Your literacy expertise can change lives

Do your students or clients struggle with reading and writing? The MGH Institute’s Literacy and Language Certificate program prepares you to help them achieve success. Everyone deserves the chance to develop strong reading and writing skills. Limited literacy skills can result in low self-esteem and negative school experiences. Beyond impacting educational and professional prospects, low literacy levels are linked to poor health outcomes and poverty.

Fortunately, research has shown that reading difficulties can be reduced and even eliminated when literacy instruction is delivered by a highly knowledgeable and skilled professional. The Literacy and Language Certificate program, rooted in the Science of Reading, will provide you with the expertise to identify the underlying causes of literacy challenges and design effective instruction for diverse learners. In addition, you will be prepared to become a literacy leader wherever you are employed.

Do you have struggling readers and writers in your classroom? The MGH Institute’s Literacy and Language Certificate program can prepare you to help them achieve success.


The Certificate of Advanced Study in Literacy and Language program emphasizes how spoken language development relates to reading and writing proficiency. A primary goal of the program is to develop you as a literacy leader who can leverage your knowledge and expertise to improve reading and writing practices in educational and clinical settings. In the context of the latest evidence-based research, the Science of Reading, you will:

  • Become proficient in providing reading instruction for all students
  • Learn the most effective classroom screening instruments and individual diagnostic literacy tests
  • Develop the skills associated with effective interdisciplinary case consultation skills
  • Be prepared to take on a literacy leadership position


Two Program Options 

The MGH Institute offers two options to obtain a Certificate of Advanced Study in Literacy and Language. Both will help you acquire expertise in reading and writing to support a range of learners.

  • 17-credit option is fully-online and offers the same coursework as the 20-credit program without the practicum requirements needed for licensure.

View Curriculum Plan

  • 20-credit option is for educators and speech-language pathologists holding an initial teaching license in Massachusetts who wish to become licensed as a reading specialist.

View Curriculum Plan

IMPACT Practice Center enhances the clinical experience

The CAS students in the 20-credit program complete a 5-week intensive, structured literacy practicum in the Julie Atwood Speech, Language, and Literacy Center (SLLC). Candidates work with a dyad partner to plan and provide structured, systematic literacy instruction to clients with reading and writing challenges. Candidates provide intervention under the direction of a faculty member highly skilled in literacy assessment and intervention. Faculty-led team meetings provide extensive opportunities to review cases, problem-solve, and analyze data to inform intervention plans. In addition to exploring brain and cognitive factors, we address the influence of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion on literacy learning.

The SLLC provides comprehensive assessment, therapy and specialty services to children and adults with communication and reading difficulties.

At the end of the program, candidates in the 20-credit program participate in a school-based literacy practicum in a MA public school or approved private school under the supervision of a MA-licensed reading specialist. Candidates often complete this where they are working if there is a licensed reading specialist to provide supervision.

How to Apply

All applicants are required to submit a completed online application form.

Our professional staff provides information and answers questions you have during the admission and financial aid process and offers ongoing information on tuition and fees.


Dates & Deadlines

Program Start Date: Summer 2024
Admission review is rolling.

Program Start Date: Fall 2024
Admission review is rolling.

Apply Now


All applicants must have a conferred bachelor's and master’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or recognized international equivalency.


A teaching license is not required to apply to the program. However, applicants should be aware that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requires you to have an initial teaching license and to have worked for at least 1 year under that pre-requisite license in order to qualify for licensure as a reading specialist. Speech and Language teaching licenses are considered initial teaching licenses in Massachusetts.

The MGH Institute is one of the few literacy and language programs that allows you to complete both a clinical practicum and a school-based practicum. Each takes place under the close supervision of one of our faculty or an appropriate mentor.

The 30-hour clinical practicum takes place at our on-campus Speech, Language and Literacy Center. You’ll learn to differentiate instruction for struggling readers. The structured literacy method of instruction you will use is often the key for your students who struggle with foundational reading and spelling skills. Many CAS graduates state that this closely mentored experience is one of the most powerful aspects of the program.

The school-based practicum is a 150-hour internship under the supervision of a licensed reading specialist in an approved public school or private school. Practicing teachers typically complete this practicum in their own school. If you're not a practicing teacher, the program director will work with you to identify a school and supervisor that is a good fit for your learning goals and interests.


The GRE is not required for admission to this program.


The language of instruction and clinical education at the MGH Institute is English and a high level of proficiency in both written and spoken English is required. Applicants who have not completed either an undergraduate or graduate program where English is the language of instruction must demonstrate English Language proficiency as part of your application to the MGH Institute of Health Professions. If you have questions about the language requirements, please contact the Office of Admissions.

  • Applicants who are citizens of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Guyana, an Anglophone country of Africa, or an English-speaking country of the Caribbean are not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.
  • Applicants who are candidates for graduation from an accredited degree-granting program in the United States or at an English-speaking school in one of the countries listed above are also not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Acceptance to the IHP will be contingent upon the successful completion of this degree prior to matriculation.

Please note that in some circumstances, demonstrating English language proficiency may be required by the academic program even if you are a citizen of a country in which the (or one of the) national language(s) is English. Decisions about the need for TOEFL or IELTS scores are at the discretion of the academic program to which you are applying in coordination with the department of OES.

The IHP accepts either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The test must have been taken within two years of the application deadline and official score reports are required. The minimum TOEFL (internet-based) score accepted is 89 and the minimum IELTS score accepted is 6.5.

  • To forward your TOEFL score please contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The MGH Institute of Health Professions code is 3513.
  • For IELTS, a Test Report Form may be mailed to MGH Institute of Health Professions, and score information will be verified by the IHP directly. You may designate up to 5 schools to receive Test Report Forms at the time you register for the test. To request additional Test Report Forms, contact your test center.

Please contact the Office of Admissions if you have any questions about the MGH Institute’s English Language requirements.

Applicants are required to submit a transcript from each college and/or university attended, even if a degree was not received from that institution. Unofficial transcripts will be accepted throughout the application process, and official transcripts will only be required prior to enrolling in the program.

The Office of Admission strongly encourages the use of online electronic transcript ordering which can be sent directly via email to admissions [at] (admissions[at]mghihp[dot]edu). If this is not an option and your institution does not participate in electronic transcript delivery, please request official transcripts be sent to the mailing address listed below:

Admission Office
MGH Institute of Health Professions
36 First Avenue
Boston, MA 02129

Applicants that have earned a degree from a non-US institution are required to submit a course-by-course credential evaluation from one of the following NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) members: Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., SpanTran: The Evaluation Company, World Education Services (WES), or the Center for Educational Documentation. If you earned your bachelor's degree outside of the U.S. this credential evaluation must document the minimum equivalency of a US baccalaureate degree or higher.

Statement of Intent

All applicants are required to compose an essay that addresses the following:

Discuss your personal and professional experiences, your academic interests and objectives, and your career aspirations. Address how and why you feel the Literacy and Language Certificate program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions can help you to achieve your academic and professional goals. Include any other information you believe is relevant.

Answers should be typed, double-spaced, and no more than three pages in total. Margins should be no more than one inch, and type size should be no smaller than 10-point, with a 12-point type preferred. Please make sure your full legal name is included on each page. The statement of intent should be uploaded directly to your online application.

Recommendation Letters

Applicants are required to provide three recommendation letters. All recommendations are processed electronically through our online application. Please provide contact information for each recommender within the online application.

Recommendation letters should come from individuals who are able to address your academic ability, character, and integrity, as well as your potential for graduate professional study. No more than three recommendation letters will be reviewed as part of your application.

Resume or CV

Applicants are required to submit a current resume or CV.

Can I receive Financial Aid for this program?

Do not wait until you've been accepted to the program to learn about financial aid options available. Contact our Financial Aid office as soon as you have applied to ensure that you will be able to take advantage of all options available. When you apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you'll need the MGH Institute Federal School Code: G22316.

Since this is not considered a full-time graduate program, you may not be eligible for most traditional financial aid programs. However, you may be eligible for employer tuition reimbursement if this is a graduate program of study in your profession.

Who do I contact for more information about the academic program, curriculum, or course requirements?

If you have additional questions, please csd [at] (contact the CSD department).

Who do I contact for more information about the application process, my application status, or what documents to submit?

You may admissions [at] (email the admission office), or call (617) 726-1304 on weekdays between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Eastern Time.

What is your mailing address?

MGH Institute of Health Professions
Office of Enrollment Services
36 1st Ave.
Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129

Are there other Conditions of Admission?

Yes. If applicable, final transcripts and test scores must be submitted to satisfy the conditions of admission.

I’m an international student. Can I receive an F-1 Visa?

Not all programs at MGH Institute are eligible for F-1 Visa status. Please see General Information for Prospective International Students in our Admissions section.

Institutional Scholarships

Institutional scholarships are only available to students accepted into one of our entry-level degree-granting programs.

Federal Loans

Please note that students must be enrolled at least half-time in order to be eligible to borrow Federal Loans. Halftime status for graduate students is 5 credits in the fall and spring and 3 credits in the summer.


Learn more about Tuition & Aid

Upcoming Admissions Events

Specialized Knowledge for Teaching Literacy

Both the 17 and 20-credit program options emphasize how spoken language relates to reading proficiency. You'll learn how to apply the latest research to state-of-the-art reading and writing instruction for your students and clients.

woman points to a sheet of paper in front of an elementary school aged boy

A Pathway to Reading Licensure

The 20-credit program option is designed for educators and SLPs with an initial MA teaching license.

This program provides an accelerated route to reading specialist licensure in MA.

Flexible, Accelerated, and Online

We've built our program to meet the needs of working professionals, including the ability to complete their coursework online. Start in the fall or summer semester. We'll work with you to create a customized course of study.

Leaders in the literacy field

Our faculty includes internationally recognized researchers and teachers in literacy disorders and reading development. They have significant experience working in schools and other educational settings, and bring the latest best practices into the classroom. You can expect to gain evidence-based knowledge that you can apply right away to help your students.

View All CSD Faculty
trish has a big smile and light brown hair in a bob cut

Director of the Literacy & Language Certificate of Advanced Study Program Assistant Professor Communication Sciences and Disorders

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Director of the BEAM Lab Associate Professor Communication Sciences and Disorders

Charles Haynes, EdD, CCC-SLP

Professor Emeritus Communication Sciences and Disorders

Tiffany wears black top and purple glasses

Director of the SAiL Literacy Lab Professor Communication Sciences and Disorders Research: SAiL Literacy Lab

Lesley Maxwell, MS, CCC-SLP

Associate Chair Associate Professor Communication Sciences and Disorders


Programs: 20-credit for MA licensure; 17 for certificate


Pass rate on the MA Test for Reading Specialist Licensure

20 Months

Average time to complete the program

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Mothers' Association in Kandi, Northern Benin. Photo taken during a World Education community campaign to raise awareness on the importance of reading and the role parents can play in their children's language and literacy development.
Spotlight: Barbara Borgese, CAS '22

Expertise in the Science of Reading Influences CAS Graduate To Fight Illiteracy

See Interview