Reading Specialist Degrees and Courses

Reading specialists promote literacy in a number of different ways: they may teach students at various levels, design reading materials or conduct research. Read on to learn more about degree and certificate programs that can prepare you to work as a reading specialist. Schools offering Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Reading specialists are key to providing intensive reading instruction in school and community settings, especially for struggling readers. An understanding of literacy, curriculum development, and teaching techniques are necessary for building the required knowledge and skills. Although most reading specialists start with bachelor's degrees in education, many continue their education with master's degree programs and PhD programs that focus specifically on literacy theory, psychological processes, and reading disabilities.

Courses Curriculum development, pedagogy, processes, theory, reading disabilities
Degrees Master's and PhD programs in reading; bachelor's programs in education
Responsibilities Developing curriculum, teaching reading, diagnosing reading disabilities, research

What Will I Do as a Reading Specialist?

Before you start working as a reading specialist, you may start out as a reading teacher. If you're a licensed teacher working in an elementary, middle or secondary school and your regular assignment is to teach reading, you're considered a reading teacher. With additional education, you can apply for certification as a reading specialist. Reading specialists might teach reading and literacy at colleges and universities, design reading curricula or other educational materials, conduct literacy research or work in an administrative or policy-making setting.

What Will I Study as an Undergraduate?

Bachelor's degree programs in specifically reading are essentially nonexistent. To prepare for this career, you'd typically major in education, since a bachelor's degree in education and a teaching license are often required to enter a graduate program in reading and literacy. You can find education majors with a reading education minor. Courses you might take toward an undergraduate minor include reading theories, diagnostic reading methods, young children's cognitive development, child and adolescent literature, children's reading and content area literacy.

What Are My Post-Baccalaureate Options?

After earning an undergraduate degree and a teaching license through the state in which you want to work, you'll have a choice of several educational options toward becoming a reading specialist. You can choose to earn a post-baccalaureate reading specialist certificate or endorsement, a master's degree or a doctoral degree.

What Will I Learn in a Graduate Program?

If you choose a graduate certificate or master's degree program, you'll take a combination of professional development, linguistics, reading specialization and multicultural courses. Some of these may include:

  • Language arts theories and processes
  • Literacy development
  • Literacy for special-needs students
  • Reading disabilities assessment
  • Psychological testing principles
  • Reading program evaluation

In a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program, you'll take courses that emphasize research and leadership. You might study qualitative and quantitative research methods, reading and literacy curriculum, case study design and literacy fundamentals for specific age groups, such as young children or adults.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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