Four children holding stacks of books

Graduate Certificate in
Children's Literature

Program summary

Explore classic works of children’s literature and the best works by modern-day authors as you learn about imagination and its role in the lives of children. Offered through Penn State’s College of Education, this program is Act 48–approved and may count toward professional development hours.

Application deadline

Apply by June 30 to start August 21

Credits and costs

15 Credits $1,007 per credit

Children's Literature is Key to Their Success

K–12 teaching professionals, librarians, children's writers, and illustrators all have a vested interest in the study of children's literature. Teachers and librarians are looking to increase their abilities to engage children in reading, and aspiring children’s writers and illustrators want to hone their craft.

To help professionals lead with confidence in children’s literature, Penn State World Campus and Penn State’s College of Education have partnered to offer an online Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature.

Study Children's Literature at Penn State

Penn State’s online Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature program explores the classic works of children’s literature, presents the best works by modern-day authors, and encourages professionals to learn about the use of picturebooks, folklore, and myths while requiring no residencies or visits to campus to complete the program. You can learn about imagination and its role in the lives of children, and you will interpret picturebooks as an active, creative process that is socially, culturally, and historically situated. We will also discuss the diverse and popular Harry Potter series, along with other children’s literature topics.

Penn State's College of Education is regularly ranked among the nation’s best graduate schools, according to U.S. News & World Report, and this online graduate program is taught by the same nationally recognized faculty.

Choose the Online Children's Literature Graduate Program That Is Right for You

In addition to our graduate certificate, we also offer a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. If you are a teacher or librarian who wants to improve your strategies for encouraging students to master their reading skills, this program is for you. 

Let your passion for children’s literature become the focus of your professional development plan.

Act 48–Approved

Penn State is an Act 48–approved provider for Pennsylvania educators, so the courses for the graduate certificate in children's literature may count toward professional development hours.

Who Should Apply?

Whether you are, or aspire to become, a teacher, librarian, children’s writer, or illustrator, Penn State's online program in children's literature can give you the skills to transform the lives of your readers and advance your career goals.

Online Education at Penn State

Penn State has a history of 100+ years of distance education and more than two decades of experience in online learning. We create an online learning environment that offers you the same quality education our residential students experience in a face-to-face setting. Learn more about Penn State World Campus.


Penn State's online Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature program is designed for teachers, school librarians, and aspiring authors and illustrators who want to help children discover the joys of reading.

In the courses in this program, you will:

  • explore classic works of children's literature
  • study the best works by modern-day authors
  • learn more about the use of picturebooks, folklore, and myths

Potential for Growth

All credits earned in this 15-credit graduate certificate program (with the advanced assistance from an academic adviser) may be applied toward the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction degree program. Completion of the certificate program does not guarantee admission into the master's program. Please contact an academic adviser at the start of your certificate program for more information about the master's program and your interest in transferring credits.

Convenient and Flexible

Each course is taught using a blend of web technology, print, and other media to maximize flexibility while maintaining teacher and student interaction. As a Penn State World Campus student, you have the opportunity to learn when and where it's most convenient for you.

Required Course (3 credits)

  • 3

    Study of various genres of children's literature, from various critical perspectives. Emphasis on role of literature in children's lives.

Electives (select 12 credits)

Note: Only two of the four elective courses can be at the 400 level.

  • 3

    The study of childhood from cultural, historical, psychological, and philosophical perspectives.

  • 3

    An in-depth study of picturebooks as art objects providing aesthetic experiences and contributing to our aesthetic development in literacy education.

  • 3

    A study of nonfiction literature for children and adolescents with an emphasis on inspiring curiosity and agency.

  • 3

    Examine work by writers of classic fantasies (H. C. Andersen, A. A. Milne, etc.) written for children, as well as the work of some contemporary authors (J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Tomi Adeyemi, Nnedi Okorafor, etc.) and popular comics. We will also look at the role of the imagination in the lives of children and the important ways children may transform their private spaces into spaces of wonder that allow them to flourish and reimagine their possibilities.

  • 3

    Critical study of adolescent literature, its diversity of cultural voices, and designs for its use in secondary school classrooms.

  • 3

    Read, discuss, analyze, and reflect on diverse literature from multicultural and critical multicultural perspectives to demonstrate how such ways of readings not only expand literacies but center issues of social justice.

  • 3

    An in-depth study of myths and folktales shared with children and how these stories are remade across different modes and disseminated today across multiple communities of practices.

  • 3

    Supervised workshop in the craft and techniques of writing picture books, short stories, longer fiction, and nonfiction literature for children.

  • 3

    Addresses the different research approaches for doing research in children's literature. Specifically, it discusses research methods and topics in a wide range of theoretical and practical fields — including psychoanalysis, literacies, genre studies, critical pedagogies, biographical studies, critical race theory, and reader responses — guiding learners on how to conduct original research around any topic of choice. It also addresses research methods for doing research on creative writing.

    • Note

      Students in the Children's Literature path will take this core course instead of CI 501

    • Timing

      This course should be taken near the end of your program, but not as your last course

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? Cost
11 or fewer $1,007 per credit
12 or more $12,082 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your certificate application, including receipt of all transcripts, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 21
  • Spring DeadlineApply by November 1 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by April 1, 2024, to start May 13, 2024

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.

Admission Requirements 

For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

To enroll in graduate-level courses, or to earn the graduate certificate in children's literature, you must have a baccalaureate degree.

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following as part of your application:

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

Begin the graduate school application

  • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
  • Choose "Children's Literature" as the certificate

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply

Start or Advance Your Career

A group of educators collaborating as they review documents at a table

You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Job Titles Related to This Degree

Your graduate studies in children's literature can lead to an exciting career in various fields, including education, the arts, and publishing. Possible careers for you may include but are not limited to:

  • teacher
  • school administrator
  • professor
  • writer
  • illustrator
  • publisher

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Degree Program Related to This Certificate

If you are a teacher or librarian who wants to improve your strategies for encouraging students to master their reading skills, this program is for you. Some or all credits earned for this certificate can be applied to the following Penn State World Campus degree program:

Advance your knowledge of curriculum, teaching, learning, teacher education, and educational supervision with this M.Ed. This flexible degree program allows you to choose your area of emphasis, preparing you to succeed in an increasingly diverse educational landscape.

Learn more about the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction  

Contact Us

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of Education, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
[email protected]

Kayla McCloskey
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
The Pennsylvania State University
170 Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-865-2430
[email protected]


  • Gail Boldt

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, University of Hawaii
    • Degree
      M.Ed., Clinical Mental Health, Penn State
    • Degree
      California Clear Teaching Certificate, Mills College
    • Degree
      MTS, Religion and Society, Harvard University
    • Degree
      B.A., Psychology, Trinity College

    Dr. Gail Boldt has taught Teaching Reading in Elementary Classrooms, Teaching Writing in Elementary Classrooms, Theories of Childhood, Theories of Identity, and Foucault and Education. Her research interests include psychoanalytic analyses of child development, parenting, teaching and learning; literacies in elementary and early childhood education; identity (including gender, sexuality, and race) and schooling; childhood studies; cultural studies; and disability studies.

  • Elisa Hopkins

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.A., English, Florida State University
    • Degree
      B.A., English, College of William and Mary

    Dr. Elisa Hopkins is an associate teaching professor of education specializing in literature for children and adolescents. She is lead faculty for the Penn State World Campus children's literature program. Her research interests include multicultural poetry, the development of critical consciousness, fairy-tale studies, and nonfiction literature for children and adolescents.

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by June 30 to start August 21. How to Apply