Literacy Specialist Programs & Courses at Pace University

Why Specialize in Literacy?

Literacy is more than just reading.

Literacy is the sum of all communication: reading, writing, speaking and thinking — in person, on paper and on screens. Literacy encompasses the skills of collecting, processing and comprehending information to formulate complex thoughts and opinions. These are skills fundamental to survival in our digital, media-saturated world, and for success in the Common Core curriculum, testing and assessments.

Fostering literacy skills among students requires an additional level of preparation, study and expertise. Literacy specialists work to meet students' diverse learning needs through individualization of support and coaching of teachers. A literacy specialist can help students improve their communication, comprehension and analytic skills across content areas, in a way that no other educational specialization can.

The School of Education at Pace University offers a number of valuable courses, as part of complete programs leading to either a master's degree or advanced certificate, for educators to become certified Literacy Specialists and increase their literacy skills and expertise to help drive student learning and achievement.

Degree/Certification Programs

The School of Education offers several formal programs of study in literacy, which lead to certification or just enhance an educator's skills for classroom practice. Our programs and courses have been revamped to address and strengthen foundational and theoretical components of language and literacy education approaches and provide strategies for assessment and instruction for literacy development of students consistent with (and directly aligned with) the Common Core Learning Standards.

Programs leading to NYS certification:

Professional skill development programs that do not lead to NYS certification:


Courses in literacy and literacy specialist preparation help teachers align their content with Common Core Curriculum Standards, which incorporate literacy concepts throughout all content areas for student comprehension and success.

With literacy courses at Pace University, educators develop a new vision for literacy expertise as they update the approaches of practicing teachers around language development, literacy instruction and assessment, and technological applications.  Our courses incorporate new literacies to mediate learning with new technology tools, and they are offered for childhood and adolescent-level advanced degrees.  

Our courses in literacy offer a multitude of benefits and advantages:

  • Convenient: Half of the courses are online; the other half are offered on both campuses, or allow videoconferencing to the campus of your choice.
  • Quality: Pace's literacy coursework and programs align with the standards set by the International Reading Association (2010) for effective completion of graduate level reading programs, and fall within federal and state guidelines, regulations, and policies.
  • Practical: Our revised courses improve candidates’ ability to work with students with special learning needs, in culturally and lingusitically diverse classrooms, and multilingual- and second-language learners. Programs are additionally focused on research, inclusive approaches to teaching and assessment, competencies that extend to coaching/mentoring other teachers, instruction with and about technology integration, and evidence for impact on student learning. The program’s
  • Relevant: Each degree or certificate has an elementary level (birth-grade 6) and secondary level strand (grade 7-12) for specific certification requirements, and allowing you to focus your study for the specific skills of each age group. For those interested in early childhood coursework, there are courses in foundations (ED 650), methods (ED 655A), assessment (ED 652).

In addition, two certificate programs have been aligned with the new MSEd in Literacy Program, to allow students to extend their completed MST or Master’s programs (with 21 credits of literacy coursework) and to create a new Advanced Study certificate (of 9 credits with a choice of a childhood or adolescent program strand).

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Fran Falk-Ross, PhD, is the coordinator for the literacy specialist program and a Professor of Education at the Pace University School of Education. If you have questions or would like additional information, you may reach Dr. Falk-Ross at (914) 773-3652 or via email. You may also contact Peter McDermott, PhD, if you have questions about the literacy program and campus study in New York City. You may reach Dr. McDermott at (212) 346-1908 or via email

Francine Falk-Ross, PhD, is a professor and coordinator of Literacy Education programs at Pace University in New York, where she teaches courses on literacy topics to preservice and practicing teachers, including a class in middle grades reading methods.  Dr. Falk-Ross's presentations and publications have been on research and classroom applications for introducing teachers to uses of innovative writing (journaling and narrative essays) and literacy (visual, technological, and print literacy) activities that can be used in lessons to support vocabulary learning, content area instruction, and reading comprehension. Her articles, book, and book chapters on literacy education issues have been published in peer-reviewed publications such as Pearson Allyn & Bacon, Research in the Teaching of English, and Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, among others.

Peter McDermott, PhD, is a Professor of Education at Pace University where he currently teaches graduate courses in literacy education. He is a graduate of SUNY-Albany where he completed his dissertation in literacy education. He is an active member of the The Reading Teacher’s Review Board, which is one of the most widely read education journals today. He is regular presenter at national and regional educational conferences such as the American Educational Research Association, the New England and Northeastern educational research associations, the International Reading Association, the New York State Reading Association and the Ethnography and Urban Education Research Conference. He is the current President of the New York State Reading Association. Dr. McDermott has extensive international education experience. He has special teaching and research interests in urban education and the new literacies.