Program Description

The Reading Specialist K-12 concentration of the Literacy/Reading Instruction graduate certificate is designed for teachers who already have a master’s degree and are interested in developing the expertise needed to serve as literacy leaders. Coursework helps teachers develop an in-depth understanding of literacy development across the lifespan, instructional and assessment strategies for individuals and groups of students, and provides preparation as Reading Specialist. Successful completion of this state-approved sequence of courses can lead to eligibility for the K-12 Reading Specialist license in Virginia.  Additional state requirements for the license include holding a master’s degree, having an initial teaching license, earning a satisfactory score on the Reading for Virginia Educators: Reading Specialist exam, and having at least three years of teaching experience under contract.

What it costs

The cost for this program is $693.25 per credit hour for VA state residents, $893.25 per credit hour for Non-VA residents. There is a 15% PreK-12 VA Educators Discount available for VA state residents who are eligible and apply. See the Cost tab below for a breakdown of tuition and fees. All of Mason’s tuition rates and fees can be found on our Student Accounts site.

Application Deadline

This program has a priority application deadline of April 1 for Fall and November 1 for Spring. However, applications are accepted on a space-available basis after the priority deadlines.  For all application information and deadlines, see the CEHD Admissions site. 

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Program Summary

75 Percent Online

Program: K-12 Reading Specialist

Degree: Graduate Certificate

College/School: College of Education and Human Development

Credits: 21 total

Who should apply?

This 21-credit graduate certificate program is designed for teachers with at least one year of teaching experience who already have a master’s degree and are interested in becoming a Reading Specialist.

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 eligibility for 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 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 Science & Technology in Manassas – to fit best into your schedule and nearest your location.
  • For individuals who already have a master’s degree, successful completion of this certificate leads to eligibility for licensure in Virginia as a K-12 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 (2021-2022)

Virginia Resident$543.00
Non-Virginia Resident $743.00
Mandatory Student fee $150.25
Total Cost for Virginia Residents per Credit $693.25
Total Cost for Non-Virginia Residents per Credit $893.25
Graduate New Student Fee$60 (non-refundable, one-time fee)

Please Note: In addition to the tuition and fees described, various course and lab fees may be assessed depending on the course(s) in which the student is enrolled. Please refer to the Students Accounts Office website for more information on tuition and fees. Internship courses will incur a higher CEHD course fee to fund on-site assistance involving intensive clinical training/supervision.

*VA state residents who are eligible must apply for the 15% PreK-12 VA Educators Discount in order to take advantage of the lower tuition. Discount applies to tuition and mandatory student fees only.

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 US institution that is accredited by one of the organizations found here
  • 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) describing your academic and career goals related to the program 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

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