Program Description

This graduate certificate is designed for teachers who already have a master’s degree. Coursework includes foundational knowledge of literacy development, instructional and assessment strategies for individuals and groups, and preparation as a literacy coach and staff developer. Successful completion of this state-approved sequence of courses leads to reading specialist licensure for teachers who hold a master’s degree, pass the Virginia Reading Assessment, and have three years of teaching under contract.

What it costs

The cost is $630.75 per credit hour for VA state residents or $536.14 per credit hour for VA state residents who are eligible and apply for the 15% PreK-12 VA Educators Discount. All out-of-state students qualify for an automatic 40% discount and a cost of $830.75 per credit hour. Fees include a $35 per credit hour Distance Learning fee. New Student and other mandatory university and course fees may apply.

Application Deadline

This program has a priority application deadline of April 2 for Fall and November 1 for Spring. Applications are accepted on a space-available basis after the priority deadlines.

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Program Summary

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Program: Literacy: K-12 Reading Specialist

Degree: Graduate Certificate

College/School: College of Education and Human Development

Credits: 21 total

Who should apply?

This 21-credit certificate program is designed for teachers who have a master’s degree, incorporating a state-approved sequence of courses leading to reading specialist licensure. Please note, additional licensure requirements include three years of full-time teaching experience and a passing score on the state licensure exam.

If you do not have a master’s degree, the Literacy Program at George Mason University offers two hybrid online MEd programs that lead to licensure as a K-12 Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership for Diverse Schools: K-12 Reading Specialist and ASTL: Literacy: Reading Specialist.

Why choose George Mason?

  • Mason’s literacy program has been a “Nationally Recognized” program by the International Literacy Association since 2003.
  • This program can be completed in as little as 18 months or on a part-time basis.
  • Several fully online and hybrid online course options are available to reduce the number of required in-person meetings and allow for flexibility in your schedule.
  • Face-to-face courses are offered in the late afternoons or evenings and at all three Mason campuses – Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William – to fit best into your schedule and nearest your location.
  • For an early start on the program, any student accepted for Fall admission is eligible to begin taking courses in the preceding Summer semester.
  • For individuals who already have a master’s degree, successful completion of this certificate leads to eligibility for licensure as a Reading Specialist.

Program requirements are subject to change; please refer to the Mason Course Catalog for the most up-to-date requirements.

Several courses required for this program are offered in fully online or hybrid format and online offerings vary by semester. Contact your advisor for more information.

Requirements: 21 credits total

  • EDRD 630 Literacy Foundations and Instruction for Diverse Populations: Birth through Middle Childhood | 3 credits
  • EDRD 631 Literacy Foundations and Instruction for Diverse Populations: Adolescence Through Adulthood | 3 credits
  • EDRD 632 Literacy Assessments and Interventions for Groups | 3 credits
  • EDRD 633 Literacy Assessments and Interventions for Individuals | 3 credits
  • EDRD 634 School-Based Leadership in Literacy | 3 credits
  • EDRD 635 School-Based Inquiry in Literacy | 3 credits
  • EDRD 637 Supervised Literacy Practicum | 3 credits

Tuition (2017-2018)

Virginia Resident$630.75 plus fees
Virginia Resident and Prek-12 VA Educator
enrolled in a CEHD graduate program
Non-Virginia Resident enrolled in a CEHD
graduate program
$830.75** plus fees
Distance Learning Fee$35
Graduate New Student Fee$60 (non-refundable, one-time fee)

*For Virginia Educators: Starting in Fall 2014, PreK-12 educators in Virginia may receive a 15% discount off of the university’s approved tuition rate for in-state CEHD graduate students. For application deadlines and requirements, see

**For Out-of-State Students: Starting in Fall 2014, out-of-state CEHD students may receive an automatic discount of approximately 40% off of the university’s approved tuition rate for out-of-state graduate students. For further details, see

Please refer to the Students Accounts Office website for more information on tuition and fees.

Financial Aid

For information on loans and scholarships, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid. For information regarding grants, tuition waivers and other merit aid, please inquire with your graduate department. Also, many school districts offer tuition reimbursement options. Speak to your employer for more information.

Career Opportunities

Your studies will provide you with a strong foundation in literacy and reading instruction. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on the knowledge and abilities needed to begin making a profound difference in the reading, writing, and language development of your students.

Graduates of this program often find positions as reading specialists or literacy coaches in schools all over the state of Virginia. Key employers include public schools in Fairfax, Prince William, Falls Church, Loudoun, Arlington, Alexandria, Manassas City, Manassas Park, Stafford, Spotsylvania, and DC.

As a Mason student, you may contact the George Mason Career Services center for more career information and counseling.

Further Studies

Literacy is also available as a specialization or secondary emphasis in the Ph.D. in Education program.

Program AdvisorJennifer I. Hathaway
Phone: (703) 993-5789
Academic Program OfficeLiteracy and Reading
Graduate School of Education
Phone: (703) 993-7611
Program Website
Follow CEHD on Twitter @MasonCEHD

All applicants should review the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) Admissions page. For international applicants, see guidelines for International Graduate Requirements.

Apply for Fall or Spring only. Any student accepted for Fall admission is eligible to take a course in the preceding summer if a required course is available.


  • Hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours of study (Some applicants with a lower GPA may be admitted provisionally if there is sufficient evidence of potential success)
  • One year of documented, successful teaching or related educational experience

Application Materials

  • Graduate application
  • Application fee
  • Goals statement (750-1000 words) that demonstrates basic writing skills
  • Sealed official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (applicants do not need to send in transcripts for courses taken at George Mason University)
  • Two letters of recommendation from professional references targeting applicant’s teaching skills and academic abilities
  • Writing sample

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact the CEHD Admissions Office at or (703) 993-2010.