Online Reading Specialist Degree Programs

Dec 02, 2019

Learn about online graduate certificate and Master of Education degrees with reading specialist courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

A reading specialist is a teacher who supervises reading programs for all grade levels and works as a resource teacher. Online reading specialist programs are common at the graduate certificate and master's degree levels. Some programs are completely online, while others may require a few on-campus courses. Online certificate programs take about a year to complete, while master's programs usually require 1 to 2 years.

Most certificate and master's degree programs for reading specialists call for a bachelor's degree and several years of teaching experience. Courses include instruction in teaching reading and literature to students at various skill levels. The online courses often require webcams, access to Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader. Some programs include courses in working with students for whom English is not their primary language.

Reading specialists are teachers, and all states mandate that teachers hold licenses. Requirements vary by state but generally call for completion of an accredited teacher education program, hands-on student teaching experiences and competency exams.

Graduate Certificate - Reading Specialist

In an online graduate-level reading specialist certificate, participants study concepts that will enable them to effectively train individuals of all ages to read and understand what they are reading. Teachers acquire skills that enable them to assess students' literacy levels and meet federal and state standards for literacy and reading. To be eligible for a certificate program, students must have at least a bachelor's degree and 1-3 years of teaching experience, depending on the school's requirements. A certificate program will likely include courses in literature, reading and education. Several online reading specialist certificate programs are available through public and private schools.

Program Information and Requirements

Courses utilize Internet tools, such as Blackboard or Moodle, to upload and download assignments, watch pre-recorded video lectures, interact with other students and access professor's lecture notes. Students can participate in online class discussions, as well.

To complete an online reading specialist graduate certificate program, students must have a working computer and Internet access. They may be required to have certain hardware, such as a webcam. Other computer software programs, including Microsoft Office Suites and Adobe Reader, may also be necessary.

List of Common Courses

Online courses deal with language development and pedagogy. Students learn the most effective ways of integrating language arts education for those needing reading assistance. Course topics are theory-centered and some emphasize reading instruction in particular areas, such as inner cities or rural environments.

Creating Fluent Readers

This course trains teachers to help students of all ages and reading levels acquire fluency. They examine readers' pronunciation, and help struggling readers develop strategies for increasing comprehension.

Multicultural Literature

Students become familiar with contemporary and multicultural literature. They learn to select appropriate literature for elementary and secondary school students.

Theories in Reading Instruction

This course introduces students to how individuals acquire first and second languages so they can create working curricula for second-language students as they learn to read and write in English. They learn techniques for teaching spelling, pronunciation and grammar.

Master of Education Reading Specialist Program

Through an online reading specialist master's degree program, teachers have the opportunity to study techniques to help elementary through high school students develop literacy and writing abilities. They study concepts in language and literacy development. Students learn to assess their pupils' reading abilities and help develop their understanding of what they read. To be eligible for this degree program, students must have at least a bachelor's degree and three years of teaching experience. Only a few online master's degree programs are available in the field.

Program Information and Requirements

Many master's degree programs are available entirely online, but some schools require that students participate in weekend meetings. Since such meetings aren't hands-on, some schools allow students to complete this work through videoconferencing. To complete the program, students access online lectures, notes and assignments. Students can also interact with classmates via Web chat.

Reliable Internet access and a working computer are required for a student to complete this type of program. Computer software programs and Internet plug-ins could also be required.

List of Common Courses

Courses in online reading specialist master's degree programs train students to improve their teaching styles and bring new approaches to their classrooms. Students can enhance their abilities through courses in specialized topics, such as reading evaluation methods and reading trends.

Teaching and Assessing Reading

This course trains teachers to select appropriate texts for students of different age and literacy levels. They learn to help students understand the text and assess their reading abilities, identifying problems that stem from students' abilities to understand and interpret texts.

Young Adult Literature

Teachers taking this course learn to identify and analyze different literary goals and subjects. They also discuss the characteristics of different genres.

Trends in Reading

Teachers completing this class explore the trends in teaching literature for high and low learners. They also discuss strategies for challenging their students and assessing their reading levels.

Career Information for Graduates

With a reading specialist graduate certificate, students could find careers in adult literacy or public school education. According to, the median salary for reading specialists was $52,109, as of November 2019. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), adult basic, secondary education and literacy teachers made a mean hourly wage of $27.94 in 2018 (

Upon completion of a reading specialist master's degree, students can become instructional coordinators or literacy teachers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for literacy teachers from 2018-2028 was expected to decline by 10%.

Fully online programs are available for reading specialists that can be completed in one to two years. These graduate certificate and master's programs are for teachers already working in the field who want to expand their expertise to include literacy education.

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