Frequently Asked Questions

For matriculated students:

– How long does it take to complete the program?

The Literacy Specialist program involves 32 credits of coursework. Most full-time students can complete the program in one full calendar year with ideally, a week or two of the first summer. If a student enters the program in January, then that student will not be able to finish for eighteen months as the Master’s Action Research Project must begin in the fall and encompasses two semesters.  Part-time students can progress at their own schedule.

– Does the program lead to certification?

Students who complete the Literacy Specialist program will have also completed the program requirement for the initial New York state certification as a Literacy Specialist (Birth – Grade 6). Other requirements for Initial Certification as a Literacy Specialist can be found at

– Can I work full-time while I’m a student in the program?

Yes. Most courses at TC are offered in the evening to accommodate educators who work during the day. In fact, about half of the students in the Literacy Specialist program are typically classroom teachers by day and Master’s students by night. We do not recommend taking full-time coursework if you are working full-time since the amount of work involved may become overwhelming. Consult with your advisor about an appropriate number of credits to take each semester.  Full-time students will be involved in fieldwork placements and must schedule accordingly.

– When are most courses offered?

Most courses at TC are offered in the evenings, Monday through Thursday, during the academic year (September through May). Summer courses are offered at various times during the day and are usually held for an entire week or two at a time. Refer to the TC course schedule for exact dates and times for summer courses.

– Can I begin the program by taking summer courses?

Yes. You may begin the program by taking selectives within or outside of the department. A number of within department selectives for the Literacy Specialist M.A. are offered each summer:

  • C&T 4858 Institute: Teaching of Reading
  • C&T 5800 Institute: Teaching of Writing
  • C&T 4842 Institute: Content Area Literacies

You may also take out of department selectives and limited required courses during the summer.

– When can I register for courses?

As a new student to the program, you can start registering once registration begins (now in May for upcoming fall) AND after you have officially been advised.  After that during the academic year, you can register for courses for the following semester during TC’s normal registration period. If you are starting the program by taking courses during the summer, check with your adviser and the Registrar’s office to find out when to register for summer courses at TC.

– Why do I have to get instructor approval to register for courses in my program?

Instructor approval is required to ensure that students in the program get the courses they need.  It allows us to hold places in the classes for all the students in the Literacy Specialist program.

– How many hours of fieldwork do I need to complete each semester?

Typically, students complete anywhere between 120-140 hours of fieldwork each semester. This means that they average about 12-14 hours per week (usually divided into 4 mornings per week). Students who are fulltime teachers conduct their fieldwork in their own classrooms.

– I am not familiar with schools in this area. Will help be available to find a placement for me?

Yes. Instructors have contacted local schools about field placements and will place you in a classroom to complete your fieldwork activities. All full-time students will conduct their fieldwork in NYC public schools. Your placement preferences will be taken into consideration. All placements are accessible by public transportation.  Part-time students who currently work at a school may conduct their fieldwork on site. Consult the fieldwork instructors about special arrangements.

– I work full-/part-time at a school. Can I conduct my fieldwork activities where I work?

Yes, with certain caveats. The fall fieldwork course corresponds with C&T 4138: Teaching Literacy in the Early Years; thus, you would need to conduct your fieldwork in a setting where you can work regularly with K-2 students. The spring fieldwork course corresponds with C&T 4139: Constructing Critical Readers; thus, you would need to conduct your fieldwork in a setting where you can work regularly with students in grades 2-8. Depending on which semester it is, you may conduct your fieldwork in your own classroom, or you may have to find another classroom in your school that will allow you to work with the corresponding grade level.

– How do I find out who my advisor is?

During the first week of your program, you will be assigned one of the professors in the program whose interests align with yours to be your academic advisor. You will also be assigned to work closely with one of the program’s instructors throughout your program. Of course, we encourage you to seek the advice of any of the Literacy Specialist faculty members whose interests match yours at any time.

– When is graduation?
For full-time students who intend to begin the program in the summer, the graduation ceremony is in May.  Full-time students who intend to complete the program from the fall through the following summer will receive their diploma in October.  Part-time students may receive their diplomas in May, October, or December.  Commencement exercises are held only in May, but all students are encouraged to return the following spring to participate.

For applying students:

– Do I need to have teaching experience before being accepted into the Literacy Specialist program? What about a teaching certificate or license?

The Literacy Specialist Program is best suited to students who have taught, and now want to develop their expertise as Literacy Specialists. However, on occasion the program does admit some very promising students who have not yet been the sole teacher in a year-long teaching position. Thus, everyone entering the program will have taught in one capacity or another. All students need to be certified to teach before entering the program.

– Do I need to be certified in the state of New York before being accepted into the Literacy Specialist program?

No. You may be accepted to the program with a certificate or license from another state.

– Are the GREs required for the application?


– Can I take a few of the program’s courses to see if they interest me before I officially apply or enroll to the Literacy Specialist M.A. program?

Some students take courses before applying to the program. However, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted to the program even if you have already taken some courses.

-Can I take courses online or through distance learning?

All required courses are taught at TC and fieldwork requirements must be supervised by TC faculty. You may take online selectives offered at TC provided that they meet the credit requirements and have been approved by an advisor.

-Can I transfer any graduate credits from another school?

No. TC does not accept transfer credits for MA programs.

Please contact the Admissions Office for more applicant information.