BS in Elementary Education: Teaching Reading Emphasis

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching ReadingInitial Program – Leads to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

Prepare to Become a Reading Specialist in Elementary Classrooms

The Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading at Grand Canyon University (GCU) is designed for those who wish to pursue a career as an elementary teacher and take the steps to earning their initial teacher licensure. Offered both online and on campus (including evening courses), the reading specialist courses are taught by professionals who offer additional reading instruction that supports the processes of reading diagnosis, remediation and intervention. If becoming an elementary reading teacher excites you, this may be a good education path for you.

A reading specialist is a professional with advanced experience in teaching reading and who helps children improve their reading abilities individually or as part of a group.1 Reading specialists have in-depth knowledge about:

  • Teaching reading
  • Intervention
  • Skill development strategies
  • Fluency
  • Reading comprehension
  • Skills to work with struggling readers in elementary school

This specialty often requires additional certifications beyond an elementary teaching license to provide supplemental instruction for students who need additional practice.2

Pursue Your BS in Elementary Education: Teaching Reading Emphasis From GCU

This program prepares you to work toward becoming an elementary teacher who has additional credits in the area of reading. At GCU, you will be taught to apply concepts, theories and research throughout the program for career readiness. You will focus on supporting readers during your elementary education field experiences that guide you through 120 hours of observational and practice-based experiences. 

As a teacher candidate, you will be exposed to elementary learning environment practicums completed in a 15-week student teaching experience. Graduates of this program are eligible to pursue their elementary education teaching credential in the state of Arizona (120 credits). Ensure that you carefully review the requirements for obtaining a teaching license in the state where you plan to teach. 

Get More Information

Loading Form

Imagine the satisfaction of guiding children on their journey to becoming proficient readers and empowering them with lifelong skills. This can be possible with the flexible online format at GCU. It allows you to achieve your goals while balancing your studies. 

Highlights in This Teaching Reading Emphasis

This comprehensive program encompasses a wide range of content areas spanning kindergarten through grade eight, including:

  • Lesson planning and assessments
  • Classroom management and engagement
  • Social justice
  • Family and cultural diversity
  • English as a second language
  • Reading instruction and assessment
  • Instructional methods and strategies

Reading Specialist Courses Taught in This Education Program

Throughout your academic journey, you will have the opportunity to develop competencies in various crucial aspects of elementary education, including development, learning, motivation, curriculum content instruction, assessment and professionalism. Areas of study covered in GCU’s reading specialist courses include:

  • Foundational literacy skills and phonics
  • Methods and strategies for reading instruction 
  • Assessment and remediation of reading proficiency 
  • Research-based reading development and interventions
  • Diagnosis and remediation of reading proficiencies 

Elementary Reading Teacher Career Opportunities After Graduation 

The degree emphasis in teaching reading courses will focus on educating teachers with additional skills and refined knowledge in the reading remediation process. Accordingly, graduates may be able to position themselves to pursue an elementary education teacher position with a focus on teaching reading in the K–8 classroom environment, as well as a teaching position in postsecondary education.

This bachelor’s in elementary reading teacher emphasis leads to initial licensure in the area of elementary education. Graduates who wish to become full reading specialists will need to move on to pursue a graduate level certificate in reading for elementary educators and/or a Master of Arts in Reading with an Emphasis in Elementary Education, advanced programs for continuing professional education that can enhance your qualifications for specialized teaching opportunities in reading. 

Accredited Teaching Degree from GCU

The structure and curriculum of this accredited Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading is approved by the Arizona State Board of Education. Courses are taught by professionals in their respective fields who lend their knowledge and experience in areas of elementary education and educational psychology. All courses are directly aligned with standards from the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). 

Bachelor’s in Elementary Education: Emphasis in Teaching Reading FAQs

If teaching reading in elementary education is something that interests you, consider pursuing this BS in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading degree. We understand this is a big commitment, so we’ve gathered a few of our most frequently asked questions when deciding to become a K-8 educator.

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
[More Info]
Online: 7 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
TUITION RATE:
Campus: $8,250 per semester [More Info]
Online: $455 per credit [More Info]

A reading specialist and a reading teacher are often used interchangeably; however, both are professionals who work in the field of education and focus on improving reading skills. A reading specialist, sometimes referred to as a literacy specialist or reading interventionist, is typically an educator who has undergone specialized training and holds advanced certifications or degrees in reading instruction.1 Their primary role is to assess, diagnose and provide targeted interventions for students who are struggling with reading. 

A reading teacher typically refers to a general education teacher who incorporates reading instruction into their daily teaching responsibilities.2 Reading teachers are typically licensed or certified teachers who have knowledge and training in teaching reading skills across various grade levels. 

No. However, the reading specialist courses taught in this BS in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading program can be a step toward pursuing a career as a reading specialist. Becoming a reading specialist typically involves obtaining additional certifications or degrees beyond a bachelor's degree and may vary by state or district. 

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers who teach reading typically have a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued certification or license.3 Those who complete teacher education programs, such as this elementary reading teacher emphasis degree, will be taught how to present information to young students and how to work with young students of varying abilities and backgrounds. 

Future teachers in this BS in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Teaching Reading degree will be required to complete a total of 120 credits. Most of the reading specialist courses are 15 weeks in length. If you are participating in the online modality, the courses are generally seven weeks long. You will work with a mentor teacher during your student-teaching practicum to get hands-on teaching experience in a classroom setting. Be sure to check your state’s requirements for obtaining a teaching license. 

The BS emphasis in teaching reading in elementary education degree program is tailored to teach you the essential knowledge and skills for becoming an effective elementary educator with a strong knowledge base of teaching reading to young children. It is important to note that the program demands dedication, effort and time to complete. Practical experiences like classroom observations and student teaching are integral components, which may require additional time and commitment on your part.

Becoming an elementary reading teacher can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for individuals passionate about education and literacy. As an elementary teacher, you play a vital role in promoting literacy and advocating for the importance of reading in society. You often contribute to building a foundation for academic success and strive to empower students to become critical thinkers and effective communicators. Further, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, kindergarten and elementary school teachers had a median annual wage of $61,350 as of May 2021.4

Prepare to pursue a teaching role with a solid foundation in teaching reading to elementary education students today. Fill out the form on this page to speak to a university counselor to better understand how long it takes to earn your degree.

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

1 International Reading Associates (n.d.). Roles of the Reading Specialist. Reading Rockets. Retrieved on July 10, 2023. 

2 Planbook (n.d.). Meet Your Teaching Team: The Role of Reading Specialists in Schools. Retrieved on July 10, 2023. 

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022, Oct. 4). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers. Retrieved on July 10, 2022. 

4 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers as of May 2021, retrieved on July 20, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as kindergarten and elementary school teachers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates. 

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
Major:
80 credits
Open Elective Credits:
0-6 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.

Requirements

Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-112, Success in Science, Engineering and Technology & Lab: 4
  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

Teacher candidates survey how children and early adolescents grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas while understanding the implications for designing and implementing developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences. This survey of the seminal concepts, principles, theories, and research related to development of children and young adolescents allows teacher candidates to build foundational knowledge for constructing learning opportunities that support individual student's development, acquisition of knowledge, and motivation. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge on planning instruction and formal and informal assessment strategies. Teacher candidates will examine instructional planning based on knowledge of students, learning theory, connection across the curriculum, curricular goals, and community. Formal and informal assessment strategies for planning, evaluating, and strengthening instruction for elementary students are also examined. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are introduced to the educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities and their families, including the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes and educational approaches to these disabilities and disorders. Teacher candidates will identify cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional patterns of learning and development for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Teacher candidates also survey the special education process involving the application of various laws and regulations. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This is the second in a two-course sequence designed for prospective elementary school teachers. Concepts include elementary probability, data analysis, descriptive statistics, geometry of shapes in two and three dimensions, congruence and similarity, measurement, and geometric transformations, with an emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking. Prerequisite: MAT-150.

Course Description

Teacher candidates survey types and purposes of literature based on the developmental literacy needs of elementary-aged children. Particular emphasis is dedicated to the various genres that exist within the literature spectrum and how to utilize the different genres, including digital text, to meet specific instructional needs and literacy goals of elementary-aged children. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine how to teach foundational skills to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend texts across a range of texts and disciplines. Teacher candidates build additional knowledge regarding print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency to promote early literacy and independent readers. The science surrounding reading instruction is explored and put into practice with this foundational knowledge. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210 or ECS-125.

Course Description

In this writing intensive course, teacher candidates examine how to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and encourage students' positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation. Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge regarding the importance of establishing and maintaining positive collaborative relationships with families, school colleagues, and agencies in the larger community to promote the intellectual, social, emotional, physical growth, and well-being of children. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates develop strategies for literacy intervention and remediation to foster and support student autonomy in the classroom. Teacher candidates build knowledge and skills to plan literacy supports in all content areas, promote self-directed learning, and empower students to take control and set goals for their own learning outcomes. Language and literacy development is examined to inform intervention and remediation strategies and practices to support readers of varying ages and ability levels, including students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-315.

Course Description

Teacher candidates survey a variety of reading instruction and phonemic practices. Emphasis is placed on the five elements of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This survey prepares the teacher candidate to plan and evaluate effective reading instruction that optimizes student learning. Effective communication techniques are reviewed and practiced with a variety of audiences teacher candidates may encounter in a classroom. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students to develop a deep understanding of the major concepts and procedures that define number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement and data, and probability. From this foundational knowledge, candidates select, adapt and use research-based methods, instructional strategies, and interventions to advance the mathematical abilities of students and have them apply their knowledge and abilities in meaningful ways. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210.

Course Description

Teacher candidates participate in introductory studies of assessment systems for students in the classroom, identifying reading difficulty and remediation options. Candidates will employ the assessment process to identify reading needs in the five essential components of literacy, and implement remediation strategies. Candidates will review assessment tools and communicate assessment results to a variety of audiences. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

In this writing intensive course, teacher candidates study how to teach a diverse population of students by examining the foundations and dimensions of social justice in education, social constructs, privilege, prejudice, and oppression with the goal of becoming culturally competent educators.

Course Description

This course is a survey of the Arizona constitution and government. It meets the teacher certification requirement for Arizona government.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion (SEI) and other instructional programs for English language learners. Theoretical principles of language acquisition and the role of culture in learning are examined. Methods of assessment are identified and analyzed. Teacher candidates identify strategies to promote English language development and improve student achievement. Through Universal Design for Learning they plan, deliver, and evaluate standards-based instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will examine fundamental concepts of physical, life, earth and space sciences, and health education. Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge on a variety of age-appropriate inquiry-based instructional strategies to teach science, to build student understanding of personal and social applications, to convey the nature of science, and student development for the practice of skills that contribute to good health. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210.

Course Description

Teacher candidates develop deeper understanding of assessment strategies and instructional procedures, curriculum, and instructional alternatives, and program planning for the literacy development of students with reading and/or writing disabilities, including dyslexia. This course will address specific reading development issues, and strategies that support struggling readers. The course will focus on how, as a teacher, to participate in tiered support systems and facilitate/provide appropriately focused and intensive literacy instruction. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will examine a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students to develop deep understanding of the major concepts and modes of inquiry from the integrated study of social studies and other related areas. Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge on promoting elementary students' abilities to make informed decisions as citizens of a culturally diverse democratic society and interdependent world. Teacher candidates will integrate the content, functions and achievements of the performing and visual arts as primary media for communication, inquiry and engagement among elementary students. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ELM-210.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge on how to use concepts from reading, language, and child development to teach reading, writing, speaking, viewing, listening, and thinking skills. Teacher candidates select, adapt and use research-based methods, instructional strategies, and interventions to individualize meaningful and challenging learning for students, with an emphasis on literacy. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: ELM-210 and (ELM-305 or ELM-315).

Course Description

Teacher candidates study the implications of reading disabilities, assessment procedures, and methods for correction. Formal and informal assessment procedures will be examined and applied in practice. Candidates will explore the use of performance data as a part of the assessment cycle to support the diagnosis and remediation process. Teacher candidates build on this foundational knowledge in the evaluation of abilities and achievement in the area of literacy. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are engaged in the student teaching experience that includes practical classroom experiences, research, analysis, and teaching to support the creation of a Student Teaching Performance of Evaluation (STEP). Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: Successful completion of all courses in POS and content area; a 2.8 GPA; successful completion of NES or your state’s mandated content area exams; and approval and placement by the College of Education Office of Clinical Practice. All paperwork for student teaching must be submitted by the due date the semester prior to student teaching.

Locations

GCU Campus Student


Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student


Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

Scroll back to top