Graduate Certificate Programs

Early Literacy Program

al otaibaNew Scholarship: Become a more effective teacher and specialize in early literacy at SMU.


Through the generosity of a private donor and SMU, substantial scholarships are available for highly motivated K-2 classroom teachers in high need public schools.

Our 18-credit hour literacy program provides professional development for K-2 classroom teachers in high need public schools (including charters) to meet the literacy needs of their students. Working with highly skilled reading research faculty, teachers will master the tools to provide comprehensive, coherent, and complete early literacy programs in the regular classroom using highly effective and evidence-based teaching methods.

The cost to teachers for tuition will be only $40 per credit hour. Apply now for this substantial scholarship.

This program is designed specifically for general education early reading teachers (K-2) in high need public schools (including charters). As part of the application, each applicant will describe their students' needs, which in turn will determine qualification for financial support. Typically free and reduced lunch status is used to determine need, but a variety of factors will be considered (e.g. underserved populations, struggling readers, financial need). The program is highly competitive and applicants will be expected to express their commitment to this population and how they will apply the evidence-based practices taught in the program. 

18 Credit Hours of Coursework

  • Uniquely focused on early language and literacy acquisition designed to prepare teachers to prevent reading failure and to identify students who require more intensive and specialized support.
  • Courses include: Foundations of Literacy, Assessment, Diverse Learners, and Literacy Practica.
  • The capstone course will be a leadership institute that involves not only SMU faculty, but other leaders in the field of literacy from across the country.
  • Training includes in-class instruction, supervised tutorial practica, and online learning.
  • Upon completion of this certificate program, teachers will be prepared to help most children read on grade level; they will also be prepared to identify the small minority of students who need additional support to read on grade level.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When will the program begin?
    The first cohort will begin in the Spring 2015 semester, which begins in January 2015. A second cohort will begin in Fall 2015. We anticipate a new cohort will begin each fall thereafter.

  2. How many courses would be required each semester? Do students have the option to take only one class at a time?
    Most semesters include one 3-hour course and a 1-hour practicum. One semester includes two 3-hour courses and a 1-hour practicum. It would be fine for students to delay one of those courses, but it would typically not be offered until the next year at that time.

  3. What is the typical schedule each semester?
    This will be a hybrid program with both face-to-face classes and online content. Typically, you would come to SMU once every other week during the semester. A typical fall or spring semester will include one 3-hour course and a 1-hour practicum course. A substantial amount of the content of the 3-hour course will be provided online and the class will also meet on a weekday evening approximately 7 times during the semester. The practicum course will vary, depending on the semester. Initially, the practicum course will be online with observations conducted via technology or a live visit from the instructor. The practicum will include application in your classroom as well as tutoring typically provided outside the school day. In later semesters, the practicum will include teaching in an after-school tutoring clinic. The clinic may be held at SMU, a school near SMU, or it may be held at a school near you in your district.

  4. How much does the program cost?
    There is a $35 application fee. The cost for tuition for the teacher will be only $40 per credit hour (scholarships total approximately $525 per credit hour). The total tuition cost to the student for 18 hours is $720 (scholarship total approximately $9500).

    Parking fees are the only additional SMU charges to consider (currently $72.50 per semester). The cost of technology, textbooks, and supplies are not included.

  5. What is the schedule for Spring 2015?
    The exact schedule will be posted when it is finalized. The three-hour course will be held at SMU on Monday nights every other week (approximately 7 times across the semester). The practicum will be held online with observations conducted via webcam or a live visit to your classroom/tutoring site.