Online Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Programs

portrait of The BestColleges Rankings Team
by The BestColleges Rankings Team
Published on February 18, 2021

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An online doctorate in reading and literacy provides graduates with the skills and training needed to work as secondary and postsecondary administrators, researchers, and thought leaders. There is a significant need for qualified professionals and academics who can guide students in this field.

On this page, prospective students interested in reading and literacy can find information about top programs, common courses, available jobs, and admission requirements.

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

Accredited Online Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Programs

Appalachian State University View School Profile Boone, NC

Appalachian — located in Boone, North Carolina — serves more than 19,000 students. The university offers a comprehensive array of certificates and degrees, including online options like a doctorate in educational leadership. Learners may complete this degree fully online or take evening classes on campus once a week.

The program's required coursework covers topics like organizational and systems theory, qualitative research methods, and program evaluation and policy analysis. The curriculum offers six concentrations, including literacies in exceptionalities, which focuses on advanced reading instruction and assessment.

Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and strong GRE scores. Prospective students also need to submit four references and a five-page statement of purpose.

Concordia University Chicago View School Profile River Forest, IL

CUC delivers over 50 online programs, including online Ed.D and Ph.D. in leadership tracks with a reading, language, and literacy specialization. Participants develop the practical and theoretical framework needed to work as researchers in literacy instruction and assessment.

Students pursuing their doctorate in reading and literacy complete 61-67 credits of courses, including core classes like development and evaluation of literacy programs; new literacies and multiliteracies in education; and literacy supervision, leadership, and coaching. Students gain hands-on skills by completing two consecutive semesters of internships. Learners round out the program with a dissertation defense and a comprehensive exam.

Applicants need a regionally accredited master's degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit adequate GRE scores and have at least two years of lead teaching experience.

Indiana University Bloomington View School Profile Bloomington, IN

IU powers distance education with the Canvas platform, providing over 140 online programs, including a fully online doctoral degree in literacy, culture, and language education. After completing this 60-credit program, graduates are prepared to work as instructional materials writers, literacy program directors, and curriculum consultants.

Students take core classes like educational technology and inclusive instruction practices. Learners gain advanced research skills, which they strengthen during an internship. Participants also complete six credits of electives and dissertation work.

To enroll in this online doctoral program, prospective learners need a master's degree earned with a minimum 2.7 GPA. Admission requirements include GRE scores, a personal statement, and two recommendation letters.

SUNY at Albany View School Profile Albany, NY

UAlbany serves about 18,000 students, many of whom enroll online through asynchronous courses powered by Blackboard. The university offers an online Ph.D. in literacy that prepares graduates for leadership positions in colleges and universities, state education departments, and policy centers. Learners choose from a fully online delivery method or a hybrid format that includes some evening courses on campus.

Program coursework covers topics like literacy as social practice, research tools and methodologies, and literacy learning and development across the lifespan. Students gain hands-on experience by completing a practicum or a teaching assistantship. Learners personalize their curriculum through 27 elective credits.

The program offers a fall entry date. Applicants must submit GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and an academic writing sample.

St. John's University View School Profile Queens, NY

St. John's delivers online learning through Blackboard. The university's distance programs include an online doctor of philosophy in literacy. This program's 42-credit curriculum focuses on diverse and at-risk learners, preparing graduates to advocate for equity and social justice in their roles as teacher educators, school literacy specialists, and curriculum/staff developers.

To earn this online doctorate, students take seven consecutive semesters of coursework followed by dissertation work. The curriculum covers topics like educational research and data analysis, literacy leadership, and models and processes for reading and writing acquisition.

Program applicants need a master's degree earned with a minimum 3.2 GPA. They must submit GRE or MAT scores, two recommendation letters, a resume or CV, and a goals statement. Prospective students should also have full-time teaching experience.

What Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Program?

Students with a passion for helping students of all ages improve their reading thrive in online doctoral programs in literacy.

Students with a passion for helping students of all ages improve their reading skills thrive in online doctoral programs in literacy. Learners must possess the organizational and teaching skills, empathy, and drive needed to help all learners meet their potential.

Most programs require 40-70 credits and take approximately 3-4 years to complete. The first 2-3 years focus on coursework and assessments, while the final year allows learners to focus on researching and writing a dissertation on a unique topic in the field.

In addition to general coursework, some schools provide concentrations to help students further hone their interests. Common concentrations include adult education, young adult literature, and early childhood and elementary literacy.

Learners can pursue either an Ed.D. or Ph.D. in reading and literacy. The Ed.D. best serves those who see themselves working in a K-12 classroom, while the Ph.D. supports students who want to teach at the college level or work in research. In Ed.D. programs, degree-seekers often complete student teaching experiences to gain specialized skills.

Admission Requirements for Online Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Programs

Most online doctoral programs in reading and literacy require a master's degree in education or a related subject. Some programs also require previous experience in the classroom. Additional requirements often include a minimum GPA, a teaching license, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Program?

Required courses for an online doctorate in reading and literacy vary from program to program. Most programs cover advanced literary and reading theory, research and practice, and policy development. The following list highlights five common courses in these programs.

Theories of Reading

Usually taken in the first semester, this foundational course evaluates how factors like research, practice, theory, and pedagogy affect how educators teach reading and literacy. The course places particular emphasis on contemporary issues within the field.

Research in the Teaching of Writing

With an eye toward historical and current research findings, this course looks at different teaching methods and how they apply to diverse learning communities. Students explore techniques in both traditional and nontraditional educational settings.

Instructional Leadership in Reading and Literacy

Designed for students who plan to work in curriculum development and instructor mentorship, this course covers common approaches to professional development within reading and literacy. Students discuss how to improve learning and assessment tools in the field.

Research Design

This course provides learners with an understanding of how to design and implement research studies. Students also learn to effectively analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. This course is essential for Ph.D. students who plan to become professors and researchers.

Literacy Acquisition

This course takes a comprehensive look at various methods to help students acquire reading and literacy skills. This interdisciplinary course includes elements of educational psychology and sociology, as doctoral candidates study how people learn to read.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Degree?

After completing an online doctorate in reading and literacy, graduates can pursue rewarding careers in education, policy, research, and community development.

Some positions are more in demand than others. Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 17% job growth for social and community service managers and 6% job growth for instructional coordinators.

true Postsecondary Educator

Reading and literacy professors train the next generation of educators and researchers. They lecture, give assignments and tests, and provide mentorship and advice to students throughout their academic journey. They can work in public and private two-year and four-year institutions.

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators develop and implement new curricula and teaching standards. In addition to creating new materials based on research and state education requirements, they conduct training programs for teachers and assess how well schools implement their curricula.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

These educators help young learners grasp the foundations of reading and literacy. They create interactive and engaging lesson plans, teach materials, give assessments, and stay updated on the latest findings in methodology and pedagogy.

Social and Community Service Managers

These professionals work in community service organizations to provide programs and services that benefit the public. Social and community service managers with a doctorate in reading and literacy may create after-school and summer programs that encourage literacy development, reading comprehension, and a lifelong love of reading.

Adult Literacy and ESL Teachers

Some adults need help with reading and literacy development. Adult literacy and ESL teachers create lessons that build fundamental and advanced skills in speaking, reading, and writing.

Reading and Literacy Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Higher Education Careers Educational Leadership Careers English Careers

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Programs

Is a doctorate in reading and literacy worth it?

Yes. Completing an online doctorate in reading and literacy provides the qualifications needed to work in advanced secondary and postsecondary positions. The degree also opens doors to high-level research and policy positions in nonprofits and government agencies.

What can I do with a doctorate in reading and literacy?

An online doctorate in reading and literacy allows graduates to follow several different career paths. Some graduates educate the next generation of reading and literacy specialists, while others work in curriculum development and instructional design.

Is reading and literacy a good career?

Reading and literacy is a great career for those with a love of literature and education. Learners who feel passionate about helping child and adult students reach their peak in literacy and reading comprehension often find the field fulfilling.

How much money can I make with a doctorate in reading and literacy?

Salary potential depends on title, experience, employer, and location. According to the BLS, adult literacy educators earn a median annual salary of $54,350, while postsecondary teachers make a median annual salary of $79,540.

What are the highest paying jobs with a doctorate in reading and literacy?

The best paid professionals with a doctorate in reading and literacy work as tenured professors. According to the BLS, postsecondary teachers earn a median annual salary of $79,540. The top 10% of professors earn more than $174,960 per year.

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