Master of Arts in Literacy Studies

Students studying in hallway

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Literacy Studies:

  • Provides a comprehensive professional development program to meet the need in today’s classrooms for continuous literacy instruction K-12 based on current theory, research and best practices.
  • Is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of reflective practitioners, as they become leaders such as reading specialists, literacy coaches, innovative classroom teachers, researchers and advocates.

Reflective practitioners are passionate learners who embrace diversity, actively inquire and reflect upon their own practice and nurture the development of new knowledge and skills. This is accomplished through a process of continuous professional, intellectual and social growth.  Students will make connections between and among research, theory, policy and practice to evaluate the teaching-learning process, inquire into how teaching can be improved and develop efficacy based on best practices.

Why should you earn your master’s degree in literacy studies through WMU?

The master's program will prepare teachers to:

  • Be a reading specialist.
  • Be a literacy coach.
  • Engage in collegial dialogue and networking with other teachers in the greater West Michigan area.
  • Evaluate literacy initiatives and programs.
  • Be more effective within the classroom.
  • Experience personal and professional growth.
  • Meet state or district mandates.
  • Meet the requirements for state teacher certification.

Topics covered by literacy studies

The literacy studies program spans a variety of course topics relating to literacy, including:

  • Reading: comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, phonological awareness
  • Writing: voice, genre, vocabulary, spelling
  • Related processes: speaking, listening, visual imaging, viewing, thinking
  • Reading research, theory and practice
  • Relationship of assessment and instruction
  • Diversity and inclusion: English language learners
  • Professional development and organizations for teachers

Admission Procedures

Students are screened for admission to the program on a continuous basis. Students must submit:

  • Graduate College online application.
  • Official transcripts.
  • Teaching certificate and any endorsements.
  • Statement of purpose where you summarize your philosophy of teaching, your professional experiences, and your professional goals in a double spaced written statement of 1,000-1,500 words. Describe your career expectations and reasons for seeking admission to the Master of Arts in literacy studies program. The statement should demonstrate your communication skills and writing competence.
  • Three letters of recommendation.

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Applications are evaluated on the basis of:

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. 
  • An overall grade point average of at least a 3.0 (on a 4-point scale) in the last two years of undergraduate work.  Applicants with a GPA of less than 3.0 may be granted a Conditional Admission. This will be converted to a regular admission if students receive a B or better in the first two graduate courses (six credit-hours) taken.
  • Experience working in a professional setting.
  • A valid Michigan Teaching Certificate will be required for students seeking to obtain additional state endorsements.

Graduate teaching assistants

The Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies typically hires 3-4 teaching assistants to assist faculty with teaching during the fall and spring semesters. Graduate students wishing to be considered for one of these positions should send a letter of interest and a resume to the chair.


Our faculty offer cutting edge research relating theory and practice in the following areas:

  • Literacy Processes and Strategies
  • Clinical Practice
  • Language and Literacy
  • Content Area Literacy
  • Children’s and Adolescent Literature
  • Inquiry Framework
  • Motivation and Self-efficacy
  • Diversity and Multicultural Education
  • Critical literacies
  • New literacies