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Postbaccalaureate Certificate in
Family Literacy

Program summary

Gain an understanding of issues related to family literacy, with a specific focus on a two-generation structure. This program was created in partnership with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy and the National Center for Families Learning.

Application deadline

Apply by August 1

Credits and costs

12 Credits $1,007 per credit

Family Literacy Is Vital to Children's Success

Literacy begins at home. The road to literacy starts early during a child's life and depends on interaction with parents and caregivers.

Our program is designed to help you understand the key components of family literacy (a two-generation approach to learning), including:

  • how to understand children’s language and literacy development and support academic success
  • how the role of adult education relates to adult learners’ needs and their roles as caregivers, workers, and community members
  • how to strengthen and enhance parents’ knowledge of their roles and responsibilities as their children’s first teachers
  • how to engage in interactive literacy activities with children and how to engage with schools and teachers

Penn State understands the importance of family literacy and has partnered with the College of Education to offer you an online Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Family Literacy program.

Family Literacy at Penn State

Our program's online curriculum was created in partnership with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy and the National Center for Families Learning. These national organizations promote the values of family learning and literacy, support program improvement through research, and strive to help families make educational and economic progress through pioneering and continuously improving family literacy programs. The Goodling Institute is housed in the College of Education at Penn State.

Act 48–Approved

Penn State is an Act 48–approved provider for Pennsylvania educators, so the courses for the postbaccalaureate certificate in family literacy may count toward professional development hours.

Scholarship Available

Eligible applicants may submit an application for a scholarship that applies to the four required courses. The Family Literacy Certificate Scholarship includes 25% off tuition for the first three courses and 50% off tuition for the fourth course. Applications will be accepted until all scholarships have been awarded. Applications for the scholarship can be found on the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy website.

Who Should Apply?

This program was developed to enable professionals to enhance their skills and credentials with a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to literacy instruction. Professionals in many fields can benefit from this certificate, including:

  • teachers, staff, and administrators in family literacy, family learning, family engagement, or two-generation programs
  • early childhood educators
  • elementary and middle school teachers
  • school counselors
  • family, social, and human service professionals
  • reading specialists
  • parent or school/community liaisons
  • librarians
  • adult educators
  • parents of home-schooled children
  • people considering a career in family literacy or a related field


Improve Your Literacy Abilities

Penn State's online certificate program in family literacy is a 12-credit program designed to meet the professional development needs of persons working in a variety of literacy education settings. The program can help you:

  • earn college credits in the field of literacy
  • expand your knowledge and skills in the field of literacy
  • increase your earning potential

A Program That Can Suit Your Needs

Students in the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Family Literacy program can apply course work to the following degree programs:

Convenient and Flexible

Each course is taught using a blend of web and email to maximize flexibility, while maintaining teacher and student interaction. As a Penn State World Campus student, you can learn when and where it's most convenient for you.

Required Courses (12 credits)

  • 3

    Introduces family literacy concepts, models, and components supporting families: adult, child, and parent education; interactive literacy activities; and case management.

  • 3

    Surveys adult basic and literacy education research, theory, programming, and instruction; highlights learners' roles as parents, workers, and community members.

  • 3

    Focuses on young children's language and literacy development, including parental and staff support, grounded in scientifically based reading research.

  • 3

    Explores parental involvement in education and parent-child literacy activities that support children's language and literacy development, especially among diverse families.

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.

Family Literacy Scholarship

Eligible applicants may submit an application for a scholarship that applies to the four required courses. The Family Literacy Scholarship includes 25% off tuition for the first three courses and 50% off tuition for the fourth course. Applications will be accepted until all scholarships have been awarded. Applications for the scholarship can be found in the Graduate School application.

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

  • Fall DeadlineApply by August 1
  • Spring DeadlineApply by December 1 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by May 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.

What You Need

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

Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed — Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

GPA and Test Scores — All applicants are expected to have earned a junior/senior grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.

GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required.

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.

Program-Specific Questions/Materials

Statement of Purpose — Explain your reasons for applying to the Family Literacy certificate. Please limit your statement to one page.

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 "Family Literacy" 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 August 1. How to Apply

Start or Advance Your Career

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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.

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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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.

Programs Related to This Certificate

Some or all credits earned for this certificate can be applied to the following Penn State World Campus programs:

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.

Learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature  

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  

Develop the skills needed to serve adult learners as a teacher, trainer, or leader. This online master's program can prepare you with practical methods to effectively engage and lead in adult education.

Learn more about the Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education  

Contact Us

To learn more about the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Family Literacy, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of Education, please contact:

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

Beth McLean, Ph.D
405 Keller Building
University Park PA 16802
Phone:  717-432-3498
Email: [email protected]


  • Elisabeth McLean, Ph.D.

    Early Childhood Associate, Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy

    Dr. Elisabeth McLean has worked in the field of early literacy since 2000, and her experiences include designing and conducting professional development, designing curriculum, and engaging in research related to family literacy.

  • Anna Kaiper, Ph.D.

    Associate Director/Assistant Teaching Professor

    Dr. Anna Kaiper finished her Ph.D. in Comparative and International Development Education from the University of Minnesota, specializing in adult literacy and language learning in a South African context.

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

Apply by August 1. How to Apply