Reading Specialist Graduate Certificate, Initial Licensure (online)

Graduate Certificate
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In Short

Attain Initial Licensure as a Reading Specialist without obtaining an additional master’s degree.

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Are you a licensed teacher who already holds a master's degree? Earn a graduate certificate as a Reading Specialist that leads to initial licensure.

Certificate Overview

The Reading Specialist Graduate Certificate defines the knowledge and skills necessary for effective assessment, instruction and leadership in the field of reading. It responds to the needs of school districts by preparing specialists in leadership roles, as well as to the needs of students with a wide range of abilities. This certificate program provides candidates who hold initial licenses in early childhood, elementary, middle school or special education with a rigorous, research-based curriculum and a range of assessment, teaching and staff development opportunities. Candidates for this program already hold a master’s degree and are seeking preparation for the state licensure examination for initial licensure: reading specialist.


Fitchburg State University is a member in good standing of the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP), a national accrediting organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This program has been awarded full accreditation by AAQEP through December 31, 2030. Accreditation acknowledges that a program prepares effective educators who continue to grow as professionals and has demonstrated the commitment and capacity to maintain quality.

Career Opportunities

  • Title I or Reading Teacher
  • Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach
  • Private Academic Tutoring Business


Online delivery, with limited Saturday sessions for select classes designed to facilitate interaction and collaboration.

Total Credits

27 credits

Time Frame

While you can complete the program in as few as two years, you have six years to complete the program.

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Curriculum and Other Information

Prerequisite Courses

  • Literature for Children or Young Adults (or equivalent)
  • Child Growth and Development (or equivalent)
  • Principles and Practices of the Teaching of Reading (or equivalent)


  • Candidates gain knowledge of the theoretical, historical, and research-based practices related to the development of literacy and language. An emphasis is placed on scientifically based reading instruction.
  • Candidates develop expertise in analyzing and adapting curricula to support the literacy needs of all learners. This includes listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Candidates develop proficiency in the assessment of student literacy achievement using a range of formative, summative and normative assessments.
  • Candidates are able to evaluate the technical adequacy and cultural appropriateness of specific instruments used for screening, progress monitoring and diagnosis.
  • Candidates analyze assessment data to effectively communicate results to a variety of stakeholders and to develop literacy instruction for a broad range of learners.
  • Candidates create inclusive classrooms, advocate for equity and affirm students’ identities through experiences that encourage scholarship in the areas of diversity and equity.
  • Candidates develop competency in a variety of instructional strategies using print and digital materials to motivate and engage all learners.
  • Candidates develop the leadership skills necessary to facilitate ongoing school and district literacy initiatives and to promote professional development activities.
  • Candidates develop coaching skills through authentic, school-based experiences that are supervised by qualified literacy professionals
  • Candidates develop expertise in the development, implementation, and evaluation of literacy instructional plans through a supervised practicum experience.

Adapted from Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals (2017). International Literacy Association

Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling admission basis. Admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Official transcripts of a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Initial Massachusetts licensure in early childhood, elementary, middle school or special education
  • Have taught under an Initial Massachusetts Educator License for a minimum of one year
  • Passing scores for the Communication and Literacy subtest of the Massachusetts Test of Educator Licensure (MTEL)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Professional resume
  • Graduate application and fee
  • An essay, no more than one page in length, in response to one of the following questions:
    • Tell us about a positive situation in which you helped a person and made a significant difference in that person’s life.
    • What are the most important factors in establishing a long-term working relationship with students, friends, etc.?
    • Tell us about a significant event that involved you in a teaching or helping mode.
    • Describe the situation as it occurred at the time.
      • What did you do in that particular situation?
      • How did you feel about the situation at the time you were experiencing it?
      • How do you feel about the situation now?
      • What would you change, if anything?

Prerequisite Courses

  • Children or Young Adult Literature
  • Child Development (or equivalent)
  • Principles and Practices of Teaching Reading (or equivalent)

Students pursuing the initial licensure programs for Reading Specialists, including...

  • The CAGS in Interdisciplinary Studies/Reading Specialist concentration
  • The MEd in Special Education/Reading Specialist concentration
  • The Reading Specialist Graduate Certificate program

...may be eligible for the Dr. Rosemarie Giovino Reading Specialist Scholarship. Students in these programs who have taken SPED/READ 7016 and SPED/READ 7017, and who also hold or are pursuing Wilson Language Level I certification are eligible. Other criteria apply.

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