Special Education Credential

Dates & Deadlines

  • 08/1/2022 to 09/30/2022 - Spring 2023 Application Period

Application Checklist  

Pre-Admission Disclosure  

Basic Skills Bill AB 130

The Education Specialist Credential Program is housed under the Educational Leadership and Special Education and offers Preliminary Education Specialist programs (Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe) as well as an Intern program. The Preliminary Education Specialist Program (ES) prepares special educators who provide effective education, respect, and individualization for individuals with special needs, and who are committed to ongoing professional growth and reflection in their careers. Specific attributes of our program include:

  • Proficiency in curriculum and instruction across life domains for individuals with disabilities
  • Faculty committed to providing a high-quality special education teacher preparation program
  • Instruction designed to challenge candidates to acquire the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary 
  • be effective educators and advocates for individuals with disabilities
  • Empirically based course content that reflects best practice in special education
  • Evening classes
  • Learning opportunities that emphasize professional reflection and growth

For more information, see the Student Handbook or contact an Advisor for questions. 

Program Overview 

The Preliminary Education Specialist Credential Program offers credentials in Mild/Moderate Disabilities (M/M) and in Moderate/Severe Disabilities (M/S), and is typically a three semester program. Students who already hold a multiple subject or single subject credential, may complete the education specialist credential in two semesters. The basic framework of the program provides that all credential candidates complete a series of common core courses followed by credential specific courses. Required school site observations and student teaching experiences are built into both M/M and  M/S credentials programs. Courses are designed to be taken in the evenings from 4-10pm to accommodate daytime work schedules. After completing one semester of the program, credential candidates are eligible to apply to our Intern Program.


Credential candidates who are pursuing a Mild/Moderate credential will be authorized to serve students in the following areas: 

  • specific learning disabilities
  • mild/moderate intellectual disabilities
  • emotional disturbance
  • autism
  • and other health impairment


Credential candidates who are pursuing a Moderate/Severe credential will be authorized to serve students in the following areas: 

  • moderate/severe intellectual disabilities
  • emotional disturbance
  • autism
  • deaf-blindness,
  • and multiple disabilities


The Early Childhood Studies Integrated Teacher Education Program: Special Education (ECS-ITEP) allows undergraduate students to earn a bachelors degree in ECS and a preliminary education specialist credential within four years and 135 units. More information on the ECS-ITEP program can be found on the program page. 

Intern teachers are taking credential courses while also being fully employed as special educators in a school or district. Interns take the same basic credential coursework, and are bound by the same policies and procedures as all Education Specialist candidates, except for selected fieldwork and student teaching requirements.  To learn more about the Intern Program, visit this page. 

Program Structure & Coursework 

Candidates who do not hold a credential should begin the program during the SPRING semester, which is designated as PHASE ONE. Such candidates choosing to begin the program in the fall semester will be following an extended program plan. ECS-ITEPSE students will typically begin courses during the fall of the junior year. Candidates who have a previous credential will have met most requirements of phase one, and must begin the program during the FALL semester, which is designated as PHASE TWO.

Co-requisite Course (3 units) 

  • EDSP 430 (3) Introduction to Special Education

Phase 1 Coursework (14 units)

All Candidates without Previous Credentials: Focuses on developing an understanding of disability, special education, and developing pedagogical knowledge and skills. Candidates join general education credential candidates in courses that focus on basic reading and math skills and teaching English Learners. Candidates complete 45 hours of fieldwork in the Early Fieldwork Practicum.

  • EDSP 421A (3) Effective Practices that Support Diverse Learning Needs
  • EDSP 421B (1) Early Field Experience
  • EDSP 421C (1) Using Educational & Assistive Technology
  • EDSP 421D (1) Healthy Learners & School Environments
  • EDMS 463 (3) Teaching Reading & Language Arts in Elementary School
  • EDSS 446 (4) Language & Literacy Across Curriculum: Mid/Sec Schools

 Phase 2 Coursework (14 units)

Focuses on developing skills specific to special educators including learning to administer formal assessments, IEP development, developing and implementing positive behavior support plans, communication development (M/S) and developing academic performance for students with mild to moderate disabilities (M/M). Students complete 60 hours of fieldwork during Phase Two in the same classroom where they will participate as a Student Teacher. 

  • EDSP 422A (3) Case Management & Transition Planning in SPED
  • EDSP 422B (1) Participant Observation/Fieldwork & Seminar
  • EDSP 423 (3) Assessment of Students with Disabilities
  • EDSP 424 (3) Positive Behavior Support for Students with Disabilities

Mild/Moderate: EDSP 425 (4) Developing Academic Performance of Students with Disabilities

Moderate/Severe:  EDSP 426 (4) Communication Development: Assessment & Instruction

Phase 3 Coursework (16-17 units)

Student teaching occurs in the classroom of a resident teacher over the course of twelve weeks, at a minimum. The placement is made through SSU by the Director of Field Placements. Note: Due to the intensive nature of student teaching, candidates are restricted to taking one additional academic class during the student teaching semester.

  • EDSP 460 (4) Teaching Event Seminar

Mild/Moderate  (16 units)

  • EDSP 465 (9) Student Teaching
  • EDMS 474 (3) Mathematics in the Elementary School

Moderate/Severe ( 17 units)

  • EDSP 467 (9) Student Teaching
  • EDSP 428 (4) Teaching Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities