With an online master’s in reading, you can help students build a solid educational foundation for all stages of their lives. A student’s reading skills impact every area of learning, from mathematics to science to history. Literacy also affects all aspects of life, from an individual’s participation in society to one’s overall well-being. Reading specialists establish programs to ensure that every student, especially those struggling with reading basics, receives the type of instruction they need.
An NCES report on teacher shortages [PDF] across the nation identified
reading specialist as one of six critical shortage areas for high-needs schools. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% growth for middle and high school teachers and 7% growth for primary educators by 2026.
Online Master’s in Reading Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Master’s in Reading Programs
1. University of Florida
The University of Florida is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university based on 2,000 acres in Gainesville. A leader in green construction and environmental education, UF has more LEED-certified buildings than any other American university. The university also offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 18 fields, including education.
The university offers two online reading master’s programs: a master of education in reading and a master of arts in reading education. Both programs equip prospective and practicing teachers with the skills to promote literacy growth among pre-K–12 students. Both degrees require 36 credit hours and take four to six semesters to complete. The programs are available fully online, on campus, or in a hybrid format.
Students in the master of education in reading program take classes in areas such as teaching reading in the elementary school, classroom literacy assessment and instruction, diagnosis of reading difficulties, and secondary ESOL teaching strategies. Students must pass a three-hour practicum and complete three hours of electives. The program does not require a thesis and does not result in Florida K–12 reading certification. However, students are prepared to take the Florida Teacher Certification Exam for Reading K–12; candidates submit exam results to the Florida Department of Education when applying for a teaching certificate.
Students who do not plan to obtain a Florida teaching certificate can pursue the master of arts in reading education. This online master’s in reading includes courses in children’s literature, reading education, English as a second language, and language arts. The program culminates in six credit hours of research and a thesis.
The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
2. University of Georgia
Founded in Athens in 1785, UGA is a comprehensive land- and sea-grant university with more than 37,000 students. The university offers online programs in fields such as science, medicine, computers, business, and education.
The online master of education in reading education requires 36 credit hours and equips practicing K–12 teachers with the skills to help students achieve as readers. This online master’s in reading is cohort-based and emphasizes new and digital literacies.
Cohorts progress through a sequence of 12 courses. Learners first complete core courses in research, historical and cultural foundations, and literacy instruction. Students then take four courses in new and digital literacies before concluding the program with two electives. The two-year program includes a practicum or clinic and culminates in a final exam and a capstone course, electronic assessment in literacy classrooms.
The program can lead to a Georgia Reading Endorsement. Competitive applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, strong GRE or MAT scores, and at least two years of teaching experience. Applicants who do not meet these criteria may still receive consideration.
- The University of Georgia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)
- The master’s degree in education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
3. University of South Florida
Located in Tampa, USF is a public university serving more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers more than 100 majors and dozens of graduate programs through 14 colleges and schools. USF is a leader in digital education and offers individual courses and full degrees through its electronic campus and its Florida virtual campus.
The master of arts in reading is ideal for both current K–12 educators and individuals interested in the field of literacy in contexts outside the classroom. Full-time students who take summer classes typically graduate in two to three years. Most courses are synchronous and collaborative, and the program is available entirely online.
Students take a sequence of 11 courses totaling 33 credit hours. The program begins with a three-credit course in the foundations of educational research, after which students complete a research course in literature for a diverse society. Concentration classes include history and foundations in reading and STEM disciplines, literacy and technology, and a practicum in reading.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school or the international equivalent and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students adding a Reading Endorsement to their certificate must hold or be eligible for a teaching license.
USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
4. California State University – Fullerton
The largest of California’s 23 state universities, CSUF enrolls more than 40,000 students in 109 graduate and undergraduate programs at its main campus, satellite campuses, and online.
CSUF’s master of science with a concentration in education, literacy, and reading is designed for practicing teachers. The 30-unit online master’s reading specialist program provides the theoretical foundations and pedagogical skills necessary to become effective reading professionals. Courses are available in online, on-campus, and hybrid formats.
Students complete 29 units of coursework, including a five-unit practicum and classes in topics including research in reading and literacy education, literacy in the academic disciplines, linguistics and literacy education, and the socio-cultural context of language and literacy for English learners. The program concludes with a one-unit capstone, which can be a thesis, project, or comprehensive exam.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 undergraduate units. Applicants must have at least three years of teaching experience and a California single subject, special education, or multiple subject teaching credential. Graduates are qualified for a reading certificate, added authorization, and the reading language arts specialist credential.
- California State University, Fullerton is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission
- The education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
5. University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
The University at Buffalo enrolls more than 30,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate programs and nearly 300 graduate programs. UB offers more academic programs than any school in New England, many of which are available online.
The master of arts in education in literacy education is designed for teachers and prospective teachers who want to learn more about developmental reading and who do not intend to obtain a teaching license. The online master’s in reading requires 30 credits. Full-time students typically graduate in two to three semesters, and part-time students generally require four to five semesters.
Learners complete 27 credits of core courses, a three-credit elective, and a capstone project. Classes include literacy acquisition and instruction, classroom literacy assessment and instruction, literature for children and young people, and strategic teaching and reading processes.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and must demonstrate an interest in literacy education. Some graduates pursue careers as adult literacy coaches, and others work in private or overseas schools as reading teachers, ESL instructors, reading specialists, or special education teachers. Graduates can also earn UB’s PhD in curriculum, instruction, and the science of learning with an emphasis in reading education.
The University at Buffalo is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
6. Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University – College Station, the flagship campus of the Texas A&M University system, enrolls a massive student population of around 68,000 students in many undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. Founded in 1871, this land grant institution is commonly associated with NASA research projects.
Among its many programs, Texas A&M, offers an online M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading and literacy for education professionals who seek career advancement on their own terms. The program focuses on identifying literacy needs in educational programs and developing literacy in student bodies. This master’s in reading consists of 36 credit hours, with 27 of them in the reading emphasis area. Students develop advanced knowledge through courses in, such as:
- Foundations of Reading Instruction
- Literacy Intervention
- Teaching Reading in Elementary Grades
In addition to their online courses, students must complete a practicum, which develops crucial, real-world knowledge and field experience.
Applicants to this master’s in reading online program must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. GRE scores are not required.
Texas A&M University – College Station is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
7. University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Established in 1909, the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse enrolls over 10,000 students in a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree and certificate programs. Founded as the La Crosse State Normal School, the institution became part of the University of Wisconsin System in 1971.
UW La Crosse offers an online master of science in education with reading teacher and reading specialist track options. Students engage with advanced concepts in reading education as they blend theory, research, and practice to develop a holistic approach to the field. This master’s in reading programs consists of 37 credits. The program includes online college courses in areas, such as:
- Critical Issues in Reading Difficulties
- Literacy Assessment
- Program Evaluation and Direction
- Reading and Literacy
- Research Methods
In addition to the required core courses, students earning this master’s in reading online must complete a practicum and a thesis. Through this process, students develop crucial practical experience and insight as well as research ability and knowledge. Applicants to the program must have teaching experience in PreK–12 schools, eligibility for teacher certification, and a bachelor’s degree.
The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. University of Delaware
Located in Newark, UD enrolls nearly 24,000 students in seven colleges. The university offers 67 doctoral programs, 142 master’s programs, and 135 bachelor’s programs, including a fully online master of education in literacy.
The 30-credit master’s program prepares certified teachers to become licensed reading or literacy specialists in Delaware. The program focuses on literacy theory, cultural and linguistic relevancy, and digital literacy tools. The program’s emphasis on student participation and leadership in professional development opportunities is unique among online reading master’s programs.
Required classes include language development in the classroom, teaching writing in the elementary school, literacy instruction for English language learners, and the role of literacy in content areas. Students complete a six-credit supervised reading clinic. Each course lasts seven weeks, and most students complete the program in about two years. To graduate, learners must pass the Praxis II Reading Specialist exam.
Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and must demonstrate knowledge and experience in literacy education. Students need access to technology that allows them to video their classroom work.
- The University of Delaware is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- The university’s education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE)
9. California State University – Fresno
California State University – Fresno, part of the public California State University system, enrolls over 25,000 students in a wide selection of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. Among its many offerings is an online master of arts in education with a reading/language arts focus. This program is designed to serve educators in achieving success and professional advancement.
This online master’s in reading program consists of 30 credit hours; it blends theory, research, and practice to give students advanced knowledge and skills in reading education. Students engage with courses in topics, such as:
- Language Issues
- Literacy Processes and Practices
- Program Evaluation
- Research in the Field
To complete this program, students may choose between a project, thesis, or comprehensive exam option.
Students earning this master’s in reading online complete courses in eight-week sessions. These sessions are taken two at a time.
- California State University – Fresno is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
- The Kremen School of Education & Human Development is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
10. Indiana University – Bloomington
IU Bloomington is a public research university enrolling nearly 45,000 students. The university offers hundreds of distance education classes and more than 120 online degrees. The fully online master of science in education in literacy, culture, and language education prepares students to become reading specialists in schools and clinics.
The 36-credit program trains future English teachers, second language educators, and reading specialists. Students earning the master’s in reading online complete coursework in areas such as instructional issues in language education, and strategies for educational inquiry. Students also complete 15 elective credits and a capstone in literacy, culture, and language education.
Available specializations include early childhood and elementary literacy, children’s and young adult literature, language arts education, content literacy, English as a foreign language, and secondary literacy. Students planning to pursue research careers can use the online master’s in reading program as preparation to earn IU Bloomington’s Ed.D. or PhD in literacy, culture, and language education.
Students can begin the program in the spring, summer, or fall semesters. Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 must submit GRE scores.
- Indiana University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- The education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
11. SUNY Oneonta
Oneonta, New York
SUNY Oneonta, established in 1889, enrolls over 6,000 in a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs. Among its offering are two online master’s in literacy education degree programs with concentrations in birth-to-grade-6 and grades 5–12. Whether educators seek to teach reading and literacy to young children or teenagers, the programs provides them with the opportunity for advancement in the literacy professions.
This 30 credit master’s in reading programs build a solid foundation of literacy knowledge and skills. The birth-to-grade-6 program includes courses in topics such as children’s literature, content literacy, language acquisition, and the writing process in literacy programs. The grades 5–12 includes courses in topics such as reading and writing in specific content areas, foundations of literacy development, and literature for the secondary student. Both programs include research and practicum components.
Applicants to this online master’s in reading programs must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
- SUNY Oneonta is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- SUNY Oneonta’s education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
12. University of San Diego
San Diego, California
The University of San Diego is a Catholic university in the Alcalá Park area. USD enrolls nearly 9,000 students and offers 42 bachelor’s degrees, nine master’s degrees, a juris doctor, five LLM degrees, and three doctorates.
Learners can earn the master of education with a specialization in literacy and digital learning entirely online. The program prepares elementary teachers, English and language arts educators, and content area instructors to incorporate new media into their classrooms. Learners explore methods to improve students' literacy and reading skills.
The fully online master’s in reading consists of 10 classes, and students take two courses per 14-week semester. Each course lasts seven weeks, and students take one class at a time. Required courses include teaching digital readers, social justice and educational equity, teaching digital writers, cognition and learning, and participatory learning in 21st century classrooms. Students also complete a capstone seminar, which requires an action research project.
Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants do not need teacher certification, but they must have at least two years of teaching experience. Students must have access to a classroom during their studies. Applicants may submit GRE scores, but they are not required.
- The University of San Diego is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission
- The education program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
13. SUNY at Albany
Albany, New York
Part of the State University of New York system, UAlbany enrolls more than 17,000 students in nine colleges and schools. The university offers 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degrees on three campuses. UAlbany has provided online education for more than 20 years, and distance learners can pursue 17 graduate degrees in education and public health.
UAlbany’s online master of science in reading is designed for professionals in non-classroom literacy settings. The flexible online master’s in reading program does not lead to teacher certification; the program equips learners to improve the literacy of young adults and children.
Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit standardized test scores.
This master’s degree requires 30 credits, evenly divided between core courses and electives flexible and can bend toward student’s interests and career goals. Required courses include literacy in society, children’s literature, and teaching writing grades 5–12. Elective options include media literacy and literature for English language learners. The program includes an optional practicum and culminates in a research project. Distance learners can enroll on a full-time or part-time basis.
- The State University of New York at Albany is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- The education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
14. The University of West Florida
Based in Pensacola, UWF enrolls more than 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students from across the country and around the world. The space-grant research institution has the third-largest campus in the Florida university system. UWF offers 18 online graduate programs, including a master of education in reading.
The online master’s in reading is designed for credentialed teachers working toward a Florida Department of Education Reading Endorsement. Graduates often become reading coaches, publishing consultants, reading teachers, or district-level literacy specialists. Reading is a critical shortage area in Florida schools.
Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and must submit GRE or MAT scores. Applicants should be certified teachers or candidates for certification. UWF accepts applications in the summer and fall.
The program requires 36 semester hours in topics such as teaching pupils to be effective writers, research and trends in reading, literature for children and young adults, and foundations of measurement. Students complete a three-hour practicum and a three-hour action research project. Students must pass the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations in general knowledge, professional, subject area, and reading.
- The University of West Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)
- The education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
15. Slippery Rock University
Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
SRU is a public institution about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1889 as a teacher training institute, the university enrolls more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university’s online offerings include a degree completion program, graduate certificates, master’s degrees, and a doctorate in education.
Current educators can pursue an online master of education in elementary education with a concentration in K–12 reading specialist. After passing the Praxis II test in reading, students can add a Pennsylvania Reading Specialist Certification, which is required for all Title I teachers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The certification also qualifies holders for careers as resource specialists, reading teachers, and educational consultants in Pennsylvania and states with reciprocity.
The online master’s degree in reading requires 30 credits, 21 of which are in reading and literacy courses, such as historical, psychological, and linguistic foundations of literacy; literacy assessment analysis; and instructional decision making. Students take three credits of educational foundations classes, such as history of western education, and six credits of research coursework. Like many reading specialist certification online programs, SRU’s program requires a six-credit practicum.
Applicants must have a current teaching certificate and a bachelor’s degree and must submit to a background check.
- Slippery Rock University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- The university’s education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
16. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
ECU serves nearly 29,000 students at its campus in Greenville. The university offers 84 bachelor’s programs and 71 master’s programs online, along with certificates, doctorates, and other educational opportunities.
The fully online master of arts in reading education requires 39 semester hours and is available in part-time and full-time formats. Like many online reading master’s programs, ECU’s program includes coursework in assessing and diagnosing reading difficulties, current reading research, and managing literacy programs. Students conclude the program with the development of an action research project related to their field of interest. Students take 12 hours of core courses and 24 hours of reading education courses.
Required courses include organization and management of reading programs, introduction to differences in human learning in schools, and leadership and communication skills in education. Reading education students complete an internship teaching reading to adults. Graduates qualify for a K–12 reading specialist license for use in North Carolina public schools.
Applicants must hold an initial teaching certificate. Applicants who have not completed undergraduate coursework in literacy education must take prerequisite courses in reading methods before being admitted. Applicants must submit GRE or MAT scores. ECU offers four start dates per year.
East Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
17. University of Missouri
Located in Columbia, Mizzou enrolls students from all 50 states and from 100 countries. The university offers more than 300 programs, and the campus is known for its historic buildings and botanical gardens. Mizzou offers more than 90 degrees online.
Mizzou offers a 30-hour master of education in learning, teaching and curriculum with an emphasis in literacy education. The fully online program is designed for current and future language arts teachers, Title I reading teachers, special education teachers, and reading interventionists. Most students enroll in two courses each 16-week semester and complete the online master’s in reading in two years.
Students take nine hours of core courses: six hours in literacy, nine hours in literacy pedagogy and assessment, and nine hours in language, culture, and leadership. Classes include foundational aspects of literacy, techniques and strategies for teaching reading in K–12 and understanding and conducting research in reading.
Applicants do not have to submit GRE scores, but they must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 undergraduate credit hours. Online students pay in-state tuition rates. The program does not result in initial teaching or reading specialist certification, but students can take coursework to satisfy requirements for the DESE reading specialist certificate.
The University of Missouri is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
18. University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Located in Cedar Falls, UNI offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and more than 50 graduate programs. The university has educated teachers since 1876 and today offers programs in fields such as military science, economics, geography, social work, and technology. UNI enrolls more than 2,000 students in its distance education programs.
UNI’s 33-unit master of arts in education in literacy education is ideal for current educators who want to pursue leadership roles in literacy education. UNI delivers online courses through Blackboard, using interactive video conferencing technologies. The program uses a cohort model; students take courses in a prescribed sequence with a small group of peers.
Courses include advanced literacy studies, issues and trends in curriculum, language development and variability, and ideological, cultural, and sociopolitical issues in children’s literature. Students also complete a practicum and a research paper or thesis. Most students graduate in three years, and summer sessions may require on-campus study.
The online master’s in reading qualifies graduates to pursue an Iowa Reading Endorsement. Applicants take a one-hour writing assessment. Accepted students can qualify for the Stanley and Norma Reeves Scholarship. Learners near Cedar Falls can use the university’s literacy education clinic.
The University of Northern Iowa is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
19. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina
Based on a 1,000-acre urban campus, UNC Charlotte is the fastest-growing campus in the UNC system and the second-largest producer of teachers in the state. The university enrolls nearly 30,000 students and offers 140 bachelor’s degrees, 64 master’s degrees, and 23 doctorates through nine schools. The university provides convenient, flexible online degrees in a variety of fields, including a master of education in reading education.
The online master’s in reading requires 33 credit hours and equips qualified teachers to earn a Masters/Advanced
M license in K–12 reading education. The curriculum includes 12 credit hours in foundations of literacy and technology, nine hours in expanding content and pedagogical knowledge, six hours in developmentally appropriate assessment and instruction, and a three-hour course in reflective leadership. Classes include K–12 writing development and instruction, multiliteracies in a global world, teaching reading to English language learners, and diagnostic assessment and instruction in reading. Most students graduate within two years.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and must submit GRE or MAT scores and a copy of their teaching license. Out-of-state educators are welcome to apply; the program does not currently accept Massachusetts residents.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
20. The University of Texas at Arlington
UT Arlington is a public research university enrolling nearly 59,000 students and is the fourth-largest higher education institution in the state. The university offers more than 180 undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master of education in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in literacy studies.
The fully online master’s reading specialist degree requires 30 credit hours and prepares graduates to earn certification as TESOL teachers, reading specialists, or reading teachers. The program does not require a thesis, and most students graduate in 18 months. Aspiring Texas reading specialists must pass the Reading Specialist TExES within six months of graduation.
Students take classes in topics such as pre-adolescent and adolescent literacy, foundations of literacy learning in EC-6 classrooms, multicultural literature for children and young adults, and understanding literacy research. Students also complete nine credits of practicums, which involve the development of portfolios focused on the national reading specialist standards.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework, minimum GRE scores of 153 verbal and 140 quantitative. Applicants who do not meet these requirements may receive probationary or provisional admission.
- The University of Texas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)
- The education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
21. University of Massachusetts – Lowell
UMass Lowell enrolls more than 17,000 students and offers more than 100 bachelor’s degrees, 40 master’s degrees, and 35 doctorates on campus and online.
Experienced K–12 educators can pursue the 30-credit master of education in reading and language entirely online. The program does not lead to initial teaching licensure. However, Massachusetts teachers who hold initial licensure in elementary education, English as a second language, moderate disabilities, or early childhood education can use the program to upgrade to professional licensure.
UMass Lowell’s online master’s in reading comprises 10 courses, including a two-course practicum that accounts for six credits. Classes include educating diverse populations, young adult literature, and treatment of reading and language disabilities.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a record of strong academic achievement. Most students graduate within two years, and learners must complete the program within five years. UMass Lowell students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same per-credit tuition rate.
- The University of Massachusetts Lowell is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
- The university’s education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE)
22. University of Cincinnati
Founded in 1906, the University of Cincinnati is a public research university that enrolls more than 44,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. The university’s programs utilize a cooperative model and a cross-curricular approach.
UC offers a master of education in literacy and second language studies that equips students with knowledge of the linguistic, social, institutional, and cultural factors that affect reading ability. Prospective students who are unsure whether the program is right for them can take one or two classes as a non-matriculated student before enrolling.
Unlike other online reading master’s programs, the program requires students to select an area of concentration; options include pre-K-16 literacy and learning instruction, postsecondary literacy instruction, pre-K–12 teaching English as a second language, and adult and international teaching English as a second language. Each concentration aligns with the standards of the major international body governing quality in the specific field.
Students complete nine core credits comprising two courses and a culminating experience. Learners take 21 credits of concentration courses in areas such as principles of organizing a literacy curriculum, applied linguistics, teaching learners in a diverse society, and sociolinguistics and bilingual education. Students in all four concentrations complete a practicum.
- The University of Cincinnati is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- The university’s education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
23. Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Founded in 1882, CMU enrolls more than 18,000 students at its main campus in Mt. Pleasant and 9,000 learners at satellite campuses and in distance programs. The university offers more than 300 undergraduate, master’s, professional, and doctoral programs.
CMU’s online master of arts in reading and literacy K–12 prepares practicing teachers to obtain the Michigan State Board of Education Reading Specialist Endorsement. The online master’s in reading program provides learners with both theoretical and practical knowledge of best practices in writing and reading education. The 36-credit program includes both online and in-person classes.
The curriculum comprises 11 courses in areas such as literacy research, using digital resources to teach literacy, advanced language arts instruction, and organization and implementation of school literacy programs. Students also complete a six-credit practicum and a major research project.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and a valid K–12 teaching license. CMU accepts up to six transfer credits, and all online graduate students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
- Central Michigan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- The university’s education programs are accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)
24. University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Serving nearly 15,000 students from all 50 states and 80 countries, UND offers programs in more than 200 fields of study. Based in Grand Fork, the university offers 3,000 courses and more than 300 degrees, including 30 graduate degrees.
UND offers two entirely online reading master’s programs: a master of education in reading education and a master of science in reading education. The 32-credit programs begin each fall and take two years to complete.
Applicants must hold teaching licensure in early childhood, elementary, middle, or secondary education. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in another field can apply to the MS program. Applicants to both online reading specialist programs must have a minimum 2.75 GPA or at least a 3.0 GPA in their last 60 undergraduate credits. Out-of-state and in-state students pay the same tuition rate.
Students in the M.Ed. program take courses in reading education, foundations of education, and a cognate. Courses include action research, writing in the classroom, and multicultural education. The MS curriculum includes foundations courses, two research courses, and a scholarly research project.
- The University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- The education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
25. Sam Houston State University
The third-oldest public institution in Texas, SHSU was the first institution in the state founded specifically to train teachers. Today, the university enrolls more than 20,000 students in 80 undergraduate, 59 master’s, and eight doctoral programs. Based in Huntsville, SHSU offers more than 20 degrees in an online format.
Practicing educators can pursue the online master of education in reading and language arts, which requires 36 credit hours and prepares certified teachers to earn the Texas Reading Specialist certification. Students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer semester.
The curriculum includes classes in the theory and instruction of language arts, the politics of literacy, cognition and emergent literacy, and administration and supervision of literacy programs. Students take two years of coursework in literacy resources, assessment methods, and designing interventions for reading students. Like many online reading specialist programs, SHSU’s program includes a practicum comprising 160 hours of experience. Students also complete a capstone project, which involves developing a portfolio from their field internship.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA in their last 60 undergraduate credit hours, and a current teaching certificate. Applicants must submit a writing sample and participate in a video interview.
- Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)
- The education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
26. Concordia University – Nebraska
Concordia is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and is based in Seward. The university enrolls more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students and hosts the Plum Creek Children’s Literary Festival.
Concordia offers 30 online graduate programs, including two online reading specialist programs: a master of education in literacy with emphases in reading specialist and ESL and a master of education in literacy with an emphasis in reading specialist. These programs prepare educators to teach literacy to students with various backgrounds and English skills.
The online master’s in reading is a cohort-based program in which students explore the English linguistic system, cross-linguistic differences, language development, and the application of research-based best practices and ethics to ESL instruction. The program requires 51 credit hours comprising eight-week classes in topics such as middle and secondary schools, research evaluation and design, creating a case study in literacy, linguistics for educators, and language and culture. Students also complete a three-credit practicum and an ESL/TESOL capstone.
Applicants must submit official undergraduate transcripts, a letter of intent, and a resume; Concordia does not require standardized test scores. Transfer students can bring up to 25% of required credits from previous graduate studies.
- Concordia University, Nebraska is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- The university’s education programs are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
27. Virginia Commonwealth University
Founded in Richmond in 1838, VCU today enrolls more than 31,000 students in more than 200 programs. The university is Richmond’s largest employer and owns a major medical center. VCU offers many academic programs online, including a master of education in reading with a concentration in K–12 reading specialist.
Graduates with the online master’s reading specialist degree meet the Virginia Board of Education’s requirements for endorsement as a K–12 reading specialist. Coursework includes both synchronous and asynchronous components, as well as interactive dialogue and coaching opportunities.
The 33-credit curriculum includes 18 credits in reading content courses, nine credits in foundational studies, and six elective credits. Courses include analysis and correction of reading problems, reading foundations in sociological and psychological perspectives, literacy for adults, and children’s literature. Students complete an action research project, an internship, and an externship, during which they apply reading education theory in clinical or off-campus settings.
VCU accepts applications in the fall, spring, and summer. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and satisfactory GRE or MAT scores. VCU students must earn higher than a
C in all but two classes and must pass the state-mandated assessment for reading licensure.
- Virginia Commonwealth University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)
- The education program holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
28. University of Kansas
The University of Kansas is a public research university that enrolls more than 28,000 students on six campuses. KU offers 370 programs through 13 schools, including online reading master’s programs.
KU’s online master of science in education in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading education is designed for teachers interested in reading and aspiring literacy and reading specialists.
The program offers three tracks: reading specialist licensure, non-licensure, and reading specialist licensure endorsement. The first two tracks award a master’s degree, while the third does not. The reading specialist licensure track is ideal for classroom teachers, and the non-licensure track is designed for administrators. The licensure track requires 33 credits, and the non-licensure track requires 30 credits. Both tracks take about two years to complete, and each course lasts eight weeks.
The curriculum includes coursework in the foundations of curriculum and instruction, multicultural education, emergent literacy and beginning reading, and supporting striving readers adolescent through adult. Students in the licensure track complete a practicum, and all tracks culminate in a master’s project. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, and a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework.
The University of Kansas is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
29. University of Alabama at Birmingham – UAB Online
UAB enrolls more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 140 academic programs. The university’s education offerings include an online master’s in reading and a certificate in reading.
The master of arts in education with a concentration in reading education requires 36 credit hours and equips practicing teachers with the instructional strategies and theoretical knowledge to become effective reading specialists. Applicants must hold an Alabama bachelor’s-level professional educator certificate in secondary, elementary, or early childhood education or as a collaborate teacher. Applicants must have at least two years of verified classroom teaching experience and must have completed two undergraduate reading courses.
UAB’s program includes coursework in teaching new languages through reading and writing; pre-K–12 literature; reading assessment and evaluation; and dyslexia research, education, and advocacy. Students complete a three-credit internship in remedial reading, and those without previous coursework in special education enroll in an introduction to exceptional learners course.
Graduates are eligible for the Class A certification in Reading Specialist Program, provided they maintained at least a 3.0 GPA, earned a passing grade on their portfolio, and have a Class B Professional Certificate in early childhood, elementary, secondary, or collaborative teacher K-6 or 6–12.
- The University of Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)
- The education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
30. University of Memphis – UM Online
Located in the Normal Station neighborhood, UofM is a public research university with more than 21,000 students. Founded in 1912 as West Tennessee Normal School, UofM is a leader in teacher training and educational research. The university maintains two laboratory schools on campus, where students can observe and teach.
The fully online master of science in instruction and curriculum leadership with a concentration in literacy is designed for aspiring literacy teachers, reading specialists, and curriculum coaches. The 30-credit program leads to a Tennessee reading specialist endorsement, provided the candidate passes the state exam and has at least three years of classroom teaching experience.
The program follows a traditional semester calendar. Classes include literacy instruction in the elementary school, literacy and the English language learner, writing theory and practice, and introduction to educational research. Students complete a three-credit research practicum and a three-credit master’s project.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants must submit GRE or MAT scores.
- The University of Memphis is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)
Choosing an Online Master’s in Reading Program
Through master’s in reading online programs, experienced educators can further expand their knowledge in the areas of language, literacy, and research. Reading specialists assist teachers in creating reading and literacy programs for learners at all levels. To do so, literacy specialists must gain mastery over reading theory, assessment, and best practices. An online master’s in reading degree prepares graduates to develop reading curricula, create literate environments, and use research-based assessments to inform instructional approach. Most reading degrees exist at the graduate level only, with students already licensed as teachers. In addition, master of education students often choose reading and literacy as a concentration.
Core classes and topics in online reading master’s programs allow students to tailor their programs through areas of focus, such as content areas, culturally responsive pedagogy, ESL, or special education. While the biggest employers of reading specialists remain elementary and secondary schools, junior colleges and
other schools and instruction follow closely behind. Core courses in a master’s in reading online program center on foundational knowledge and cover literacy development, assessment, and instruction for learners of all ages. Typical classes in online reading master’s programs include foundations in reading and writing, developing fluent readers, reading difficulties, literacy data and research, and linguistic differences.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Reading Program?
The details of a master’s in reading online program vary depending on the school and/or program, but course content should be similar for any program designated to an advanced degree in reading and literacy. One difference that students may find among online reading master’s programs is the field experience. Some programs require a practicum before graduation.
The Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Reading
Reading in Content Areas:
This course focuses on strategies used to enhance a student’s reading proficiency and literacy skills as they relate to the content areas of science, mathematics, history, and English. The course content supports the work of reading specialists who help classroom teachers in the development of their literacy instructional abilities.
Assessment and Intervention:
This course surveys the assessment tools/practices used by reading specialists or literacy coaches to plan and evaluate a reading program, monitor student performance, interpret administered tests, and produce an adequate educational diagnosis for intervention or one-on-one tutoring. The course also examines factors that impact the development of receptive/expressive literacy.
Linguistics and Literature:
This course examines ways of integrating linguistics in literature lessons and scaffolding skills to support a student’s comprehension progress. Any literature course also delves into literature selection, learning about authors and illustrators, and choosing the right, age-appropriate books that will ignite a student’s interest in reading.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Reading Prepares For
Certificates issued by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction demonstrate that an educator possesses the required skills and knowledge to implement structured literacy, an approach that prepares students to decode words in a systematic manner using phonology, syllable instruction, sound-system association, morphology, and syntax. CERI is an International Dyslexia Association affiliate.
Certification to work as English as a Second Language teacher varies by state. Teaching ESL to pre-K–12 students requires certain credentials, which many online reading master’s programs cover. In addition, ESL or English Language Learners teachers may obtain a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate, which could lead to more teaching opportunities.
Online Master’s in Reading Careers
Most reading degree-holders work with pre-K–12 students, either as a teacher or as a reading specialist who implement instructional reading programs and best practices. Reading professionals work as literacy coaches and one-on-one tutors, helping students who struggle to read at their grade level. Graduates of online reading master’s programs also work in staff development, as coordinators, and with specific learning groups. Often, these professionals specialize in English language learners and students with learning disabilities like dyslexia.
Reading specialists can take on multiple roles for a school, from working as a literacy coach with teachers to one-on-one tutoring with students. Reading specialists contribute to the improvement of student learning and the development of reading and/or literacy programs. These specialists instruct, assess, and lead students and programs. Most reading specialists already hold a teacher’s license and enroll in an online master’s reading specialist program or doctoral program to further their careers.
- Median Annual Salary: $63,750
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
High School Teacher:
Secondary teachers teach a specific subject to students in grades 9–12; some subjects examples are math, foreign language, or English. They plan lessons, evaluate student performance, and prepare students for college. Many states require high school teachers to hold an advanced degree in their teaching specialty, such as a master’s in English or a degree from a master’s in reading online program.
- Median Annual Salary: $59,170
- Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Adult Literacy/GED Teacher:
Adult literacy/GED teachers help adult learners in basic education, teach English as a second language, and prepare students to take the GED or high school equivalency diploma test. They may also create individual programs for each student, the result of testing and assessment. A bachelor’s degree can qualify a teacher for licensure, but many employers, like community colleges, will prefer if the teacher holds an advanced degree.
- Median Annual Salary: $52,100
- Projected Growth Rate: -5%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Reading Degrees
Prospective students should consider an institution’s accreditation status when choosing a college. Higher education accreditation assures that a college or university meets acceptable quality standards. Accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) grant accreditation with the school’s request for evaluation. Therefore, accredited schools have sought this important designation, confident that the institution has met or exceeded the established accreditation framework. Accreditation also impacts the acceptability of transfer credit and the eligibility of students for federal student aid.
The two types of accreditation are regional and national. Dating back to the 19th century, regional accreditation applies to most nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. National accrediting bodies grant accreditation status to a wider selection of schools, including for-profit and single-purpose schools, such as career colleges. There are six regional accrediting agencies in the nation. While the ED recognizes all six regional accreditors, it does not recognize all national accreditors. To help students check for accreditation, ED maintains a searchable database of all accredited postsecondary schools and programs.
Professional Organizations for Reading
For educators, professional organizations offer opportunity for developing skills and career advancement through programs/workshops, mentorships, and annual conferences. At these conferences, teachers network and learn about the latest trends in education research. For teaching students and recent graduates, a professional organization can help with job searches and provide guidance on starting at a new school. Many professional organizations also offer students scholarships, grants, and internships not provided to non-members.
- International Literacy Association: Established in 1956, ILA is a global advocacy and membership organization of over 300,000 educators, researchers, and experts aiming to make literacy accessible to everyone. ILA offers education standards and essential resources for teachers and reading specialists, sustainable partnership programs, and professional development for literacy professionals across 78 countries.
- National Council of Teachers of English: NCTE focuses on improving literacy, the teaching and learning of English, and the development of language arts for students at all levels of education. NCTE offers members practical teaching resources, opportunities for professional growth, more than 90 different awards (like the Orwell Awards for writing), and a yearly convention.
- Literacy Research Association: With roots dating back to the 1950s, LRA pursues the research and the development of literacy within a diverse, multilingual world. LRA offers research journals, support for future scholars, various awards for scholarly contributions and achievement, and literacy webinars.