Program goal

The certificate program is designed for students who wish to gain state licensure as a reading specialist in kindergarten through high school settings. Applicants are required to have at least three years of teaching experience in a reading-related field setting if they want to be recommended to the Department of Education for endorsement as a reading specialist in Virginia.

All requirements for admission to graduate school apply to applicants for the Post-master’s Certificate in Reading Specialist. All state department requirements for reading specialist (specifically the 12 hours of graduate or undergraduate work in selected areas) must be met.

Students are required to earn a minimum of 24 graduate hours beyond their current master’s degree, including the required reading courses, an approved reading selective and an elective in the School of Education that has been approved by the adviser. Advisers will recommend selective courses based upon student experience and goals. During the last semester of course work, students must complete a reading portfolio documenting their work in the program and related work experiences. Candidates must receive a passing score on the Reading for Virginia Educators Assessment as a graduation requirement.

Persons completing the program are expected to demonstrate:

  1. An understanding of the reading language learning process
  2. The ability to critique, adapt and model use of a variety of reading instructional strategies, methods and programs
  3. Expertise in developing and providing for continuous assessment of an individual and groups
  4. Ability to implement schoolwide developmental, creative and intervention reading/language arts programs
  5. Ability to understand and apply theory to practice within a variety of cultural contexts

Student learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate content knowledge in reading education: Candidates demonstrate content knowledge in reading education as evidenced by the Reading for Virginia Educators Assessment scores and the philosophy of reading paper.
  2. Effectively plan instruction: Candidates demonstrate that they can effectively plan reading and literacy instruction, or fulfill other professional responsibilities in reading education as evidenced by the organizing and implementing reading programs assessment.
  3. Effectively apply knowledge, skills and dispositions: Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills and dispositions are applied effectively in practice as evidenced by the internship evaluation.
  4. Demonstrate effect on student learning: Candidates demonstrate effects on student learning and provision of supportive learning environments for student learning as evidenced by the internship progress report.
  5. Demonstrate IRA standards proficiency: Candidates further demonstrate proficiency on IRA competencies as evidenced by the portfolio assessment and the externship action research report and presentation assessment.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online at

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Certificate Fall Feb 1 GRE or MAT
Spring Oct 1
Summer Feb 1

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. Must hold a master’s degree in any specialty area related to education
  2. Have active teacher license
  3. Have at least three years of teaching experience in a reading-related setting
  4. Three letters of recommendation addressing the student’s potential for graduate study in education
  5. Student’s written statement concerning career interests
  6. Transcripts of all previous college work
  7. Satisfactory scores on the GRE or MAT

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students are required to complete a minimum of 24 credit hours.
  2. Grade requirements: Receipt of a grade of C or below in two courses constitutes automatic dismissal from the program. Courses with a grade below C cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  3. Testing requirements: Students must provide a passing score on the Virginia Reading Assessment for graduation.
  4. Endorsement requirements: Students must meet all Virginia Department of Education requirements to be recommended for endorsement.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
READ 600Analysis and Correction of Reading Problems3
READ 605Organizing and Implementing Reading Programs3
READ 672Internship3
READ 700Externship3
TEDU 561Reading Foundations: Sociological/Psychological Perspectives 13
TEDU 562Reading Instruction in the Content Areas 13
Approved literacy elective
Select one of the following:3
Psycholinguistics and Language Arts Curriculum
Literacy for Adults
Workshop in Education (to be designated)
Teaching Language Arts
Word Study
Children's Literature II
Diagnostic Reading in the Secondary School
Teaching English as a Second Language 1
Investigations and Trends in Teaching
Elective 23
Total Hours24

These courses may also count as part of the ESL endorsement.


Electives should be used to ensure state regulations for the endorsement are met.

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 24

Graduate program director
Valerie Robnolt, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Teaching and Learning
Phone: (804) 828-1305

Additional contact
Communications and enrollment management
Phone: (804) 827-2670

Program website: