Literacy Education | Online

Program Type
Master’s Program (Online)
Master of Science in Education (MSEd)
Mode of Study

Tuition & fees

Costs include tuition & fees. See cost details

Credit hours

36 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship, fellowship & research opportunities. Explore aid


6 entry terms per year. No GRE required. View application process & deadlines

Program highlights

  • Balance your schedule while completing your degree: Our fully online program for certified educators allows you to complete coursework from wherever you are.
  • Earn your degree on your terms: Study full-time and finish in as few as 2 years, or study part-time and finish in 4 years.
  • Obtain your Maine literacy specialist license (092) through our Maine state-approved program.
  • Practice and enhance your literacy instruction skills by working with K-8 students in our unique practicum experience.
  • Save money with reduced e-tuition for out-of-state students.
  • Join a network of graduates who consistently exceed required passing scores on the Praxis Subject Assessment.
Two students with their laptops laughing.

Program requirements

Explore established and emergent teaching methods to help meet the needs of diverse K-12 learners. Our curriculum aligns with the International Literacy Association’s Professional Standards for Reading Professionals.

A teacher works with two elementary school students in a classroom.

Implement K-12 literacy instruction

Graduates are prepared to enhance literacy instruction in their classroom as K-12 teacher-leaders or serve as literacy specialists, literacy coaches, literacy interventionists, and Title I Directors.

A teacher works with two students to teach them about salmon.

Practicum tailored to your goals

Empower eager K-8 students while developing your instructional skills. You’ll work with young learners in an intensive Summer Reading and Writing Workshop. We are the only Literacy Education program offering this innovative practicum experience.

Logo for CAEP (Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation)

National accreditation and state approval

We are nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and state-approved by the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine Department of Education.

An aerial view of the University of Southern Maine Gorham campus.

Experienced, dedicated faculty

Each full-time faculty member holds a doctoral degree in the field of Literacy, Language, and Culture. Part-time faculty are experienced members of our professional education community.

“The practicum experience was so valuable to my teaching. Having a chance to try out different techniques alongside amazing coaches helped me grow as a literacy teacher. The course made me more reflective and purposeful in my conferring and student goal setting. It was also nice to work with students who are in grades that are out of my comfort zone.”
— Chelsea Haffenreffer ’19, MSEd in Literacy Education
Chelsea Haffenreffer '19 smiles as she sits in an office.
A man sits at a table with a laptop and book, gazing down.


Upon program completion, you will be eligible to apply for a Literacy Specialist Certificate (092) through the State of Maine.

Two elementary school students write answers on a whiteboard in a classroom.

Frequently asked questions

We prepare our graduate students to design and implement literacy instruction at all levels while emphasizing cross-cultural competence.

A woman in a red sweater sits and works on a laptop.

Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today
Two women sit at a table and review paperwork together.

Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

Graduate students attend their orientation in a lecture hall, with a staff member speaking at a podium.

Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

You may also be interested in…
Next steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

Get info
Meet us

A student sits at a table and writes on a stack of papers.

Admission information: MSEd in Literacy Education

Application deadlines & program start dates

Choose from 6 start dates per year.

SessionApplication deadlineProgram start date
Summer 2024 term: Session 1April 24, 2024May 13, 2024
Summer 2024 term: Session 2June 12, 2024July 1, 2024
Fall 2024 term: Session 1August 15, 2024September 3, 2024
Fall 2024 term: Session 2October 9, 2024October 28, 2024
Spring 2025 term: Session 1January 2, 2025January 21, 2025
Spring 2025 term: Session 2March 5, 2025March 24, 2025
Summer 2025 term: Session 1April 30, 2025May 19, 2025
Summer 2025 term: Session 2June 18, 2025July 1, 2025

Applicant must have a bachelor’s degree and have earned a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in a baccalaureate degree program; Applicants who do not have a 2.5 overall GPA must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete graduate studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied. The applicant must also have attained teacher certification (provisional or professional level) and must have at least one year of teaching experience.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Exceptions to this policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis and are up to the discretion of the admitting program.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Personal statement: Type a brief essay (300-500 words) stating your reasons for pursuing graduate study, your professional goals, and how you think this program of study will contribute to these goals. You may include a statement of any special interest you would like to pursue in your study.
  • Proof of teacher certification: See details below.

About proof of teacher certification

  • The evidence should be a copy of your teacher certification from the state in which you are certified. Teacher certification must be at the level of provisional or professional, and not at the level of conditional certification.
  • This program requires that students are certified teachers at the time of admission and for the duration of the program.
  • Students seeking an exemption to this requirement must write a request for a waiver that includes both an explanation and justification for the request.
  • Submit your proof of teacher certification or request for a waiver along with your application materials to

Transfer Credit

Previously completed graduate courses may be approved for transfer into a graduate program within the Literacy, Language, and Culture programs if credits for the courses were earned no more than five years prior to matriculation, with grades of B or better.

For previous work completed through the University of Maine System, up to twelve credits may be accepted if the courses meet the requirements above and are equivalent to core courses or elective courses in the relevant USM program of study. Up to six graduate credits completed at institutions outside of the University of Maine System may be accepted if the courses meet the requirements above and are equivalent to core courses or elective courses in the relevant USM program of study. A syllabus for each course submitted for transfer credit from outside the University of Maine System must be provided upon application.

Transfer of more than twelve University of Maine System credits or six non-University of Maine System credits may be approved by the department chair and faculty. These credits may include a certificate of graduate study program courses and professional development in-service graduate courses. Requests for the transfer of credits taken more than five years prior to matriculation may also be evaluated and approved by the department chair and faculty.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address