MA/PhD in Literacy Education

The MA/PhD track in Literacy Education is designed for educators interested in advancing the field of literacy. Graduates of our program can expect to create a comprehensive research program that advances literacy.

Our faculty are leading scholars in the areas of children’s and adolescent literature, critical literacy, English education, reading, and writing. Their expertise and cutting-edge research contributes to the strength of the program’s coursework.


Priority deadline: December 1
Admissions decisions: January

See detailed admissions, tuition and funding information on the MA and PhD admissions page.


Core courses are offered at night or in the afternoons for working professionals looking to enter the program on a part-time basis.

To view the core curriculum and electives visit the Education, Curriculum, and Instruction PhD page in the course catalogue and view Literacy.

The literacy education doctoral track trains you to become a literacy leader. Working in schools and other educational settings, you will develop an understanding of literacy as a set of socially and culturally situated practices. We take literacy to be plural and intersectional, defined by a range of skills that enable us to navigate multiple disciplines and thrive as lifelong learners. Students develop their own research in collaboration with faculty in one or more of the overlapping core areas:

  • reading education
  • children’s and adolescent literature
  • critical literacy
  • English education
  • translanguaging literacy
  • multimodal, digital, and culturally relevant literacy

MA Curriculum

Master of Arts students have similar curricular goals and can choose either a thesis (Plan A) or final paper (Plan B) to complete their degree.

View the core requirements for the MA in Literacy in the course catalog.


Our mission is to advance the following practices:

  • Engage in research, teaching, and outreach that supports culturally and linguistically diverse learners.
  • Advance the understanding of children's literature as a force for social transformation.
  • Develop literacy teachers and leaders for diverse schools.
  • Apply multiple theoretical and research perspectives to problems and questions central to the field of literacy.
  • Advocate for justice literacy, race literacy, eco-literacy, digital literacy, and other new literacies as tools that empower us to face global challenges.
  • Strive to influence literacy policies that address inequities and benefit all learners

Research opportunities

Students can engage in research that ties into their area of interest. Faculty work closely with each cohort to achieve research and educational goals. Learn more about the student research experience in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Literacy Research Centers and Resources:

  • Minnesota Reading Research Center (MCRR) conducts applied research that supports teachers, particularly those who teach students of poverty and students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites (PRESS) is driven by research-based approaches to literacy, incorporating quality core instruction, data-driven instructional decisions and interventions, and meaningful professional development to support systemic change.
  • America Reads is dedicated to increasing the literacy skills of students in grades K-8, supporting the educational efforts of our community partners, and together fostering the development of students and literacy mentors.
  • The CI Curriculum Library is a resource for children’s faculty areas of research expertise.

Career outlook

Graduates of the program have assumed positions as university faculty, instructional leaders in the public schools, curriculum development specialists, and assessment specialists.

Some recent graduates have gone on to positions in research and higher education at:

  • Salisbury University
  • Penn State, Altoona
  • Western Washington University
  • Hamline University
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Augsburg College
  • Montana State University, Billings
  • Federal College of Education (Nigeria)
  • Science Museum of Minnesota

Literacy Education faculty

Our faculty serve as presidents of literacy organizations, journal editors, committee chairs, and executive board members for organizations such as NCTE and IRA. They oversee numerous research projects, serving as project directors for federal grants, and they are authors of impactful journal articles, books, and materials for scholars as well as K-12 teachers and learners.


What our students have to say

anna Jennerjohn
The faculty are very passionate about humanizing research in education; each class I take has deepened my understanding of both the how and the why of research in education.

Anna Jennerjohn, PhD 2021