Literacy Education


A woman writes words on a whiteboard.The University of Southern Maine (USM) Literacy Education program recognizes the challenges that readers and writers face today. Embracing both tradition and innovation, we explore established and emergent teaching methods to meet the needs of diverse K-12 learners.

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

We are excited to now offer an online, 7-week format for certified teachers.With six sessions per year, we allow teachers to begin their program at the most convenient time for them.

Our online degree and certificates:

Program Benefits

  • Academic excellence: Our curriculum is aligned with the International Literacy Association’s Professional Standards for Reading Professionals.
  • Experiential learning: Master’s degree students practice and enhance their literacy instruction skills by working with K-8 students in a practicum experience.
  • Above-average Praxis scores: Our MSEd graduates consistently exceed the required passing scores on the Praxis Subject Assessment.
  • Flexible schedule helps accommodate working professionals: Study part-time or full-time. Begin your studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
  • No GRE requirement: We do not require the GRE for admissions.

Program Format and Timeframe

  • Format: Our degree and certificate programs are offered in a blended format. Some courses are held online, some courses are held in person, and some courses include a blend of online and in-person sessions.
  • Completion timeframe:
    • The master’s degree and each certificate can be completed in as little as two years through full-time study.
    • You may take up to five years if needed, to complete your program through part-time study.

Dedicated Faculty

Our faculty are committed to your academic and professional success; they provide personal guidance for your professional development and career path.

Each full-time faculty member holds a doctoral degree in the field of Literacy, Language, and Culture. Our part-time faculty are experienced members of our professional education community and many hold teaching positions in regional public and private K-12 schools.

Among our faculty’s scholarship, you’ll find that they are actively involved with presenting work at national conferences, publishing their work in journals, serving as members of state education associations and committees, and engaging with the Southern Maine Writing Project.

Award-Winning Alumni

Our alumni are frequently named Maine Teacher of the Year and recognized for innovation, professionalism, and dedication in teaching. 

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

Maine State-Approved

Our MSEd in Literacy Education is approved by the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine Department of Education, recognizing that we strive for continuous improvement and utilize the outcomes of new knowledge, practices, and technologies.

Curriculum Aligned with Professional Standards

The curriculum of our individual courses, certificates, and master’s program is aligned with the International Literacy Association’s Professional Standards, which emphasize:

  • Foundational knowledge
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Diversity
  • Literate environment
  • Professional learning and leadership
  • Practicum/Clinical Experiences

Department of Literacy, Language, and Culture

Our Department of Literacy, Language, and Culture includes the Literacy Education program as well as the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program. Many of our faculty teach in both programs, and several courses are offered to students studying in each program. 

The Department is a part of the School of Education and Human Development, which is housed within the College of Management and Human Service.

Embracing Diversity 

The Department of Literacy, Language, and Culture celebrates, welcomes, and embraces the diversity of students, faculty, staff, families, and the community. We recognize that, as lifelong learners, we must continuously explore, study, analyze, and critically discuss matters of culture, equity, access, and diversity. We welcome learners of all backgrounds, including culturally and linguistically diverse students as well as English language learners. We offer an inclusive environment and a culture of mutual respect that fosters an atmosphere of collegiality and kindness. We are a multicultural and international community. Recognizing the challenges that learners face today, we seek to address such challenges and create solutions for today and tomorrow.