Reading Specialist | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Academic Catalog

Academic Catalog 2018-2019

Skip to content Skip to content

Reading Specialist

Department of - Health & Behavior Studies

Contact Information

(212) 678-3942
Professor Dolores Perin

Program Description

The Reading Specialist M.A. program provides students with a broad foundation in applied educational psychology as it relates to literacy acquisition and concentrated preparation in assessment and intervention in reading and writing difficulties. The program provides experience in working with child, adolescent, and adult learners.

Key program characteristics include the following:

  • Accredited by the International Dyslexia Association
  • Preparation for two New York State certifications: Teacher of Literacy, Birth-6 and Teacher of Literacy, 5-12.
  • Individualized and small group focus: Students are prepared to teach reading and writing to struggling readers both individually and in small groups. This prepares them to provide literacy instruction in pull-out programs, inclusion classrooms, and regular classrooms.
  • Balanced literacy focus: Integration of rigorous, evidence-based word study training with authentic literacy, encompassing phonemic awareness, decoding, word recognition, reading comprehension, fluency, vocabulary development, spelling, and expressive writing.
  • Assessment and intervention focus: Students learn to deploy a battery of classroom-based and standardized assessment measures to identify strengths and weaknesses of individual students and groups and then to develop an intervention plan based on the assessment findings.
  • Preparation to diagnose dyslexia: Students analyze a battery of standardized tests and formulate a diagnosis.
  • Psychology focus: Understanding of typically developing and delayed literacy development from the vantage point of cognitive processes and their relation to race, ethnicity, language proficiency, and socio-economic status.
  • Research focus: Emphasis on evidence-based (scientifically sound) intervention strategies for struggling readers.
  • Lifespan perspective: Students learn to deliver assessment and intervention to individuals from preschool emergent literacy through adolescence and adulthood. Adults include adult literacy students and college dyslexics. 
  • Clinical experience: Students take practica in a clinic at Teachers College where they deliver services to struggling readers of all ages, who come from low-income households.
  • School experience: The advanced practicum may be taken at the student’s own school or another selected school.
  • Professional development focus: Preparation for professional development in advanced seminar.
  • Full-time students (four courses in each academic semester and summer courses) can be in residence for one calendar year and complete the final, advanced practicum via distance learning option where feasible.

Degree Summary


  •  Master of Arts (M.A.)

For a complete listing of degree requirements, please click the "Degrees" tab above

For a complete listing of degree requirements, please continue on to this program's "Degrees" section in this document

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts

The Reading Specialist Master of Arts consists of approximately 34 points (minimum 12 courses: 10 required, 2 elective) depending on course selections and can be pursued either part-time or full-time. Completion of a Master’s Integrative Project is required for graduation.

Required Courses (10 required courses, minimum total 28 points) - See examples of electives on FAQ link at

  • HBSK 4072 Theory and techniques of assessment and intervention in reading (3)
  • HBSK 4074 Reading comprehension strategies and study skills (3)
  • HBSK 5099 Writing intervention theory and practice (3) OR
  • HBSK 5077 Adult literacy and developmental/remedial education (3)
    • Students wishing to take both of these courses should speak to an advisor about a program modification.
  • HBSK 5098 Diagnosis of reading and writing disabilities (3)
    • Pre-requisite: HBSK 4072
  • HBSK 5373 Practicum in literacy assessment and intervention I (3)
    • Pre-or co-requisite HBSK 4072
  • HBSK 5376 Practicum in literacy assessment and intervention II (3)
    • Pre-requisites: HBSK 4072 and HBSK 5373
  • HBSK 5377 Practicum in literacy assessment and intervention III (3)
    • Pre-requisites: HBSK 4072 and HBSK 5376
  • A&HL 4000 Introduction to linguistics (3) OR
  • HBSE 4001 Teaching students with disabilities in the regular classroom (3)
    • This course is taken only by students without prior special education coursework in teaching students with disabilities in the regular classroom.

Psychology core requirement: Choose one from the following for 2 or 3 points –

  • HUDK 4022 Developmental psychology: Childhood
  • HUDK 4023 Developmental psychology: Adolescence
  • HUDK 4029 Cognition and Learning
  • HUDK 5023 Cognitive Psychology
  • HUDK 5024 Psychology of Language
  • HUDK 5090 Psychology of language and reading

If none of these courses are being offered, another appropriate course can be substituted with approval.

  • HBSK 5580 Seminar in consultation and evaluation in reading (3)
    • Taken during the final spring of enrollment in the program. The MA Integrative Project is also written this semester.

Elective Courses (2 or 3 courses, total 6 points): See FAQ available at

Course grades:  All courses must be taken for a letter grade, not pass/fail.

Completion of M.A. Project.  The Master’s Integrative Project addresses areas related to literacy and related learning difficulties among children, adolescents, and adults. This culminating project is conducted under the supervision of an advisor.

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


Application Information

Students who apply to the Program must possess an undergraduate degree in a field relevant to literacy. Applicants are reviewed based on their undergraduate and any other academic performance, a personal statement, and at least two references. Students who wish to be recommended by TC for New York State Literacy Teacher certification upon completion of the M.A. requirements must enter the program with prior certification in a regular education area. Applicants who do not have this certification are asked to contact Professor Dolores Perin ( Information about New York State certification is also available from the Office of Teacher Education (

Faculty List



Visiting Faculty


Full-Time Instructors


Reading Specialist Adjunct Assistant Professor
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Senior Lecturer
Reading Specialist Adjunct Assistant Professor
Professor of Psychology and Education

For up to date information about course offerings including faculty information, please visit the online course schedule.

Course List

HBSE 4001 Teaching students with disabilities in the general education classroom

This course addresses problems of educational assessment, curriculum and teaching, organization, and guidance of students with physical, cognitive, affective, and sensory disabilities.

HBSK 4072 Theory and Techniques of Assessment and Intervention in Reading

Provides an overview of theories and research pertaining to reading acquisition and assessment and intervention techniques for reading across the lifespan.  Content is organized according to four major themes: the psychology of reading development, language structures, assessment, and intervention.  Materials fee: $25.

HBSK 4074 Development of Reading Comprehension Strategies and Study Skills

Reading and study skills: Practical procedures based on research findings appropriate for teachers, counselors, and others. Discussion focuses on students in the middle elementary grades through young adulthood.

HBSK 5077 Adult Literacy and Developmental/Remedial Education

Online. This course provides an examination of the learning of reading and writing by adults who have not achieved full literacy. Populations discussed include students in programs including adult basic education, vocational/ career & technical education, continuing education, and developmental/ remedial education; adults with dyslexia and other learning disabilities; immigrants and others who have limited English language proficiency; students in correctional settings; and participants in adult literacy programs outside of the U.S. 

HBSK 5098 Diagnosis of Reading and Writing Disabilities

Prerequisite: HBSK 4072. Presents theory and research pertaining to reading and writing disabilities.  Students obtain experience in administering, scoring, and interpreting a battery of measures and learn to formulate a diagnosis based on standardized, norm-referenced tests. The course takes a lifespan perspective in its examination of reading and writing disabilities. Materials fee: $50.

HBSK 5099 Writing interventions theory and practice

This is a literacy course that applies research on cognitive, linguistic, affective, social, and cultural processes underlying writing performance to the development of writing interventions.  Writing is discussed within a larger context of reading comprehension and subject-matter knowledge.  Students learn to evaluate and design content-area writing interventions for both typically-developing and special-needs populations of differing ages and in various educational settings. Materials fee:  $25.

HBSK 5373 Practicum in literacy assessment and intervention I

Prerequisite or corequisite:  HBSK 4072, grade of B or better.  This course is the first of three practica that prepare students to assess, analyze, and remediate literacy difficulties using research and theory.  In class sessions, students learn to understand assessment and instruction across a broad spectrum of skill areas reflecting the most common areas of difficulty for struggling readers and writers.   Students apply those skills in their work in the Dean-Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services (CEPS) with an individual who has literacy difficulties. Materials fee:  $100.

HBSK 5376 Practicum in literacy assessment and intervention II

Prerequisites:  HBSK 4072, HBSK 5373 with grade of B+ or better. This course is the second of three practica that prepare students to assess and remediate literacy difficulties. HBSK 5376 utilizes a more advanced learning model in which a student works to assess and tutor a client at the Dean-Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services (CEPS). In class sessions, students continue to learn techniques, skills, and materials for assessment and intervention for use with those who struggle with reading and writing.  Students are expected to apply class content in clinical sessions with an individual with literacy difficulties. Attendance at supervision sessions is also mandatory.

HBSK 5377 Practicum in literacy assessment and intervention III

Prerequisites:  HBSK 4072, HBSK 5376 with grade of B+ or better.  This course is the third of three practica that prepare students to assess and remediate literacy difficulties. HBSK 5377 utilizes an independent learning model in which the student works to assess and tutor a small group of individuals in a school setting.  The focus in this practicum is on differentiating instruction for students who are reading and writing below grade-level expectations.  Students work collaboratively with classroom teachers and other school personnel while continuing to adhere to professional and ethical guidelines and standards in their assessment, teaching and preparation of documentation and reports. Materials fee:  $100.

HBSK 5580 Seminar in consultation and evaluation in reading

The purpose of this seminar is to consider the implications of recent research in literacy assessment and intervention for the consultation, evaluation and professional development roles of Reading and Learning Specialists and Coaches.  Materials Fee:  $50.