M.Ed. in Literacy: Robert Morris University M.Ed. in Literacy | Robert Morris University

Master of Education in Literacy

Reading Specialist Certification

This M.Ed. is a 37-credit program that provides candidates with the foundation to serve as a reading specialist in a K-12 setting and also earn a Master's of Education in Literacy degree.

A Reading Specialist Certification in Pennsylvania is acquired after completion of required coursework, a six-credit practicum and passing scores on the Reading Specialist Praxis exam. Students can then choose to continue their coursework to earn a master of education in literacy by taking an additional nine credits in research at the graduate level.

The Master in Education in Literacy -- Reading Specialist Certification provides learning opportunities for classroom teachers to better manage resources in the classroom for students with literacy needs. The program offers certified teachers a K-12 certification that has both a theoretical and applied approach to working with students' literacy problems in the classroom. Candidates learn to assess reading difficulties, implement appropriate literacy instructions, and use data-driven instruction to plan school-wide literacy programs. Finally, this degree and certification also provide a diverse yet highly specialized background in education of great benefit to teachers.

All instructors in the RDSP courses are certified as Reading Specialists, hold terminal degrees from fully accredited universities, and all have extensive background work in reading in the public school system.

The handbook for the M.Ed. in Literacy and the Reading Specialist Certification is here.  The coordinator for the Reading Specialist Program is Dr. Carianne Bernadowski.  Click here to go to the website for Reading Horizons, the Foundation for Reading English.

Program Format

The first 28 credits of coursework that will provide candidates with a comprehensive background in literacy meeting all requirements of the certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The program is designed to be completed in approximately 4 semesters, which includes one summer. Semester coursework takes place two evenings per week during two 8-week sessions each in the fall and spring terms; each class during these sessions is offered in a 4-hour block. Some of the courses will be offered as hybrid in terms of course delivery. Upon completion, students will have earned enough credits to apply for the Reading Specialist certification upon their successful comprehensive exam and reading specialist Praxis exam. To earn the Master of Education in Literacy students must complete an additional nine credits. 

The reading specialist program is offered at the RMU Moon Township Campus only.

Academic Standing

In order for a student to be in good academic standing in the program, the teacher candidate must have a minimum cumulative QPA of 3.00.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the Reading Specialist Certification are required to hold the Instructional I Certificate. In addition, applicants for the Master in Education in Literacy -- Reading Specialist Certification also need to have:

To apply, go to rmu.edu/gradapply. You can complete the application online with no application fee. Alternatively, you can download the graduate application PDF form, and then mail in the completed form with required documentation and $35 application fee.

Click to visit the RMU Office of Graduate Admissions website to find out about tuition and fees, financial aid, and how to apply for the program; or contact the Office of Graduate Admissions directly at graduateadmissions@rmu.edu or 800-762-0097.


The following are a list of numbered descriptions of the courses that comprise the 36-credit Master of Education in Literacy.

The first 28 credits are taken sequentially as a cohort. The additional nine credits are general research courses that all master candidates take in M.Ed. program in the Education Department.

RDSP 6700: Current Trends and Issues in Literacy

In this course elementary and secondary teacher candidates will be examining current crucial aspects of reading and writing from leading authorities in the field. Key topics include reading fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, English as second language learners, literacy coaching, adolescent literacy, literacy testing/coaching, technology, adolescent literacy, and writing. Each of these topics will be explored, discussed, and further researched in terms of their interpretation by literacy educators at all levels of instruction and practice and by a wide variety of opinions and positions drawn from some of today’s leading researchers and writers in the field of literacy.

RDSP 6710: Foundations and Principles of Literacy Instruction

Candidates will be introduced, through theory and practice, to a variety of strategies for teaching reading and writing in a k-6 setting. Phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, text comprehension and fluency are the focus of the course with a strong connection to current practice and research. Candidates will become aware of ways to analyze and implement reading programs and ways to support children as they develop as readers. Candidates will also become familiar with materials used in the classroom to support literacy development. Additionally, each student will develop the basic knowledge, skills and strategies for teaching students who are linguistically and culturally diverse and/or have diverse learning needs in the general education classroom.

EDUC 6400: Reading Across the Curriculum/ English Language Learners

This course focuses on research and principles of reading in content area instruction. It examines the importance of reader background knowledge and language acquisition across the curriculum. Specifically, the language and culture of English Language Learners will be explored to facilitate the planning and implementation of effective assessment and instruction. This course examines key areas of working with reading for diverse learners (students with special needs and English Language Learners), implementing assessment tools in the content areas, and integrating technology to improve reading and literacy. Emphasis is on pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading strategies. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to design lesson plans that effectively demonstrate reading strategies covered in the course to meet the needs of all students.

RDSP 6720: Assessment and Intervention in Early Literacy: K-3

Candidates will be introduced, through theory and practice, to a variety of literacy assessment tools in a kindergarten through grade 3 setting. Assessment tools for phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, text comprehension and fluency are the focus of the course with a strong connection to current best-practice and research. Candidates will become aware of ways to analyze data to implement developmentally appropriate instruction for students of diverse reading abilities and diverse backgrounds. Candidates will become familiar with a myriad of assessment tools used in the classroom to assess literacy development and monitor progress.

RDSP 6730: Assessment and Intervention in Adolescent Literacy: 4-12

Candidates will be introduced, through theory and practice, to a variety of literacy assessment tools applicable in grades 4-12. Assessment tools for text comprehension, fluency and vocabulary will be explored with a strong connection to current best practice and research. Candidates will become aware of ways to analyze data for student achievement at the school and district levels. Additionally, students will be introduced to the current means by which to monitor progress in those settings.

SPED 6020: Reading and Special Education

This course examines methods and best practices for developing literacy for students with exceptional needs in K-12. Reading, spelling, and written language are often major areas of concern and focus in student IEPs. This course explores the use of appropriate assessment tools, reading materials, universal design, and instructional strategies to increase the reading achievement of students across all levels of their education (elementary through high school). Assessment, implementation, and impact of Response to Intervention are addressed. In addition, the course investigates methods for adapting state standards and meeting NCLB and IDEA requirements for students with exceptional needs.

RDSP 6740: Leadership and Supervision for Reading Specialists and Literacy Coaches

This course examines the leadership roles that reading specialists and literacy coaches play in a K-12 school setting. Candidates will examine how to effectively implement professional development at the school and district level, form a literacy team, determine a school’s literacy needs, develop a literacy plan, select and evaluate instructional and technology resources, and analyze elementary, middle and high school programs. Through a myriad of practical experiences and online discussions, candidates will reflect on the best methods to serve as a leader of a school-wide literacy team. This course is offered as an online course.

RDSP 6750: Practicum for Reading Specialists

This practicum is a 6 credit lab-based clinical experience where certificate candidates will be working directly with children in the area of literacy. Candidates will synthesize the learning of candidates in the reading specialist program. This off-campus experience affords the student the opportunity to test, diagnose, and design a literacy program suitable for an individual or small group of children and/or adolescents. The clinician will take into consideration the elements of the cognitive and affective domains as well as curriculum and instructional context. The candidate will work with ELL and/or special needs students during this time. The candidate will be observed daily by the course instructor.

EDUC6065: Educational Statistics

This course focuses on the use of descriptive and inferential statistics and their roles in research studies. Topics such as graphical and tabular displays of data, descriptive statistics including measures of central tendency and variability, standard scores, the normal distribution, one and two sample tests and confidence intervals on the mean, correlation coefficients, simple linear regression, and chi-square tests will be discussed. Focus is placed on generating statistical output using SPSS, interpreting that output, and summarizing statistical results in written form.

EDUC 6130: Research Seminar

This course focuses on introducing the research process in education, including identifying and stating the research problem, reviewing the literature, planning the research design, reporting the findings, and writing the research report. Students review and analyze the research of others with an emphasis on adequacy of design, appropriateness of the analysis and generalization of the results. A major requirement of the course is the development of a three chapter research proposal.

EDUC 6140: Research Practicum

The Research Practicum is a capstone research experience that guides students from theory to application of the principles and concepts of courses from the Master of education in literacy. Students develop and implement a research project or professional practitioner project. The course is a hybrid and will meet both on campus and online in a discussion board. The Dept. Head registers the student once approval has been granted.

RDSP 6010: Orton-Gillingham Course

This course is designed to train individuals in the Orton-Gillingham remediation approach. Learning will consist of lectures, observation, demonstrations, and role playing. Participants will study the nature of dyslexia, the structure of the English language, and Orton-Gillingham instructional strategies. The course will include feedback regarding lesson plan preparation, practice implementing sample Orton-Gillingham lessons, and tests and quizzes.

RDSP 6015: Orton-Gillingham Practicum

This course is designed to serve as the practicum component to the Orton-Gillingham course. The practicum requires that students tutor two children two times per week using a diagnostic and prescriptive approach to construct lesson plans based on individual needs. Students will complete 100 hours of individualized tutoring and with supervision to attain OG certification over the course of at least eight months.

Initial certification education students follow the Teacher Education Progress Process for undergraduatespost-baccalaureate students, and transfer students


For More Information, Contact:

Dr. Richard Fuller, D.Ed. 

Department Head, Education
Professor of Education
School of Education & Social Sciences

412-397-6029 Phone
412-397-6044 Fax
Nicholson Center 458
Moon Campus
More Info