Becoming a Reading Specialist with a Master's Program
Online master's in reading programs help teachers specialize their skills and advance their careers by emphasizing leadership, assessment, and organization within classrooms. Graduates can advance their careers as teachers or pursue other educational roles in areas like curriculum development.
For example, these online reading programs may qualify graduates for instructional coordinator positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that instructional coordinators earn a median annual salary of $66,290 and projects jobs for these professionals to grow 6% between 2018-2028.
This guide ranks the top online master's in reading teacher education programs in the country. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
What Is an Online Master's in Reading Degree?
Online master's in reading programs explore literacy development concepts and teaching techniques. Candidates learn efficient teaching strategies and how to adapt lesson plans for students with different learning needs. Programs may also address special education and culturally diverse learners to prepare for inclusive classrooms.
Degree-seekers develop communication skills and learn to work in teams so that they can effectively engage with parents, students, faculty, and administrators. Online reading programs also give students leadership, organization, and problem-solving skills. Some programs may require current teaching certification for admission.
Choosing an Online Program
Students should consider several factors when researching prospective online master's in reading programs, such as cost, available concentrations, and delivery format. For instance, working professionals may prefer the flexibility of asynchronous programs, which do not require set login times.
Featured Master's in Reading Education Degree
The Best Online Master's in Reading Programs 2021
UF, a public university operating from its current location since 1906, welcomes more than 52,000 graduate and undergrad students each year.
The university offers an online master of education or master of arts in reading education. Both programs require students to complete 30 credits of coursework in five foundational areas, including a three-credit practicum. Non-thesis M.Ed. students then take six credits of electives such as instructional coaching or using the internet in education, while M.A.E. students devote those credits to their thesis. The thesis track does not prepare students for Florida reading certification.
Applicants need to submit official transcripts showing a GPA of 3.0 or above, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.
A "public Ivy" providing a similar education to Ivy League schools, UGA enrolls nearly 40,000 students every year.
UGA offers an online master of education in reading education designed for teachers working in grades PreK-12. The 36-credit program takes just two years to complete. In addition to courses such as new literacies and research methods, all students must complete a practicum that includes tutoring children and a capstone course and final exam.
Applicants must submit official transcripts reflecting a minimum 3.0 GPA, proof of teaching experience (2+ years preferred), three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.
University of South Florida
USF, a public university founded in 1956, welcomes more than 44,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year.
The fully online master of arts in reading education utilizes interactive technologies to train future literacy educators and leaders. Synchronous classes, document sharing, and other tools create a strong community of students and faculty.
All students take the same 12 courses, including Issues in vocabulary and word study, and literature for a diverse society. They also complete a three-credit practicum experience. In lieu of a comprehensive final exam, participants produce a collection of projects and tasks during a supervision and coaching in literacy course.
Requirements include official transcripts showing a GPA of 3.0 or above, plus a resume showing relevant K-12 literacy experience, a statement of purpose, and two letters of reference. Those holding a current teaching certificate should submit a copy.
The University of West Florida
Founded as part of the State University System of Florida in 1963, UWF today serves more than 12,000 students each year.
UWF's master of education in reading online, designed for those with a current teaching certificate, blends scientific research with practical, hands-on applications. Approved for both the K-12 reading endorsement and reading certification in Florida, the program requires students to complete multiple fieldwork experiences.
Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA, a valid teaching certificate, and proof of proficiency in English as a Second Language (ESOL).
Established in 1889 in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson welcomes more than 25,000 students each year.
Clemson offers an online master of education in literacy. Students can specialize in literacy coaching, secondary, or English as a Second Language (ESOL). All three specialties lead to South Carolina's Read to Succeed endorsement and literacy teacher certification. Literacy coaching and secondary also lead to literacy coach certification, while ESOL leads to an ESOL add-on. All students must complete a practicum in their chosen specialization.
Admission requirements include transcripts and GRE scores (waived for GPA 3.0 or higher), as well as a current resume and teaching certificate, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Slippery Rock, PA
Originally founded in 1889 and now part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, SRU enrolls more than 8,800 students each year.
SRU offers a fully online master of education in elementary education: K-12 reading specialist. The program leads to both K-12 reading specialist certification and instructional coaching endorsement in the state of Pennsylvania.
All students must take core courses such as the reading program in the elementary school and foundations of instructional coaching, plus one educational foundation course and one qualitative research or statistics course. Enrollees must also complete two practicum assignments.
Admission requirements include official transcripts, a current instructional certificate, and two references. The program also requires all students to submit clean criminal background checks, including an FBI check and a child abuse check, before any field experience.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern, founded in 1906 and today the biggest university in south Georgia, welcomes more than 26,000 students annually.
Georgia Southern's online master of education in reading education, designed for current educators, prepares students to teach reading and literacy in grades PreK-12. Students may customize their path with electives such as children's literature or language development. All learners must complete three field experiences, including a capstone, and pass the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) for certification in reading education.
Admission requirements include a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA, a level four or higher teaching or related certificate, three years' teaching experience, and a personal statement of purpose. Applicants must alsosubmit a disclosure and affirmation form.
University of West Georgia
Founded in 1906, UWG now enrolls just over 13,000 students both online and on its rural campus.
The university offers an online master of education with a major in reading instruction. Designed for working professionals, the 30-credit program requires students to choose a specialization in English as a Second Language (ESOL) or teacher leadership. All students must pass a comprehensive exam before graduation. Georgia students must also take the state-approved content assessment.
Applicants must submit official transcripts with a minimum 2.7 GPA, a T4 teaching certificate or out-of-state equivalent, and a resume showing three years of teaching experience.
Georgia State, founded in 1913, now serves more than 35,000 undergrad and grad students every year.
The university's online master of education in reading, language, and literacy education meets Georgia's academic requirements for a reading endorsement. Students select a concentration in either English as a Second Language (ESOL) or literacy specialist.
All students take core courses such as the psychology of learning and learners and literacy in the content areas, followed by two courses in their chosen concentration. Students must also complete a site-based practicum and a final portfolio.
Applicants must submit official undergraduate transcripts, a current teaching certificate, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a goals statement.
Founded as Texas Technical College, TTU took its current name in 1969. The university currently enrolls nearly 40,000 students.
TTU offers an online master of education in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in language and literacy. Designed for working professionals, the 36-credit program offers a Texas state credential in developmental literacy and professional reading specialist certification.
Admission requirements include transcripts, a resume, an applicant statement, three letters of recommendation, and two writing samples.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Tracing its roots to an evening center built to serve returning WWII vets, today UNC Charlotte serves nearly 30,000 students.
Its online master of education in reading education, designed for teachers who hold a current North Carolina teaching license, leads to an advanced K-12 reading education license in the state. Those without a current license may enroll in the program but will not earn licensure.
All students take the same sequence of courses with no electives. The two-year program divides coursework into three phases: foundations of literacy and leadership, developmentally appropriate assessment and instruction, and advanced literacy intervention and leadership.
Applicants must submit official transcripts reflecting a minimum 3.0 GPA, a statement of purpose, and three recommendation letters. Current educators should submit a copy of their teaching licenses.
Minnesota State University-Mankato
Founded in 1858 as the Second State Normal School, Minnesota State today welcomes more than 14,000 students.
Minnesota State offers an online master of science in reading designed for current administrators or teachers. The flexible, asynchronous program offers rolling admissions and the opportunity to take just one or two classes at a time. The program fulfills the academic requirements for reading teacher licensure in Minnesota. All students must complete a capstone project, a practicum, thesis, creative project, or alternative paper.
Admission requirements include official transcripts showing a GPA of 3.0 or above, a resume, and two recommendation letters.
University of Northern Iowa
Minnesota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Liberty, a private evangelical Christian university founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell, serves more than 100,000 students, mostly online, each year.
Liberty offers a fully online master of education - reading specialist endorsement infused with a Christian worldview. In addition to courses such as foundations for educational leaders and literacy for middle-level learners, all students in the 36-credit program must complete a site-based practicum and internship.
Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Northern Michigan University
The largest university on the Upper Peninsula, NMU welcomes nearly 8,000 students annually.
NMU's online master of arts in education: reading teacher for K-8 prepares students for a reading endorsement in the state of Michigan. All students must complete either a thesis or a seminar in educational research that culminates in a research project. Students may participate in a site-based practicum as an elective.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit official transcripts, a teaching certificate with one year of experience, a graduate plan of study, and a state-approved background check.
Founded in 1844 and now part of the massive State University of New York (SUNY) system, UAlbany enrolls more than 17,000 students each year.
The university offers an online master of science in reading. The program welcomes students from various backgrounds but only leads to state certification for those holding initial teacher certification. Students may customize their program with electives such as language acquisition or media literacy. All students must complete a final research project.
Applicants must submit transcripts reflecting a minimum 3.0 GPA and three letters of recommendation. They must also complete program-specific questions on the application.
Established as Glassboro Normal School in 1923, Rowan today welcomes nearly 20,000 students.
Rowan's online master of arts in reading education: reading practitioner program focuses on advanced literacy education and strategies necessary for 21st-century schools. Students in this non-certification program need not hold teaching credentials, but they must have regular access to a classroom or other group of children.
All students take the same series of courses with no electives. Students must complete a portfolio, including a research paper.
Admission requirements include official transcripts showing a GPA of 2.75 or above, a resume, an essay, two recommendations, and a copy of any current educational credentials. Applicants also undergo an interview, during which they must complete a writing sample.
Arkansas State University
A public research university established in 1909, A-State enrolls more than 13,000 learners.
A-State offers an online master of science in education in reading. The 30-credit program takes as few as 12 months to complete. Graduates may qualify for a dyslexia endorsement through the state of Arkansas. In addition to topics including adolescent literacy and literacy for diverse learners, all students must complete two practicum placements.
Applicants must submit official transcripts reflecting a GPA of 3.0 or higher (or 3.25 in the last 60 undergraduate hours) and a valid teaching certificate.
Olivet Nazarene University
Originally founded by the Church of the Nazarene as a grammar school in 1907, ONU now serves a student body of more than 4,300.
Designed for working teachers, ONU's online master of arts in education: reading specialist offers accelerated eight-week classes for a total degree completion time of 16 months. All students take the same courses, including foundations of reading and methods of educational research, followed by a 32-contact-hour practicum. The department encourages all students to participate in an 8-10-day global immersion experience.
Admission requirements include official transcripts, a current teaching certificate, and a letter of recommendation from the applicant's principal.
Mary, a private Benedictine university founded in 1959, enrolls nearly 4,000 students annually.
The university offers a fully online or hybrid master of education, reading that takes as few as 1.5 years to complete. Students may choose a thesis or portfolio track. The program also allows students to customize their path with selected electives.
Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, two references, a resume demonstrating applicable educator experience, and a professional goals statement.
Part of the Lutheran church's eight-member Concordia University System, Concordia serves more than 2,700 students each year.
The university's online master of education in literacy offers two concentrations: reading specialist endorsement or reading specialist and English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement. Both tracks, infused with an evangelical Christian worldview, require the same 12 courses. The ESL track adds an extra five courses, including a fieldwork capstone.
Admission requirements include official transcripts, a resume, and a letter of intent.
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI
A public research university founded in 1892, CMU today enrolls close to 20,000 students annually.
CMU's master of arts in reading and literacy K-12, designed for current teachers, blends theory and process. Students learn to design and implement literacy programs and diagnose and intervene with children who have literacy issues. The 36-credit program includes a 16-week clinical practicum. All students take the same series of classes with no electives.
Applicants must submit official transcripts reflecting a GPA of at least 3.0 and a valid K-12 teaching certificate.
University of North Dakota
UND, established six years before North Dakota became a state, welcomes more than 13,000 students each year.
UND offers an online master of education or master of science in reading education. Those who want to teach in the classroom typically choose the M.Ed. Students wanting to go into literacy-focused work such as reading specialist, curriculum developer, or instructional coach generally select the MS. Both tracks demand a final project, with a thesis as a possible alternative for the MS program.
MS applicants must hold a current teaching certificate. The M.Ed. also accepts bachelor's degrees in other fields. Both require an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or junior/senior GPA of 3.0, along with recommendations and a three-page personal essay.
Established as a teacher training school in 1907, ECU today serves more than 28,000 students.
ECU offers an online master of arts in reading and literacy education designed for specialized K-12 literacy careers. Graduates with current North Carolina teaching licensure can take the reading specialist exam and apply for an add-on M-level K-12 reading license. Students may customize their program with electives. All must complete a site-based practicum.
Admission requirements include transcripts, a minimum 2.7 GPA, a valid teaching license, two professional references, and a statement of purpose.
Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU, founded as a medical college in 1838, welcomes nearly 30,000 learners per year.
Its online master of education in reading meets the academic requirements for a Virginia reading specialist endorsement. The program features both synchronous and asynchronous class activities and a collaborative externship course and a three-credit site-based internship.
Admission requirements include official transcripts, a statement of intent, and three letters of reference.
Online Master's in Reading Teacher Education Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
What to Expect From a Master's in Reading Program?
Online master's in reading programs include coursework in literacy development and assessment, as well as research and teaching strategies for reading education. Programs may also explore second language acquisition, cultural diversity, and teaching students of different age groups. Additionally, many programs include practicums, giving students field experience.
These courses present techniques for helping students understand written materials. Courses may explore types of writing, such as narratives and technical pieces, and factors that influence meaning, like paragraph format, vocabulary, perspective, and context. Degree-seekers may also study different reading modes, including oral and silent reading.
These classes cover literacy concepts, like phonics and word recognition, and introduce teaching strategies that reflect current research and theories. Students learn how to assess learning needs and create teaching plans that cater to specific classrooms and learners. Courses may also incorporate state regulations on reading education or focus on age groups, such as elementary or secondary students.
This course addresses classroom organization and management. Candidates learn to build productive environments for students and encourage learning through lesson plans and motivational tactics. Learners may also study psychological and behavioral issues that may arise in classrooms.
Master's-level online reading programs can lead to a variety of education-related careers. For instance, graduates can teach postsecondary courses in reading education or work as reading coaches or specialists. They may also research and write scholarly articles or textbooks on reading education or work as recreation workers or social and community service managers. The following list outlines several other common careers for graduates.
|Median Salary (2019): $66,290
||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 6%
Instructional coordinators make curriculum decisions for school systems, creating learning materials and suggesting teaching techniques and textbooks. They may review testing data and consult teachers on student performance to determine areas for improvement. They also offer faculty training and guidance for introducing new techniques and curricula into classrooms.
These positions require a master's in education, instruction, or a related field. These professionals may also need teaching certification and professional experience. Instructional coordinators need strong communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills.
High School Teachers
|Median Salary (2019): $61,660
||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%
High school teachers create lesson plans and teach courses to help learners prepare for state tests and life after graduation. They must assess student needs and adjust lesson plans when necessary, discuss student progress with parents, give feedback on course assignments, and set classroom rules.
High school teachers usually need at least a bachelor's degree and teaching certification. Some jobs may require a master's degree. These professionals need patience, strong communication skills, and adaptability.
Adult Literacy Teachers
|Median Salary (2019): $54,350
||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): -10%
These teachers help adults prepare for high school equivalency diploma tests and develop skills and knowledge for professional success. They may emphasize job search strategies and study skills or help adults improve their reading skills. They must assess student needs and keep track of learners' progress. These professionals may also connect students with local resources.
Adult literacy teachers need at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree gives them a competitive edge in the job market. Public schools may also require teaching certification. These professionals must know how to guide culturally diverse groups with patience and clear communication.
Questions About Master's in Reading Programs
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's in Reading Program?
Graduation times vary by program, but these online reading programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Reading?
Graduates can become instructional coordinators, who help school systems shape reading curricula, or they can help learners advance their reading skills as reading teachers or literary coaches.
How Much Do You Make in Education?
Salaries vary by location, role, and experience, but reading education professionals often make more than $50,000 per year. For instance, reading specialists earn a median annual salary of $51,972, but candidates with at least 20 years of experience average more than $61,000.
What Is Reading Education?
Reading education programs explore literacy development theories and strategies for helping students interpret reading material.
What Is a Master's in Reading?
A master's in reading prepares degree-seekers to assess students' literacy needs and develop complementary learning plans. These programs emphasize literacy development and frequently include coursework in classroom management and leadership.