College of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human ServicesCollege of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human ServicesUniversity of CincinnatiCollege of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human Services

College of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human Services

Literacy & Second Language Studies

Literacy & Second Language Studies

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Literacy & Second Language Studies

The Master’s degree in Literacy and Second Language Studies is a completely online program that is designed to encourage professional educators to broaden and deepen their understanding of the social, cultural, linguistic, and institutional factors that contribute to a person’s ability to read and write in a first or second language.  The program views the development of literate behaviors as an inherent component of language learning in general, including second language acquisition; thus, this graduate program offers comprehensive and in-depth study for students interested in exploring reading and writing as language processes.  Areas of emphasis include:  the effective design and implementation of reading and writing curricula; the assessment and evaluation of reading and writing difficulties; practice with a variety of instructional practices to foster the literacy learning of diverse student populations; and strategies for critically analyzing foundational and current research in the field of literacy and second language studies.

The Master’s degree offers students  four specialization options:  (1) PreK-12 Reading Instruction Focus; (2) Postsecondary Literacy Instruction; (3) PreK-12 Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) Focus; and (4) Adult/International Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Focus. Strand-specific courses, practica experiences, and a culminating activity in the form of either a Master’s project or a Master’s thesis are also required to complete the degree.     



Quick Info

Program Code


Real-World Learning Components

Required clinical experience, Research




Distance Learning Only


Literacy & Second Language Studies
College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services


615O Teachers College
Mail Location 210022
Cincinnati,OH  45221
Cheri Willliams PhD
Phone: 513-556-3571

Student Success Factors

Successful applicants:

  • Hold a Baccalaureate Degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate coursework*
  • Have basic familiarity with computers and the Internet

Please note:  Students applying to the PreK-12 Reading Instruction Specialization must provide evidence of at least 2 years of teaching experience.

*International University credits must be converted to U.S. 4.0 grading scale.

Career Possibilities

  • The PreK-12 Reading Instruction Specialization meets the International Reading Association’s 2010 Standards for Reading Professionals.  Students who hold a valid teaching certificate or license are eligible for the Ohio Reading Endorsement upon completion of the degree requirements.  Career possibilities include: PreK-12 Reading Specialist, Reading Curriculum Coordinator, or Literacy Educator.
  • The Postsecondary Literacy Instruction Specialization  is designed for students who are interested in working with adult learners at the postsecondary level, including teaching developmental reading and basic writing in community college, four-year college, and adult literacy program contexts.  Career possibilities include:  Developmental reading instructors, basic writing instructors,  or community and adult literacy program administrators.
  • The PreK-12 Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) Specialization meets the international TESOL standards, and is geared toward individuals who are licensed in a single or multiple subject areas and are interested in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).  Career possibilities include:  ESL educators, curriculum developers and consultants, or program administrators for domestic and private schools.
  • The Adult/International  Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Specialization meets the international TESOL standards, and is geared toward individuals who are interested in teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) in international language schools, community colleges, or, for currently licensed teachers, in the public school system.  Career possibilities include:  ESL/EFL educators, curriculum developers and consultants, or program administrators for schools, colleges, university or corporate ESL and Intensive English Programs (IEPs).

Additional career options are listed on the Center for Exploratory Studies website.


These tools assist students to identify course requirements and individual progress toward completion of academic programs. It is important to utilize these resources with personalized guidance from a UC academic advisor regularly to ensure timely graduation..

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UC Advantages and Special Opportunities

The Master’s degree program in Literacy and Second Language Studies importantly offers students flexibility in selecting the disciplinary specialization that applies most directly to his/her individual educational and professional goals. Additionally, the program’s fully online format enables students to complete all degree requirements without having to relocate to the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area.  All Literacy and Second Language Studies faculty are well-trained in distance learning pedagogies in accordance with the Quality Matters (QM) standards.  Specialized practica further provide students with critical hands-on instructional experiences necessary to be competitive in the job market. 

Admission Requirements

The following are requirements for admission:

  1. The applicant must possess a Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university.
  2. The applicant must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 at the undergraduate level leading to the Bachelor Degree. The applicant who possesses a master’s degree prior to admission must have a graduate grade point average of at least 3.0 in any graduate level work undertaken before admission. All calculations are based on a 4.0 scale.
  3. In rare instances, candidates who graduated from a non-accredited college or university or who do not meet the minimum grade point averages requirement for admission may be admitted based upon an evaluation of evidence submitted by the candidate. As a minimum, the evidence must address mastery of the knowledge prerequisite to the courses required by the program, acceptable writing skills, the ability to engage in critical thinking, and a personal commitment to completing the program. The evidence, very often including Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, must convincingly demonstrate the candidate's potential for success in graduate level work.
  4. Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing sections of the Graduate Record Exam, taken within five years of the date of application, are required for admission to the master’s program for those applicants whose undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0.  While the program does not utilize hard and fast cutoff scores for the GRE, as a guideline the following minimum GRE scores are considered positive evidence of a candidate’s verbal and quantitative reasoning and analytical writing abilities:

Verbal, 470; Quantitative, 540; Writing, 4.5 (if the test was taken prior to August 1, 2011)

Verbal, 151; Quantitative, 145; Writing, 4.5 (if the test was taken after to August 1, 2011)

Please note:  Applicants who are not accepted for admission may reapply once they have addressed the weaknesses identified during their initial application review. During that period, such applicants may be encouraged by the program to enroll in appropriate course work to develop the knowledge, skills, and values deemed necessary for admission into the program, or to demonstrate that the applicant already possesses such qualifications. Whether such course work may apply to the degree program is left to the discretion of the program. Applicants may also be encouraged to take or re-take the GRE. However, completion of recommended course work or the GRE does not guarantee admission into the program.

Please note:  It is highly recommended that students applying to the PreK-12 Reading Instruction Specialization have at least 2 years of teaching experience.

Transferring to UC Requirements

Courses taken prior to admission into the Master’s degree program in Literacy and Second Language Studies may be eligible for transfer into the program, if taken within 5 years prior to admission.  All transferred courses must have approval of the program faculty.  Official paperwork is required to complete the transfer of courses; forms are available from the Director of Graduate Studies.  Upon approval, students may transfer up to 9 graduate semester credit hours into their degree program course of study.

International Student Requirements

International student applicants are required to provide specific information about their transcripts or degree programs to facilitate the applicant review process, including transcript translation and evaluation by a recognized translation/evaluation agency. For a list of translation/evaluation agencies accepted by the University of Cincinnati, please contact the International Students Services office:; 513-556-4278

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all applicants whose native language is not English, and must have been taken within the 2-year period of time preceding admission. The following minimum scores must be obtained:

Internet-Based Test (iBT): 79-80 OR Paper-Based Test (PBT): 550 AND a minimum score on the Test of Written English (TWE) of 5 AND a minimum score of 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE)

The University of Cincinnati maintains an International Student Services Office (ISSO), which serves international students attending the University. For questions regarding international student information, contact the International Student Services Office at (513) 556-4278,

The University of Cincinnati accepts documentation of successful, recent completion of ELS Level 112 as evidence of English language proficiency. Such evidence may be submitted in lieu of TOEFL scores.

Graduation Requirements

Students may graduate at the end of any semester provided they meet the necessary degree requirements and all Department and University deadlines. Students should confer closely with their advisors regarding graduation as they approach the completion of their degree requirements. The initial step in the graduation process consists of a formal application for graduation. This must be done by the announced deadline (usually during the semester prior to the semester of anticipated graduation) and is completed online at

A complete list of important deadlines and responsibilities that must be met prior to graduation, as well as further instructions and guidelines for completing the application for graduation can be found at

The student must be registered for at least one graduate credit in their program in an academic year, after having met minimum degree/candidacy requirements to be considered a graduate student throughout the academic year. Further, students must be registered for at least one graduate credit during the academic year in which they will graduate.

Before graduation for all students, submission of Notification of Removal of all NG, N, I, UP, SP, and F grades must be sent as well as posting of all satisfactory grades for the graduation semester.

Satisfactory completion of all applicable College and program requirements is provided by the student’s advisor filling out the Checklist for Completion of College/Departmental Requirements for Graduation and sending it to the Graduate School. Students completing a thesis must deposit a copy of the thesis with the Graduate School according to the most current detailed instructions on the graduate school website,

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines are as follows:

July 15th for Fall semester admission

November 15 th for Spring semester admission

April 1st for Summer semester admission

Your application is not considered complete, and so cannot be reviewed, until the School of Education has received all of the following:

1. A cover letter clearly stating to which degree specialization the application is being made (e.g., PreK-12 Reading Instruction, PreK-12 TESOL, or Adult/International TESL).

2. A statement of the applicant's academic and professional goals, approximately two pages long. This writing sample will be used as one of the criteria for evaluating the application. The applicant should explain specifically what areas s/he would like to study so that an appropriate advisor may be assigned to the applicant if admitted into the program.

3. A resume relevant to academic and professional data. It should include the applicant's name; address; phone; email; colleges attended with degrees, dates conferred, and grade point average; employment history; professional experience; present employer; and names of references.

4. Three letters of recommendation from people familiar with the applicant’s academic and professional abilities. If possible, at least one letter should be from a faculty member in higher education. Those writing letters should explain who they are, their relationship to the applicant, and what they know of the applicant’s academic and professional abilities. The applicant should be prepared to provide the recommenders e-mail addresses in the electronic application. Since recommenders are not prompted to submit their letters until the electronic application has been submitted, and application fee paid, it is wise to encourage recommenders to prepare their letters in advance so that they can upload them immediately upon receipt of the prompt.

5. Official transcripts showing all undergraduate and graduate course work completed, including degrees granted and dates of degrees. Applicants whose previous degrees were earned at the University of Cincinnati may substitute "on-campus" transcripts.

6. OPTIONAL: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores. Provide an original copy of scores taken within five years of the date the application. To ensure we receive the scores, both the university and the program to which scores are sent should be indicated on the order form. The code for University of Cincinnati is 1833.

Please noteIf you are seeking an endorsement as part of your program, you must include a copy of your current Ohio teaching license.

Notification: The program reviews the applicant's materials and informs the applicant of its decision after completing the review. If the applicant is accepted, applicants must notify the program in writing of their intent to enroll. An academic advisor will be assigned and it will be the applicant's responsibility to set up an appointment with his/her advisor prior to registering for courses. If the applicant is not accepted, the program will notify the applicant by letter of this decision.

 Please note:  Application materials will not be returned to the applicant.  

Program Contact Information:
School of Education
College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services University of Cincinnati
P.O. Box 210022
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0022

Phone #513-556-3600
Fax #513-556-1001


The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The University of Cincinnati is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

The PreK-12 Reading Instruction Specialization is aligned with the International Reading Association’s (2010) Standards for Reading Professionals. The Postsecondary Literacy Instruction Specialization is aligned with the WPA/NCTE Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing (2011) and the International Reading Association’s (2010) Standards for Reading Professionals. The PreK-12 TESOL Specialization and the Adult/International TESL Specialization are aligned with the Teaching Standards of the TESOL Organization