Mar 02, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 

Master of Science in Education in Literacy Education

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Education

The M.S.Ed. in Literacy Education prepares experienced teachers to be socially responsible practitioner scholars and to work and learn within multicultural and multilingual contexts to foster literacy and language development for all learners across the lifespan for national and global educational settings. There are two specializations for teachers pursuing an M.S.Ed. in Literacy Education: Reading and English as a Second Language/Bilingual Education (ESL/BE). Students who want to complete Illinois State Board of Education licensure, endorsement, or approval in a literacy education field, should refer to the section “Licensure at the Graduate Level.”

Check departmental information for additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at


The Department of Curriculum and Instruction seeks to select the best-qualified applicants for admission to its programs. When the number of applicants to any program exceeds its capacity, even qualified applicants may be denied admission and encouraged to reapply at a later date.

An applicant for admission must have a baccalaureate degree with a GPA of 3.00 or higher and provide at least two letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or supervisors that provide supportive evidence of an applicant’s professional qualifications. Prospective students who fail to satisfy the GPA criterion may request special consideration of their applications. Such a request must be in writing, must include compensatory evidence related to the deficiency, and should accompany the application for admission to the Graduate School. Decisions regarding admission are made by departmental program committees on the basis of a total profile of an individual’s qualifications. Appeals of a decision made by the admissions committee may be made to the department’s Student Affairs Committee. Appeals to this committee must be in writing and must explain the basis for the appeal.

Thesis Option

Same as the non-thesis option except that a minimum of 6 semester hours must be devoted to LTCY 699, Master’s Thesis.

Non-Thesis Option

  • One graduate-level course in research approved by adviser (3)
  • Course work in major approved by adviser (21)
  • Additional course work approved by adviser (9)
  • Successful completion of a comprehensive examination for the candidates in the Reading focus.


The M.S.Ed. in literacy education requires a minimum of 33 semester hours. Students can choose either the non-thesis or thesis option.

Student-at-Large, Study-Abroad, and Transfer Credit

Student-at-large, study-abroad, and transfer hours in combination may not exceed 15 semester hours for students pursuing the M.S.Ed. degree in literacy education.

Specialization in Reading

This specialization leads to K-12 Reading Specialist certification or the 24-semester-hour Reading Teacher endorsement added to Professional Educator License (PEL). The K-12 Reading Specialist certification is for licensed teachers interested in becoming certified Reading Specialists. The Reading Teacher endorsement is for licensed teachers (already holding a PEL) who are interested in developing their expertise in literacy teaching or in applying to be a reading teacher.   

Specialization in English as a Second Language/Bilingual Education

The specialization leads to two endorsement options for teachers holding a professional educator license: the English as a Second Language endorsement and the Bilingual endorsement. The endorsements enable students to teach in a bilingual and/or English as a Second Language setting. Coursework for both endorsements are included in the master’s program for domestic teachers licensed in the State of Illinois. The Bilingual endorsement requires fluency in a language other than English and a passing score on a State of Illinois language proficiency exam. International teachers complete an online program of study with no endorsement option.

Required courses in this specialization

Domestic Program of Study

Additional courses required (total of 15 credits)

English proficiency

Non-native speakers of English will demonstrate their command of the English language, which should be adequate to engage in graduate coursework. A demonstration may be provided by submitting official IELTS or TOEFL exam scores.*

Test scores

The Northern Illinois University Graduate School has established the following minimum scores on the IELTS and TOEFL for admission purposes: 

TOEFL Computer-based test 213
TOEFL Paper-based test 550
TOEFL Internet-based test 80


*NIU accepts either IELTS or TOEFL scores.  

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Education