Graduate Program in Literacy Education

Coursework now fully online 

SUNY Cortland’s graduate program in literacy is offered exclusively online with hands-on field experience completed virtually with K-12 students. Our part-time schedules are ideal for full-time teachers, who can do field experiences within their own classrooms. Full-time students can earn their literacy specialist certification in one calendar year.  

Additionally, applicants no longer are required to submit scores for entrance exams such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT). 

Program overview 

We encourage application of initially certified PK-12 educators from any content area with:  

  • a passion for reading and writing,  
  • an interest in considering how social and cultural aspects of learning relate to literacy,  
  • a desire to be an agent of change in their classrooms and schools,  

whose professional aspirations include:  

  • facilitating learning for PK-12 students and teachers, and  
  • deepening a relationship with the larger literacy education professional community.  

Some qualities you should know about our literacy master’s program:   

  • Full online coursework delivery — all courses are offered online, with emphasis placed on personal relationships with faculty members.  
  • Online coursework is mainly asynchronous (no standard meetings time per week), though collaborative meetings with your professors and peers will occur on your schedule.  
  • Working teachers can progress through the program at a part-time pace that supports a work-life balance. Advisors will work with you to ensure your success.  
  • Full-time students can finish this degree program toward NYS literacy certification(s) in one calendar year. 

Our Literacy Department prides itself on the personal approach faculty members take with graduate students. We place a special emphasis on preparing teachers to work with children of all reading and writing abilities.  

Certification Information 

You must hold a bachelor’s degree and an initial teaching certificate in an education-related field before working toward additional New York state teaching certification(s) in literacy.  

Students completing the program can earn their NYS literacy specialist certification for grades K-12.  

Field experiences and Summer Practicum 

In this program, you will get hands-on field experience virtually with K-12 students through an early field experience and a summer practicum.  

Early Field Experiences  

Our early field experience involves virtual partnerships with secondary schools (Grades 7-12) and is situated within our writing assessment and instruction course (LIT 535). In this field experience, we support middle and/or high school (secondary) students by providing a virtual writing clinic, with a focus on evaluating and providing feedback on student writing. You do not need to find your own placement, as the placement will be embedded within your writing assessment and instruction coursework.  

Note: Your early field experience involves 25 hours of work supporting secondary-level students and their teachers. These hours include but are not limited to evaluating student data, providing feedback to both teachers and students and making data-supported instructional recommendations. 

Summer Practicum  

You will have a final field experience practicum that must be completed in the summer. The aim of practicum is for you to gain experience working with small groups of elementary-grade children providing literacy intervention consistently informed by assessment. You will work within our virtual summer literacy tutoring program to support elementary students (entering grades 1-5) daily for five weeks, for at least one hour per day per group of students. In addition to planning for and implementing this instruction and assessment, you will also engage in supervisor observations, peer coaching, and seminars throughout the practicum.  

Your summer practicum involves 25 hours of work supporting elementary-level students. These hours include implementing and analyzing literacy assessment data, using assessment to inform individualized literacy instruction, peer coaching, and reflection on teaching. 

Note: You are required to make yourself available for synchronous meetings with students during Summer Session II (see Summer Session website for schedule) when you complete your summer practicum. The literacy program cannot guarantee virtual placements to candidates with extended absences (e.g., vacations) during Summer Session II.  

Career potential 

SUNY Cortland-educated literacy master's graduates are sought by school districts throughout New York state. You can take your knowledge and skills to the classroom as a teacher with a reading specialty, become a literacy coach, specialist, and/or interventionist in a school or district setting.  

You’ll change the lives of students who are striving to learn to read and write, helping them discover their purposes and passions for literacy and improving their ability to succeed — as students, professionals, and members of society. 

Learn more

Application deadlines

Fall semester: July 1
Spring semester: Dec. 1
Summer semester: April 1

* Applications submitted after the deadline may be considered if space is available. Contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 607-753-4800 to check availability.

Contact us

Dr. Gillian Mertens
Assistant Professor
Graduate Program Coordinator
Cornish Hall, Room 1321