The 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

Student writing on a white board

LITERACY EDUCATION

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 degree and certificate programs:

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.
  • 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
Instructor pointing at a white board

TESOL: TEACHING ENGLISH TO SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES

The University of Southern Maine (USM) program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is dedicated to improving the lives of English language learners and other culturally and linguistically diverse students.

We prepare our students to serve as multicultural educators in Maine, elsewhere in the U.S., or overseas.

Our degree and certificate programs:

The only Master’s Degree in TESOL in the state of Maine: 

  • Practicing teachers: You can choose to complete the degree online or through a blend of online and on-campus courses.
  • Pre-service teachers: You can earn your initial K-12 ESL certification (English as a second language).

A Certificate of Graduate Study that leads toward state ESL certification. Complete our graduate certificate program in as little as one year. We welcome both certified teachers and those working toward teacher certification.

A self-directed Post-Masters Certificate of Advanced Study. Gain specialty in the areas of TESOL that best align with your interests and career. Can lead to state ESL endorsement.

Program Benefits

  • Advance your career: TESOL, TESL, and TEFL (English as a Second and/or Foreign Language) instructors are in high demand in the state of Maine, across the U.S., and abroad.
  • Focus on teaching: Our graduates are prepared to teach in K-12 schools or adults in the community. Each degree and certificate program includes experiential learning through volunteer, practicum, and internship opportunities. Learn more [Links to Field Experience page].
  • No GRE requirement: Our master’s programs do not require the GRE to apply.
  • Study where you are: We offer online program options for the MSEd in TESOL and the Certificate of Graduate Study.
  • Study at your pace: Each of our programs can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. 
  • Schedule helps accommodate working professionals: 
    • On-campus and blended courses are held on weekday evenings. 
    • We offer rolling admissions — you can begin your studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
    • Courses in the fully online master’s program can be completed at any time each week.

Our Faculty Support Your Success

In our supportive learning community, faculty provide guidance and mentorship for your academic and professional success. 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 the professional education community and many are current practitioners in the field. 

Among our faculty’s scholarship, you’ll find that they are actively involved with presenting work at national conferences, having their work published in journals, serving as members of national committees, and engaging with the Northern New England TESOL Association.

Our Alumni Teach Locally and Abroad

Our graduates teach all over the world, including in the United States, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, and Egypt, among other countries. Our alumni are frequently named Maine Teacher of the Year and have also been named a Boren Fellow and Fulbright Fellow.

Curriculum Aligned with Professional Standards

  • Our curriculum is aligned with TESOL Professional Teaching Standards, which emphasize:
    • Language
    • Culture
    • Planning, implementing, and managing instruction
    • Assessment
    • Professionalism 
  • Our program is based on the International Literacy Association’s Professional Standards for Reading Professionals, which emphasize:
    • Foundational knowledge
    • Curriculum and instruction
    • Assessment and evaluation
    • Diversity
    • Literate environment
    • Professional learning and leadership

Convenient for International Students

We offer fully online programs that you can complete from your home country, as well as programs that offer you an opportunity to join us on campus and study in the U.S.

National Accreditation and State Approval

Our MSEd in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): Initial K-12 ESL Certification is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and is also approved by the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine Department of Education.

The TESOL K12 ESL program will prepare students to be eligible for licensure within the State of Maine. Visit the UMS State Authorization and Licensure page to learn more about the licensure requirements in other states and territories, and for contact information to inquire further about the licensure requirements associated with this program. 

Each of our courses aligns with the School’s core values in the following ways:

  • Democracy – Students will be exposed to multiple views and perspectives with regard to ESL testing and assessment, utilize inclusive dialogue, and be encouraged to express their views.
  • Civility and Caring – Instructors will model the use of constructive communication, protection of individual dignity, and empathy, compassion, and openness. Students will be expected to demonstrate these qualities in their interactions with their instructor and peers. Evidence of differentiation for students will be expected to be included in lesson plans.
  • Equity and Diversity – Course content will include ways to differentiate for a variety of learner types including struggling readers and individuals from different cultures. Students will be expected to include differentiated elements in their lesson plans.
  • Social Justice – Students will adjust instruction, as needed, to empower all learners to develop literacy skills in order to be active members of society.
  • Ethical Practice – Instructors will engage in and insist on the highest level of professional practice. Students are involved in assessing theory and the best pedagogy, determining how to link this understanding to their own teaching practice.
  • Scholarship – Students will examine research, theory and best practice to guide their own content area instruction and assessment.
  • Professional Learning and Continuous Improvement – Students and instructors will participate in ongoing dialogue to exchange ideas for mutual and continuing professional growth.