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The Reading Specialist (K-12) concentration of the Literacy/Reading Specialist Graduate Certificate is designed for educators with at least one year of teaching experience who already hold a master's degree and are interested in developing the expertise needed to serve as reading specialists or literacy leaders. Graduates will gain an in-depth understanding of literacy development, study scientifically-based literacy research and evidence-based instructional and assessment practices, develop the skills necessary to serve as literacy leaders, and prepare to make a profound difference in the literacy development of diverse learners.

What Is a Reading/Literacy Specialist?

A reading/literacy specialist is an educational professional focused on the literacy achievement of K–12 students. Reading/literacy specialists work with students who are experiencing difficulties with reading and writing at all levels. They also have the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to effectively collaborate with general education teachers to improve literacy instruction in the classroom.

Licensure Opportunities

Upon completion of this state-approved program, graduates can be eligible for a reading specialist endorsement in Virginia. Additional state licensure requirements include an initial teaching license, a satisfactory score on the reading assessment specified by the Virginia Board of Education (taken at the end of all course work), and the completion of at least three years of teaching under contract by the end of the certificate program.

Please note, this is not an initial licensure program. For more information on initial licensure options in the College, contact the Office of Teacher Preparation.

Careers in Literacy

Graduates of this certificate program work in a variety of settings. Some choose to remain in their classrooms and apply what they've learn to support their students’ literacy development there. Others move into literacy leadership positions, including:

  • reading specialists
  • literacy or instructional coaches
  • reading interventionists
  • reading teachers
  • private literacy tutors
  • providers of literacy-related professional development

Program Format

This 21-credit certificate program is offered on a part-time basis and can be completed in 4 semesters (including fall, spring, and summer).

Students in this certificate program study within cohorts on the same curriculum schedule. This allows for professional learning communities within each cohort.

To meet students' learning preferences and needs, the program is offered in two formats:

  • BLENDED: A blended format for the program is available to students seeking admission for the fall semester. When there is enough demand, blended cohort options may also be available to students seeking admission in the spring. This format combines face-to-face class sessions with online class sessions (both synchronous and asynchronous). In the blended format, 3-credit hour courses meet face-to-face for approximately 60% of each semester and online for the other 40%, while 2-credit hour courses are completed fully online in an asynchronous format. In the fall and spring, 3-credit hour courses meet one time each week in the early evening, while summer classes meet 2 to 3 times per week. Literacy courses are offered at Mason’s Fairfax and Mason Square (Arlington) campuses as well as other sites across Northern Virginia, allowing you to choose the cohort location that is most convenient for you.
  • ONLINE: For students seeking admission in the spring, all course work is completed fully online, primarily in an asynchronous format. When there is enough demand, online cohort options may also be available to students seeking admission in the fall.

Licensure Disclosure

George Mason University will verify completion of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) state-approved preparation program at the graduate or undergraduate level. Such verification does not guarantee the issuance of a Virginia Collegiate Professional, Postgraduate Professional, or Pupil Personnel license from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is solely the student's responsibility to comply with all requirements for licensure by the Commonwealth. Under Virginia law, a social security number is required for licensure.

This program has been identified by George Mason University as one that may lead to a career requiring professional licensure/certification. Federal regulations require Mason to disclose information as to whether this program meets/does not meet the educational requirements for licensure/certification in your state, or whether such a determination has not been made. Please consult our Licensure Disclosure Tool for the disclosure statement specific to your desired state/program combination.