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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 certificate program was created in partnership with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy and the National Center for Families Learning.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by May 1 to start May 13

Credits and costs

12 Credits$1,017 per credit

Gain Skills in Family Learning and Literacy

  • Strengthen and enhance parents’ knowledge of their roles and responsibilities as their children’s first teachers, and of how they can support their children in becoming successful readers and writers. 

  • Engage in interactive literacy activities with children, schools, and teachers.

  • Become familiar with family literacy concepts, models, and components, and apply evidence-based research to improve practice at the local level.

  • Understand the role of adult education and how it relates to adult learners’ needs and their roles as caregivers, workers, and community members.

Family Literacy Courses

This program can help you understand the key components of family literacy, including how to perceive children’s language and literacy development.

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.

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 

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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Learn more about this program

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

Apply by May 1 to start May 13. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

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.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 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.

Apply for the Family Literacy Scholarship

The Family Literacy Certificate Scholarship includes 25% off tuition for the first three courses and 50% off tuition for the fourth course. Applications are available on the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy website and will be accepted until all scholarships have been awarded.

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.

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

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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 and contemporary works of children’s literature as you learn about imagination and its role in the lives of children. This online program is ideal for educators and librarians, as well as aspiring children's writers and illustrators yearning to refine their craft.

Learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature

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

Who Should Apply?

This program was developed to enable professionals like you to enhance your 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

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.

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each semester


Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by May 1 to start May 13

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by May 1 to start May 13
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by August 1 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by December 1, 2024, to start January 13, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. 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.

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

  2. 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.

    Test Scores — 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.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. 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.

    • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

    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.

  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

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Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Family Literacy, 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]

Learn from the Best

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.

The Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy

Our program's online curriculum was created in partnership with the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy, which is housed in the College of Education at Penn State, 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.


  • 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 May 1 to start May 13. How to Apply