M.S.Ed. in Reading/Writing/Literacy and Reading Specialist Certification

Part of the Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division

Students in this interdisciplinary program study literacy and language from sociopolitical, cultural, psychological, historical, linguistic, and literacy perspectives. Internships in such settings as schools and community and social service agencies allow students to work with learners across generations and cultures.


Fast Facts


  • Transfer Courses Accepted: 1 course
  • Entry terms: Spring, Summer and Fall
  • Course Requirements: 11 courses (3 Required Courses; 8 Elective Courses)
  • Course Requirements for Reading Specialist Certification: 12 courses (3 Required Courses; 8 Elective Courses; 4 Reading Specialist Certification Courses)
  • Typical Course Load (Full-time students): Fall: 5 courses; Spring: 5 courses; Summer: 1 course
  • Comprehensive Examination: Academic Portfolio
  • Only US citizens are eligible to apply for Pennsylvania Reading Specialist Certification after the completion of coursework.


View Admissions Requirements



Four principles guide the M.S.Ed. program in Reading/Writing/Literacy:

  • The program is interdisciplinary because literacy, language, and culture interact in rich and complex ways. Literacy and Language are studied from sociopolitical, cultural, psychological, historical, linguistic, and literacy perspectives. 
  • The program is inquiry-based, intended to raise questions about the relationships among theory, research, policy, and practice while encouraging students to build their own theories of research and practice.  
  • The program focuses on diversity and on urban settings and the contexts of different schools, communities, families, and cultures.  
  • The program is committed to educational change and recognizes that educational institutions are sites in which to work for social justice, equity, and transformation. Students are encouraged to take courses across the divisions of GSE and across the university.

Through internships in settings such as the Weingarten Learning Resources Center; public, charter, and independent schools; community colleges; and community and social service agencies, students in RWL work with learners across generations and cultures. Students collaborate with RWL faculty in research associated with some of the most distinguished research centers and professional development projects in the country: the Philadelphia Writing Project, the Penn Literacy Network, the National Center on Fathers and Families, the National Center on Adult Literacy, Penn’s Early Childhood and Family Studies Institute, and the International Literacy Institute.

Program of Study

Core Courses

Please click here to download the Reading/Writing/Literacy M.S.Ed. Program of Study.

  • EDUC 533 Forming and Reforming the Elementary RWL Curriculum
  • EDUC 629 Teaching English/Language and Literacy in Middle and Secondary Schools: An Inquiry into Adolescent Literacy
  • EDUC 723 Multicultural Issues in Education
  • EDUC 535 Literature for Children and Adolescents (Reading Specialist Core Course)
  • EDUC 635 Assessing Language and Learning Differences (RSC Course)
  • EDUC 735 Tutorial Work in Reading/Writing/Literacy (RSC Course)
  • EDUC 525 Fieldwork for Reading Specialist (RSC Course)
  • One Distribution Course (outside of RWL but within GSE)


Standing Faculty

Gerald Campano, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Vivian Gadsden, Ed.D.

University of Michigan

Amy Stornaiuolo, Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Ph.D.

University of Michigan

Affiliated Faculty

Diane Waff, Ed.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Myrna Cohen, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Susan Lea, Ed.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Heidi Gross, Ed.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Rhoda Kanevsky (Fieldwork), M.A.

Lesley University

Betsy Wice (Fieldwork)

Harvard University


Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tamika Easley
Program Manager
(215) 898-3245

Lorraine Hightower
Admissions Assistant
(215) 898-8435