If you’re a current educator with at least one year of experience, chances are you’ve heard of endorsement programs. Endorsement programs allow for currently licensed teachers to gain greater exposure to a specific subset of teaching skills. These online programs often require between 3 and 6 courses for completion. Educators who complete these programs and meet state standards are considered “endorsed” to teach in a specialized area.
One such area that is in demand nationwide is reading and literacy. There are a variety of reading endorsement programs online. Most students in these programs are working professionals. While most online degrees can be taken from anywhere (you don’t need to be in the same location as your program), endorsement programs are often state specific. This means that an endorsement program in one state will prepare the teacher for the process of gaining an endorsement in that state. Additionally, the specifics of what one must achieve to gain a reading endorsement vary from state to state. With that said, a number of the programs below do admit candidates from around the country. But it is best to check with your local school district as well as the program of interest to make sure requirements and coursework intersect.
We’ve looked at all online reading endorsement programs in the nation. We compared them according to the:
- academic quality of their parent institutions and education schools
- their affordability
- their flexibility
Check out the 20 best reading endorsement programs today!
1.) University of California San Diego – La Jolla, California
The University of California San Diego is a public research university (recognized as a Public Ivy) and member of the University of California system. UC San Diego is located in La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. The large campus of over 2,000 acres lies close to the Pacific Ocean. The university is research heavy, and its natural location and proximity to research opportunities is aided by its sea-grant and space-grant designations. Over 41,000 students attend the university, with over 8,000 in graduate programs. As one would expect of a highly regarded state research institution, degree programs are numerous and varied from the bachelor’s through doctoral levels.
The fully online Reading and Literacy Authorization offered by UC San Diego places highly in our ranking due to affordability as well as the top tier academics of the school. Add to that, the top tier researchers of a public ivy, and — particularly for those looking to teach in California — attending UC San Diego’s program is a no brainer. This online program is geared towards current educators looking to assume leadership roles related to reading and literacy. Applicants should have a valid California teaching license as well as 3 years of experience in an English teacher role. Students not from California may also take the endorsement program through UC San Diego’s Extension Campus.
2.) Virginia Commonwealth University – Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a public research university with a main campus in Richmond, Virginia. Originally founded as the medical college of Hampden-Sydney College, today VCU offers over 217 different degree programs at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels. A wide range of university centers of excellence are recognized nationally at VCU. The student body is currently comprised of over 28,000 students, with over 7,000 at the postgraduate levels. Academic support measures are high quality including:
- retention rates
- graduation rates
- student-faculty ratios
The fully online reading specialist endorsement program offered by VCU places highly in our ranking due to academic quality of the education department at VCU and the affordability of the program. VCU’s reading specialist program is the third most affordable of those surveyed.
Two routes to becoming a reading specialist are available through the university: a master’s with a concentration in reading specialist, as well as a post-master’s certificate to become a reading specialist. Both options are nationally accredited as well as meet the Virginia state requirements for gaining an endorsement as a K-12 reading specialist. While the master’s program is 34 graduate credit hours, the certificate is 24 credit hours. Both options require an externship and offer 6 credit hours that students may tailor to suite their interests or needs.
3.) University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia
The University of Georgia is a comprehensive research university that is the flagship university of the University of Georgia System. This very high research activity university is sea-grant, land-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant. Additionally, UGA is considered to be a “Public Ivy” school, meaning that it is a public university considered to provide an education commensurate with an Ivy League University. While the main campus is in Athens, Georgia, a growing number of degree programs and certificates through the university are also available online.
The fully online reading endorsement offered by the University of Georgia places highly in our ranking due to the academic quality of UGA’s education school, as well as the relative affordability of the program. Currently the reading endorsement program is the 6th most affordable of over 40 programs surveyed. Outcomes are good, research prospects are strong, and the university has a number of cutting-edge centers related to education on campus.
The three-course sequence is a great option for either currently practicing teachers or educators who are obtaining another degree and would like in-depth exposure to education related to reading and literacy. The three courses in the certificate program include courses for those:
- with a P-5 initial certification in reading
- with a 4-8 or 6-12 initial certification in reading
- already holding certifications in K-12 reading
For students looking to obtain deeper knowledge in a number of age ranges, the option to take more than 9 credit hours is available (9 is a minimum).
4.) North East Florida Educational Consortium
The North East Florida Educational Consortium is a non-profit, regional educational service agency established with the aim of providing and sharing online and in person learning resources for educators in member districts. Member districts include a number of largely rural districts in North East Florida. A wider range of “participating districts” across the state support the goals of the consortium. Currently the consortium is able to provide:
- bachelor’s in education degrees
- leadership programs
- support services
- testing services
- data for decision making
- add-on endorsement programs
This unique consortium is tasked with achieving a number of educationally related objectives for the state of Florida including support for:
- systemic evaluation and improvement within member districts
- improving student achievement in member districts
- expanding access and effective use of technology in member districts
- supporting districts to ensure safe learning environments
The online reading endorsement add-on enabled by the North East Florida Educational Consortium places highly in our ranking due to the flexibility of the program and the affordability of the program. Currently, it is the 5th most affordable endorsement program.
In many ways the program is self-paced. Students pursue competencies through a number of in-person (practicums) local-to-the-student learning opportunities. Additionally, classes are offered through online learning services as well as state-based universities including Florida State University. In-service hours are required for each of the five competencies required for graduation from the program.
5.) Concordia University of Nebraska – Seward, Nebraska
Concordia University of Nebraska is a private university with a main campus in Seward, Nebraska as well as wide-ranging online offerings. Additionally, many face-to-face graduate programs meet in Lincoln, Nebraska. The University is associated with the Lutheran Church. Currently home to a student body of over 2,900 students, Concordia University Nebraska is able to offer small class sizes along with a wide range of both undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and certification programs. The University is arranged into three schools:
- College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Education
- College of Graduate Studies
Currently the largest subject groups offered by the school include education related programs.
The fully online reading specialist endorsement program offered by Concordia University Nebraska places highly in our ranking due to its affordability and flexibility. The program is the seventh most affordable program surveyed of over 40. Twelve courses comprise the course of study, though each is just 8 weeks long. Additionally, courses may be taken in tandem, making for a shorter time until the end of the program. Students may take courses in a variety of formats including:
- fully online
Hybrid and in-person courses are available at both Lincoln and Omaha locations. A number of start dates throughout the year also aid in flexibility.
6.) Mesa Community College – Mesa, Arizona
Mesa Community College is a community college and member of the Maricopa County Community College District located in Mesa, Arizona. Mesa Community College is the largest community college in the district, with the district being the largest community college district by enrollment in the United States. Presently, over 16,000 students attend Mesa Community College. As one might expect from a community college and district that are so large, a much wider range of programs and resources are available than at peer institutions. Over 200 degrees, transfer programs, career, and certificate programs are available through the institution. Coursework and degree programs are generally practical and centered around specific careers. A wide range of course offerings are also available online or in hybrid formats for greater flexibility for adult learners.
The fully online reading specialist program offered by Mesa Community College places highly in our ranking due to affordability and the uniqueness of the offering. The program is the second most affordable of those surveyed for our ranking. Although the program is offered at the undergraduate level, it still allows to certified teachers to obtain their reading endorsement in K-8, 6-12, or K-12 denominations. The course of study requires between 24 and 30 credit hours, which — depending on the schedule of the student — could be completed within a year. The program also requires a reading practicum in a K-12 classroom setting.
7.) Olivet Nazarene University – Bourbonnais, Illinois
Olivet Nazarene University is a Christian-affiliated liberal arts university with a main campus located in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Church affiliation of the University is with the Church of the Nazarene. Home to some 3,400 students, around 1,000 students study at the graduate level. Degree programs are primarily offered at the bachelor’s through master’s levels. Non-traditional adult degree completion programs are also a focus of the university. Olivet Nazarene University if regionally accredited (the highest form of institutional accreditation) by the Higher Learning Commission.
The fully online reading endorsement program offered by Olivet Nazarene University places well in our ranking due to the affordability and flexibility of the program. The program is the 8th most affordable of those surveyed. Students may graduate from the reading endorsement program in as little as a year. Students may elect to continue studying and earn a master’s degree and the reading specialist designation in just 18 months.
Courses are held in a cohort model in an accelerated format. Five yearly start dates also add to the flexibility and suitability of the program for adult learners. For students seeking to achieve the reading endorsement alone, 6 courses are required. For the master’s and reading endorsement combined program, students must complete two additional courses in methods of educational research. A practicum is required.
8.) Morningside University – Sioux City, Iowa
Morningside University is a private, liberal arts college with a main campus located in Sioux Falls, Iowa. The University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is home to over 2,000 students. Founded at the tail end of the 19th century, Morningside University is known for its beautiful campus. Most of the university and the surrounding Morningside University Historic District are denominated as part of the National Register of Historic Places. Student outcome and academic quality measures at Morningside are high quality. These include a retention rate of 66%, a 54% graduation rate, and a 13 to 1 student-faculty ratio.
The fully online Master of Arts in Teaching offered by Morningside College includes a reading specialist Iowa Endorsement Track. We placed this program high on our rankings due to affordability and academic quality. Currently the program is the 4th most affordable program surveyed. Applicants should have a valid U.S. teaching license and a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. For the K-12 reading endorsement online, applicants should have at least three years of experience teaching with significant time spent teaching reading and literacy. The coursework for the program includes 9 credits in professional foundations as well as 27 graduate credits towards the master’s and reading endorsement.
9.) University of Northern Iowa – Cedar Falls, Iowa
The University of Northern Iowa is a public university with a main campus located in Ceder Falls, Iowa. The University has over 9,000 students, with slightly over 1,000 of those students studying at the graduate level. The University offers over 90 degree programs.
The fully online K-8 at the University of Northern Iowa places highly in our ranking of reading certification programs online due to affordability and the academic quality of the university’s education department. The program is the 11th most affordable of over 40 surveyed programs. Reading endorsements for grades 5-12 are also available by following a portion of this program and adding some courses. Online course programming is offered through Blackboard, as well as interactive video chat components in a number of the courses (synchronous learning). The course of study requires 15 credit hours. Students may complete coursework in three semesters.
10.) University of Northern Colorado – Greeley, Colorado
The University of Northern Colorado is a post baccalaureate and research university with a main campus located in Greeley, Colorado. Close to 10,000 students call the university home at the undergraduate through doctoral levels. The university is well known nationally for research. Academic support and student outcome measures are strong at the university, with an 14 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio, a 69% first-year retention rate, and a 52% graduation rate for undergraduates.
The fully online MA in Literacy offered by Northern Colorado includes a K-12 reading teacher endorsement. We’ve placed this program highly due to the academic quality of the department of education at Northern Colorado, as well as the program’s affordability. 30 credit hours are required for graduation from the program, which takes around 5 semesters. Start dates are available at the start of any term. The program provides a reading teacher endorsement for the state of Colorado, though applicants from other states may attend (and may be able to gain a reading teacher endorsement in their state). One year of full-time teaching in a K-12 environment is required for entry into the program. Applicants should have a 3.0 or higher GPA in their latest degree acquired.
11.) Eastern Kentucky University – Richmond, Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky University is a public comprehensive university with a main campus located in Richmond, Kentucky. Over 40 undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered, with a large number of these degree programs available online. For regional students, a number of satellite campuses are also available including locations in Corbin, Hazard, Lancaster, and Manchester. Over 13,000 students attend the university, with close to 2,000 students attending at the graduate level.
The fully online Literacy P-12 Endorsement Prep program offered by Eastern Kentucky University places highly on our ranking due to program flexibility and affordability. Currently the program is the 12th most affordable program surveyed. Flexibility-enhancing components of the program include:
- accelerated 8-week terms
- self-paces learning
- personalized graduation plans
No trips to campus are required for the program which is 12 credit hours long. Applicants to the program must hold a bachelor’s degree as well as at least a provisional teaching certificate for Kentucky schools. As is the case with many state-specific endorsement programs, applicants from other states may apply, though should check with their local school district and Eastern Kentucky University regarding compatibility with requirements first.
12.) University of Florida – Gainesville, Florida
The University of Florida is a public, flagship university with a main campus located in Gainesville, Florida. This highly prestigious university has high research activity across many fields. Currently the University of Florida has designations as a space-grant, sea-grant, and land-grant university. The student body is the largest in Florida (and 8th largest in the United States) and is currently comprised of over 55,000 students. As one would expect from a university of this size and stature, degree offerings are varied and available at the bachelor’s through doctoral and professional levels.
The fully online Reading Endorsement program offered by the University of Florida places highly in our ranking due to the academic quality of the education department as well as program flexibility. Currently, it is the 19th most affordable program surveyed (of 40). While this is in the middle of the pack as far as affordability, this still provides a great value for attending one of the 30 best education schools in the nation. Five courses are required for program completion. The program is geared towards currently licensed Florida educators.
13.) Minnesota State University – Mankato, Minnesota
Minnesota State University is a public comprehensive university with a main campus located in Mankato, Minnesota. Home to some 14,000 students, degree offerings are varied and available across the undergraduate and graduate levels. A good number of degree and academic programs are also available online and nationwide. For regional students, two satellite campuses are available in Edina and Owatonna. As a comprehensive university, all undergraduate courses of study require a base in:
- the sciences
- the humanities
Online offerings at the school are pursued by around 3,000 — often non-traditional or working — students annually. Of online students, 85% state that they find employment in their area of study upon graduation.
The fully online K-12 reading licensure program offered by Minnesota State University is ranked highly in our ranking due to program affordability as well as the academic quality of the education school at the university. The program is the 9th most affordable of over 40 surveyed. The 18-credit hour reading instruction curriculum prepares teachers to sit for the state licensure exam for reading educators. The program can be completed in around two years depending on course pacing. 94% of graduates of the program gain or continue in employment in the area in which they studied (reading education).
14.) University of Findlay – Findlay, Ohio
The University of Findlay is a private, religiously affiliated university with a main campus located in Findlay, Ohio. The University was founded close to 150 years ago in a partnership between the city of Findlay and the Churches of God General Conference. Close to 4,000 students call the university home, with around 1,000 pursuing programs at the graduate levels. Findlay offers approximately 74 degree programs from the undergraduate through doctoral levels. Academic support indicators including the student-to-faculty ratio, the retention and graduation rate are all high quality at the university.
The fully online state of Ohio reading endorsement program offered by the University of Findlay places highly on our ranking due to the affordability and flexibility of the program. Their low tuition rates make the program the 10th most affordable of 40 surveyed. Courses included in the program include:
- Literacy with Special Needs Population
- Research in Reading
- Internship for the Reading Endorsement
- Topics in Reading Education
The course of study may be completed in two semesters.
15.) Ball State University – Muncie, Indiana
Ball State University is a public research university with a main campus in Muncie, Indiana. BSU is classified as a doctoral university with high research activity. Currently over 20,000 students call the university home, with over 5,500 postgraduate students. Academic offerings are wide ranging and available at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels. In the last two decades, environmental sustainability has become central to the university’s vision, with all new buildings or renovations meeting LEED certification standards since the mid-2000’s. Academic quality and support measures at the university are high quality including:
- retention rates
- graduation rates
- student-faculty ratios
The fully online graduate certificate in literacy instruction offered by Ball State University places highly in our ranking due to flexibility and the academic quality of the department of education at BSU. The program the 18th most affordable surveyed. The 15-credit hour course of study may be completed in three semesters. Students can also incorporate the endorsement courses into a master’s program in education as it completes some of the requirements for a number of master’s degrees. All courses in the certificate are taught by doctorate-holding educators at the renowned Ball State Teacher’s College. This program is programmatically accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and Council for the Association of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
16.) Valdosta State University – Valdosta, Georgia
Valdosta State University is a public, comprehensive university member of the University of Georgia system. With a main campus in Valdosta, Georgia, close to 11,000 students attend the university. As a comprehensive university, academic offerings are wide and varied. Degree programs are available from the associates through doctoral levels. Currently about 2,500 students study at the graduate levels. Five colleges comprise the university including a:
- college of arts
- college of education and human services
- college of nursing and health sciences
- college of business administration
- college of arts and sciences
Academic support and quality measures are high quality at the university including:
- retention rates
- graduation rates
- student-to-faculty ratios
The fully online reading education endorsement offered by Valdosta State University places on our ranking due to the affordable nature of the program and the academic quality of the education college at Valdosta State. The program is the 13th most affordable of those surveyed. The program is designed for current licensed teachers. It meets the requirements for obtaining a Reading Endorsement Emphasis area in the state of Georgia. 9 credit hours of courses are required for program completion. Admissions standards include a 2.75 or higher GPA in undergraduate study as well as a clear, renewable teacher certificate.
17.) Mercer University – Macon, Georgia
Mercer University is a private research university with a main campus located in Macon, Georgia. As the state’s oldest private university, Mercer has a storied history including a beautiful home campus. Satellite campuses as well as a school of medicine (in Savannah) and a graduate and professionals campus (in Atlanta) extend the reach and availability of the university through the state. Currently over 9,500 students attend Mercer, with students attending at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels. As a whole, the University is ranked nationally, and one of only four universities in Georgia to attend this standing.
The fully online reading endorsement program offered by Mercer places in our ranking due to its relative affordability and flexibility. The program is the 15th most affordable program of those surveyed. Nine credit hours are required for program completion. Reading endorsement courses include:
- Research Theory: Research & Best Practices in ECE Reading
- Preventing, Diagnosing, and Correcting Literacy Problems
- Clinical Practicum
The online program is available to any teacher with a level 4 teaching certificate (in any subject) wishing to obtain a reading endorsement in the state of Georgia.
18.) Washington State University – Pullman, Washington
Washington State University is a public research university with a main campus located in Pullman, Washington. As the flagship campus of the Washington State University system, academic offerings and support are wide-ranging and varied at the university. Degrees are offered from the bachelor’s through the doctoral levels.
Particularly noteworthy academic programs at the university include the undergraduate business school and the international business program. Many departments at the university are high quality and are achieving both quality teaching and research objectives.
The fully online Reading Endorsement program offered by Washington State University places on our ranking due to affordability and flexibility. The program is the 18th most affordable surveyed (of 40). 19 graduate credit hours are required for completion of the program, which leads to a Washington State Reading Endorsement. Academic coursework for the program is entirely online. Coursework is designed to blend:
- curriculum development skills
- pedagogical skills
- diagnostic assessment skills
Students also complete a hands-on tutoring practice (in the form of a practicum). The program may be pursued by degree-seeking master’s students or those seeking the endorsement alone.
19.) University of Toledo – Toledo, Ohio
The University of Toledo is a public research university with a main campus located in Toledo, Ohio. The student body is comprised of over 16,000 students, of whom 3,000 study at postgraduate levels. Additional campuses including the health science campus and the center for visual arts extend the reach of the university. The university began as a vocational school, but quickly expanded to be particularly known for their academic programming in science, math, technology, and medicine. With that said, academic offerings are wide and varied, including education and STEM fields. Though the university is one of the largest in Ohio, most classes are still small, with a student-faculty ratio of 20 to 1.
The Reading Endorsement Program offered by the University of Toledo places in our ranking due to its affordability as well as academic quality of the program’s parent education department. Requirements for this top tier program include having taken 12 undergraduate or graduate credit hours centered around reading education. Additionally, students should have taken an undergraduate or graduate course in phonics. Four reading endorsement courses are required for completion of the program, which may be completed in as little as two semesters. Those who complete the program may submit their results to receive their Ohio State Reading Endorsement. Currently the program ranks as the 20th most affordable of those surveyed (40 schools).
20.) Prescott College – Prescott, Arizona
Prescott College is a private, liberal arts college with a main campus located in Prescott, Arizona. Roughly 1,000 students attend this small college in-person or in limited residency programs. As one may expect of a liberal arts college of this size, most courses are quite small (10 or less students), and the student-to-faculty ratio is an impressive 9 to 1. In tandem with all of this personalized attention, other student support and outcome measures such as retention and graduation rates are also quite strong. Education in many of the programs at the school is experiential and in the field. As such the college is accredited (regionally) by the Higher Learning Commission as well as the Association for Experiential Education. Additionally, the college’s school of education is authorized by the state of Arizona to confer degrees in education.
The fully online reading endorsement program offered by Prescott College places on our ranking due to affordability and flexibility. The program is the 17th most affordable of those surveyed (40 schools). The Reading Endorsement is for K-8 teachers. It requires 24 credit hours for graduation. All students have a mentor throughout the program, which has been approved by the state of Arizona for conferring Reading Endorsements online to existing teachers. These mentors are available in the home communities of students, and work with those students in 1 on 1 settings. Admission to the program is rolling, and students may start at the start of any semester.