Master of Arts in Literacy Studies

Master of arts

WMU student reading with elementary school students.

Admissions requirements

  • Written statement of purpose outlining the applicant's philosophy of teaching and professional goals.
  • Graduate College online application.
  • Teaching certificate and any endorsements.
  • Minimum of three email contacts for professional references.
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0; graduate GPA may be accepted upon review of recent and relevant course work completed at an accredited institution.

Student success

  • Laura Chang, alumna
    "At WMU, I was blessed with professors who provided opportunities for practical application of the concepts in the field."Laura Chang, alumna and 2019 Michigan Teacher of the Year

Program overview

This program is offered online.

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 literacy studies at Western Michigan University?

  • Complete the program while working within two years. 
  • Qualifies graduates for Reading Specialist endorsement and literacy leadership positions.
  • WMU graduates have over 96% pass rates on the Reading Specialist Certification Test.
  • U.S. News and World Report ranked WMU No. 3 in the state of Michigan for graduate schools in education.
  • Students are encouraged to pursue additional educational opportunities through one of our many excellent study abroad programs.
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 

Why should you earn your master's degree in literacy studies?

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

  • 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


The WMU teacher education unit is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Graduate teaching assistants

The Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies typically hires teaching and research assistants to assist faculty during the fall and spring semesters. Graduate students wishing to be considered for one of these positions should view the graduate assistant application and guidelines.


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

  • Literacy processes and strategies
  • Literacy issues related to diversity and inclusion
  • Clinical practice
  • Language and literacy
  • Disciplinary literacy
  • Children’s and adolescent literature
  • Inquiry framework
  • Motivation and self-efficacy
  • Critical literacies
  • New literacies
  • STEM literacies

Admission procedures

Students may apply any time, but please note that students are admitted for a start date of fall each year. Applications are reviewed until the cohort is full. Students must submit:

  • Graduate College online application.
  • Official transcripts.
  • Teaching certificate and any endorsements.
  • Statement that summarizes your teaching philosophy, professional experiences and career goals (double spaced 1,000-1,500 words). Describe your reasons for seeking admission to the Master of Arts in literacy studies program. The statement should demonstrate your communication skills and writing competence.
  • Three email addresses for professional references.

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, but not for the master's degree only.

Cost & Funding

Helpful links