Reading Specialist

Reading Specialist Graduate Certificate

About Reading Specialist Certificate

Boost student achievement and expand your career with advanced training in reading.

Learn how to improve literacy at the student, school and district levels with a reading specialist certificate from PennWest California. This 24-credit program equips you to excel in a career as a reading specialist for students of all ages, while strengthening your teaching skills and theoretical expertise.

Certificate completers are prepared to take the Praxis reading specialist certification exam to obtain reading specialist certification for grades K-12 in Pennsylvania.

PennWest California's top-quality teacher training will help you go far. 

  • Our reading specialist program is based on the high standards of the International Literary Association (ILA).
  • Invaluable practicum experiences help you master instructional best practices in literacy.


Dedicated Professors: All PennWest California reading specialist professors hold doctoral degrees and have decades of classroom and school leadership experience. Our faculty are dedicated to excellence in teaching and are committed to giving all students personalized academic and professional support to help them excel in their careers.

Top Accreditation: This graduate degree program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In addition, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits PennWest California. CAEP promotes excellence in educator preparation through quality assurance and continuous improvement. See CAEP reporting measures of program impact and outcomes.



Specialists in the development of reading curricula can expect 23% job growth through 2018. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
All PennWest California reading specialist professors have earned doctoral degrees.
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Degree Benefits

The reading specialist certificate is a flexible program that prepares you for career success in literacy education.

  • Continue to work full time while attending program classes online.
  • Understand the theoretical and evidence-based foundations of reading and writing processes and instruction.
  • Create integrated, comprehensive and balanced curriculums to support student learning in reading.
  • Gain expertise in a variety of literacy assessment tools and practices.
  • Integrate and apply foundational knowledge, instructional practices and proven approaches to literacy.
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Graduate Outcomes

Fill the in-demand role of reading specialist with confidence and expertise. Program graduates are prepared to help teaching colleagues improve reading instruction for K-12 students, advise school administrators in school and district literacy program development, and provide one-on-one instruction to students with reading difficulties. The majority of PennWest California reading specialist students go on to jobs in school districts in Pennsylvania and across the country. Other alumni start careers in private practice and community-based literacy programs. Read about gainful employment.


Curriculum, Admission Requirements and Related Programs


Course Credits
RSP 700  Foundations of Literacy: Theory and Instruction 3
RSP 702  Literacy Assessment and Instruction 3
RSP 703  Practicum I: Assessment 3
RSP 704  Practicum II: Instruction 3
RSP 705  Psychology of Reading 3
RSP 706  Literacy Leadership 3
RSP 707  Creating and Fostering Literate Environments 3
RSP 734  Content Area Reading 3
Total 24

Admission Requirements

Regular Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.00 or higher (Students with a GPA below 3.00 may apply for conditional admission)
  • Copy of Teaching Certification
  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution

Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements:
    • GPA under 3.00 will be reviewed for a decision
    • Pending Teaching Certification

Provisional Admission
Applicants who have provided unofficial documentation of test scores, prerequisite courses, transcripts or lack of letter(s) of recommendation may be admitted provisionally.

This policy also applies to undergraduate students who apply for graduate admission pending bachelor degree completion. Upon receipt of all official documents, a student will be changed from Provisional Admission to either Regular Admission or Conditional Admission. Provisional Admission students may take classes for one term but will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

How to Apply:

School of Graduate Studies and Research
PennWest California
Box 91
250 University Ave. 
California, PA 15419

For additional information:
Phone: 724.938.4187

Out of State Students:
All students who will be seeking certification outside of Pennsylvania are responsible for securing and following the certification requirements in the state in which they intend to apply for certification.

Related Programs

  • Reading Specialist Master's Degree
    A Master of Education degree program that leads to a reading specialist endorsement on an existing Pennsylvania teaching certificate (upon passing the required Reading Specialist Praxis exam).
Reading 1

Online Courses

PennWest California's reading specialist program is designed with a classroom teacher's schedule in mind. All courses are offered exclusively online with the exception of the clinical reading practicum experience, which takes place on campus during the summer so as not to interfere with the traditional school-year schedule.

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Summer Clinical Reading Practicum

Work one-on-one with a school-aged child for five-and-a-half weeks in PennWest California's summer clinical reading practicum. One of our most distinctive and rewarding offerings, the practicum enables you to conduct and analyze an array of in-depth, diagnostic literacy assessments, targeted interventions and enrichment lessons to foster strategic thinking and an interest in reading and writing.

Reading 3

Be Prepared to Make a Big Impact

PennWest California's reading specialist program is committed to preparing reading specialists who can provide reading instruction to K-12 students who are struggling, and comprehensive literacy coaching and support to fellow teachers and leadership for school-wide literacy programs. PennWest California reading specialists are prepared to deliver systemic change at the school and district levels.

Reading Specialist Faculty

Dr. Holly L. Diehl
Professor and Coordinator of Professional Development Schools Program

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Dr. Diane Fine
Associate Professor and Coordinator, Reading Specialist Program and Integrative STEM Education Program

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Dr. Rebecca Maddas
Associate Professor

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Dr. Christine Peterson

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Please Note: All students who will be seeking licensure/certification outside of Pennsylvania should consult the State Authorization web page for more information.