Best Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy Programs

Learn how to help students reach their full reading and writing potential – while boosting your own marketability and earning potential – with an online master’s degree in reading and literacy. This guide highlights top programs.

Too often, students who struggle in reading go on to struggle in life. By pursuing an online master’s in reading and literacy, you’ll gain the expertise to change that trajectory. An online program allows you to pick up those skills and gain professional certification while working full time and learning at your own pace. Keep reading to find out about this year’s standout programs, what the curriculum looks like, and where a master’s in reading and literacy online can take your education career.

Top 3 Reading and Literacy Online Master’s Programs in 2022

The best online reading and literacy master’s programs offer challenging academics, proper accreditation, affordability, and the flexibility that working students need. In the following section, we’ve spotlighted three of the year’s top overall programs. Learn more about each below and see if one meets your education and career goals.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is home to a 100% online master’s in reading. This 30-credit graduate degree uses an asynchronous delivery so students can complete course requirements at the pace that suits their schedule. Grad students in this online master’s in reading program choose either a reading generalist or reading specialist credential.

Core courses for this master’s in reading and literacy program cover foundations of teaching reading, teaching children with dyslexia, and diagnosis of reading difficulties. You’ll also choose from electives such as introduction to educational research, literature for young adolescents, and teaching the gifted and talented.

Prospective graduate students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75. Application requirements include two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a personal statement.

University of Northern Colorado

Based in Greeley, Colorado, the University of Northern Colorado offers a hybrid master’s in literacy specifically designed for working teachers. All courses in this 20-month, 30-credit master’s program focus on literacy; none are general education courses. The program covers the skills you need to coach other teachers in literacy topics.

Choose from courses covering reading in middle and secondary schools, literature for children and young adults, and teaching the writing process in schools. Before graduation, master’s students also complete a clinical practicum in literacy coaching.

Applicants for this master’s in literacy must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Since the program is for working teachers, you’ll need at least one year of full-time teaching experience in a K-12 setting to apply.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is home to a 100% online master’s in reading and literacy program. This 30-credit program uses a flexible asynchronous delivery that allows working K-12 teachers to complete coursework at their own pace.

As a UTRGV reading and literacy grad student, you’ll complete core classes such as sociocultural foundations of literacy, transnational and immigrant literacies, and theoretical foundations of reading and literacy. You can also choose from academic concentrations in biliteracy, digital literacy, and adolescent literacy.

To pursue the online reading and literacy master’s program at UTRGV you’ll need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Your application must include official transcripts and a one- to two-page personal statement outlining your academic and professional goals.

Advantages of Earning a Master’s in Reading and Literacy Online

While some students thrive in an on-campus setting, many others benefit from online learning. Adult students returning to school and working professionals often find that online programs meet their unique academic and personal needs. Learn more about the benefits of earning a master’s in reading and literacy online.

  • Flexibility

    Many standout online master’s in reading and literacy programs are designed for teachers already working in the classroom. As a result, these professionals benefit from asynchronous coursework that allows them to log in and complete class assignments from anywhere and at any time. This is ideal for busy teachers juggling academic, professional, and personal obligations.

  • Affordability

    Earning a master’s degree gets pricey. While online tuition isn’t necessarily any cheaper, online learning can still save you money on travel costs, food, and on-campus fees. Plus, some online programs offer accelerated tracks so online learners can graduate more quickly than in-person students.

  • Choice

    Especially for working teachers, upending your life to attend an in-person graduate program is out of the question. An online master’s in reading and literacy allows you to choose from programs nationwide, regardless of their location, so you can select the one that matches your goals and interests. If you’re pursuing a certification (such as to become a reading specialist) be sure to check with your school district and state department of education to confirm that any out-of-state programs you consider meet your state’s requirements.

What You’ll Learn in a Reading and Literacy Master’s Program

Academic requirements for your online master’s in reading and literacy vary between programs. Most schools require students to complete 30 to 40 credits that usually are a mix of core courses and electives. Full-time students typically graduate in about two years.

In addition to core requirements, many online master’s in reading and literacy offer specializations in adult education, curriculum design, and biliteracy. Programs that excel not only teach the theory but they also teach practical strategies to enhance your classroom and leadership skills. For examples, check out these common classes.

Popular Courses

  • Literacy Development and Language Study

    This course explores the theoretical underpinnings of language development and how it acts as the foundation for literacy. Through the lens of monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual scenarios, students learn about syntax, semantics, and orthography. Students examine how these theoretical topics impact the instructional methods they use in the classroom.

  • Transnational and Immigrant Literacies

    This course focuses on the literacy issues facing immigrant children, students, and families. Grad students explore the instructional and curriculum strategies that positively impact immigrant students’ academic performance.

  • Theoretical Foundations of Reading and Literacy

    This introductory course encourages students to explore the foundational theories and research of reading and literacy. Throughout the course, grad students examine the influence of cognitive, social, cultural, and critical approaches and how they inform our understanding of literacy development inside and outside the classroom.

  • Conducting Literacy Research

    Understanding the foundational elements of literacy research offers an inside view of the work that informs best practices in the classroom. This course introduces students to the major topics of reading and literacy research and how it has evolved. Students also gain the skills to interpret and evaluate complex data and professional literature.

  • Sociocultural Foundations of Literacy

    This interdisciplinary course examines how cultural, economic, political, and social elements influence literacy and reading. Students explore how societal views about class, gender, and race impact teaching, curricula, and learning.

Accreditation for Literacy and Reading Master’s Programs

When reviewing potential master’s programs in reading and literacy, consider accreditation at both the institutional and programmatic levels.

Institutional accreditation means that your school meets benchmarks to ensure that students receive a quality education. Programmatic accreditation is a more targeted review that ensures your master’s program meets academic and professional standards. While accreditation varies between schools and programs, common accrediting agencies include the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the International Literacy Association. Students seeking teacher licensure must receive a degree from an accredited teaching program.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Reading and Literacy

Students graduating with an online master’s in reading and literacy typically continue their career in education. While the median salary for teachers isn’t lucrative, experienced professionals and those in leadership roles tend to make more. As a result, a master’s in reading and literacy can boost your career options, enhance your competitiveness, and increase your earning potential.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pre-K through 12 teacher jobs are projected to grow by 9% by 2030. This equates to thousands of new teaching positions by the end of the decade.

In the following section, we spotlight a handful of typical careers for graduates with an online master’s in reading and literacy. Keep reading to see which careers stand out.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

These education professionals typically teach K-5 students in both public and private schools. K-5 teachers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree and must complete the state requirements to earn licensure. Elementary teachers create lesson plans, observe and evaluate student progress, and prepare students for standardized tests. Kindergarten and elementary teachers focus much of their day on skills related to reading and literacy.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$43,950

$61,350

$99,420

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Middle School Teacher

Typically teaching grades 6-8, middle school teachers create lesson plans for specific subjects, including math, language arts, science, and social studies. Daily tasks include classroom lessons, grading assignments, and working one-on-one with students to enhance their academic performance. Students whose reading skills are lagging turn to middle school teachers for added support.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$45,510

$61,320

$99,470

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

High School Teacher

High school teachers traditionally teach grades 9-12 and specialize in one academic area such as math, science, or literature and writing. In addition to everyday responsibilities such as teaching and grading assignments, these professionals also play a significant role in preparing their students for college or entering the workforce. Students who aren’t reading on grade level will need extra support from their high school teachers.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$46,090

$61,820

$100,310

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers utilize targeted training to enhance the learning experience of students with emotional, learning, mental, or physical disabilities. These education professionals work with students in K-12 settings and engage with fellow teachers, administrators, and parents to create individual education plans (often called IEPs) for their students. As part of their duties, special education teachers provide extra help with reading that’s tailored to a student’s needs and abilities.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$46,180

$61,820

$100,040

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators play an integral role in crafting and overseeing the implementation of school curricula. These professionals work with teachers and administrators to develop course guidelines while analyzing student progress. Instructional coordinators also conduct teacher training, review textbooks, and recommend new teaching technologies. Since reading is so foundational, they may spend more time on teacher training and support for reading.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$38,390

$63,740

$101,090

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Reading and Literacy

Earning a master’s in reading and literacy can get expensive, so you’ll want to create a financial plan before enrolling. Online programs can help cut costs because students don’t have to pay campus-based fees or the costs of commuting to campus.

In addition to public and private loans, many master’s students access financial aid opportunities such as scholarships, grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and employer tuition assistance. Your school’s financial aid department is the best option to answer your questions and help you secure the money necessary to fund your degree.

What Your Online Master’s in Reading and Literacy Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

30

$383

$11,490

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

30

$724 (in-state)

$1,132 (out-of-state)

$21,720 (in-state)

$33,960 (out-of-state)

Nova Southeastern University

30

$1,095

$32,550

FAQs About Online Reading and Literacy Master’s Degrees

What are the typical admissions requirements for an online master’s in reading and literacy?

Admission requirements vary by program, but you can anticipate some elements that are consistent between schools. We’ve highlighted common application and admission requirements for a master’s in reading and literacy online.

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Official undergraduate transcripts
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Active teacher licensure
  • Personal statement outlining academic and career goals
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Professional resume
  • Application fees

How long will it take to finish my master’s in reading and literacy online?

The time it takes to earn your master’s degree in reading and literacy online varies by program. Taking classes full-time or part-time dramatically affects the amount of time spent on earning your degree. Most programs require students to complete about 30 credits, which usually takes about two years for full-time students. That said, some online programs offer accelerated tracks that allow students to graduate more quickly.

Can I earn a master’s in reading and literacy 100% online?

While not every school offers an online master’s in reading and literacy, graduates do have ample options. Schools such as Morningside University, Baldwin Wallace University, and Evangel University all offer master’s programs in reading and literacy that students complete entirely online. Plus, many schools use an asynchronous delivery format in which students complete course requirements at their own pace. Other schools, such as the University of Northern Colorado, offer hybrid courses that blend in-person and online classes.

Does an online master’s in reading and literacy qualify me for my initial teaching license?

Because many online master’s in reading and literacy programs require applicants to hold an active teaching license, these programs don’t necessarily offer a direct path to teacher certification. That said, programs from schools such as the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock do provide a pathway for certification.

If securing licensure is one of your objectives, review potential programs to ensure that they offer a clear licensure pathway. If in doubt, consult your state department of education and/or the school district where you hope to teach.