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Special Education FAQs

  • Do I need a basic credential to get a special education (Education Specialist) credential?

     No. If you do not have a basic credential you can obtain a basic credential (Multiple Subject) in our Special Education “Concurrent” Program for Individuals without Certification.
  • Can I get an Educational Specialist credential on top of my credential?

    Yes, if you already hold a basic credential you can obtain your Education Specialist Credential/s through our Special Education “Add On” Program for Individuals with Certification.
  • Do I need to have an English Learner authorization?

    Yes, as part of Concurrent program, or before starting the Add On program. We do not offer this authorization at CSUSM.
  • Can I get a Preliminary Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Credential only?

    Yes, Add On candidates can obtain the Mild/Moderate Credential in one year (two semesters)
  • Can I get a Preliminary Education Specialist Moderate/Severe Credential only?

    No, we do not offer a “stand alone” Moderate/Severe Credential program. Once you obtain your Mild/Moderate Credential at CSUSM, you can complete the additional coursework and clinical practice to obtain your Moderate/Severe Credential.
  • Can I use my Education Specialist coursework toward an MA in Education?

    Yes, we offer an MA in Education, Special Education Option. Your Education Specialist coursework counts toward your MA.
  • How long to get credential?

    Concurrent Candidates: 3 semesters for Multiple Subject & Mild/Moderate, 4 for this + Moderate/Severe and one more semester (for MA)

     Add on Candidates: 2 semesters for Mild/Moderate, 3 for this + Moderate/Severe and one more semester (for MA)

  • Do you have an intern option?

    Yes, no formal program, but districts hire individually. Must have EL authorization and basic credential to be eligible. Here are a list of schools and districts participating in the Intenship program. 
  • What are the admission requirements for the Concurrent with Multiple Subject Option?

    1.  Two (2) Applications. Application to both the University and School of Education.

    2.   Application Fees. A $25 credential application fee is due upon application to a credential program. A university application fee is also required.

    3.   Bachelor’s Degree. A Bachelor’s degree or all undergraduate academic subjects must be satisfied before entering a teacher education program. A bachelor’s degree is a requirement for teacher certification.

    4.   Subject Matter Competency. Teacher candidates in California are required to demonstrate competence in the subject matter they will be authorized to teach. Subject matter competency must be completed prior to admission to the program. Please note: Conditional admission will be considered on a limited basis; however, state program standards prohibit advanced clinical practice until the CSET is passed.

    5.   Basic Skills Examination. Candidates must take one of the options for satisfying the Basic Skills Requirement prior to entering a teacher education program. Candidates must pass one of the basic skills options to qualify for advanced student teaching.

    Basic Skills Options:

    1. Pass CSET Multiple Subject subtests I, II, and III in addition to the CSET Writing Skills Examination, Subtest IV: Writing Skills, Test Code 142
    2. Pass CSET Multiple Subject subtests I, II, and III in addition to the CBEST (California Basic Skills Examination)

    6.  Prerequisite Courses in Education. If taken at Cal State San Marcos, the courses must be completed within seven (7) years prior to beginning the program. If an equivalent course at another college or university has been taken, it must have been completed within five (5) years prior to beginning the program.

    • EDUC 350 – This required course serves as an orientation to careers in education. During this course, candidates participate in 45 hours of supervised fieldwork assignments in classroom settings. Candidates must submit a recommendation letter from a K-12 classroom teacher. A Certificate of Clearance must be obtained as a requirement of this course.
    • EDUC 364 – This required course must be taken prior to enrollment in the credential program.
    • EDUC 422 – Before admission to program, candidates must have completed a basic computer course or passed an assessment. 

    7.   One Set of Official Transcripts. One official set of transcripts from each of the colleges or universities attended must be mailed directly to CSU San Marcos Office of Admissions.

    8.   Grade Point Average. A candidate must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.67.

    9.   Three Letters of Recommendation. Recommendations from classroom faculty and/or others knowledgeable about the candidate’s personal qualities and potential must be submitted with the program application. One recommendation must be from a K-12 classroom teacher.

    10. Personal Interview. Qualified candidates are interviewed by an education faculty committee. Candidates are notified by e-mail to make arrangements for the interview after the application deadline.

    11. Writing Sample. A writing sample is required in response to a given prompt at or prior to the personal interview.

    12. Tuberculin Clearance. Must be on file in the Student Services Center


  • What are the admission requirements for Add On Options?

    1. Verification of a valid basic teaching credential (e.g., Multiple Subject, Single Subject) issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
    2. Verification of subject matter competency such as passing CSET- Multiple Subject scores
    3. Verification of English learner authorization (e.g., CLAD, CTEL, BCLAD, SB 2042 credential). Applicants without this authorization must take the coursework for the CLAD certificate or pass a CTEL exam before being issued and Education Specialist credential
    4. Submission of a Cal State San Marcos Graduate/Post baccalaureate Application to the university online and payment of the submission fee
    5. Submission of a School of Education Preliminary Education Specialist Add On Program Application to the Student Services Center and payment of the application fee
    6. Interview with the special education admissions committee
    7. Three letters of recommendation within two years of application from individuals familiar with the candidate’s work in the field of education
    8. Writing sample (e.g., Statement of Purpose describing rationale for pursuing the Education Specialist credentials)
    9. GPA according to the University admissions policy (i.e., GPA of at least 2.67)
    10. Two sets of official transcripts (one for the university and one for the School of Education)
    11. TB Clearance on file in the Education Services Center before beginning the program

    Subject Matter Competency and individual requirements for out-of-state trained teachers may be required. Contact the Student Services Center at (760) 750-4277 to have out-of-state credentials analyzed for additional individual requirements.


  • What are the requirements for Intern Eligibility Requirements?

    1. Bachelor’s Degree as evidences by official transcripts verifying awarding of Bachelor’s degree
    2. Valid basic credential or eligibility for a basic credential
    3. Certificate of Clearance and Tuberculin Clearance
    4. Subject matter competence: CSET passed for subject area(s) and grade and developmental levels of students the intern will instruct
    5. Pre-service foundational preparation in general pedagogy, including classroom management and planning, reading/language arts, subject or specialty specific pedagogy, human development and special populations, and the teaching of English learners (usually met through initial credential)
    6. Beginning January 1, 2014, possession of a valid English Learner authorization such as CLAD, CTEL, BCLAD or SB2040 credential is required. Candidates who wish to intern and who do NOT have EL authorization must obtain it by passing the CTEL examinations or obtain their CTEL at another institution. This is a new policy as of Fall 2015. 

    Candidates interested in this internship option must also apply with and be offered employment as an intern with a partnering school or school district. Subject Matter Competency and individual requirements for out-of-state trained teachers may be required, based upon an analysis of the candidate’s credential by an Education Services Center credential analyst.

    Interns may obtain a Master of Arts in Education degree with a special education emphasis by completing the EDUC 602, 622, and 698 coursework and thesis/project.