Best Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy Programs of 2021

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By the BestColleges Ranking Team

Published on August 20, 2021

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Completing an online master's in reading and literacy can lead to many rewarding career paths. Most graduates go on to teach in some capacity, helping learners build essential language, literacy, and communication skills.

With an advanced degree in reading and literacy, graduates can qualify for teaching positions at various levels, most of which pay well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Graduates can pursue careers as elementary, high school, and adult literacy teachers.

Read on for more information about online master's in reading and literacy programs and related careers.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Reading and Literacy Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Reading and Literacy Programs

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University of Florida View School Profile Gainesville, FL

UF's online master's in reading and literacy features two degree options: a non-thesis M.Ed. track and an MA in education with a thesis or project requirement track. Both degree types offer modules in reading foundations, assessment and supervision, diagnosis and remediation, and teaching English to speakers of other languages.

UF students can complete the 36-credit graduate degree in 4-6 semesters. Graduates may qualify for K-12 reading licensure in Florida or other states, and current Florida teachers may add a reading endorsement to their resume by completing courses in five specific areas. Out-of-state degree-seekers enjoy a non-resident waiver that considerably reduces tuition costs for distance learners.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. or MA in Education in Reading and Literacy Education School Status: Public Tuition: $518/credit in-state; $622/credit out-of-state Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: 4-6 semesters Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Primarily asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum Standardized Tests: Waived for 2021

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University of South Florida-Main Campus View School Profile Tampa, FL

USF offers more than 40 online master's degrees, including an online master's in reading and literacy. This 36-credit program features courses in literature for a diverse society, literacy and technology, and application of differentiated reading instruction. The program culminates in a comprehensive examination, and graduates may qualify for a K-12 reading license in Florida or other states.

USF's reading education program runs through the spring, fall, and summer semesters, and students can access shared student services from both Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a valid teaching license or relevant professional experience. Licensed teachers who only want the reading endorsement may complete five courses and gain access to the K-12 reading examination in Florida.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: MA in Reading Education School Status: Public Tuition: $348/credit in-state; $771/credit out-of-state Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: 2-3 years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

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University of Georgia View School Profile Athens, GA

Founded in 1785 as the Peach State's flagship school, UGA now offers an online master's in reading and literacy with an emphasis in new and digital literacies that features courses in integrating digital resources, electronic assessment, and literacy development. Students can choose to concentrate their studies in PreK-5 or 6-12 classrooms.

Classes in the online M.Ed. typically run through 15-week fall and spring semesters, plus some summer courses. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree, a teaching or literacy education license, and two years of teaching experience. With the right course sequence and prerequisites, graduates can qualify for the Georgia reading endorsement.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Reading Education with an Emphasis in New and Digital Literacies School Status: Public Tuition: $629/credit Credit Requirements: 36 credit Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

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Clemson University View School Profile Clemson, SC

Boasting more than 100 years of experience with education programs, Clemson now offers an online master's in reading and literacy. The 36-credit curriculum features three tracks: ESOL, literacy coaching, and literacy secondary. Core courses include instructional strategies, content area reading and writing, and children's literature.

Depending on their track, students may start the program in the fall or summer, and graduates may earn a reading education endorsement or literacy teacher, literacy coach, or ESOL licensure. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree and a valid teaching license. All online students pay the same tuition rate, though in-state K-12 teachers may receive additional tuition discounts.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Literacy School Status: Public Tuition: $499/credit Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: 2-3 years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

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Texas Tech University View School Profile Lubbock, TX

TTU offers more than 40 online master's degrees, including an online master's in reading and literacy. This 36-credit program features courses in literacy acquisition process and pedagogy, disciplinary literacies, and trends and issues in adolescent literacy. Students also complete a practicum and internship as part of the program, along with an optional thesis.

The program begins in the spring, summer, and fall, and all students pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live. Graduates may qualify for licensure as a reading specialist, literacy coach, curriculum specialist in literacy, or developmental literacy instructor. Transfer students may qualify for up to six transfer credits.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Language and Literacy School Status: Public Tuition: $460/credit Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Primarily asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: Varies Standardized Tests: Optional

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California State University-Fresno View School Profile Fresno, CA

Fresno State offers more than 10 online and hybrid programs, including an online master's in reading and literacy. One of three education specializations available, the 30-credit program features courses in literary processes and practices and education statistics, along with supervised and clinical experiences. The program concludes with a comprehensive examination, project, or thesis.

Fresno State students can begin in the fall, spring, or summer, typically taking one class every eight-week session and two per semester. Most classes run asynchronously to accommodate working professionals, though some feature synchronous sessions as well. In addition to the degree, students can earn a California reading and literacy leadership specialist credential and reading and literacy license.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: MA in Education in Reading/Language Arts School Status: Public Tuition: $2,082-$3,588/semester in-state; out-of-state students pay an additional $396/credit Credit Requirements: 30 credits Program Length: Five semesters Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum Standardized Tests: GRE

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Concordia University-Nebraska View School Profile Seward, NE

Founded in 1894, Concordia offers more than 20 online programs, including an online master's in reading and literacy. Prospective students can choose between a 36-credit concentration in reading specialist or a 51-credit degree with a reading specialist and ESL endorsement. Both tracks feature courses in contemporary thought in education, teaching writing in K-12, and creating a case study in literacy.

Concordia's online programs offer six start dates per year, and classes run through eight-week sessions. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree, a valid teaching license, and two years of classroom experience. Transfer students may receive up to nine transfer credits, and all online learners pay the same tuition no matter where they live.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Literacy School Status: Private Tuition: $425/credit Credit Requirements: 36-51 credits Program Length: 2-3 years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Primarily asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: Varies

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Georgia Southern University View School Profile Statesboro, GA

Georgia Southern offers 60 online programs, including more than 30 through the College of Education. The university's 36-credit online M.Ed. in reading education features coursework in curriculum theories and instruction, literary assessment, and language development. Core courses include digital literacies in the 21st century and teaching writers through reading, along with a literacy instruction capstone.

Georgia Southern's students can start in the fall, spring, or summer. Graduates may qualify for PreK-12 reading and literacy licensure if they pass an exam. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree, a valid teaching license, and at least three years of professional experience.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Reading Education School Status: Public Tuition: $358/credit Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum Standardized Tests: GRE

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The University of West Florida View School Profile Pensacola, FL

UWF offers more than 65 online programs, including an online master's in reading and literacy. The 36-credit curriculum adheres to International Literacy Association standards, covering instructional practices, assessment tools, and integration of foundational knowledge. Graduates may qualify for a K-12 reading endorsement and a reading license.

The program offers start dates in the fall, spring, and summer, and classes run for 8-16 weeks. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a valid teaching license. Transfer students may receive up to six transfer credits, and out-of-state learners can receive a tuition waiver to reduce the out-of-state tuition price by 90%.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Reading School Status: Public Tuition: $385/credit in-state; $1,044/credit out-of-state Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Primarily asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE

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Rowan University View School Profile Glassboro, NJ

Since 1935, Rowan has been a leader in reading education. Across six academic colleges, the university offers more than 30 online programs, including an online master's in reading and literacy. This program requires 30-34 credits and features courses in teaching reading to the exceptional child and multicultural literature, along with reading practitioner and reading specialist concentrations.

For the reading specialist track, students may need to attend on-campus sessions for tutoring and peer mentoring requirements. In addition to core courses, learners complete a practicum, a digital portfolio, and a comprehensive paper or thesis.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: MA in Reading Education School Status: Public Tuition: $767/credit Credit Requirements: 30-34 credits Program Length: Five semesters Format: 100% Online and hybrid Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum

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University of Northern Iowa View School Profile Cedar Falls, IA

Founded in 1876 as a teacher school, UNI offers more than 45 programs through the College of Education, including an online master's in reading and literacy. The 33-credit curriculum includes courses in roles of the reading specialist and language development and variability.

Incoming students can choose from three tracks, including K-12 reading specialist, reading education for grades K-8, and secondary reading for grades 5-12, with most classes available online. Learners can also choose a thesis option or a research requirement option with a performance-based measure. Degree-seekers with a teaching license may qualify for a reading specialist K-12 endorsement.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: MA in Education in Literacy Education School Status: Public Tuition: $509/credit Credit Requirements: 33 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online and hybrid Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum Standardized Tests: Not required

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East Carolina University View School Profile Greenville, NC

Founded as a teacher training school in 1907, ECU began offering a master's in reading education in 1979. ECU's online master's in reading and literacy covers diversity and equity, literacy leadership, and the literacy environment. Core courses include literacy development from K-5 and 6-12, along with literacy coaching. All students also complete a practicum.

Program courses run throughout eight-week sessions and begin in the spring, summer, and fall. Graduates with a teaching license may qualify for the reading specialist exam and the M-level K-12 reading license in North Carolina. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree, valid teaching licensure, and teaching experience.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: MA in Reading and Literacy Education School Status: Public Tuition: $250/credit Credit Requirements: 30 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.7 minimum Standardized Tests: Not required

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University of North Dakota View School Profile Grand Forks, ND

UND offers more than 120 online programs, including an online master's in reading and literacy. Students can choose between an MS and an M.Ed. program. The MS program offers an instructional coaching specialization, and the M.Ed. track features a final project or independent study option.

No matter their degree type, students take courses in basic reading diagnosis and remediation, writing in the classroom, and reading clinic. UND offers start dates in the spring, summer, and fall, and all online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and valid teaching licensure.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: MS and M.Ed. in Reading Education School Status: Public Tuition: $487/credit Credit Requirements: 32 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75

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Sam Houston State University View School Profile Huntsville, TX

SHSU offers more than 30 online graduate programs, including an online master's in reading and literacy. This 36-credit program features a Texas reading specialist licensure track and a non-licensure track, as well as an optional dyslexia certificate. Both programs offer courses in multisensory language learning, politics of literacy, and cognition and emergent literacy. All students must complete a 160-hour practicum.

SHSU students can start in the spring or fall and graduate within two years. For admission into the reading specialist track, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, a valid teaching license, and a minimum of two years teaching experience. No matter where they live, all online learners pay the same tuition.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Reading and Language Arts School Status: Public Tuition: $507/credit Credit Requirements: 36 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Primarily asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.8 minimum Standardized Tests: GRE

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Virginia Commonwealth University View School Profile Richmond, VA

Founded in 1838, VCU now offers more than 30 online programs, including an online master's in reading and literacy. This 33-credit program features three specializations: K-12 reading specialist, K-12 TESOL, and adult TESOL. The program offers start dates in the spring, summer, and fall, and transfer students may be eligible for up to 12 transfer credits.

Each of the three tracks features core courses in analysis and correction of reading problems and organizing and implementing reading programs, along with a reading portfolio requirement and multiple field experiences. Applicants need a bachelor's degree, a valid teaching license, and three years of teaching experience.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: M.Ed. in Reading with a concentration in K-12 Reading Specialist School Status: Public Tuition: $6,309/semester in-state; $12,978/semester out-of-state Credit Requirements: 33 credits Program Length: Two years Format: 100% Online Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum Standardized Tests: GRE

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Related Programs That Might Interest You

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

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Reading and Literacy Program?

The M.Ed. offers practical, teaching-focused training, while the MA and MS offer well-rounded, flexible training.

Most master's in reading and literacy programs require 30-40 credits and take two years to complete. However, learners often encounter a variety of degree types in this discipline, including the MA, MS, and M.Ed. The M.Ed. offers practical, teaching-focused training, while the MA and MS offer well-rounded, flexible training.

Many M.Ed. programs feature practicum and internship requirements to prepare graduates for teaching licensure. MA and MS programs often feature a thesis requirement. MA programs emphasize the humanities, while MS programs focus more on the sciences.

Prospective teachers pursuing a master's in reading and literacy often possess patience, compassion, and interpersonal skills. They need to apply resourcefulness and problem-solving to help their students overcome diverse learning challenges.

Many master's programs in this discipline give students a choice of concentrations, such as special education, adult education, or curriculum design. Concentrations help learners prepare for a particular career path based on their unique interests and goals. Some employers may even prefer graduates with education in a specific concentration.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Reading and Literacy Programs

Applicants typically need a bachelor's degree, often in a related discipline such as English or education. Competitive programs may require candidates to meet a minimum GPA requirement. Prospective students may also need a state-specific teaching license.

Additional requirements often include standardized test scores, writing samples, and a research proposal or statement of purpose. Some programs require applicants to complete an interview as well. Our graduate admissions guide can provide more information.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Reading and Literacy Program?

Coursework for a master's in reading and literacy varies by program, degree type, and school. To give learners a better idea of what they may encounter, the following list outlines some of the most common courses.

Elementary Grade Reading

In this course, degree-seekers learn how to help elementary school learners develop literacy skills and good reading habits. Coursework focuses on encouraging young readers, designing practical educational strategies, and assessing student progress. The course may also examine classroom management and leadership strategies.

Literacy Intervention

Literacy intervention courses explore ways of teaching and promoting literacy in classrooms at various levels. This course often focuses on specific ages or types of literature. Degree-seekers learn how to encourage readers to think critically about their reading material, helping to build foundational skills in young students.

Leading Reading Programs

This course focuses on classroom management skills. Learners study methods for developing effective reading programs at various levels, creating dynamic assessment strategies, and ensuring students get the appropriate levels of support.

Approaches to Adult Learning

This course teaches students how to design and manage adult learning programs. Coursework covers the major adult learning theories, leading assessment methods, and motivation strategies. Additional topics include classroom management, adult behavioral and cognitive theories, and creative instructional methods.

Comprehension Strategies

This course teaches students how to develop effective learning and understanding techniques in readers. Learners examine the leading strategies for building inquisitiveness and interest in readers, developing observation skills, and strengthening vocabulary skills in students of different ages.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Reading and Literacy Degree?

After finishing a master's in reading and literacy, graduates can pursue teaching and education careers. According to the BLS, these careers offer median salaries over $50,000, which is higher than the average for all occupations. They also feature projected growth rates as fast or faster than the national average.

While graduates may face competition in the field, as education is among the most popular master's degrees, large workforces should be able to support this growth. Public schools can always use more teachers.

Learn more about teaching careers here.

true Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers help students build basic skills in reading and mathematics. They design lesson plans, manage students individually and collectively, and encourage learners to overcome challenges.

High School Teacher

High school teachers often specialize in a single discipline, teaching high school students and preparing them for postsecondary study, vocational training, or a career. Prospective teachers with a master's in reading and literacy typically teach English courses.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers educate students with various disabilities and disorders. They develop inclusive lesson plans, individualized education plans, and effective assessment strategies for specific students.

Adult Literacy Teacher

Adult literacy teachers help adult learners build basic skills in English communication. They help their students reach a level that allows them to meet their unique goals, such as finding employment or completing a high school equivalency.

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators develop and manage curricula for various schools and organizations. They assess the needs of the student body and the goals of the institution, then design the most appropriate lesson plans to satisfy those ends.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Reading and Literacy Programs

Is a master’s in reading and literacy worth it?

Each student must determine the value of a master's in reading and literacy, but the degree can help graduates qualify for many teaching positions. While a bachelor's degree may suffice for some careers, a master's degree gives job candidates a competitive advantage and can lead to management positions like instructional coordinator.

What can I do with a master’s in reading and literacy?

Graduates can pursue various teaching positions. To qualify, candidates usually need to complete teaching licensure in the state where they wish to teach. Graduates can also apply to Ph.D. programs in the field.

How many reading and literacy majors get jobs?

Education graduates enter a field with some of the lowest unemployment rates among any of the major professions. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, recent graduates in elementary, secondary, special, and miscellaneous education all experienced unemployment rates under 2%.

How much money can I make with a master’s in reading and literacy?

Salary potential depends on the employer, location, and experience levels. According to the BLS, education and training professionals earn a median annual salary of $50,790.

What are the highest paying jobs with a master’s in reading and literacy?

The most lucrative jobs in education typically require a combination of education and experience. Instructional coordinators earn a median annual salary of $66,290.

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