In simple terms, a degree in literacy deals with aspects that affect literacy in today’s society. This education deals with training students to become both teachers and scholars. It helps them develop strong communication skills that are necessary to understand and educate students of different age groups, varying cultures, different economic and educational backgrounds.
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To get a literacy degree, you will have to enroll in a college or university that offers a literacy program of your choice. There are various levels of education available when looking into literacy education. Before you go on to make your final selection of a literacy school, there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind. Undergraduate students who plan to go for advance studies in this field might opt for a bachelor’s degree in a teaching-related subject, such as English, education or child development. The choice of major will be heavily dependent on the type of teacher you intend to become.
To summarize, you might want to keep the following considerations in mind:
Career goals: This is an important factor when selecting a major. Most graduates with a literacy degree are looking for careers in teaching; however, there can be numerous different areas of focus within a literacy program. For instance, a student who wants to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) should look for a university that offers a strong literacy program.
Flexibility: Students, who wish to go for a program that allows them a lot of freedom in determining the required coursework, might want to go for a flexible program. Schools prefer to stick to their own study plans; however, there are many options that allow students to design a customized program for themselves, according to their needs.
Associate Degree in Literacy
Although literacy programs are typically not offered at the associate level, students have the option of earning a two year degree in a related subject, such as education or early childhood education that may include some amount of training in literacy teaching.
The topics focused on in such a program would be on the lines of techniques to teach listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Most of the coursework would deal with early development of these skills in young children.
Bachelor’s Degree in Literacy
In a four year bachelor’s program, students are prepared to work in different setting such as childcare, preschool and other educational environments. You might also be exposed to subjects such as instructional methods, literacy development, educational theories and child psychology. Part of this program would revolve around giving you practical experience via supervised teaching in an approved educational setting.
The common course areas would include:
Foundations in Language and Communication
Literature, Arts and the Humanities
Principles of Communication
Human Development and Learning
As part of this program, you will be required to complete your major coursework, as well as mandatory general education classes.
Literacy Graduate Programs
If you want to advance your understanding of literacy and related subjects, you need to consider going for higher education programs in the subject. Getting a master’s or a doctorate degree might help you develop a professional path that might not be possible with an undergraduate degree.
Masters Degree in Literacy
A master’s in literacy typically lasts for two years with nearly 36 credit hours worth of coursework and a portfolio requirement for most colleges. Some colleges might even have a minimum GPA requirement for students to be able to graduate.
You can earn a Master of Arts or a Master of Education in Literacy Education. This qualification will help you deal with complex demands of literacy education, assessment and administration. The coursework involved in this degree will revolve around subjects such as:
Literacy foundations and models
Literacy practices in elementary and secondary schools
Supervision of literacy programs
Reading and writing practices
Experimental research methods
Keep in mind that even though there are some courses which overlap both undergraduate and graduate programs, the latter would deal with more advance topics within the same subject than the former.
If you are looking for a program that offers you convenience and flexibility, in terms of timetables and campus visits, you might want to look into masters in literacy online programs. This would give you the option of choosing a schedule that suits your needs best, and might involve weekly campus visits as well. This option is very suitable for people who are already in their professional lives and cannot quit their jobs to go back to college.
PhD in Literacy Education
With this degree, you could go for a specialization in education with an emphasis on reading and literacy studies. You may have a great degree of freedom in determining the coursework relevant to your specific educational focus, such as critical literacy or reading education. The advance nature of this program will expose you to topics such as assessing literacy levels using technical statistics data, integrating literacy topics into curriculum and teaching reading in elementary and secondary schools.
Course topics typically covered in a doctoral program would include:
Effective schools and school improvement
Identity and literacy
Young adult literature
Advanced reading methods
Through studying the basic concepts of literacy in such detail, students are taught to apply research and theory to a range of complex problems, such as the motivational and environmental differences that play a part in student learning. Specializations can be done in many areas such as reading disabilities, etc.
With a degree in literacy education, the career options are vaster than what one might initially assume. A master’s degree would qualify a student to work as a certified literacy specialist or a learning coordinator. You can also apply the skills learned with this degree to advance as an elementary, middle or secondary school teacher.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), instructional coordinators and elementary school teachers could expect average job growth from 2012-2022. Elementary school teachers were making an average yearly salary of $56,320 as of May 2013.