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Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership, M.S.

McDaniel’s Graduate Program for Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership (RDS) prepares you to be a change-maker in literacy education—in your classroom and in the field.

Degree Types
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Program Cost
$548 per credit
Total credits

About the Program

The RDS program offers a comprehensive approach to reading instruction and incorporates current research, theoretical perspectives, informed practice, and thoughtful reflection. As a student in the program, you’ll implement a series of assessment procedures and instructional techniques across multiple grade levels to address the needs of diverse learners. And you’ll do all this while becoming an important part of a McDaniel’s collaborative professional network.

Key Features of the RDS Program

  • Meets International Literacy Association standards as a nationally recognized program for the preparation of Reading Specialists
  • Presents opportunities to apply theory and research through practicum experiences and performance outcomes
  • Fosters close working relationships with knowledgeable faculty
  • Examines ongoing assessment-instruction processes with a variety of diverse learners
  • Incorporates courses that address current issues facing literacy professionals, including the option to specialize in Teaching English Learners with the opportunity to pursue dual certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or in Dyslexia through Level I Certification in the Wilson Language Reading System®

What You Need to Know About the M.S. in Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership

Admissions Requirements

Candidates must submit:

  • Application for graduate study
  • Official transcripts conferring bachelor’s degree (minimum of 3.00 GPA*) from an accredited institution; graduate transcripts if applicable.
  • Copy of a Teaching Certificate - Maryland State Department of Education Standard Professional Certificate (SPC I or SPC II). Students with Professional Eligibility Certification or evidence of completion of teacher preparation program and passing Praxis II scores can be accepted in lieu of teacher certification.  Teachers who hold a license or certification from states outside of Maryland must also provide a copy of their teaching certificate.  Students holding provisional or conditional teacher certification would not be eligible for this program and should discuss options for initial certification with the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.


*Students who have a 2.75 to 2.99 GPA may be admitted provisionally and will be required to maintain a 3.0 GPA in the first 9-12 credit hours. Students with less than a 2.75 GPA will be considered for admission on a case-by-case basis for provisional admission but may be required to provide additional documentation and/or participate in an interview. Admission may also come with additional conditions.

Degree Requirements

  • Fulfillment of 36-credit course requirement with 3.0 GPA
  • Completion of the six-credit supervised school-embedded practicum experience (RDS 552)
  • Pass a written Comprehensive Examination


Specialization Options

Dyslexia Specialization, Wilson Reading System® Level 1 Certification

This 10-credit online course sequence, including a supervised practicum, is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction and is accredited by the International Dyslexia Association.

McDaniel is the first higher education institution in Maryland to partner with Wilson Language Training to offer this online certification.

The Wilson Reading System is an intensive reading program for students in grades 2–12 and adults with a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia, and is used in schools across the United States to help students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities become fluent, independent readers.

Program components:

  • Wilson Reading System® (WRS) Introductory Course: Intro to Multisensory Language Instruction
  • WRS Intensive Instruction for the Non-Responsive Reader, Part I
  • WRS Intensive Instruction for the Non-Responsive Reader, Part II
  • Wilson Reading System Steps 1-6 Practicum

Specialization in Teaching English Learners, Dual Certification Opportunity

With the completion of the 36-credit degree, candidates earn the Reading Specialist endorsement in the State of Maryland and are prepared to complete the Praxis requirements for dual endorsement in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

Candidates have the opportunity to focus their elective coursework to develop foundational knowledge and instructional techniques for teaching English learners.

Program components

  • TSL 503: Assessment of English Learners
  • TSL 532: Principles of Language Acquisition
  • TSL 535: Linguistics for ESOL Teachers
Photo courtesy of Wilson Language Training.

Graduate program for reading specialists offers new online dyslexia certification

McDaniel College’s Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership master’s degree program has partnered with Wilson Language Training to offer a new dyslexia specialization, which includes Level I Certification in the Wilson Reading System® (WRS). McDaniel is the first higher education institution in Maryland to partner with Wilson to offer this online certification.

Certification and Reputation

McDaniel’s RDS program is respected in the field and has been evaluated/accredited* at the state and national level to ensure you’ll get great value and lasting degree equity.

  • International Literacy Association (ILA)
  • Maryland State Department of Education

McDaniel College is a member in good standing of the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP), a national accrediting organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. McDaniel is working toward Initial Accreditation Status for its educator preparation programs with an anticipated accreditation review in Spring 2024.

*Pennsylvania State Department of Education guidelines are addressed during the advisement process for students seeking employment and/or licensure in Pennsylvania.


“We can say without a doubt they are among the best literacy teacher preparation programs in the United States.”

J. Helen Perkins, ILA Board member and chair of the ILA Commission on National Recognition, 2022.

Advancing Your Career

Graduates of the RDS master’s program are currently fulfilling literacy leadership positions as:

  • Reading Specialists within K-12 public and private school settings
  • Classroom Teachers within K-12 public/private settings
  • Literacy Coaches
  • Staff developers in Reading/Language Arts
  • College Level Instructors
  • Doctoral Candidates
  • Language Arts and Elementary Supervisors
  • Building Level Administrators

Spotlight Profile Alumni Spotlight Jessica Smith M.S. ’16

Jessica was hired as a reading specialist at Bermudian Springs Elementary School in York Springs, PA, even before she completed her master’s degree in the Reading Specialist program. She was the recipient of the college’s Joan Develin Coley Award for Excellence in Education, which is presented to the graduate student with the best record in the study of literacy theory and practice. She also earned a Learning Technology Specialist certificate in 2017 and a master’s degree in School Librarianship in 2020 from McDaniel College.