Education Specialist Credential Programs

Becoming a Special Education Teacher

In California, the Education Specialist credential is required for teachers in special education and authorizes the holder to work with grades K-12 and up to the age of 22. There are two levels of the Education Specialist teaching credential for all authorizations. The first level is called the Education Specialist Preliminary Credential (2009 Standards). This credential is valid for a period of five years. To obtain a California Education Specialist Preliminary Credential, State law requires individuals to complete or demonstrate the following:

  • Baccalaureate Degree (B.A. or B.S.)
  • Subject Matter Competency (CSET or subject matter waiver program)
  • California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST)
  • Certificate of Clearance
  • Teacher Preparation Program
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Reading Instruction Competency Assessment (RICA) *

The second level is called the Education Specialist Clear Credential. This credential certifies that the holder is a professional teacher who is qualified to teach children with special needs in schools. This credential must be renewed every five years on the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) website. The holder of the Education Specialist Preliminary Credential may apply for an Education Specialist Clear Credential upon successful completion of a Commission‐approved induction program.

Cal Poly Pomona Education Specialist Credentials Program Overview

Cal Poly Pomona offers the Preliminary Education Specialist Credentials in Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe disabilities, with the option to add on a Master of Arts degree. Credentials meet all "highly qualified" requirements and include English learner authorization and autism competencies. Our program is a regional leader in preparing exemplary and passionate special education professionals. We develop special education professionals who use best practices to teach, support, and advocate for their students with disabilities and their families with excellence, integrity and high expectations.

Cal Poly’s Education Specialist credential programs were collaboratively developed with the input and support of university faculty, current and former students, and an advisory group of public school special education administrators and teachers. Our collaborative and conscientious approach to program development and evaluation is key to insuring that our candidates are ready to meet the current and future needs of today’s ever-changing educational environments. Our programs are fully accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and meet all state teacher preparation standards and Teaching Performance Expectations. 

Preliminary Education Specialist Credential - Mild/Moderate Disabilities

This credential authorizes the holder to teach in grades K-12 (and up to the age of 22). It includes students with autism, learning disabilities, mild/moderate intellectual disabilities, other health impairments, and emotional/behavior disorders. This credential also authorizes the holder to provide instruction for English language development and specially designed academic instruction in English (grades 12 and below and in classes organized for adults).

Preliminary Education Specialist Credential - Moderate/Severe Disabilities

This credential authorizes the holder to teach in grades K-12 (and up to the age of 22). It includes students with autism, moderate/severe/profound intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, and serious emotional/behavior disorders. This credential also authorizes the holder to provide instruction for English language development and specially designed academic instruction in English (grades 12 and below and in classes organized for adults).

Project SEEDS offers scholarships to candidates interested in earning a Moderate/Severe credential - click below for more information! 

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Highlights of Cal Poly's Education Specialist Programs

  • Credential Pathways
    • Traditional pathway –This is a traditional pathway for candidates who need to maintain personal schedules during the day with the option to take classes in the late afternoon. Evening courses are held at Cal Poly Pomona with fieldwork requirements during the day. Candidates complete required coursework prior to Clinical Practice (student teaching). Cal Poly places student teachers in public school classrooms, with the guidance and support of the classroom Cooperating Teacher and a University Supervisor.
    • Intern Program Option - The Intern Program is an alternative credential pathway that allows candidates to work in public K-12 schools as the teacher-of-record while they complete required coursework to obtain their credential. Complete information is provided at the Internship Orientation.
    • ITEP- The Integrated Teacher Education Program allows students to earn a B.A. in either Liberal Studies or Early Childhood Studies plus an Education Specialist Credential in 4 years. The program focuses on inclusion, disability studies, and technology to assist K-12 student learning.
  • All courses are held in the evening; daytime sections are also offered for some courses
  • Many courses are offered as hybrids (50% face to face) or online
  • Fall and Spring semester admissions make entering the program at any time of year convenient
  • The size of our program means more personalized attention from faculty and greater chance to get to know other candidates.
  • Add Ed Specialist to MS/SS— Cal Poly offers a way for teachers who already hold a Multiple or Single Subjects credential to add the Ed Specialist Credential with a minimum amount of additional coursework and Clinical Practice.
  • Credential-to-Master's— Cal Poly offers a straightforward path from the Credential Program to a Master's degree. The majority of candidates who earn their credential at Cal Poly continue to complete the Master of Arts in Education, with an emphasis in Special Education.
  • Ed.D. In Educational Leadership

Admissions Requirements and Procedures

Course Requirements and Road Maps

Program and Student Learning Outcomes

Information on the M.A. Program

Information on the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program