps qualify you for Literacy Coaching Certification, which is often offered through your online master’s in reading and literacy program. Certification typically also requires you to complete additional courses above your master’s degree coursework and obtain field experience.
National Board-Certified Teacher Earning your online master’s in reading and literacy helps prepare you to earn your National Board Certification in Literacy: Reading–Language Arts for early and middle childhood teachers from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy Degrees

Choose an accredited online degree program to receive instruction that’s held to the same educational standards as accredited on-campus programs. Colleges and universities receive regional or national accreditation through agencies recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Programmatic accreditation in the field of education, especially for online reading specialist certification, should be connected to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Construction Management Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

While most states only require a bachelor’s degree to apply for teacher certification and begin teaching, some states require teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving certification and obtaining a job. Most reading and literacy degrees only exist at the graduate level. Teachers with a master’s degree are regarded as experts in their field, which makes you a more competitive candidate for a variety of jobs. It can also increase your salary, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Teachers in general education with a bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of $46,000, while those with a master’s earn $60,000; and teachers in special needs education with a bachelor’s earn $45,000 while those with a master’s earn $61,000.

Expected Salary

Depending on your concentration, your master’s in reading and literacy prepares you for teaching reading, remedial reading, literacy and English as a second language in various educational levels from kindergarten students to adult learners. Your expected salary varies depending on the career you pursue, but below are some salary ranges for several popular career choices.

Where a reading and literacy specialist works can have a huge impact on salary. For example, adult, secondary education and literacy teachers make significantly more in New York when compared to those working in New Mexico. The following charts illustrate the median salary of adult, secondary education and literacy teachers in the top three, bottom three paying states, and the nation.

Career Opportunities

Many graduate students in reading and literacy programs are currently teachers, but earning your master’s degree assists with career advancement. Teachers with advanced degrees are often promoted into school administration or other leadership roles. Besides teaching in the K-12 school system, graduates also work as reading specialists, adult literacy coaches or ESL teachers or in educator positions that don’t require teaching certification.

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers Adult literacy teachers instruct adults and out-of-school youths in remedial education, such as reading, writing and speaking English. They may also help students earn their high school equivalency diploma or help prepare immigrants to take the citizenship exam. $52,100 per year -5%
Special Education Teachers Special education teachers adapt general education lessons to teach subjects like reading, writing and math to students with mild to moderate learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities. They may also teach literacy and communication techniques to students with severe disabilities. $59,090 per year 8%
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct younger students in basic subjects, such as math and reading. All states require public school teachers to be licensed or certified in the grade level they’ll be teaching, but private schools typically don’t require a license. $56,900 per year 7%

Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations provides the support new and established teachers in reading and literacy education need to succeed. These organizations often provide networking and educational opportunities, mentoring, job leads, professional publications and other members-only benefits. Some notable organizations for reading and literacy teachers include:

National Council of Teachers of English: This national organization provides valuable professional resources throughout your teaching career. It offers instructional sessions to keep you current on industry trends, unlimited access to practical instructional ideas, a quarterly magazine and digital journal archive, conferences and other networking opportunities and numerous other teacher-centered resources.

International Literacy Association: This global advocacy and membership organization offers a member magazine with the latest trends in literacy, easy-to-implement classroom strategies, practical teaching tips, annual and regional conferences, educator awards and grants, numerous ways to collaborate and make valuable connections in the teaching field and other professional resources to help empower educators.

National Education Association: A national organization committed to advancing the cause of public education with members working at every level of education, the NEA offers exclusive news, information and resources, including print and digital publications to keep educators current on news in the education sector. It also offers lesson plans and teaching strategies, advice and support, conferences and training seminars.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy Degree

Online programs typically cost less than on-campus programs, but students often still need financial assistance. Online students have many of the same financial aid resources as traditional students and should start their search by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if they qualify for assistance from the federal government. You can also receive grants and scholarships from your state government, college or university or private or nonprofit organizations. Explore the resources below for more information on financing your online education.



Scholarships Details
Ann Winch Fellowship Award: $1,000

Deadline: February

Eligibility: Working professionals enrolled at the University of South Florida in any graduate degree program.

University of Michigan’s M.Ed. Award of Recognition Award: $1,000

Deadline: January, May, August

Eligibility: Graduate students completing coursework for a M.Ed. degree in a specific licensure area.

Kreplick Graduate Fellowship Award: $1,000

Deadline: February

Eligibility: Graduate students enrolled at the University of South Florida with career plans to educate others; preference given to degrees in the education field, particularly child development and special education.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.