M.S. for Reading Specialists: Literacy Leadership Program

 Reading Spec Deb Miller candid with student illustration


McDaniel College’s Graduate Program for Reading Specialists: Literacy Leadership (RDS) is designed to create contemporary leaders in literacy education. The program offers a comprehensive approach to reading instruction and incorporates current research, theoretical perspectives, informed practice, and thoughtful reflection. Candidates implement a repertoire of assessment procedures and instructional techniques across multiple grade levels to address the needs of diverse learners. In addition, our graduate candidates become an important part of a collaborative professional network.

M.S. for Reading Specialists: Literacy Leadership Program Course Catalog »


Key Features of the RDS program include:

• Meets International Literacy Association standards as a nationally recognized program for the preparation of Reading Specialists.

• Presents unique opportunities to apply theory and research through practicum experiences and performance outcomes.

• Empowers candidates to become life-long learners and reflective practitioners. 

• Fosters close working relationships with knowledgeable faculty.

• Offers a professional and personalized educational experience in a three-phase program.

• Examines ongoing assessment-instruction processes with a variety of diverse learners.

The McDaniel Reading Clinic:

The reading clinic offers a comprehensive clinical practicum for RDS students. Throughout the clinical experiences, candidates design and implement instructional plans using systematic, ongoing data. Leadership roles and responsibilities of resource personnel are explored through a variety of professional development initiatives and best practice action research. Relevant instructional implications and recommendations are communicated to parents and to the broader professional community. 

Why McDaniel

  • Consistently apply course understandings and learning through comprehensive practicum experiences.
  • Network with faculty, administrators and peers.
  • Select convenient course options to fit your busy schedule.
  • Interact with full-time faculty with adjunct instructors who utilize best practices in the field.
  • Experience interactive, small class size and individual attention from engaged faculty.
  • Benefit from highly competitive tuition.

Admissions Requirements

Candidates seeking admission to the Graduate Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership Program must have completed a baccalaureate degree at a regionally accredited institution with an overall minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0*. Applicants must hold a valid initial teaching certification in Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, or Special Education.

• Completed application for graduate study

• Submit the non-refundable application fee

• Official transcripts verifying completion of an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0

• Three official letters of recommendation

• Initial teaching certification for Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, Special Education or related fields

• State-designated qualifying scores for the Praxis Exam or equivalency

Following the admission process, each candidate is individually advised and a preliminary program plan is outlined for the first twelve graduate credits in Reading (RDS 540, RDS 542, RDG 532, RDG 533 and/or Reading Elective)

* Students not meeting the 3.0 G.P.A. criterion may be admitted to program on a conditional basis. Matriculation status will be reviewed at the completion of nine graduate credits.

Degree Requirements

Reading Specialist Practicum

All candidates must successfully complete a six-credit supervised practicum experience (RDS 552) in the McDaniel College Reading Clinic. Candidates are admitted to RDS 552 after successful clinical screenings and completion of the following course sequence: RDS 544, RDS 546, and RDS 548. 

Program Completion

In addition to successfully completing practicum requirements and fulfilling 36-credit course requirements with 3.0 GPA, candidates must pass a written Comprehensive Examination.

Master's Thesis Option

Candidates who are interested in research may pursue a Graduate Reading degree with a thesis option.  Candidates generally substitute the completion of the three-credit thesis (RDS 590) for the reading-related elective and the comprehensive examination. The program coordinator or graduate Reading faculty serve as individual advisors for candidates who select the master’s thesis option. The master’s thesis is orally defended before a three-member Graduate and Professional Studies committee with expertise in the specific area of study.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Our graduates currently fulfill literacy leadership positions as:

• Reading Specialists within K-12 public school settings

• Reading Specialists within K-12 private school settings

• Literacy Coaches

• Staff developers in Reading/Language Arts

• Classroom Teachers within K-12 public/private settings

• College Level Instructors

• Doctoral Candidates

• Language Arts and Elementary Supervisors

• Building Level Administrators


Dr. Debra Miller

Dr. Lisa Buckler, Interim Program Coordinator
(410) 857-2476


1. What does the Comprehensive Examination involve?
The written comprehensive examination consists of a series of essay questions that reflect foundational knowledge and skills from core coursework and performance outcomes. A team of internal evaluators scores the Comprehensive Examination using an anonymous review process. The review can result in a pass, fail, or a request for a conference to justify or explain responses. The comprehensive examination may be repeated no more than three times.

2. What is the McDaniel College Reading Clinic?
The McDaniel College Reading Clinic is a creative summer program that has been in operation for three decades and has served hundreds of children from Carroll County communities. The Reading Clinic offers four weeks of intensive, individualized instruction for primary, intermediate, and middle school students.

3. What is the best sequence of courses?
The revised program reflects a three-phase sequence of coursework including:

I. Foundational Knowledge,

II. Diagnostic Teaching and Research Practices, and

III. Literacy Leadership and Professional Development. 

Candidates should begin with Phase I coursework including RDS: 540, RDS: 542, RDG: 532, RDG: 533 or one elective.

4. When should I enroll in RSM: 550 (Introduction to Research Methodology)?
Ideally, candidates should complete RSM: 550 in Phase II of the program sequence. Phase II incorporates Diagnostic Teaching and Research Practices. We strongly recommend completion of research methods prior to enrolling in RDS: 554 Literacy Leadership for Reading Professionals.

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Summer Term 2019 course listing now available »

• Meets professional standards and requirements for certification as a reading specialist in both Maryland and Pennsylvania

• Presents a unique opportunity to apply theory and research in summer reading clinics for students

• Provides students with a working knowledge of the assessment-instruction process