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Give back to HGSE and support the next generation of passionate educators and innovative leaders.

Master's Degree Program

Language and Literacy

The program information below is for academic year 2020-2021. This program has enrolled their final cohort. We are 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 encourage you learn more about our reimagined Master's in Education.

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 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 - Internships provide a lot of value to your academic experience while providing you excellent knowledge to build your resume and experiment with jobs to test your interests. While Field Experiences will continue to be an important part of the HGSE learning experience, logistical and other program details are subject to modification for academic year 2020-21. Remote fieldwork opportunities are under consideration.

Cohort and Community - During your time at HGSE, you will have the opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group of peers who have a shared passion for education and an intellectual curiosity that will help transform the field. You will develop strong bonds and a supportive learning community through participation in various cohort and community-building, virtual activities hosted by your program, student organizations, and HGSE faculty and staff.

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 is also a wonderful space for collaborative group work and discussion.

Curriculum Information

The Language and Literacy Program curriculum is designed for the study of literacy through the lenses of practice and policy, and through research that deepens knowledge of the discipline to the level of neuroscience, all with an emphasis on how students can use the knowledge to become forces for positive change in education and literacy leaders in their districts, the community and beyond. 

You will have access to core courses designed collaboratively by the L&L core faculty and varied electives in key topic areas, including language development, typical and atypical reading development, language and culture, and bilingualism. We remain deeply committed to your ability to choose from courses related to research, policy, and instructional practice, with access to electives from across the school, including the new set of schoolwide courses, and other parts of Harvard University. You will complete 32 credits in total.

Program Requirements

  • Core courses from Language & Literacy (16 credits)
  • Electives (16+ credits)

See my.harvard for a complete list of courses.

Program Faculty

HGSE consists of a faculty of the whole and students can work with and take courses with faculty throughout HGSE and Harvard. 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 Wiseman

A Practitioner Perspective: Katie Wiseman, L&L'22

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

Carina Traub

“Did This Actually Happen?”

The prepared remarks of Commencement student speaker Carina Traub.

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