Literacy Specialist Course Sequence

Delivery Online

Delayed Admissions – Program is undergoing redesign process and will not be enrolling new students. Please inquire to learn when the next cohort will be offered.

The Literacy Specialist program is offered as a partnership between the Special Education and Curriculum Studies Departments. This program is designed for teachers, other educators, and graduate students who want to become knowledgeable in the area of literacy. The program prepares literacy specialists to ensure all students achieve their maximum potential in written and spoken language as well as 21st Century literacies (e.g., digital, media, visual, critical). This program incorporates both International Literacy Association (ILA) and International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Standards.

Candidates may choose to pursue this program on its own or can complete this course sequence within the Master’s degree in Special Education or Curriculum Studies.

Who should consider this program

This program is designed for those who want to become knowledgeable in the area of literacy:

  • Current licensed teachers (general education or special education)
    • Coursework may be applied to step movements to increase pay in DOE
  • Other educators (RtI specialists, curriculum coordinators, instructional coaches, etc.)
  • Graduate students

This program is eligible for an add-a-field of literacy specialist through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB). To be eligible, candidates must have:

  • Existing Hawaii teaching license
  • 3 years teaching experience prior to beginning literacy specialist coursework
  • Master degree in Special Education or Curriculum Studies from UH Mānoa (can be completed prior or taken concurrently with literacy coursework)
Common Careers
  • General Education teacher
  • Special Education teacher
  • Literacy Specialist
  • RtI Specialist
  • Curriculum Coordinator
  • Instructional Coach
Admission Requirements


  • Bachelor’s degree: Applicants must have graduated from a UHM recognized, accredited, four-year institution of higher education
  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Access to groups of students for applied projects

In addition, it is highly preferred that applicants have 3 years of teaching experience or equivalent.

Application Requirements

  • Official  transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended
  • Resumé or CV
  • Statement of objectives
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation

International students are unable to pursue our online or hybrid programs due to visa requirements, including for those who wish to pursue online courses from their home country. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Application Deadlines
Starting Semester Deadline
Summer Admission Only* February 15

*Delayed Admissions. To be automatically notified of the next enrollment period, please complete the “Request More Info” contact form.

How to Apply
Delivery & Format

ONLINE PROGRAM (online, synchronous): All required courses are offered online and may include synchronous online class sessions in the early evenings, typically 4:30pm-7:00pm (HST). Program candidates will be placed into cohorts and will complete the literacy specialist course sequence together beginning each summer. There are two mandatory *face-to-face sessions including New Candidate Orientation at the beginning of the program, and a Portfolio Preparation session just prior to the 2nd summer. Some financial support is provided to assist with these travel costs for candidates residing on neighbor islands.

*Candidates residing outside of Hawaii will be offered an alternative format for participation in face-to-face session.

Tuition & Funding

Literacy Specialist Coursework (18 credits)

MEd in Special Education with Literacy Specialist Emphasis (30 credits):

Financial support opportunities are available to candidates enrolled in the master degree option:

  • MERIT-BASED STIPENDS: Candidates taking the Literacy Specialist course sequence as part of our Master’s in Special Education program are eligible to apply for departmental stipends, based on available funds. Candidates can apply to receive up to $6,000 total, based on merit as evaluated by transcripts, GPA, letters of recommendation, and enrollment of at least two courses per semester. Opportunity to apply is provided after acceptance into the program.
  • FEDERAL TEACHER LOAN FORGIVENESS: SPED teachers at Title I schools can qualify for up to $17,500.00 in loan forgiveness after completing their 5th year of teaching. (
  • SCHOLARSHIPS: Refer to

The Literacy Specialist in Special Education program is a 18-credit graduate program of a cohorted series of six (6) courses in literacy.

The course sequence is followed by a Literacy Specialist Portfolio as the capstone project. Applied projects are embedded into coursework. Candidates must have access to groups of students throughout Fall and Spring semesters.

The six cohorted series of literacy coursework includes:

  • SPED 637: Topics & Issues in Reading Disabilities (Summer I)
  • EDCS 647: Classroom/School Literacy Assessment (Fall)
  • SPED 638: Fundamentals of Language & Literacy (Fall)
  • EDCS 605: Literacy Coaching and Leadership (Spring)
  • SPED 639: Advanced Fundamentals of Language & Literacy (Spring)
  • EDCS 607: New Literacies Leadership (Summer II)

Candidates choosing to complete this coursework within the master degree program will have additional core coursework to complete. Please refer to degree program page for more detailed information and how to apply.

Advising & Faculty

Program Info & Inquiries

Please complete the “Request More Info” form and our recruitment specialist will be happy to answer additional questions, provide program or funding updates, and assist with the application process once admissions open.

Literacy Program Coordinator: Dr. Paul Meng

Paul Meng

Assistant Professor