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Master's Programs

Language and Literacy

HGSE is dedicated to helping you prepare for an impactful career in education by offering powerful learning experiences and field-based opportunities that will develop critical, professional skills. We are updating our Master’s in Education (Ed.M.) curriculum and structure for academic year 2021-22. The new structure builds on the strengths of our current offerings, and we will continue to support the same range of subjects and roles that are a part of our current degree program. Additionally, the experience will still be one year. Complete the Introduce Yourself form to stay informed about the details of the new Master’s degree program.

Literacy is the foundation of all learning. A student who can read confidently, comprehend fully, and write clearly opens doors to worlds of discovery in science, math, literature, and history. Adults who struggle to read and write are locked out of better-paying jobs and hindered in their personal development. As a student in the Language and Literacy (L&L) Program, you will learn how to use research-based practices to positively impact the lives of learners of all ages. The core strength of the L&L Program is a comprehensive approach to literacy from the combined perspectives of research, policy, and practice; preparing you to be an “informed consumer” of research. You will learn what neuroscience can tell us about dyslexia; how to conduct an appropriate and accurate literacy assessment in diverse urban schools; and how to develop a literacy intervention plan that engages learners, K–12 in their own success.

Our program is grounded in the belief that language and literacy skills are essential to every aspect of an individual's life and that literate individuals contribute positively to our social, cultural, and economic well-being. 

Senior Lecturer Pamela A. Mason, faculty director

L&L is a year-long, full-time program that prepares you to become an effective change agent in the lives of young learners and adults. Here are some of the many advantages of studying language and literacy at HGSE:

  • Internships and Fieldwork – Fieldwork takes place in the Cambridge Public Schools, where you will learn from innovative programs in place for English language learners, bilingual students, and students identified with learning disabilities.
  • Cohort and Community – The members of your L&L cohort form a collaborative and supportive learning community. Expect to learn as much from their diverse experiences and perspectives as from the formal L&L curriculum. You will also make connections across the wider HGSE community that will broaden your understanding of education and strengthen your professional network.
  • Reading Lab – The Jeanne Chall Reading Lab is an invaluable resource for L&L students and the education community. The Reading Lab is stocked with children’s books and magazines, literacy assessments, and reference materials on the research and practice of literacy instruction. It’s also a wonderful space for collaborative group work and discussion.

Curriculum Information

L&L students can choose from three different program strands, each with its own admission and curricular requirements:

Generalist Strand

The Generalist strand offers the most flexibility, allowing students to choose courses in research, policy, and practice that best match their interests and career goals.

View Requirements

Reading Specialist Strand

This strand is more structured, designed to satisfy the requirements of licensure as a Reading Specialist Teacher in Massachusetts. In addition to coursework in reading development and reading difficulties, students complete a fieldwork practicum in an urban public school. Admission to the Reading Specialist strand requires an active Initial or Professional teaching license and a minimum of one full year of teaching experience.

View Requirements

Literacy Coach Strand

This strand is for students interested in providing professional development and literacy training to teachers as a school-based literacy coach. In addition to taking courses in adult and professional development, students have the opportunity to observe literacy coaches working in local schools. Admission to the Literacy Coach strand is reserved for applicants with at least three years of teaching experience.

View Requirements

You will complete eight courses (32 credits) in total. Four L&L core courses and four electives.

View all courses and information on cross-registration.


Program Faculty

L&L faculty members combine deep scholarly expertise with decades of professional experience to become powerful teachers and lifelong mentors for L&L students. The diverse research interests of L&L faculty include the language-based precursors to literacy, the cognitive consequences of bilingualism, the development of language expression and comprehension skills, and much more.

Alumni & Student Profiles

A master's degree in L&L is the ideal preparation for a rewarding education career that makes a positive impact in both the lives of students and the systems that serve them. L&L alumni assume literacy leadership roles in K–12 classrooms at home and internationally, with education nonprofits, research centers, hospitals, education publishing houses, state departments of education, ministries of education, educational technology startups, and much more.

Katie Wingert

To Connect and Inspire: Katie Wingert, L&L'19

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Language and Literacy reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.

Heather Miller

Prime-Time Parenting

Heather Miller, Ed.M.'00, helps parents navigate technology and chaos during school nights.

Connect with Admissions

More information about our admissions application requirements and instructions, tuition and financial aid, and answers to frequently asked questions is available on our website. If you have additional admissions-related questions, please contact Ernald Furxhi or call 617.495.3414.

Introduce Yourself

Receive tailored admissions information about upcoming programs, events, and opportunities to connect with us.

Connect with Program Staff

If you have remaining program-specific questions, reach out to L&L Program Administrator Andrena Mason.