Elementary reading programs at all levels typically call for a teaching license and several years of experience in the classroom. Some of these programs qualify teachers to take their state's licensure exam for reading specialists.
There are several types of master's programs that focus on teaching reading at the elementary level. Students usually learn about learning theory, elementary reading curriculum, assessment, and statistics. Most programs require a thesis or research project.
Many schools offer doctoral programs in curriculum and instruction that allow students to focus on developing a curriculum in reading. These programs generally require classes, seminars, research, and fieldwork in a curriculum. A dissertation is typically required. Coursework varies, depending on the student's goals, but can include reading for speakers of English as a second language, reading development, and prevention of reading problems, as well as internships.
A bachelor's degree (preferably in a literacy-related field) and minimum GPA are typically the only educational requirements for a master's degree. Students may also need to have a current teaching certification, as well. Doctoral programs stipulate that students have earned a bachelor's and master's degree to enroll, often with school administration experience. Some courses or programs may be found in an online format.
Master's Degree in Elementary Reading Curriculum
These master's degree programs are geared towards teachers who want to sharpen their skills as reading curriculum planners and experts in the classroom. Core curriculum for this type of program focuses on the theories behind educating young children and ways to plan curriculum to enhance learning. Master's degree program in this field also offer a reading track, which can make graduates eligible for a reading specialist teacher certification. Common degree titles awarded by these programs include Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in elementary reading and writing, Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction with an elementary field option, or M.Ed. in Elementary Education.
Many programs include reading specialist certification coursework within the master's degree program, so that graduates may be eligible for certification. Some course topics may be:
- School curriculum foundations
- Assessment and statistics
- Theory of learning
- Literacy programs for secondary students
- Elementary reading curriculum components
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Curriculum and Instruction
The Ph.D. program is designed for students who want to pursue advanced study and research in order to develop an appropriate curriculum of study. Most schools that offer this program allow students to specialize in a particular area, such as reading, mathematics, and science. This doctoral degree programs offers core coursework in areas that include curriculum, instruction, research, and assessment, and can also be customized with elective work. For example, a student who chooses to specialize in reading or literacy can then tailor classes to further specialize on the grade level he or she wants to teach. Similar curriculum and instruction doctoral programs are also available as a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree program.
Some course topics covered can include:
- Theory and research of curriculum
- Literacy for ESL students
- Preventing reading problems
- Research into reading development
- Reading education seminar
Popular Career Options
An individual who completes a master's degree program with training in curriculum and instruction can continue as an elementary school teacher with additional skills to teach reading. Other possible job titles are:
- Reading specialist
- Reading recovery teacher
- Literacy coach
- Reading administrator
- Curriculum specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of doctoral degree programs in curriculum and instruction are qualified for employment in literacy research or as instructors training new teachers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), another job option includes that of instructional coordinators, who help schools evaluate and assess how the curriculum is meeting students' needs. The BLS predicts 7% employment growth in this field from 2014 to 2024, about average compared to all occupations. The BLS also reported that the mean annual salary for this curriculum and instruction career was $64,870 in May 2015.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has several professional certification opportunities for teachers, including early childhood reading and language arts (www.nbpts.org). Those interested in pursuing the certification process must participate in a lengthy assessment and subscribe to standards set for the organization. This organization also offers continuing education opportunities in the form of seminars, conferences and related books and other products.
Each individual state's board of education also oversees certification and licensing of teachers; however, requirements vary by state. Reading specialist certification programs generally involve an exam.
A master's or doctoral degree are two common forms of education for teachers looking to improve their skills in developing elementary-level reading curricula for their workplace. Teachers will need licensure and many professional organizations offer certification in various aspects of teaching relevant to these programs.