A collection of books.

About the Literacy Specialist Program

Are you a current teacher or a teacher candidate in New York state who would like to delve into literacy? Or are you in a non-educational career and feel a calling to help improve literacy in preschool through 12th grade classrooms? If so, you may be a perfect candidate for Buffalo State Colleges Literacy Specialist master’s degree program.

What Is a Literacy Specialist?

Literacy or reading specialists usually work individually or in small groups with students in K-12 settings who are having trouble reading at grade level. Their job is to improve students’ reading comprehension and overall literacy levels. Literacy specialists must know how to employ strategies and methods designed to reach each student’s diverse needs. Regardless of the students’ underlying conditions or backgrounds, the literacy’s specialist’s job is to ensure they can read at their highest level of ability in order to succeed in the classroom. 

Literacy Specialist (Birth through Grade 12) M.S.Ed.

Literacy specialists are prepared for a number of different positions with public and private schools, as well as after-school programs and in clinical settings. Graduates can apply for jobs as classroom teachers, reading teachers, reading specialists, literacy specialists, interventionists, and literacy coaches.

And the job outlook is bright. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reading specialists who work with students who have physical, learning, or other disabilities can expect a similar salary to special education teachers, who earned a median annual salary of $59,780 in 2018, with job growth predicted to increase by 3 percent between 2018 and 2028. Reading specialists with a focus on curriculum development may make a similar salary to instructional coordinators, who earned a median annual salary of $64,450 in 2018 and have job growth prospects of 6 percent between 2018 and 2028. 

If a classroom setting is not for you, there are plenty of alternative career options for literacy specialists including:   

  • Adult Education Instructor 
  • Afterschool Curriculum Director 
  • Education Research
  • Education Writer
  • Literacy Assessment and Curriculum Developer
  • Literacy Coach
  • Writing Center Coordinator
  • Writing Tutor

As a graduate student, you have many opportunities to participate in clubs and activities outside the classroom. Opportunities for graduate students studying within the School of Education include but are not limited to:  

Elementary Education Club: Enables education students to socialize and organize volunteer and service-learning activities in the Buffalo area.  

Kappa Delta Pi: The international honor society is a prestigious organization dedicated to scholarship and excellence in education.   

TeachLivE™: This virtual-reality classroom provides teachers the opportunity to develop their pedagogical practice in a safe environment that doesn’t place real students at risk.   


Literacy specialist students are required to complete a summer practicum at the end of the program. They are typically held at one of the partner school sits within the Western New York region.  

Stellar Reputation

Buffalo State’s education programs have received awards from the National Association of Professional Development Schools for outstanding work in collaborating with school partners to provide exemplary teacher preparation programs.

National Accreditation

The department is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. You will earn a master’s degree from a nationally accredited program. 

Small Class Size

Classes typically have between 12 and 25 students; the field-based courses have a maximum class size of 15, which means plenty of individualized attention from professors.


Fall and spring literacy specialist classes are held in the evenings and on Saturdays. Summer session classes are held both during the days and in the evenings. And some classes are held 100 percent online. 

Patricia George
"As a certified literacy specialist and former elementary school teacher, I know firsthand that it is challenging teaching children how to read and write. Buffalo State’s literacy specialist program will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to meet this challenge."
Patricia George, lecturer and co-director of Global Literacy Engagement