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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.

I Want to Teach flowchart, visually describing Pathway website Options:  Kindergarten to 5th grade: major in liberal studies and get a cset 1-3 waiver. Then enter the ITEP 4-year program. From there, get a BA in liberal studies and a multiple subject credential, with the option to continue to Education Specialist credentials, or enter the Middle level education program. Alternatively, enter the Elementary Subject matter program, obtain a ba in liberal studies and enter either the multiple subject or middle level programs with the option to also do education specialist.  Special education tk-age 22: major in liberal studies, enter the itep or elementary subject matter programs, obtain a ba and enter credential programs for multiple subject or middle level and special education.  6-8th grades: major in liberal studies and enter itep or ESM, earn a BA and enter the middle level program with the option to add special education programs. or Major in the specific subject you want to teach, obtain a ba in that subject, and enter the middle level program. 9-12th grade: major in the subject you want to teach, obtain your bachelor degree, enter the single subject program with the option to add education specialist credentialsView this flowchart as a PDF

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 Middle Level Education 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)

"What if I haven't taken these exams by the time applications are due? Can I still apply?"

Yes, don't worry! The application asks about the status of your tests and when you plan to take it. For more information, contact Student Services.

Testing Information  Test Preparation Resources

  • CSET I-III Waiver

    The CSUSM Liberal Studies B.A. (Elementary Subject Matter and Integrated Teacher Education Program Options) is now approved as a CSET I-III Waiver Program by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. This means that students who earn the Waiver do not have to take the Multiple Subject California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSETs) I-III.

    In order to earn the Waiver students must finish all degree requirements for either of these two LBST Options with an overall GPA of 2.67 or higher, and graduate. Current students as well as alumni with 2004 and later catalog rights (ESM and ICP Options) are eligible to apply for the Waiver. 

    Note: Non-CSUSM students and CSUSM students with catalog rights prior to 2004 are not eligible to apply for this Waiver.

    CSET I-III Waiver Request

    • How to Request an Elementary Subject Matter CSET I-III Waiver Evaluation

      Eligibility: To be considered for a CSET I-III waiver evaluation, students must complete all degree requirements for the CSUSM Liberal Studies ESM Option B.A. or the ITEP Option B.A. (or the ICP Option B.A) and earn an overall GPA of 2.67 or higher in their coursework.

      Recommended Time Frame for Request if you have already graduated: If you have graduated with 2004 or later catalog rights and meet eligibility requirements, submit your evaluation request at any time.

      Recommended Time Frame for Request if you are a current student: If you are a currently matriculated CSUSM Liberal Studies B.A. student, submit your evaluation request upon completion of your next to the last semester of your B.A. (For example, if you plan to finish all degree requirements in Spring 2020, submit your application for evaluation by the end of Fall 2019.)

      If a request is submitted too early and too many required courses are still pending/incomplete the request will be withdrawn and the student will need to submit another request at a later time.

      Following submission of the request form, the student’s overall GPA will be evaluated and if it is 2.67 or higher, the applicant will receive an email from the Liberal Studies Department verifying preliminary eligibility for the waiver.  If the overall GPA is 2.66 or below, the student will receive an email indicating that they are not on track to receive the waiver.  Upon completion of all degree requirements, the GPA for all applicants will be reevaluated and if an overall GPA of 2.67 or higher has been maintained or achieved, the student will receive a waiver verification letter signed by the CSUSM Chair of Liberal Studies and the CSUSM School of Education Credential Analyst.

      Other important information

      • Are you pursuing a teaching credential at another university? Please check with that university to make sure they will accept CSUSM’s CSET I-III waiver.  Per the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, it is required that all credential programs accept our CSET waiver.
      • Additionally, CSUSM's School of Education accepts CSET Waivers earned at any other institution, not just those from CSUSM's Liberal Studies Department.
      • The CBEST exam is still required for application to a credential program, even if you receive a CSET waiver.  
      • Are You Pursuing Bilingual Authorization?  This authorization is optional and has additional CSET requirements; see a School of Education advisor for more information.
      • Not Pursuing a Credential? If you are not planning to apply to a Multiple Subject or Concurrent Multiple Subject Education Specialist Credential Program, there is no need to apply for a Subject Matter Evaluation or Waiver.
      • NOTE:  Our CSET I-III Waiver is not a single subject matter waiver. 

  • Elementary School (Multiple Subject)

    All Elementary School Teacher Candidates (Multiple Subject Credential) that are not enrolled in a multiple-subject waiver program (BA Liberal Studies ITEP or ESM) must take the CSET: Multiple Subjects.

  • Middle School (Single Subject and Multiple Subject with Middle Level Certificate)

    All Middle School Teacher Candidates (Single Subject with Middle Level Certificate) are required to demonstrate subject matter competency for both Single and Multiple Subjects

    Students enrolled in a multiple-subject waiver program (BA Liberal Studies ITEP or ESM) or a single-subject waiver program (BS Mathematics SSMP or BA History with Single Subject Preparation) do not need to take the exam that is waived for their program.

  • High School and Middle School – Secondary Education (Single Subject)

    All High School Teacher Candidates (Single Subject Credential) that are not enrolled in a single-subject waiver program (BS Mathematics SSMP or BA History with Single Subject Preparation) must take the CSET: Single Subject exam for the subject they wish to teach. 

  • Special Education (Special Education Specialist with Teaching Credential)
    All Special Education Teacher Candidates (Special Education Specialist) that are not enrolled in a multiple-subject waiver program (BA Liberal Studies ITEP or ESM) must take the CSET: Multiple Subjects.

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 if you're a current student, 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: Teaching, Learning & Technology

"What if I haven't taken these courses by the time applications are due? Can I still apply?"

Yes, don't worry! The application asks if you have taken the courses and your grade and, if you haven't taken them, what semester you will be taking them. For more information, contact Student Services.

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 Application Instructions

  • 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
  • Middle Level Education (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 may hold a Multiple-Subject Credential and a Single Subject credential with Authorization to Teach English Learners. They will also receive a CSUSM-issued Certificate of Advanced Study in Middle Level Education
  • 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

    • HIST 130 or HIST 330 or HIST 335 or PSCI 100
    • 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

  • Notice to Students RE: Professional Licensure and Certifications

    California State University programs for professions that require licensure or certification are intended to prepare the student to meet California licensure and certification requirements. Admission into programs for professions that require licensure and certification does not guarantee that students will obtain a license or certificate. Licensure and certification requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the California State University and licensure and certification requirements can change at any time. 

    The California State University has not determined whether its programs meet other states’ educational or professional requirements for licensure and certification. Students enrolled in a California State University program who are planning to pursue licensure or certification in other states are responsible for determining whether they will meet their state’s requirements for licensure or certification. This disclosure is made pursuant to 34 CFR §668.43(a)(5)(v)(C). 


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

    The Master of Arts in Curriculum & Instruction is designed for K-12 credentialed educators who wish to broaden their understandings of education as well as deepen their knowledge and skills as teachers. The program provides opportunities for students to develop advanced understandings and capacities related to curriculum development, to interrogate the many ways in which students and their families experience marginalization and exclusion in schools, and to conduct original research to address inequities in schooling. It is recommended that educators begin this program after clearing their CA credential and/or after gaining at least 2 years of full-time classroom teaching experience.

  • 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.