Reading & Writing M.Ed.

Critical multiliteracies—reading, writing, listening, speaking, representing, and viewing—are complex social practices through which people communicate, express feelings and thoughts, learn, share experiences, generate knowledge, construct social relations, and act on their social worlds.

Our students seek to increase our understanding of critical multiliteracies: to collaborate with colleagues, administrators, families, and learners, developing and sharing knowledge and insights about multiliteracies. They also prepare to be educational leaders who design environments and curricula that maintain the integrity of the linguistic, cognitive, social, and cultural strengths of all learners, and that offer multiple literacies the equitable access required for full participation in a multicultural, multilingual democratic society.

In addition to coursework, you’ll participate in field-based projects in schools and community settings, and a practicum (if you are seeking a license).

All students are required to upload assessments to their master’s- and/or licensure-related online portfolios (i.e. TK20).

students working at table together

Course of Study

As a reading and writing master’s student, you’ll build knowledge in four areas: learners; speaking, listening, writing, reading, representing, and viewing; learning and teaching multiliteracies; and the interplay among the sociocultural processes and practices of schools, families, and communities. In each of these areas, we draw upon the insights of disciplinary fields (e.g., anthropology, sociocultural theories of learning, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and educational research), research methodology (modes of inquiry, teacher research), and students’ reflections on their own experiences and social practices as language users, learners, curriculum developers, and teachers.

33 credits total

Courses shared with the bilingual, ESL & multicultural education master’s program

Course Description Credits
EDUC 615L Seminar in Crosscultural Communication* 3
EDUC 677 Foundations of Bilingual, ESL & Multicultural Education* 3
EDUC 615S Language, Literacy Policy, and Planning 3
EDUC 681 Teaching Reading & Writing for Content & Language Learning 3
EDUC 687 Language Development and Literacy 3
EDUC 692L Workshop on Leadership Project Development** 3

*Seminar in Crosscultural Communication (EDUC 615L) OR Foundations in Multicultural Education (EDUC 677)

**Not taken by reading specialist licensure students

Reading & Writing License Courses

Course Description Credits
EDUC 709 Seminar in Reading 3
EDUC 783 Assessing & Supporting Literacy Learning 3
EDUC 784 Social Issues in Children's and Young Adult Literature 3
EDUC 698R Practicum 6
2 Electives***

Reading & Writing Non-license Courses

Course Description Credits
EDUC 709 Seminar in Reading 3
EDUC 784 Social Issues in Children's and Young Adult Literature 3
EDUC 698AP Field Experience  
3 Electives***

***Students determine program courses and electives in consultation with their advisor

EDUC 615S Language, Literacy Policy, and Planning

This is an introductory course in the field of language planning and policy which is situated in the broader field of sociology of language.  Selected case studies will provide a basis for critically examining issues such as:  ideology and language planning efface, language education policies, literacy movements, and language shift and death.

EDUC 692L Workshop on Leadership Project Development

Designed to provide support for developing an original curricular or research leadership project integrating principles derived from theoretical premises central to the BEM, Reading and Writing, and LLC concentrations.

EDUC 677 Foundations of Bilingual, ESL & Multicultural Education

This course examines the political, philosophical, and pedagogical foundations of multicultural education through various approaches to knowledge construction and production that shape from education institutions to teaching culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. The course presents perspectives on issues of access and provision of high quality public education particularly for students in underserved communities (Latinos in the U.S./Indigenous peoples in the Americas). Through the analysis of sociocultural and sociopolitical variables such race, ethnicity, language, gender and social class the course addresses issues of inequality in structures, policies, and practices in schools in the United States and globally.

EDUC 681 Teaching of Reading and Writing for Content and Language Learning

Principles, methods and materials for teaching reading and writing to adolescents.  For students preparing to teach in middle and high schools.

EDUC 687 Language Development and Literacy

Current theory and research on children's development of oral and written language and its implications for reading, writing and language instruction.

EDUC 692L Workshop on Leadership Project Development

This course is designed to support the development of an original curricular or research leadership project that integrates pedagogies and/or understandings that draw on theories central to the Bilingual, ESL, and Multicultural Education, the Reading and Writing programs, and the LLC concentration.

EDUC 709 Seminar in Reading

This seminar will consider the academic and public debates of "What counts as literacy?" and "What counts as reading?" in school contexts. Drawing on the research of multiliteracies, multimodalities, and critical literacies, course participants will explore how these pedagogies can support diverse learners for critical engagement their schools, communities, and society.

EDUC 784 Social Issues in Children's and Young Adult Literature

This course creates a space for pre-K to grade 12 teachers, literacy coaches, and researchers of languages, literacies, and literatures to refine and fortify their critical multicultural reading of social issues in children's and young adult literature. We will consider the social issues of family, linguistic, and cultural diversity; gender, sexuality, class, and race; war and peace, and the like. Participants will select and analyze relevant social issues or design an action plan based on their new understandings of critical teaching literature.


We require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale). The program admissions committee may consider applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 only if their personal statement clearly describes how they overcame obstacles and how they will be able to handle rigorous academic work. 

Application Requirements

  • Online Graduate Admissions Application
  • A minimum of two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s) from all colleges/universities you’ve attended
  • A personal statement that articulates your interest in our program, your prior credentials and professional experiences, your professional or research interests, and your future career goals
  • For Advanced Practitioner candidates: evidence of teaching experience in formal and/or informal settings such as experience planning and teaching lessons in your own classroom or a similar setting
  • For career changers (e.g. individuals with significant experience in a prior career path): a one-page explanation of how your prior experiences will inform your career in education
  • Application fee
  • If English is not your first language, evidence of your ability to speak and understand English: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) with a minimum score of 80 or IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System) with a minimum score of 6.5
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) are not required.

Rolling deadlines exist until cohorts are filled. Please submit all required application materials by the preferred deadlines:

  • for Master's in the Reading & Writing Non-license track: October 1 for Spring Semester admission & January 2 for Fall semester admission; 
  • for Master's in the Reading & Writing License track: January 2 for Fall semester admission.

Applications will continue to be considered until the cohort is filled.

For more information about the application process, visit Graduate School Admissions.


This program leads to initial teacher licensure in Massachusetts. Because of reciprocity agreements between states, you may be able to transfer your license to another state. However, the College of Education at UMass Amherst makes no guarantees that this program meets teacher licensure requirements in any state other than Massachusetts. If you are seeking licensure in another state, click on the link below for the program of your choice for more information.  For assistance in determining whether this program will be appropriate for you, send your inquiry to the program contact identified in the program description.  Access to your state’s licensing agency is available on the Teacher Licensure Agency Directory.


For more information about the reading and writing master’s program, contact Dr. Theresa Austin, the Language, Literacy, & Culture Concentration Coordinator, at