The online Master of Science in Education, Literacy Specialist curriculum helps classroom teachers and other education professionals enhance their knowledge of reading pedagogy through coursework, mentorship, and hands-on experiences. Graduates who complete the MSEd, LIT degree are eligible for an advanced or professional certificate in the teaching of literacy in New York state. The program offers a choice of two concentrations:

  • Early Childhood/Childhood (birth–grade 6)
  • Middle Childhood/Adolescent (grades 5–12)

Program Structure

The MSEd, LIT is a 30-credit hour program that can be completed on a full or part-time basis. Each course accounts for three credit hours and is seven weeks long. Full-time students who take three to four classes per semester can complete the program in 1.5 years.

Following a 12-credit core curriculum, literacy specialist students take a 12-credit sequence of courses in their chosen concentration. The program then concludes with a 14-week practicum featuring clinical and school experiences and a teacher-as-researcher capstone project.


Course Descriptions

Fall Core Courses

This course examines literacy development for children with diverse learning needs related to cognitive, behavioral, linguistic, cultural, and gender factors. Issues explored include the identification/special assessment/intervention process, the impact of mandated state literacy assessments on compensatory literacy programs, and the role of the literacy specialist in supporting students both through inclusion and pull-out programs. There will be a focus on remedial reading/writing strategies to support students experiencing difficulty in decoding/encoding, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.
This course will facilitate candidates’ active exploration of the reading and writing processes and practices that support the literacy development of children in the intermediate to middle school grades (i.e., 4-8). Candidates will apply current research focusing on this specific population as they investigate models of assessment and instruction. This class will build competencies in technology to mediate information and to coach/mentor educational professionals and community members. Field experience is required.
This course deepens understanding of the repertoire of strategies for writing with children and explores models of integrated writing programs. Writing is examined as a recursive, developmental process, and candidates will explore the writing process through their own experiences as well as through as investigation of relevant professional reading and current research. Formats and strategies for media production will be introduced and applied in classroom assignments. This class will build competencies in knowledge of information, application of strategies in classrooms, and coaching/mentoring activities for professionals and community members. Field experience is required.

Spring Core Courses

This foundation course focuses on research and theory regarding the processes of literacy development from the emergent to the proficient reader/writer. Theories of language and cognition are considered within historical/social context. Topics include the developmental nature of reading and writing, factors that affect literacy acquisition, the relation between oral language and literacy development, and the impact of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and brain research on literacy acquisition.
This course reviews the developmental aspects of literacy acquisition and provides insights into early literacy processes and instructional practices from multiple perspectives. Candidates will investigate current research on early childhood instructional models and best practices. They will examine their assumptions regarding the concept of balance in integrated literacy programs, as balance relates to the literate environment, organization, and management of early literacy programs, word study, the construction of meaning, the utilization of literature-based programs, differentiation of instruction, and authentic assessment.

OR

This course deepens knowledge of the burgeoning need for the integration of literacy and technology in the content areas. The course will focus on research-based strategies for building reading comprehension, constructing meaning, building fluency through the use of non-fiction selections, digital literacy, and new media applications in the content areas. Candidates examine and apply approaches for developing vocabulary and skills in studying, listening, writing, and speaking in print and non-print (i.e. new literacies) formats for disciplinary knowledge. This course will introduce practical experiences with technology. In addition, candidates will learn new media strategies to work with and teach students in grades 4-9 classrooms. This class will build competencies in knowledge of information, application of strategies in classrooms, and coaching/mentoring activities for professionals and community members. Field experience is required.

Summer Core Courses

This course will inform students about various techniques and tools to assess literacy development, birth through grade 12. Students will have the opportunity to administer various assessments and measurement instruments including standardized tests, IRI, and the respective statewide literacy instruments used to assess reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students will gain experience in administering and interpreting various tests and using actuarial data in processing instruction and sharing test results with parents and stakeholders.
This course considers a wide range of children’s and adolescents’ literature, and focuses on the selection and evaluation of literature in the genres of fiction and non-fiction for instructional and recreational purposes. This course scrutinizes current theories, research, and issues related to literature study, critical literacy, literary elements, genres, and narratives/expository text structures. The utilization of children’s literature in reading and writing instruction across the disciplines will be emphasized, as well as the promotion of lifelong reading habits in children and respect for diversity through multicultural literature. This class will build competencies in knowledge of information, application of strategies in classrooms, and coaching/mentoring activities for professionals and community members. Technological approaches to creating digital formats for storytelling will be learned and applied in classroom assignments. Field experience is required.

Elective Options

This course is both a celebration of Middle Childhood/Early Adolescence and their families and an opportunity to examine the extent to which the New York state standards support this purpose. To this end, this student and community-centered interdisciplinary course (sociology, psychology, philosophy) explores the lives of Middle Childhood/Early Adolescents through the lenses of youth culture, popular culture, community, and interpersonal relationships. This course is integrated through field-based experiences/apprenticeships in such settings as juvenile detention centers, community service agencies, popular culture sites and a diverse range of middle schools.
This course builds on the theme established in ED 523 and involves the student in the relationship between the unique culture of Middle Childhood/Early Adolescence and best practice in teaching. Attention is given to the immigrant/diaspora experience of Middle Childhood as well as the effect of variant levels of literacy and English language skills on content-area instruction. Using technology to enhance Middle Childhood learning is explored. The field-based experience/apprenticeship for this course will focus on curriculum and provide the student with an opportunity to observe the effect of literacy development (including English language learning), socio-economic status, and youth and popular cultures on curriculum selection and academic instruction. Prerequisite: ED 523 with a minimum grade of B.
This course provides the current research and theories forming the foundation of bilingual education as well as foundations of socio- and psycholinguistics. You will examine the philosophical, sociological and historical perspectives on bilingual education, nationwide bilingual education and English as a second language program models, and multicultural perspectives in bilingual education and bilingualism.
This course examines the major concepts in linguistics that relate to how languages work and how they can be described. Students gain knowledge of the various components that make up the system of any language, but investigate the English language in depth. Major topics covered include phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Additional topics to be addressed include language change, social aspects of language, child and adult language acquisition, and psycholinguistics. This course also focuses on elements of English grammar, concentrating on parts of speech and sentence structure. A descriptive rather than a prescriptive approach is taken. The focus is on understanding modem Standard English usage. These concepts and concerns are studied with an eye toward their practical application to teaching students who are English language learners. Field experience is required.
This course provides a comprehensive overview of the important theories and research in language and literacy development and their teaching implications in diverse classrooms and global contexts. It examines various factors that influence language use and interpretation of meaning. Topics for consideration include the valuing of the experiences of immigrant and refugee families; parents and children’s culture, socio-economic status, and ethnicities; and implications of cognitive, emotional, and aesthetic engagement. Particular attention is given to the experiences of students with disabilities and English language learners. The course provides candidates with opportunities to develop competency in using various research-based and culturally responsive teaching and assessment strategies to ensure literacy and academic literacy success for all. Fieldwork observations of educational settings with culturally and linguistically diverse students are required.
This course focuses on creating home, community, and classroom environments that are responsive to the individual strengths and needs of each child and attuned to their cultural and linguistic characteristics. The theoretical and practical bases for developing environments that are grounded in the concepts of caring, mutual respect, trust, safety, and valuing each member of the community will be explored. This course will investigate both social aspects of responsive environments–approaches to responsive caregiving, caring communities, and fostering positive peer relationships–and physical characteristics, such as scheduling, room arrangement, materials, and physical adaptations. Opportunities to explore responsive approaches such as relationship-based programming, modeling and encouraging classroom communities, strategies to promote self-determination, and tiered interventions for promoting social-emotional competence, including positive behavior supports, will be integrated into the course through observations and hands-on experiences. Field experience is required.
This course focuses on the development of creative expression, understanding of self within the context of community, and understanding the specific communities of classroom, family, neighborhood, and the outside world for all children, who are culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse, from birth through grade 2. Approaches to supporting children as they engage in multiple forms of creative arts and discovery of citizenship will be explored. Skills in understanding the essential concepts, inquiry tools, and structures, and knowledge of resources for developing meaningful and challenging curriculum for all young children, will be developed. This course provides an introduction to New York state standards and immersion in NAEYC developmentally appropriate practices in arts, humanities, and social studies, and how to utilize DEC recommended practices in integrated, differentiated activities so all children can learn. Specific, evidence-based methods, embedded within classroom, home, and community activities, and across curricular areas, will be analyzed so that emerging professionals, and the families they support, can assess and promote arts, humanities, and social studies learning.
This course focuses on the role of assessment as an ongoing, collaborative process of gathering and interpreting objective information about young children’s (birth to 8 years) behaviors and the social and physical environment to make decisions regarding appropriate services and supports. Assessment terminology and legal and ethical principles of assessment will be explored. An emphasis will be placed on developmentally appropriate assessment practices—including partnering with families—applying interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teaming approaches throughout the assessment process, identifying appropriate assessment methods and tools for the decisions being made, and linking assessment to programming. A variety of formal and authentic assessment methods and tools will be explored and critiqued to determine their strengths and limitations in making decisions for children who are culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse. Field experience is required.

Final Semester Courses

In this course, students will develop the skills of reflection and inquiry within the context of their own teaching. Students will practice using different tools for reflective inquiry as they explore issues relevant to novice teachers, i.e., creating and maintaining caring, inclusive, and productive learning environments. Students will design and implement a research project in their classroom that focuses on an issue of relevance to them in their present teaching situation. The course will integrate theory and practice so that students may develop the skills and dispositions needed for conducting action research throughout their professional careers.
This clinical practicum is required as part of the MSEd, Literacy Specialist program for those seeking certification at the Birth-Grade 6 level. The practicum consists of 100 clock hours working with children from birth through grade 6 in literacy assessment and instruction. The student may choose from several practical locations. Faculty supervision is provided as the student conducts assessment, instruction, and consultation/collaboration with the client at home and/or school.

OR

The clinical practicum is required as part of the MSEd, Literacy Specialist program for those seeking certification at the grades 5-12 level. The practicum consists of 100 clock hours working with children from grade 6 through grade 12 in literacy assessment and instruction. The student may choose from several practical locations. Faculty supervision is provided as the student conducts assessment, instruction, and consultation/collaboration with the client at home and/or school.

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