Earning an online master’s degree in reading and literacy education is a great step for current educators who want to advance their training. If you’ve been employed as a teacher for a few years and are looking to take the next step, this is a great place to start! These graduate programs in literacy and reading will help expand your knowledge of learning theories, instructional practices, and specialist skills so you can achieve greater success – both for you and your students – in the classroom.
The 25 Best Online Reading Specialist Degrees Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we looked for public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer master’s in reading and literacy education degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
We also only considered education programs that are currently accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer online master’s degrees in reading and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:
- Program Popularity: How many students choose to earn their master’s degree in reading over other education-related options (that is, how much interest/demand is there in the school’s literacy degree compared to its other teaching programs)? To find out, we looked at both the number of master’s students who earned their reading degree in the 2015-16 school year as well as the percentage of all master’s program graduates that that number represents.
- Overall Strength of Online Teacher Education Programs: How much emphasis does the school place on providing accessible teacher education training? For this metric, we looked at the total number of online graduate programs the school offers in teaching as well as the percentage of all graduate students who are enrolled in one of these programs.
- Accreditation:In addition to being a CAEP-accredited provider, has the school also earned national recognition from CAEP for its reading education program? Colleges and universities can only obtain such recognition by meeting strict curricular standards related to reading and literacy.
- Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?
After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.
Read more about the best cheap online master’s degrees in literacy programs below!
Cheap Online Master’s in Literacy Programs Ranked
25. Lesley University
Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Language and Literacy
The instructors at Lesley University understand that not all students learn the same way. It’s only fitting, then, that the school’s cheap online master’s in literacy program offers strategies to suit learners of all backgrounds and ages. Topics span from writing and assessment to linguistics, content literacy, and cultural responsiveness. In addition, the curriculum includes multiple classes geared toward special populations, like English Speakers of other Languages (ESL) and children who struggle with reading. Finally, this program incorporates a capstone in which you design your own literacy-centered professional development lesson to share with other teachers.
Average Tuition & Fees: $17,690/yr
24. East Carolina University
Online Master of Arts in Education – Reading Education
East Carolina University’s 39-credit M.A. in Reading Education is among the most comprehensive programs on this list. But while it includes more coursework than the average master’s degree, you won’t need to worry about rushing through your classes. Rather, ECU will let you enroll part- or full-time, and most students graduate in about two to three years. Another unique feature of this top online master’s degree in reading is that it incorporates nine credits of electives. This component provides some flexibility for you to explore other areas of study. The only limitation is that you need to select classes in relevant disciplines, such as library science or instructional technology.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,734/yr
23. SUNY at Albany
Online MS in Reading
Unlike most schools on this online master’s in literacy ranking, SUNY at Albany does not require applicants to hold a teaching license. In fact, this program is primarily intended for professionals who want to work outside the classroom – as education counselors or after school program coordinators, for example. As such, many of the classes emphasize a theoretical understanding of teaching rather than practical skillsets. Examples include “Literacy in Society,” “Media Literacy,” and “Children’s Literature.” But this philosophical bent doesn’t come at the expense of real-world knowledge. In fact, all students must complete either an internship, clinical or field experience, or study abroad program in order to graduate.
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,364/yr
22. Hamline University
Online Master of Arts in Literacy Education
Hamline claims that it is “a leader in 21st-century literacy education.” And this isn’t merely empty rhetoric; the school backs up its claim with a progressive curriculum fine-tuned to incorporate the most up-to-date teaching methods and trends. In particular, classes like “Rethinking Literacy Across the Disciplines” and “Educational Policy and Literacy Practice” will encourage you to examine the field from new perspectives. Another way Hamline stands out on this online master’s degrees in reading ranking is through its elective series. You can take these 10 credits to explore a variety of education-related areas or concentration in a specific field, such as ASD or Urban Teaching.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,532/yr
21. Grand Valley State University
Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Literacy Studies with an emphasis in Reading/Language Arts
If you’re a current elementary or secondary school teacher looking to expand your expertise, Grand Valley State has an ideal program for you. Its M.Ed. in Literacy Studies with an emphasis in Reading and Language Arts offers a clear pathway to an endorsement in one of three areas: K-12, Elementary, or Secondary Reading. What’s more, the curriculum meets the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) strict standards, so you know you’re getting a great value for your money. This online master’s degree in reading also offers practical training through field experiences and an extensive portfolio project.
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,408/yr
20. Minnesota State University-Mankato
Online M.S in Reading
At Minnesota State University – Mankato, reading education is about much more than literacy. It’s also about cultural and linguistic diversity, cutting-edge theories, and early interventions. In all, the goal of this affordable online master’s degree in reading is to give you the skills you need to implement effective strategies for K-12 students across multiple literature content areas. You’ll develop this broad expertise through practical classes like “Preparing Students to Read,” “Implementing Response to Intervention,” and “Reading Assessment and Diagnosis.” Along the way, you’ll complete many of the requirements needed to obtain K-12 reading licensure in Minnesota.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,563/yr
19. Black Hills State University
Online Master of Education in Reading (M.Ed.)
Black Hills State University offers a practical teacher education program that’s grounded in the needs of local schools. Indeed, faculty regularly partner with school districts in the region to ensure that BHSU’s reading program adequately prepares its members not only to work with K-12 populations but also to become leaders in the field. The program achieves this goal through a robust curriculum that meets International Reading Association standards as well as South Dakota’s requirements for advanced level reading specialists. At the same time, enrolling in this accredited master’s in reading and literacy education degree online will also give you access to unique, 21st-century topics like “New and Emerging Technology for Schools.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,956/yr
18. Ohio University
Online M.Ed. in Reading
Current teachers who want to expand their expertise while boosting their overall instructional skills will find a great fit at Ohio University. One of the top online master’s degrees in reading, Ohio’s program goes far beyond the basics of literacy and language development. To be sure, degree candidates learn plenty of teaching strategies, but they also learn how to administer assessments, conduct research, utilize data to make decisions, and collaborate with other specialists to design effective curricula. At the end of this 31-credit program, you’ll also tackle a “Master’s Research Project.” To do so, you’ll analyze an issue within your focus area and write a paper on your findings.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,506/yr
17. Northern Michigan University
Online Master of Arts in Education: Reading K-8
Northern Michigan University offers an exclusively online degree that allows elementary and middle school teachers to earn a specialized endorsement in reading. However, your first step in this program will be to brush up on your foundational knowledge through classes in measurement and evaluation, the culture of education, and the historical and social dimensions of American schools. Next, you’ll move on to concentration courses in “Literature for Young Adults,” “Trends in the Teaching of Language Arts,” and other similar topics. While enrolled in this affordable online master’s in literacy education program, you’ll also have a chance to take electives that impart unique skills in everything from proposal writing to learning technologies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,326/yr
16. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Online Master of Education in Elementary Education K-12 Reading
A rare find on this online master’s in literacy ranking, Slippery Rock University’s program offers training in both reading and instructional coaching. You’ll acquire these skills through a well-organized curriculum that emphasizes theory and research. The program also grants you plenty of flexibility to pick the courses that interest you. For example, you can take research classes in statistics, qualitative methods, or current issues, while also brushing up on key theories with a class in philosophy, social foundations, or perhaps the history of education. But make no mistake: these lessons don’t come at the expense of hands-on practice. In fact, SRU’s curriculum incorporates two required practica – one in “Assessment and Instruction” and another in “Organization and Administration.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $18,847/yr
15. Jackson State University
Online Master of Science in Reading Education
For an accelerated program that could take you from a bachelor’s to master’s degree in less than a year, look to Jacksonville State University. The school’s 30-credit M.S. in Reading Education offers courses in convenient eight-week sessions. Take two classes per session, and you’ll have your diploma in less than 12 months! But the quick pace of this online master’s in literacy doesn’t come at the expense of high-quality lessons. In fact, its curriculum offers a surprisingly comprehensive view of everything from the “Psychology of Literacy” to “Using Literature to Teach Literacy Skills.” Plus, it includes two supervised practicum requirements.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,438/yr
14. Westminster College
Online M.Ed. in Special Education with Reading Specialist Certification
Although this list focuses solely on reading programs, each of the schools featured offers something unique. At Westminster, this originality shines through in its combined special education and reading specialist program. One of only a few colleges with this pseudo dual degree option, Westminster is an ideal choice for aspiring special ed. teachers who have a strong interest in literacy instruction. But don’t take our word for it. The curriculum for this top online reading specialist degree speaks for itself, with classes that run the gamut from behavior analysis and high/low incidence strategies to English language learners and leadership in school literacy.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,585/yr
13. Nova Southeastern University
Online Master of Science in Reading Education
Aspiring teachers who want to study the research behind reading education will find a happy home at Nova Southeastern. The program “infuses scientifically based evidence of best practices in reading” through a curriculum that covers educational research and measurements, reading theory, and contemporary research perspectives. While earning NSU’s affordable master’s in reading and literacy education degree online, you’ll also complete an “Applied Professional Experience.” This requirement consists of a supervised practicum in which you will apply reading instructional strategies in a K-12 classroom. At the same time, you’ll reflect on your experiences through journal assignments and build a comprehensive portfolio of your work.
Average Tuition & Fees: $19,175/yr
12. Sam Houston State University
Online Master of Education in Reading/Language Arts
At Sam Houston State University, reading education is a holistic endeavor that requires an understanding of both literacy and language arts. As such, the program’s curriculum differs somewhat from other options on this online master’s degrees in reading ranking. Rather than focus solely on reading strategies, the coursework branches out into niche topics like literacy policy, digital epistemologies, language arts theory, program administration, and even cognition. All this adds up to a degree that will prepare you for a wide range of careers, whether you’re a teacher who wants to become reading specialist certified or you want to leverage your literacy expertise in a position outside the classroom.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,995/yr
11. Bowling Green State University
Online Master of Education in Reading
If there’s one reason that Bowling Green University deserves to rank among the top online master’s in literacy programs, it has to be its well-thought-out curriculum. The course plan consists of three phases, starting with the “Endorsement Program.” This phase provides the bulk of the coursework (including a supervised practicum) that you will need to add a reading endorsement to your teaching license. Next up is Phase II: Tools for Engagement. Here, you’ll up the ante by acquiring additional skills in literacy coaching, research, and assessment. Lastly, you’ll enter Phase III for a final sweep of advanced courses and to complete a literacy coaching internship.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,223/yr
10. University of Central Arkansas
Online M.S.E. in Reading
Few schools on this list of affordable online reading specialist degrees stand out quite like the University of Central Arkansas. Why? Because it’s the only one that offers an endorsement as a Dyslexia Therapist. The program embeds all required coursework for this credential right into its MSE in Reading curriculum, so you won’t have to take any extra credits to qualify. Specifically, you’ll take five classes in highly-specialized topics like “Diagnosis and Intervention of Reading Difficulties,” “Foundations of Dyslexia and the Language,” and “Multisensory Approach to Language.” Note, however, that some of these courses may require you to attend a few on-campus sessions in Conway.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,178/yr
9. Carson-Newman University
Online Master of Education: Reading Specialist
Be advised: you’ll need to accrue at least three years of teaching experience in order to graduate from Carson Newman University’s MEd in Reading program. Of course, you can obtain some of this work history through the curriculum’s two required practica (one in reading and writing in elementary/middle school and another in content area reading for adolescents). However, this also means you’ll need to have some professional teaching under your belt already before you apply to this cheap master’s in reading and literacy education degree online. But the prep work will be well worth the effort, as this program will help you hone advanced skills in research, language and culture, and instructional strategies.
Average Tuition & Fees: $8,780/yr
8. Concordia University-Nebraska
Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Literacy with Reading Specialist Emphasis
One of two Concordia campuses on this list, CU Nebraska nonetheless stands out as a school that puts “a love of reading, writing, and teaching the English language” at the heart of its literacy program. Indeed, providing educators with cutting-edge teaching methods is just one goal of this affordable online master’s in literacy degree. The other? To help “fuel [children’s’] lifelong passion for the written and spoken word.” You’ll even take a class in the psychology of teaching and learning, which will give you strategies to empathize with your future students and tailor your lessons in a way that actually makes reading fun.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,919/yr
7. Missouri State University-Springfield
Online Master’s Degree in Literacy
Only licensed teachers (and those eligible for certification) may enroll in Missouri State’s literacy graduate program. For those who qualify, MSU provides a convenient and practical pathway to earning a state-sanctioned Special Reading Teacher Certification (K-12). Although the 39-credit curriculum is a little longer than most top online master’s in literacy degree programs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything redundant or unnecessary in its coursework. Rather, the classes provide a thorough and deep understanding of topics like curriculum design, diversity, intellectual development, remediation, and more. The program also includes research component that requires you to write an extensive paper on a literacy-related topic.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,894/yr
6. Canisius College
Online Master in Literacy
How does literacy differ from reading? At Canisius, literacy is about much more than basic reading ability – it’s about having the skills to connect ideas, interpret information, and articulate your thoughts. And this philosophy will be evident from the moment you sign up for Canisius’ cheap master’s in reading and literacy education degree online. The intensive curriculum includes targeted classes like “Role of the Literacy Specialist” and “Diagnosis of Literacy Achievement.” Plus, you’ll accumulate plenty of hands-on experience, both through two practica and by providing tutoring through the school’s Literacy Center (optional).
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,034/yr
5. Northeastern State University
Online Master of Education in Reading
While reading is a crucial practice at any age, it takes on extra importance in elementary and special education classrooms. This is precisely why Northeastern University has designed an interdisciplinary, accredited online master’s degree in reading that combines general, special ed., and early childhood teaching strategies into one unified approach. In particular, the curriculum puts a strong emphasis on early development of both literacy and language. For example, you’ll take classes like “Cognitive Development of Young Children,” “Issues in Facilitating Literacy Development,” and “Advanced Development of the Young Child.” To top things off, you’ll take a capstone course on contemporary research in literacy education.
Average Tuition & Fees: $7,029/yr
4. University of the Cumberlands
Online Master’s Degree in Education: Literacy Specialist Program
If you already have your teaching license and want to brush up on your general education strategies while also earning a literacy certification, check out the University of the Cumberlands. This school’s M.A. in Education with Literacy Specialist concentration allows you to do both at once. First, you’ll learn about the latest trends in education through a core sequence that covers broadly applicable topics like classroom diversity, curriculum methods, and research methods. Next, you’ll dive into the meat of this accredited master’s in reading and literacy education degree online with targeted classes on everything from writing instruction to diagnosing reading problems.
Average Tuition & Fees: $5,970/yr
3. Concordia University-Chicago
Online Master of Arts in Education with Reading Endorsement
Concordia University – Chicago offers a straightforward literacy program that will take you from certified teacher to K-12 reading specialist in just two years. It’s also one of the best options for working adults on this master’s in reading and literacy education degrees online ranking. The reason? CUC utilizes consolidated 8-week courses to help students progress at a manageable but steady pace. By taking just one class at a time, you’ll also find it easier to focus on all the crucial topics that the 30-credit curriculum covers, like “Research in Children’s Literature” and “Roles of the Reading Specialist.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,688/yr
2. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Online Master of Education in Reading
At first glance, Edinboro University’s MEd in Reading doesn’t stand out much on this online reading specialist degrees ranking. You must have a valid teaching license to apply, the program consists of 30 credits, and it leads to certification as a reading specialist. But there are a few key features that help Edinboro’s program shine above the rest – and explain why it has earned national recognition from CAEP. For example, one of the program’s required classes is a “Reading Clinic,” during which students acquire hands-on experience by working with children in a university-owned training clinic.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,813/yr
1. Olivet Nazarene University
Online Master of Arts in Education: Reading Specialist
What makes Olivet Nazarene University’s program the top cheap online master’s degree in reading? Of course, the program’s affordability, popularity, and nationally-recognized status go a long way in distinguishing it as one of the best. But ONU also stands out for its unique curriculum structure, which enables students to choose one of two course pathways. Teachers who are primarily interested in becoming a reading specialist can choose the endorsement-only option, which includes just 24 credits and takes a mere 12 months to complete. Alternatively, those who also want to earn their master’s degree can continue to the combined track, which takes an extra six months and comes with eight extra credits of coursework.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,945/yr
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 25 top cheap master’s in reading and literacy education degrees online!
Published April 2018