Literacy Specialist | Curriculum & Teaching

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Literacy Specialist

Department of Curriculum & Teaching

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Program Description

The Literacy Specialist Program offers the M.A. degree in literacy education–a 32-point program leading to New York State teacher certification as a Literacy Specialist. This Program is designed to immerse the literacy educator in an intense study of practice, theory, and research. The eventual goal is to equip each participant to assume a leadership role in literacy education. The Program regards the teaching of reading and writing as complex undertakings, and strives to equip its students to teach well. Students investigate individual literacy learning, group literacy learning, teacher development, community partnerships, institutional change and other contemporary and political issues facing literacy education. The Program assumes that teachers’ own literacy work will be a source of knowledge and inspiration in their teaching. Students write creatively as well as professionally, participate in their own reading clubs, and keep portfolios of their own reading and writing development. The TC faculty in literacy has a long history of social action with areas of special interest that include content area literacies, curriculum development in reading and writing, children’s literature, school reform, ethnographic studies of literacy, teacher development, process approaches to reading and writing, and the impact of class, race, and gender on literacy learning. Students participate in challenging courses, engage in readings, learn from mentorships, and conduct their own action-research projects in which they demonstrate their abilities to synthesize theory and practice and to weave the two throughout their individual work. 

Teachers College students enrolled in the Literacy Specialist Program have the opportunity to work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project– a think-tank and professional development organization that works in field-based ways with schools throughout New York City and the nation. Students can intern in both high-need and state-of-the-art schools, apprentice with mentor teachers, research staff development and school reform, and participate in any of more than 100 full-day conferences offered each year. 

Candidates who wish to research and improve their own literacy teaching or serve in leadership positions to help others do the same are encouraged to apply, as are those who intend to engage in scholarly work and continue their education through the doctoral level.


  • Master of Arts

    • Points/Credits: 32

      Entry Terms: Spring/Summer/Fall


      • NY State Initial: Literacy Specialist Birth-6

      Degree Requirements

      Students may enroll in this degree program full-time or part-time. The basic curriculum for M.A. degree students includes:

      Core: Required of all students (23 points)

      • C&T 4138 Teaching literacy in the early years (2-3)

      • C&T 4139 Constructing critical readers (2-3)

      • C&T 4151 Teaching of writing (2-3)

      • C&T 4200 Fieldwork in curriculum and teaching (6) 3 credits fall; 3 credits spring

      • HBSK 4072 Theory and techniques of reading assessment and intervention (3)

      • C&T 4140 Literature for younger children (2-3) or

      • C&T 4141 Literature for older children (2-3)

      • C&T 5037 Literacy, culture, and the teaching of reading (2-3)

      Master’s Action Research Project: Required of all students (1 point)

      • C&T 4502 Master’s project (1)

      Completion of Master’s Action Research Project

      Out of Program electives: Required of all students (4-6 points). To satisfy the college breadth requirement, students must complete two Teachers College courses in addition to HBSK 4072, which is part of the core. (A course for this purpose is defined as one in which a minimum of 2 points is earned outside the program).

      • A&HE 4052 Adolescents and literature (3)

      • A&HL 4001 Sociolinguistics and education (3)

      • A&HT 4077 TESOL classroom practices (3)

      • ITSF 4013 Literacy and development (2-3)

      • ITSF 4015 Introduction to computers, language, and literacy (2-3)

      • ITSF 4028 Teaching literacy in bilingual settings (3)

      • MSTU 4049 Technologies and literacies (2-3)

      Within-Department electives: Required of all students (4 points) Students must select at least two courses from the following list:

      • C&T 4858 Institute: Teaching of reading (3)

      • C&T 5800 Institute: Teaching of writing (1, 3, 6) Either:

      • C&T 4137 Literacy and learning in the content areas (2-3) or

      • C&T 4842 Institute: Content area literacies (2-3)

      New York State Education Department (NYSED) mandates teacher certification requirements that are needed for program completion and graduation which are listed in the Office of Teacher Education section of the catalog.


  • Faculty

    • Lucy M Calkins Robinson Professor in Children's Literature
    • Maria Paula Ghiso Associate Professor of Literacy Education
  • Emeriti

    • Marjorie Gail Siegel Professor Emerita of Education
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