Become a Literacy and Reading Specialist

Are you seeking an advancement in your reading career?

Enhance your literacy coaching skills in providing support and intervention for struggling readers.

Enroll in a single course for professional development or license renewal.

Our students include

  • Academic/Instructional Coaches
  • Reading Teachers
  • Reading Interventionists
  • Elementary, Middle School, and High School Teachers
  • Title I Teachers
  • RtI Coordinators
  • Literacy Coaches

Quick Links about the Reading Specialist Program


Tuition for Online Courses

How much will the online courses cost?

Summer 2018 - $441 per semester hour graduate credit ($1,323 per course)
Tuition is the same for Wisconsin residents, out-of-state and international students.

Tuition Due Dates

E-textbooks are included in the tuition fee.

  • 100% online
  • No travel to weekend, summer or night classes
  • If you are teaching full-time, enrolling in one course per term is the recommendation of the reading faculty.
  • Course assignments require posting responses on the discussion board, reading and replying to other participants' discussion postings, readings, assignments, and field experiences.

Reading Specialist Course Sequence

No travel to courses required.

  1. RDGED 720 Leading and Directing the Reading Program
  2. RDGED 721 Supporting Literacy Instruction
  3. RDGED 722  Reading Specialist Field Experience
    (Prerequisites: completion of RDGED 720 and RDGED 721 and instructor approval)

You may enroll in the three courses to complete the add-on Wisconsin Reading Specialist Certification if you hold a current Wisconsin reading teacher license.

Register Online

Complete the Online Registration Form

There is no registration fee to reserve a class.

When can I start the reading specialist courses?

Reserve your spot now. This program is very popular, and courses fill well before the start date.

All courses are offered two times each year (January and September).

When is the registration deadline for reading specialist courses?

Registration is available until the class is filled or five days before the course begins.

Will the reading specialist course credits apply to a Master's degree?

Yes, only 8 additional classes are required to obtain your Master of Science in Education graduate degree.

Do I need to apply for admission to the university's graduate program?

You do not need to apply for graduate admission to the university unless you are beginning the Master of Science in Education graduate degree at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

What other literacy and reading courses are offered online?


Frequently Asked Questions about Online Courses

Option A - Professional Development

May I enroll in the reading specialist courses if I have already completed a Master's degree?

Yes, just Register Online

No application is required for educators who enroll in courses for:

  • professional development to enhance reading specialist/literacy coaching skills
  • a continuing education refresher course
  • renewal of a teaching license
  • graduate credits to apply for salary advancement
  • transferring credits to another university
  • transferring credits to another state outside of Wisconsin for add-on license
    ***If you live in another state, contact the Department of Public Education/Instruction to see if courses meet their reading specialist requirements.

Option B - Reading Specialist Certification (Wisconsin #5017)

Download the Reading Specialist Certification Program Application Form

Email the application to Emily Hines at


  1. Reading teacher license (Wisconsin #1316)
  2. A Master's degree
  3. Three years of successful full-time, K-12 classroom teaching experience
    • The three years of teaching experience do not have to be in Wisconsin.
    • A long-term substitute teaching assignment, in Wisconsin or out-of-state for the minimum time of an entire semester, may count towards the total number of years in teaching experience for the reading specialist license.
    • Experience as a reading teacher (i.e. Title I, interventionist, etc) with an emergency license, also counts towards the three years of experience required for the reading specialist license (Wisconsin #5017).

If you have questions about your current Wisconsin teaching license, obtaining a Wisconsin reading teaching license, or the verification of your teaching experience, contact the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction at (608) 266-0452 or (608) 266-2386.

Option C - Reading Specialist Certification (#5017) with Master of Science in Education Degree


  1. Bachelor's degree
  2. Wisconsin Reading Teacher Certification (1316)
  3. Three years of successful, full-time K-12 classroom teaching experience
  4. Application to the Master of Science in Education program at UW-Stout. Apply the Reading Specialist Certification credits as elective credits in your degree program.

What are the Wisconsin Reading Specialist Certification admission requirements?

Eligibility is determined by reviewing:

  1. Evidence of your professional development goals and commitment to working with students with reading needs (written statement of goals)
  2. Evidence of your professional development self-analysis and reflection (written statement of goals)
  3. Goals relating to seeking reading specialist certification (written statement of goals)
  4. Evidence of your current reading teacher license 
  5. Evidence of 3.0 GPA or higher in past reading coursework (transcript)

Can previous graduate level literacy or reading coursework be applied to the UW-Stout reading specialist certification sequence of courses?

A maximum of three graduate credits completed within the past five years may be transferred pending a syllabus review. Final project(s) completed within the transfer course will be considered and submitted into the required e-portfolio.

Transfer credits may only apply to the first course in the reading specialist certification sequence of courses (RDGED 720).

NOTE: The last two courses (RDGED 721 and RDGED 722) must be taken from University of Wisconsin-Stout to demonstrate competencies using specific literacy coaching tools, building/district literacy data analysis, and professional development needs assessments.

If I live outside of the state of Wisconsin, will the reading specialist certification apply in my state?

If you are considering an online academic program that leads to a professional license, it is highly recommended you contact the appropriate licensing agency before beginning your academic program. 

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) does not provide reciprocity for state professional licensing requirements. Academic programs and individual graduates must meet standards set by your state’s licensure requirements in order for a graduate to be eligible for a license. The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) provision for this requirement can be found on pg. 10 herein:

Contact your state's accrediting agency, State Board of Education or other certifying agency and obtain a statement regarding the coursework requirements in your state. They will assist you in verifying the applicability of this reading specialist certification to your state's requirements. Each state has different certification requirements.

Reading Specialist Jobs

A reading specialist license is required for any person who directs early childhood through adolescent reading programs or works with reading teachers, classroom teachers, administrators, and others as a resource teacher in reading or literacy coach.

What are the job responsibilities of a reading specialist?

Per s.118.015(3), Wis. Stats., a reading specialist shall: develop and implement a reading curriculum in grades Kindergarten to 12, act as a resource person to classroom teachers to implement the reading curriculum, work with administrators to support and implement the reading curriculum, conduct an annual evaluation of the reading curriculum, and coordinate the reading curriculum with other reading programs and other support services within the school district.


Reading Specialist Online Course Benefits

  • Courses are taught by experienced online educators in the field of reading
  • Small, highly interactive classes
  • Professional quality projects for an e-portfolio to aid in job searches
  • Career mentoring
  • Highly competitive tuition
  • Credits may also apply as electives in the Master of Science in Education graduate degree.
  • No travel to campus is required.
  • Field-based experiences in your school district
  • Individual courses may be taken to meet professional development goals or to renew a teaching license or to transfer credit to another state's licensure program.
  • Accreditation

Information about the Reading Specialist Courses

Request Information Online 

Phone: 715-642-0209
School of Education
Online Professional Development
University of Wisconsin - Stout
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Our Students Say...


This course opened my eyes to the all-encompassing responsibilities of the reading specialist. 

I feel that I can be a person who can lead change, who can develop and support a reading program through collaboration and communication, and who will make data driven decisions based upon best practice.”
~ Caryl Kidd, Title One Teacher


This course was a great opportunity for me to reflect on myself as a reading specialist/literacy coach and has given me more confidence.”
~ Jaimie Howe, Literacy Coach


The skills I gained will allow me to provide valuable coaching and staff training to make our reading program an effective program for all students.
~ Karen Thoen, Reading Teacher

"I appreciated the ability to complete the program online. As a full-time teacher and mother of two young children, this was really the only option for me."
~ Reading Specialist Graduate

"I loved being able to prepare materials that I could actually use in my position/school. For instance, creating professional development, resources for teachers, etc."
~ Reading Specialist Graduate

"The information learned transferred directly. I don't feel as though anything was "fluff" or "filler." The instructors were ALL professional and held us to high standards."
~ Reading Specialist Graduate



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