Reading Education Programs at UNC Charlotte

Reading and literacy are fundamental to learning across all subjects and levels in school. Beyond the classroom, literacy skills are vital for success in the workplace, civic participation and navigating most facets of our lives. The reading education programs in the Cato College of Education seek to prepare educators to help students at all levels to support reading and literacy in and out of schools. 

While students in all licensure programs in the Cato College of Education receive instruction in reading and literacy, we offer several programs that build depth of knowledge and skill in teaching for literacy educators. Here is a snapshot of these programs: 

Minor in Reading Education & Early Entry to the M.Ed. in Reading program

The Minor in Reading Education is an 18-credit-hour program for undergraduate teacher education students. This program is designed for students already seeking initial licensure in another content area who wish to gain expertise in reading methods in the K-12 public school setting. 

Early entry provides undergraduates with the opportunity to complete up to a third of the M.Ed. in Reading while meeting the requirements for the Reading Education Minor. In essence, these credits count for both the Reading Education Minor and the M.Ed. in Reading! 

Advanced Literacy Instruction & Intervention Certificate 

The ALII Certificate is a fully online 12-hour graduate certificate program designed to provide teachers and other educational professionals with tools to meet the literacy and learning needs of K-12 students.

Master's in Reading Education

The M.Ed. in Reading Education is a 33 credit-hour fully online program designed for classroom teachers, aspiring literacy and reading specialists and others whose work involves literacy education who are interested in improving instructional programs and practices that promote literacy among all learners.

Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction with a Concentration in Reading

The Literacy Education strand of the Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Reading Education, English Education, Teaching English as a Second Language, and Foreign Language Teacher Education encompassing dimensions of language, culture, and literacies broadly defined as they relate to urban education.

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Admissions requirements and deadlines for M.Ed. in ALII?

Students applying for admission to the Advanced Literacy Instruction and Intervention AND the M.Ed. in Reading Education programs must have: 

  • A bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, from a regionally accredited college or university
  • GPA of at least 3.00 (based on a 4.0 scale) on all previous work completed beyond high school (secondary school).
  • An online application through the Graduate School’s application system for the M.Ed. in Reading (not required for the Certificate)
  • A statement of purpose
  • Transcripts of all college coursework attempted
  • Official and satisfactory scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), if English is not the applicant’s native language and he or she has not earned a post-secondary degree from a U.S. institution
  • Standardized test scores are NOT required for admission  (e.g., GRE, GMAT, MAT). Test scores may be submitted as an option by applicants to provide additional information or supplement their application.

Students applying for admission to the M.Ed. in Reading Education are required to have all the of above PLUS:

  •  Three professional recommendations (submit names and emails, the Graduate School sends out a form, no letter writing required)

Application Deadlines

Applications for the M.Ed. in Reading Education Summer start are due by April 30 and applications for Fall start are due by Aug. 1 of that year. Applications for the Early Entry and the Advanced Literacy Instruction & Intervention Certicate (ALII) are accepted any time for admissions Fall, Spring or Summer. 

Are programs online or in person?

Our undergraduate programs like the Minor in Reading Education are in-person and the majority of courses are face-to-face. 

The M.Ed. in Reading and the Advanced Literacy Instruction & Intervention Certificate are both fully online. Courses are delivered in the Canvas learning management system with some instructors also using video meetings through platforms like Zoom. Early Entry students take master's level courses which are online. 

Coursework for the Ph.d. program varies with a mix of face-to-face and online. 

What about Scholarships & Grants?

We encourage students to apply for scholarships and grants through the Niner Scholarship Portal

There are two grants we encourage applicants and students to check out. 

  • The TEACH Grant is a federal grant designed to encourage highly qualified teachers to serve in low-income schools in high-need fields.  It requires a service agreement with the potential to convert grant monies paid to a student loan. The federal Department of Education has a website with information about TEACH grants. 
  • Established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011, the Forgivable Education Loans for Service provides financial assistance to qualified students enrolled in an approved education program and committed to working in critical employment shortage professions in North Carolina. The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority provides administration for the program. For the 2022-2023 academic year the approved degree programs and approved institutions can be found via the Scholarship Resource Section. 

What about teaching certifications?

Successful completion of the minor, along with a passing score on the Praxis 5206 exam, will lead to a recommendation for a North Carolina add-on K-12 license in Reading.

The M.Ed. in Reading Education program qualifies graduates who hold a North Carolina professional educator's license for an Advanced North Carolina K-12 Reading Education license at the master's level. Graduates from the program who do not have a professional educator's license can earn the M.Ed. in Reading degree but will not be eligible for licensure at any level. 

The Advanced Literacy Instruction and Intervention Certificate does not lead to any teaching certifications nor does the Ph.D. programs in Curriculum & Instruction.

What are career options for graduates?

The Minor in Reading Education program is designed for students already seeking initial licensure in another content area who wish to gain expertise in reading methods in the K-12 public school setting. The minor provides additional expertise in reading and literacy adding to the employablity of our graduates. 

Many of the graduates with the M.Ed. in Reading Education who are already teaching move into teacher leader roles such as grade-level lead teachers or subject area chairperson while others become Reading Specialists or Literacy Coaches who work with teachers to improve literacy instruction through coaching, modeling, co-teaching and leading professional development. Some literacy specialists work with students in pull-out groups to support their literacy advancement. We now accept students who are not classroom teachers and do not have an initial teaching license and for those outside of the school setting there is a range of possibilities including tutoring and working with non-profits that serve children through out-of-school programs during the summer or after-school. 

Graduates with from the Reading Strand of the Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. program have a variety of career paths with many successfully entering academia in tenure-track positions while others move into leadership positions in school districts. 

What are graduates saying about the programs?

Here’s what graduates have said about the Graduate Reading programs and its impact on their work as educators: 

  • This program allowed me to explore so many aspects of literacy from K-12 and has allowed me to offer more differentiation to my students and make my classroom a more equitable learning environment for every individual in my classroom. --Liz Boliek, 2019 Graduate 

  • I live and work in a rural school in Southeastern Illinois. Many of my students are significantly behind in reading and writing...and through the online Reading M.Ed. program at UNC Charlotte I gained knowledge in diagnostic assessments and evidence-based approaches to develop differentiated and targeted approaches to reading instruction that would reach my students where they are.  --Katie Kiser, 2019 Graduate

  • During my experience at UNC Charlotte, I developed close relationships with the faculty and classmates. To this day, I continue to seek input and advice from classmates in the M.Ed program when faced with professional challenges. The knowledge and skills I obtained from the program opened many doors for me professionally. --Courtney Stallmann, 2015 Graduate

What are the degree and work requirements for M.Ed. & ALII Certificate?

Applicants to the M.Ed. and ALII Certificate programs must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited university. Candidates are not required to have teaching experience, although teaching or work with K-12 students in literacy in our out of schools is highly recommended.

What are the estimated program costs?

Programs costs depend on your residency status which is determined the State of North Carolina. Below is an estimate of costs for our M.Ed. in Reading Education and our Advanced Literacy Instruction & Intervention Certificate programs as of Feb. 2022: 

ALII Certificate


  • $280.34 per credit hour
  • $3,364.00 est. program cost

Outside of NC Non-Resident:

  • $521.29 per credit hour
  • $6,256.00 est. program cost

Master's of Reading Education


  • $280.34 per credit hour
  • $9,252.00 est. program cost

Outside of NC Non-Resident:

  • $521.29 per credit hour
  • $17,203.00 est. program cost

What is the sequence of courses for the Masters and Certificate programs?

M.Ed. in Reading Education Course Sequence

The master's program is a cohort model that takes two academic years to complete from Summer/Fall of one year with graduation in Spring of the second full year for most students. The current course of study for students in the masters offers two start options: 1) Summer, or 2) Fall. Both offer a pathway to graduate in two years for students to follow. We strongly encourage students starting the program to begin their first summer taking one or two courses. This lightens the courseload during the second Summer from 9 hours to 6 or 3 hours. 

The courses for the master's include:

Summer (taken first or second summer, typically)

  • READ 6204 Teaching Reading to ELL
  • READ 6300 Global Literacy in a Multicultural World: Genre Studies
  • RSCH 6101 Educational Research Methods


  • READ 6100 Trends and Issues in Literacy and Leadership
  • READ 6250 Emergent and Elementary Literacy


  • READ 6252 K-12 Writing Development and Instruction
  • EDUC 6254 Individualizing Instruction for Diverse Learners


  • ELED 6303 Teacher Inquiry and Data Analysis in the Elementary Classroom
  • READ 6255 Middle/Secondary Reading and Writing

Spring (final term)

  • READ 6260 Diagnostic Assessment and Instruction in Reading
  • READ 6474 Collaborative Leadership in Literacy Education


We develop an Early Entry plan that is individualiized for each of our undergraduates who begins the Masters program while an undergraduate so early entry students do not follow the cohort sequence. 

Advanced Literacy Instruction & Intervention Certificate Course Sequence

Students in the 12-hour certificate program take READ 6250 or READ 6255 and three other READ courses: ​

  • READ 6250 Emergent and Elementary Literacy or READ 6255 Middle/Secondary Reading and Writing -- take one based on the grade level(s) you work with
  • READ 6252 K-12 Writing Development and Instruction 
  • READ 6204 Teaching Reading to ELLs
  • READ 6260 Diagnostic Assessment and Instruction in Reading    

All coursework in the Advanced Literacy Instruction & Intervention Certificate can apply towards the M.Ed. in Reading Education at UNC Charlotte for students who wish to go beyond the certificate and earn their master’s degree. 

Students may start the ALII Certificate any term--Spring, Summer or Fall. The program requires three semesters or one academic year to complete. 

Link to our Current Course Sequence for Master's and Certificate Programs

Here is a link to the current course sequence for our M.Ed. in Reading Education and ALII Certificate programs.