Frequently Asked Questions about the Online Literacy Studies Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Online Literacy Studies Program: K-12 Reading Specialist & Elementary/Secondary Reading


Q: How do I apply to the program?

A: Both degree-seeking and nondegree-seeking students can apply to our graduate programs online at:


Q: Is there a sequence of courses that I need to follow to complete the program?

A: You may take the courses in any order, however, the practicum courses, such as EDR 685, EDR 687, and EDR 689, should only be take after ALL or MOST OF the emphasis courses have been completed.  Additionally, EDR 626 has two pre-requisites, EDR 621 and EDR 622. The final capstone courses, ED 693 and ED 695, require that you have completed 27 credit hours, with EDF 660 being 3 of those 27 credits. If you have questions or concerns about the pre-requisites, please see your advisor.


Q: I have been accepted into the M.Ed. Literacy Studies program. What should I do now?

A: You will receive a letter from the College of Education indicating that you have been accepted into the graduate program. Once accepted, the university will send you a letter with your student G-number, user name and PIN for enrolling in courses using Banner.

After acceptance, you will be assigned an advisor who will contact you via email, welcoming you and offering assistance with program planning.

If you haven’t already done so, please make an appointment with your advisor. In this meeting, you will need to determine the program you would like to pursue: K-12 Reading Specialist, Elementary Reading, Secondary Reading, or M.Ed. with no endorsement.  Once you have determined the program you will pursue, you will be asked to sign a planned program, which is a document articulating the program requirements. This document serves as a contract in the case of programmatic changes—you will be held to the requirements on the planned program you signed.


Q: Will I be assigned an academic advisor?

A: Yes, an academic advisor will contact you via e-mail to welcome you to the program, answer any questions you might have, and setup an initial advising session. Advising sessions are available via telephone or online.


Q: How is advising done in the online program?

A: You are always welcome to visit our offices in Grand Rapids, MI, but are not required to do so. Alternative means of scheduling advising sessions include telephone or synchronous online sessions. You can also contact your academic advisor by e-mail when you have questions about the program, courses, etc.


Q: How do I know the format of a course when using Banner?

A: Banner includes all courses offered by GVSU. The Location column will indicate whether a course is in Grand Rapids, Detroit, or fully online. Those courses identified as “Online” in the Location column do not require on-campus class sessions, however, they will have dates articulated for synchronous learning sessions, which are required virtual meeting times.


Q: I tried to enroll in an online course in Banner but it says a permit is required? What do I need to do to get a permit to enroll?

A: You should consult your advisor. If you are eligible for the course, your advisor can notify the program coordinator, who will request a permit for a specific course. You should schedule an advising session with your advisor at least once a year where you can indicate which courses you are interested in for the academic year. At that time, permits can be requested for each course.

Only distance students in the online degree program will be “guaranteed” seats in the online literacy courses. If you have a question about an available course, you can e-mail the program coordinator, Elizabeth Stolle at:


Q: Can I transfer credits into this program?

A: The criteria we use to transfer in credit from outside GVSU are that the course must be (a) graduate-level, (b) from an accredited institution of higher learning, (c) grade B or higher, and (d) fit into your program. If you have a course you’d like us to consider for transfer credit, please speak to your advisor and provide your advisor with a syllabus from the course. Remember, only 9 credit hours can be transferred into a COE graduate program.


Q: How do I know whether an online course is right for me?

A: You must decide for yourself whether a completely online graduate class is your best option. Some questions to consider are:

  • Am I confident and competent with technology?
  • Have I been successful when taking online courses in the past?
  • Am I a self-directed learner?
  • Do I need face-to-face contact to feel connected to other students and the instructor? (Remember, you will have synchronous online class sessions with the instructor and other students in the course)


Q: How do the online classes compare with the hybrid/blended classes?

A: The content, activities, and assignments are identical in the online program to the hybrid/blended on-campus classes. The course readings, assignments, projects, and activities are the same, but they are shared via BlackBoard or Moodle in the online classes. Although there are no required face-to-face campus class sessions, online courses include required synchronous learning sessions where the instructor and students meet in Blackboard Collaborate together in a virtual classroom. The Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Literacy Studies was selected as one of the U.S. News & World Report Best Online Graduate Education Programs for 2016.


Q: What are the differences between the programs?

A: The main difference between the Elementary and Secondary Programs and the K-12 Reading Specialist Program is in the field experiences, or practicum courses.

The Elementary Reading and Secondary Reading Endorsement Programs are designed for teachers interested in facilitating student learning through effective literacy practices. These master’s programs are both 33 credit hours. The practicum experience (EDR 685) focuses on implementation of program learning with students in the elementary and secondary classroom. These programs lead to either an Elementary Reading endorsement or Secondary Reading endorsement.

* Candidates can choose to pursue the Elementary Reading endorsement or the Secondary Reading endorsement only, completing 24 credit hours in the reading emphasis area.

  The K-12 Reading Specialist program is designed for teachers interested in literacy coaching and administration/supervision of district-wide reading/language arts programs. This master’s program is 36 credit hours and includes two practicums. The first practicum experience (EDR 687) develops in candidates the reading specialist and literacy coaching techniques important to the work in PK-12 schools. The second practicum experience (EDR 689) addresses PK-12 literacy program administration, professional development practices, and reading specialist responsibilities. This program leads to a K-12 Reading Specialist endorsement. 


Q: How do I register for a field experience, or practicum course?

A: You must submit an application (available online) the term before you plan to complete your practicum.

* Application deadlines: February 15 for Spring/Summer semester, May 15 for Fall semester, and September 15 for Winter semester.


Q: When are the field experience/practicum courses offered?

A:  EDR 685 and EDR 687 are offered face-to-face in a summer school program in both Grand Rapids and Detroit during the Spring/Summer semester. EDR 685 is offered face-to-face in the Fall semester. EDR 685 and EDR 687 are also offered online during the Fall semester.

EDR 689 is offered both face-to-face and online during the Winter semester.


Q: Is there a course in the program that fulfills the state required reading diagnostic course for professional certification?

A: Yes, EDR 626: Literacy Assessment & Instruction, fulfills the state required reading diagnostic course for professional certification. This course is a program requirement, taught during both the fall and winter semesters. This course has two pre-requisites: EDR 621 & EDR 622, and requires you submit an application (available online) the term before you plan to complete your project because this course has a field component, requiring us to insure background checks are current. The field component for this course includes one-on-one work with a student of your choosing, conducting assessments and instructional interventions.


Q: What are the capstone options?

A: The GVSU College of Education offers two (2) options for completing your M.Ed. capstone experience: a development project (EDR 693) or a research/thesis (EDR 695).

  • EDR 693 Project - A project involves curriculum or program development and applies theory to practice. For a project, candidates articulate a problem related to literacy, ground the problem in the literature, explore solutions to the problem in a literature review, create a plan for implementation of the solution, and then create and describe the evaluation of the solution that can be used in a professional capacity.
  • EDR 695 Thesis - A thesis is a traditional research capstone where a candidate generates a research question, gathers data, analyses that data, and presents the results along with interpretations and recommendations.

You may choose either option, but there are different requirements depending on your choice. Information on the COE Website provides help when choosing a thesis or project. If you choose to complete a project (EDR 693), you must submit an application (available online) the term before you plan to complete your project and there are deadlines for applications for each term.  

* Application deadlines: February 15 for Spring/Summer semester, May 15 for Fall semester, and September 15 for Winter semester.

If you choose to complete a thesis (EDR 695), you must declare your choice between 30-60% of completion of your course work (after completing 12-18 credits), identify a thesis advisor, form a thesis committee, and register for EDR 695.  If you select a thesis, but are unable to finish it in one term, you will be required to enroll in a one-credit hour course, EDR 696, in subsequent terms.  Other university requirements for completion of a thesis (EDR 695) can be found online at:  If you are considering a thesis (EDR 695), we encourage you to talk with your advisor as soon as possible.

Stolle 1/13/16