Most Affordable Online Master's in Literacy Education

Updated November 15, 2022

Find the best online programs for earning your reading specialist certification or master's in literacy education. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Learn more about online master's degree programs in literacy education

Individuals drawn to working as literacy specialists in K-12 school settings possess a passion for helping children overcome reading obstacles and the knowledge needed to ensure they succeed. Some may work as classroom teachers, while others may focus on coordinating instructional materials and setting teaching standards. Roles for these professionals are projected to grow by 11% in the coming years by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These positions offer annual median salaries of $63,750 — as compared to $56,900 for kindergarten and elementary teachers — and require master's degrees. Because many individuals pursue these degrees while working, most offer maximum distance learning flexibility so students can find balance. If you're interested in learning more about online master's degree programs in reading and literacy, review the schools below to get a sense of what this degree can provide in terms of job stability, professional growth, and salary potential.

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The 25 Most Affordable Online Master's in Literacy Education

  1. Olivet Nazarene University

    Bourbonnais, IL

    Olivet Nazarene University, a Christian liberal arts institution in Illinois, educates approximately 5,000 students annual through both campus-based and online degree offerings. The M.A.E. reading specialist program exists for individuals already working in classrooms who want to specialize their knowledge in reading and literacy. Learners spend 12 months working toward endorsement and an additional six months to complete master's degree requirements. All told, the program comprises 32 credits. Examples of coursework include content-area reading, assessment/diagnosis of reading problems, and a creative project or practicum during the final semester. Students enter the program as a cohort and can choose from five start dates throughout the year.

  2. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

    Edinboro, PA

    Operating as a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Edinboro University offers a master's in reading and literacy online for individuals who want to help students with reading disabilities and implement effective interventions. After finishing the program, graduates qualify to take the PRAXIS exam and receive certification as reading specialists. Students complete 30 credits, including studies in language arts instruction, research design in reading, literacy instruction for the content area professional, and literacy difficulties assessment and intervention. Edinboro does not require GRE scores, but applicants should possess a minimum 3.0 GPA to be competitive.

  3. Concordia University-Chicago

    River Forest, IL

    Although Concordia University operates as a comprehensive institution providing a wide spectrum of degrees, the school started as a teacher preparation college and still maintains a deep dedication to educators. The College of Graduate Studies offers an online master's program in reading and literacy for certified teachers that leads to a reading specialist certification (K-12) after graduation. Courses last eight weeks and students can finish the program in two years while still enjoying summer and holiday breaks. 30 credits must be taken in areas of remediation of reading problems, studies in elementary school reading, and content reading in middle/secondary schools. Degree seekers also complete two practicums in reading instruction and remedial reading before completing a capstone experience.

  4. University of the Cumberlands

    Williamsburg, KY

    Founded in 1889 as a private institution with ties to the Southern Baptist Convention, the University of the Cumberlands serves 7,000 learners annually with undergraduate and graduate degrees. The institution provides an online M.A.E. with a concentration in literacy specialist (P-12). The program requires 30 credits total and offers hands-on learning experiences that teach students how to coach fellow teachers, implement cutting-edge techniques, and create transformational lesson plans. Although UC charges higher tuition as a private institution, the financial aid office provides a number of scholarships to help lower these costs.

  5. Northeastern State University

    Tahlequah, OK

    Oklahoma's Northeastern State University offers a fully online master's program in reading and literacy for individuals already working as classroom teachers. The M.E. in reading requires a minimum of 33 credits, including 20 credits devoted exclusively to reading topics. Students also delve into studies related to educational research, effectiveness measurements, and early childhood education. NSU designed the program to mirror the International Reading Association's competencies. Applicants should hold at least a 2.5 GPA on undergraduate coursework. They must also take the MAT or GRE within the first 16 credits of coursework and score in the 25th percentile or above.

  6. Canisius College

    Buffalo, NY

    Operating as one of only 28 Jesuit institutions in the U.S., Canisius College serves nearly 3,500 students each year. The School of Education & Human Services offers a master's in literacy for existing classroom teachers to specialize their knowledge. Once enrolled, students decide if they want certification in birth-6th or 5th-12th. Coursework required in this program includes adolescent literacy, teaching reading in classrooms of diversity, and role of the literacy specialist. Degree seekers also complete two practicums and work with the school's Literacy Center during a two-week summer intensive at the school to develop skills along the way. The department enjoys a 95% pass rate on the literacy certification exam.

  7. Missouri State University-Springfield

    Springfield, MO



    The M.S.E. in literacy at Missouri State University in Springfield exists for certified teachers looking to increase their employability and educate more children in specialized areas. The program consists of 39 credits, including three to six hours of research - either towards a thesis or an extensive paper. Coursework covers topics literacy curriculum design, educational research methodologies, and the relationship of language to literacy and intellectual development. To graduate, learners must pass a comprehensive exam. Missouri residents pay $214 per credit while those outside the state pay $477. The department provides no scholarships, but students may qualify for a merit- or need-based scholarship offered by the institution.

  8. Concordia University-Nebraska

    Seward, NE



    Distance learners seeking an intimate educational experience often feel drawn to Concordia University Nebraska due to its small student body of 2,300 learners. The institution provides an M.Ed. in literacy with reading specialist emphasis. Designed for teachers in elementary or secondary classrooms, private or public, the plan of study requires 36 credits and offers multiple start dates throughout the year. Each class lasts just eight weeks, making it possible for students to accelerate their learning. Studies include decoding, comprehension, and fluency; teaching writing in grades PK-12; and literacy assessment and intervention. The degree concludes with a three-hour case study developed after documenting student interactions in a classroom. Regardless of residency, all learners pay $425 per credit.

  9. Carson-Newman University

    Jefferson City, TN

    Located in the Tri-Cities area of northeast Tennessee, Carson-Newman University provides Christian-focused educations to approximately 2,500 campus-based and online students. The M.E. reading specialist program exists to help existing teachers with at least three years of classroom experience gain licensure as PreK-12 reading specialists in Tennessee after passing the corresponding PRAXIS examination. Degree seekers must complete a minimum of 33 credits, although they have the option to add a three hour research option if they want to write a thesis. In addition to core education topics, learners also enroll in classes on emergent literacy, diagnosis and correction of reading problems, and using books with children and adolescents.

  10. University of Central Arkansas

    Conway, AR

    Historically established as a teacher's college in 1907, the University of Central Arkansas provides many other degrees these days but still prioritizes preparing the next generation of educators. The Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education offers an M.S.E. in Reading with a dyslexia endorsement. The program, designed with standards created by the International Literacy Association and the International Society for Technology in Education, consists of 30 credits and leads to teaching license eligibility for Arkansas Reading Specialist K-12 and Arkansas Dyslexia Endorsement K-12. Applicants must already hold a valid Arkansas teaching license to receive consideration for admission.

Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools

At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs. We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

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Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we looked for public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer master's in reading and literacy education degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

We also only considered education programs that are currently accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Ranking Factors

After compiling a list of all the colleges that offer online master's degrees in reading and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:

  • Program Popularity: How many students choose to earn their master's degree in reading over other education-related options (that is, how much interest/demand is there in the school's literacy degree compared to its other teaching programs)? To find out, we looked at both the number of master's students who earned their reading degree in the most recent school year as well as the percentage of all master's program graduates that that number represents.
  • Overall Strength of Online Teacher Education Programs: How much emphasis does the school place on providing accessible teacher education training? For this metric, we looked at the total number of online graduate programs the school offers in teaching as well as the percentage of all graduate students who are enrolled in one of these programs.
  • Accreditation:In addition to being a CAEP-accredited provider, has the school also earned national recognition from CAEP for its reading education program? Colleges and universities can only obtain such recognition by meeting strict curricular standards related to reading and literacy.
  • Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?

After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.

Read more about the best cheap online master's degrees in literacy programs below!

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 25 top cheap master's in reading and literacy education degrees online!

IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation - Provider Search
CAEP - Glossary of Terms

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