Online Graduate Certificate: Literacy Specialist

Literacy Specialist

College of Education, Health, & Human Sciences

Program Overview

Do you aspire to be a literacy specialist for Pre K–12 students? The University of Tennessee, Knoxville offers an online Literary Specialist Graduate Certificate for educators and administrators who want to elevate their understanding of literacy education and provide students with the most effective communication tools. This fully online program is offered for teachers with at least two years of teaching experience who have successfully completed REED 530 (or equivalent) with a specific, stated professional interest in literacy education.

Credit Hours


Cost Per Credit Hour*

In-State $700

Out-of-State $775



Admission Terms

Fall, Spring

*Cost per credit hour is an estimate based on maintenance and university fees. Some programs may have additional course fees. Please contact your department for additional information on any related fees, and visit Tuition and Fees in Detail at One Stop.

young black elementary student practicing his writing

Become Certified as a Literacy Specialist

The online Literacy Specialist Graduate Certificate program is for Educators and Administrators.  

The Literacy Specialist PreK-12 (LSP) program went through a complete program revision to align its objectives and standards to the International Literacy Association and to the state of Tennessee standards and policies. Our revised program was approved by the Tennessee Department of Education, and the first new cohort started Fall, 2021. 

Core Value 

Literacy is a core value embedded in societies and relates to academic performance, professional career and citizenship. At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) we support educators who strive to make a difference in their learners’ lives and future careers. Thus, we work with educators and administrators to enhance their understanding of how reading and writing development, and on ways to support learners from the initial stages of reading, spelling, writing, and thinking acquisition to later stages of critical thinking through technology, writing, while promoting self-regulation, motivation, and a growth mindset. 


LSP is aligned to the national standards provided by the International Literacy Association for the preparation of Literacy Professionals (2017) as well as the Tennessee state literacy standards in response to (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law embodied by 


Graduate certificate programs provide focused areas of study for the following types of students: 

  • students who are pursuing other academic programs at the master’s or doctoral level 
  • students who have already earned a master’s degree or a doctorate 
  • students who are post-baccalaureate and enrolled solely in the graduate certificate program 

Admissions Criteria 

Candidates should have: 

  • at least two years of teaching experience, 
  • a minimum GPA of 3.0, 
  • a specific, stated professional interest in literacy education, and in receiving the literacy education certificate, and 
  • successfully completed REED 530 or an equivalent reading methods course. 


Featured Courses

Prior to recommendation for the Literacy Specialist license, each candidate will undergo a summative review of data from all five courses, along with ProCADS criteria, and will need to have passed the appropriate Praxis exam (#5301).

REED 529: Literacy Assessment & Instruction with Emergent Learners (Pre-K-2)

Assessment and Instruction, theory and practice in emergent literacy. Focus on the development of early reading and writing, on assessment, and differentiated, evidence-based instruction of learners from preschool through second grade.

REED 537: Literacy Assessment & Instruction with Elementary Learners (3-5)

Assessment purposes, Pedagogy, and Instruction in grades 3 to 5. Focus on assessment and instruction of advanced decoding, spelling, writing, and reading comprehension for elementary learners in grades 3 to 5.

REED 540: Literacy Assessment & Instruction with Adolescent Learners (6-12)

Methods of teaching all secondary students to successfully engage in literacy processes.

REED 605: Organization & Administration Reading Programs

Analyzing school literacy needs, developing effective professional development, and coaching adult learners. 

SPED 516: Effective Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities & Other High Incidence Disabilities

Determining and implementing best practices in assessment and instruction, both remediation and accommodation strategies, for students with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, and other academic difficulties. Understanding and applying high-leverage evidence-based practices, strategy-based instruction, assessment, and progress monitoring, and databased decision-making.

young dark haired student reading while sitting on stacks of books

Are You Ready to Become a Literacy Specialist for Pre K-12 Students?