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 in PK-12 schools local to graduate students. Full-time students can earn two certifications in one calendar year. Our part-time schedules are ideal for full-time teachers, who can do field experiences within their own classrooms. 

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 to apply to our Literacy Education program. 

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 and the Field Experience and School Partnerships Office. 
  • Online coursework is mainly asynchronous (no standard meetings time per week), though collaborative meetings with your professors and peers will occur on your schedule. 
  • Full-time students can earn both certifications in one calendar year. 
  • 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. 

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. 

One program, two certifications

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

Full-time students can earn two NYS literacy specialist certifications* in one calendar year: 

  • Birth to Grade 6 
  • Grades 5 to 12 

* In order to apply for both certificates, students need to pass only one New York State certification test. 

Field Experiences and Summer Practicum

In this program, you will get hands-on field experience in schools that are local to where you live through early field experiences and summer practicum. 

Early Field Experiences 

In our graduate courses, you are not working with teachers in their classrooms as you would as an undergraduate. You are assisting the teacher by:  

  • providing additional assessment for students who are striving readers and/or writers, 
  • designing and implementing instruction for students driven by literacy assessment, and/or 
  • discussing and modeling literacy instructional practices to support their students. 

Note: Each early field experience involves between 10 – 15 hours of work with students and teachers in both elementary and secondary school settings. 

An example early field experience

In LIT 535 you will collect a class set of writing samples from the teacher. You’ll assess them using two methodologies, and then meet with the teacher to share and discuss the data for planning instruction. Then, you conduct a writing conference with a student based upon what you and the teacher discuss. This will enable you to provide the child with an opportunity for one-on-one instruction. Finally, you conduct a writing mini-lesson for a small group of students. Throughout each of these experiences the teacher gains more time with the rest of the class and gets in-depth feedback on their students’ writing.  

Summer Practicum 

You will have a final practicum that must be completed in the summer. The aim of practicum is for you to gain experience working with small groups of elementary and secondary grade children providing literacy intervention consistently informed by assessment. You will work with summer school programs in order to tutor elementary students (entering grades 1-5) and then secondary students (entering grades 6-12) daily for five weeks, for at least one hour per day per group of students (that is: two hours of hands-on, in-person instruction time per day). 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. 

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. Katie Silvestri
Associate Professor
Assistant Department Chair
Graduate Program Coordinator
Cornish Hall, Room 1303C

*The best way to contact Dr. Silvestri is via email.