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So You Want To Be An Educator

Becoming an educator is a very worthwhile choice, but the process can be a bit confusing! Here's an easy to follow guide so you know what steps you should take to fulfill this career goal. The information on this page is also available in the Pathway Planning Guide.

Program Details & Application FAQs Scholarships & Grants

Step 1: Apply to a Bachelor Degree Program

Your pathway to becoming a teacher depends on the grade level, subject(s) you plan to teach, and the amount of time you would like to dedicate to earning your degree and teaching credential.

What grades and subjects do you want to teach?

Based on what you want to teach, here's what we suggest studying!

Undergraduate Program Details

  • Elementary School

    For the Elementary School teaching pathway, a Liberal Studies major is the best choice at CSUSM. The Liberal Studies major, in addition to preparing you for the Multiple Subject Credential (MSC) Program, waives the requirement to take CSET I–III if a student achieves a 2.67 overall GPA.

    The Liberal Studies major offers two pathway options for earning a credential:

    • The Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) begins freshman year, and students complete the Liberal Studies degree concurrently with teaching credential classes. Program completion takes four year and may include summer classes.
    • The Elementary Subject Matter (ESM) option leads to a Liberal Studies, B.A. degree followed by the multiple subject credential program. Total completion time takes 5 years.

    The Teaching Credential program you will apply for is the Multiple Subject program.

  • Middle School

    For Middle School, you may choose to take one of the Elementary level pathways by majoring in  Liberal Studies and selecting from ITEP or ESM, or you may follow the Secondary (High School) level pathway by obtaining a baccalaureate degree related to the subject matter that you would like to teach. Then, you can apply to either the Middle Level or the Single Subject program upon completion of your undergraduate coursework. If you would like to teach a specific subject, you will need a Single Subject credential.

    If you would like to teach Mathematics, we encourage pursuing a B.S. in Mathematics and completing the Single Subject Matter Preparation (SSMP) program. The SSMP Program is not a major, it is a collection of mathematics courses that provides undergraduate students the academic background to help them become qualified for a Single Subject Credential in Mathematics. The holders of this credential may teach at any K-12 grade level, but departmentalized teaching of mathematics usually occurs in grades seven through twelve. The SSMP program, in addition to preparing you for a credential program, waives the requirement to take CSET: Mathematics I–III if a student achieves a 2.5 overall GPA.

    If you would like to teach History or Social Science, we encourage pursuing a B.A. in History with Single-Subject Preparation for TeachingThis program, in addition to preparing you for a credential program, waives the requirement to take the CSET: Social Science I–III if a student achieves a 2.5 overall GPA.

    The Teaching Credential program you will apply for is the Multiple Subject with Middle Level Certificate or Single Subject program.

  • High School

    For Secondary (High School) level, you should obtain a baccalaureate degree in a field that corresponds with the subject you wish to teach. Upon completion of your major coursework, you should apply to the Single Subject Program.

    If you would like to teach Mathematics, we encourage pursuing a B.S. in Mathematics and completing the Single Subject Matter Preparation (SSMP) program. The SSMP Program is not a major, it is a collection of mathematics courses that provides undergraduate students the academic background to help them become qualified for a Single Subject Credential in Mathematics. The holders of this credential may teach at any K-12 grade level, but departmentalized teaching of mathematics usually occurs in grades seven through twelve. The SSMP program, in addition to preparing you for a credential program, waives the requirement to take CSET: Mathematics I–III if a student achieves a 2.5 overall GPA.

    If you would like to teach History or Social Science, we encourage pursuing a B.A. in History with Single-Subject Preparation for TeachingThis program, in addition to preparing you for a credential program, waives the requirement to take the CSET: Social Science I–III if a student achieves a 2.5 overall GPA.

    The Teaching Credential program you will apply for is the Single Subject program.

  • Special Education

    For the Elementary School teaching pathway, a Liberal Studies major is the best choice at CSUSM. The Liberal Studies major, in addition to preparing you for the Multiple Subject Credential (MSC) Program, waives the requirement to take CSET I–III if a student achieves a 2.67 overall GPA.

    The Liberal Studies major offers two pathway options for earning a credential:

    • The Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) begins freshman year, and students complete the Liberal Studies degree concurrently with teaching credential classes. Program completion takes four year and may include summer classes.
    • The Elementary Subject Matter (ESM) option leads to a Liberal Studies, B.A. degree followed by the multiple subject credential program. Total completion time takes 5 years.

    The Teaching Credential program you will apply for is the Special Education program.


Step 2: Pass Examinations

  1. Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) your second (sophomore) year. There are additional options available to fulfill this requirement. 
  2. Demonstrate subject matter competency with the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET)

Testing Information


Step 3: Take the Prerequisites

The School of Education requires 3 courses before students can begin a Teaching Credential Program. They can be taken at CSUSM, Extended Learning, or local Community Colleges.
These courses are:

  1. EDUC 350: Foundations of Teaching as a Profession

    Equivalent courses at a Community College:
    - EDUC 115 at Mira Costa College
    - EDUC 200 at Grossmont College
    - EDUC 200 & 203 at San Diego Community College District

  2. EDUC 364: The Role of Cultural Diversity in Schooling
  3. EDUC 422: Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning*
    *Course title change Fall 2020 to Teaching, Learning, and Technology

Step 4: Apply for a Teaching Credential Program

CSUSM School of Education, Credential Programs:

  • are post-baccalaureate, which means you enter them after your finish your bachelor’s degree, with the exception of the Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP)
  • include three basic types of teaching credentials: Single Subject, Multiple Subject and Special Education
  • include certification to work with second language learners
  • include coursework with classroom participation/observation and clinical practice/student teaching
  • offer a BCLAD: Spanish Emphasis for bilingual students

Credential Program Information

Special Education Program Information

Apply

  • Multiple Subject (Elementary School)

    • Allows you to teach in self-contained classrooms typically found in Elementary Schools
    • Graduates of the program will hold a Multiple Subject Credential with Authorization to Teach English Learners
    • This program offers different options:
      • Elementary School (ICP or Traditional)
      • BCLAD Emphasis: Spanish
  • Multiple Subject with Middle Level Certificate (Middle School)

    • Allows you to teach in self-contained and/or departmentalized classrooms
    • Prepares teachers to work with young adolescents in grades 5-9.
    • Graduates of the program will hold a Multiple Subject Credential with Authorization to Teach English Learners, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Middle Level Education, and a Single Subject Credential
  • Single Subject (High School and Middle School – Secondary Education)

    • Allows you to teach in departmentalized classrooms, typically found in High Schools
    • Teaching Authorizations offered at CSUSM: English, Mathematics, Foundational Level Mathematics, Science, Foundational Level Science, Physical Education, Social Science, and Spanish
      • Cal State San Marcos offers a Single Subject Matter Preparation Program in Mathematics and History
    • Graduates of the program will hold a Single Subject Credential with Authorization to Teach English Learners
  • Education Specialist (Special Education)

    • Allows you to teach in self-contained and/or departmentalized classrooms
    • Graduates of the program will hold Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe Disability Education Specialist credentials and a Multiple Subject Credential with Authorization to Teach English Learners
    • Candidates have the option for a Master of Arts in Special Education degree
  • Application Prerequisites

    1. EDUC 350: Foundations of Teaching as a Profession

    Equivalent courses at a Community College:

    • EDUC 115 at Mira Costa College
    • EDUC 200 at Grossmont College
    • EDUC 200 & 203 at San Diego Community College District

    2. EDUC 364: The Role of Cultural Diversity in Schooling

    3. EDUC 422: Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning

    Note: The Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) incorporates the prerequisite courses in the program. It is recommended ITEP Students take prerequisite courses at Cal State San Marcos junior year.

    GPA Required: 2.67 overall (Current Minimum)

    Good writing and communication skills are important factors when considering admission.

  • Credential Program Corequisites

    Students should consider incorporating these courses in their lower division education plan.

    U.S. CONSTITUTION

    College-level course or exam. CSU graduates automatically meet the U.S. Constitution requirement

    • History 130 or 230 or 330 or 335 or Political Science 100 or 300 @ Cal State San Marcos
    • History 101 or Political Science 101 at Palomar College
    • History 110 or History 145 or Political Science 102 at Mira Costa College

    HEALTH EDUCATION

    A course that includes the following content: nutrition, physiological and sociological effects of abuse of alcohol, narcotics, drugs, and use of tobacco.

    • KINE 306 or PE 203
    • HEALTH 195 at Mesa College
    • HEALTH 101 at Mira Costa College
    • HEALTH 100 at Palomar College

    CPR CERTIFICATION

    Infant, Child, and Adult CPR

    • Must be valid during enrollment in a Teacher Credential Program
  • Tuition & Fees

    Tuition and Fees are set by CSUSM, and vary based on state residency and program.

    Credential Programs


Post-Credential Options

  • MA Multilingual & Multicultural Education

    The Master of Arts in Multilingual and Multicultural Education centers on a critical examination of issues of educational equity, diversity and social justice with a focus on students and their families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It is a 30-unit program that consists of three components: Core Coursework, Elective Coursework, and the Culminating Experience.

  • MA in Special Education

    The Master of Arts in Special Education and Credential Option is specifically designed for teachers who hold a valid basic teaching credential who are seeking both a master’s degree and a career path in special education by adding on the Mild/Moderate and the Moderate/Severe Preliminary Education Specialist Credential(s).

  • MA in Curriculum & Instruction

    Master of Arts in Curriculum & Instruction (formerly General Option) Program is designed for K-12 credentialed teachers who want to refine their professional education knowledge, skills and dispositions.
  • MA in Educational Administration (Online)

    The Master of Arts in Educational Administration program qualifies candidates for a Certificate of Eligibility for the Preliminary Educational Administration Services credential (PASC). This program has a focus on K-12 education using a lens of cultural proficiency and equity.  Candidates also conduct meaningful field experience work in school settings.
  • MA in Reading, Language & Literacy (Online)

    Courses within Literacy Education prepare teachers to assist other teachers and administrators in creating literacy programs that promote not only the learning of reading and writing, but also the learning of subject matter across the curriculum. Candidates may earn a Reading and Literacy Added Authorization, a Reading and Literacy Leadership Specialist Credential, or use courses within this area to satisfy the 21-unit course electives required for the M.A. Literacy Education Option. 
  • EdD in Educational Leadership

    The Joint Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is offered through a partnership of California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and University of California, San Diego (UCSD). It is designed as a professional degree for P-12 school and postsecondary leaders who will develop advanced leadership and research skills related to the advancement of the P-12 educational community. Students will conduct research on professional practice within their own institutions, addressing specific local problems that have national implications for teaching and learning, school reform, and professional development. Students completing the program will receive a joint degree from UCSD and CSUSM.