Become a Literacy and Reading Specialist

Are you seeking an advancement in your reading career?

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

Quick Links about the Reading Specialist Program


Tuition for Online Courses

How much will the online course cost?

$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.

Reading Specialist Course Sequence

  • 100% online
  • No travel to campus required for weekend or night classes
  • If you are teaching full-time, enrolling in one course per term is the recommendation of the reading faculty.
  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

When can I start?

Register now to reserve a spot.

The reading specialist courses are offered two times each year (January and September).

There is no registration fee to reserve a class.

Complete the Online Registration Request Form

register button

This program is very popular, and courses fill well before the start date.

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 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.

Our students include

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

What other literacy and reading courses are offered online?


Frequently Asked Questions about Online Courses

Option A - Professional Development

May I enroll in a single reading specialist course for professional development or license renewal?

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 Dr. 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. 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.

If you reside outside of the state of Wisconsin, please note that UW-Stout cannot confirm whether this program (or course) meets requirements for professional licensure in your state.  See the following website for additional information.

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.

Wisconsin Reading Specialist (#5017) Licensure Requirements

  • Satisfactory disposition ratings
  • Satisfactory e-portfolio rating
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher in each of the reading specialist courses (3 classes, 9 credits)
  • Three years of successful teaching experience
  • Valid Wisconsin teaching license
  • #1316 Wisconsin reading teacher license
  • A master's degree
  • Due to the reading specialist license classification within the administrator category, apply for your new add-on Wisconsin #5017 reading specialist license upon successful completion of the three courses/coursework requirements and after passing the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT).  The passing FORT score is 240. If you currently hold a life administrator license, after successful completion of the three reading specialist courses/coursework, you do not need to complete the FORT and can then apply for your #5017 license.

    See examples below:

    • A reading teacher who is completing a reading specialist licensure program who does not hold an administrator license must pass the FORT.
    • An educator who holds a life license in the administrator category does not have to take the FORT to add on a reading specialist license.
    • An administrator who holds a life license but doesn’t hold and has never held a teaching license who wants a reading specialist license must pass the FORT.
    • An administrator who holds a life license but doesn’t hold and has never held a teaching license who wants a K-5 regular education, special education or reading teaching license, must pass the FORT.

Who is required to take the Foundations of Reading Test?

With the language under sub. (18)(a), “initial license” now appears to mean the first “provisional license” issued to an educator in that category (or the subsequent renewal of that first license. Therefore, pursuant to Wis. Stat. §§ 118.19(14)(a) and (18)(a), the department may issue a provisional license to teach in certain areas (kindergarten through grade 5, special education, reading teacher, or reading specialist) if the applicant has passed the FORT examination. The result of this is that educators who hold or have held a lifetime/professional educator license do not need to pass FORT in order to add another license in the same category (i.e., teacher or administrator)  in one of the areas listed in statute.

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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