How to Choose a Masters in Reading & Literacy Degree

Perhaps no subject is as critical in the education of children as reading and literacy. Much of a child’s success in life in later years is dependent upon how well he or she is able to read and write. Research in the area of reading and literacy has revealed some startling statistics:

  • Disadvantaged pupils in the 1st grade often have a vocabulary that is ½ that of a more advantaged student (that is, they have a 3,000 word vocabulary compared to a 6,000 word vocabulary).
  • 53% of teachers in the US have students with limited English reading and literacy ability, but only 20% of teachers feel they are well qualified to teach them.
  • As many as 30% of American students will have difficulty in their educational careers because they cannot read well enough.
  • $2 billion per year is spent every year on students who have to repeat a grade because they cannot read well.

Teachers who dedicate their careers to enhancing the reading and literacy of their students are performing a vital public service.

Note that even in modern America, that only 87% of the population has sufficient prose proficiency to function normally in society. This can be a real detriment to workers getting better jobs in America, particularly as employers tighten their hiring standards.

Reading & Literacy Job Description

Using a wide array of methods and strategies, reading and literacy teachers give individualized lessons and support to children who need to improve their reading and literacy. As a teacher in this field, you may:

  • Conduct reading assessments to gauge reading levels of your students
  • Devise reading plans that match your students’ abilities and styles of learning
  • Guide students with effective literacy activities to assist them in improving their reading
  • Work with parents and staff to devise strategies at home to improve literacy

Many teachers with a master’s degree in reading and literacy work full time, and work for a school district to provide literacy services to students of all ages from K-12. Other teachers with this master’s degree may elect to work in adult education and focus on reading and literacy.

Reading & Literacy Requirements

A master’s degree in reading and literacy may also be called a master’s in literacy education. This program will require you to learn an intense regimen of practice, theory and research in reading and literacy education. You will study literacy learning of the individual, the group, teacher development, community partnership and many contemporary and issues of policy that confront literacy education.

Possible coursework you may be required to take for this master’s degree include:

  • Teaching literacy in toddler years
  • Teaching of writing
  • Teaching of reading
  • Theory/Techniques for reading assessment
  • Literature for younger children/older children
  • Practicum – teaching literacy in an actual school for a period of weeks or months

You will need to have 3-4 years of teaching experience in an elementary or secondary school, and possess a valid teacher’s certificate for your state.

Career and Salary Outlook for a Master’s in Reading and Literacy

In 2008, there were about 250,000 teachers employed in what is referred to as ‘self-enrichment education,’ which is education that students take part in for enrichment and/or self-improvement. Many of these positions are part time and often are a second job in addition to a regular teaching job. Teachers in the self-enrichment category should see employment opportunities soar by 30% in the next 10 years. This is not surprising because as employers become more picky about who they higher in a down economy, workers need to enhance their skills. This naturally includes reading and literacy.

The median hourly wage of a teacher in literacy in 2008 was $22.26. The middle 50% earned between $16.65-$29.78. If you are a part time teacher in this field, you will be paid per hours worked, rather than a salary. See a complete list of education careers & salary options.

Online Degree Programs for Master’s in Reading and Literacy

Many online institutions offer a master’s degree in reading and literacy that is state approved, which is a requirement for licensure in many states. These online programs are typically developed around our national reading standards. You will be prepared through the 30 credit-hour course to assess the literacy of your students. You also will learn how to develop, adapt and implement reading curricula to a variety of learning styles.

You should look for an online program that has been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), such as Capella University.

Reading & Literacy Scholarships

  • Teach Grant -Through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, Congress created the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program that provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families.
  • Teacher Scholarship – Kentucky -The Teacher Scholarship Program provides financial aid to highly qualified Kentucky students pursuing initial teacher certification at participating Kentucky institutions. All applicants must be Kentucky residents enrolled full-time (unless enrolled for the final term of a teacher certification program and less than full-time enrollment is required to complete the program).

Reading & Literacy Link Resources