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Find the Right Preparation Program in Three Steps

Subject Matter Programs You may hear about subject matter programs, which are different from teacher preparation programs and are equivalent to a major in the subject. Successful completion of a subject matter programIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site is one of two ways (the second is the California Subjects Examination for Teachers [CSET]) in which prospective teachers can demonstrate subject matter competency.
Step One - Step Two - Step Three

A California credential is required for employment in California public schools. Teacher candidates are required to demonstrate competence in the subject matter they will be authorized to teach. The subject matter program coursework and examinations are intended to be equivalent in content knowledge. Subject matter programs and examinations are aligned with the kindergarten‑twelfth (K-12) grade student academic content standards. The subject matter examinationsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site are administered through a private contractor while the subject matter programsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site are offered through institutions of higher education. Subject matter programs are equivalent to a major in the subject and are typically housed in the corresponding academic departments of these institutions.

Step One: Research the types of teacher preparation programs

In California, subject matter preparation programs for prospective teachers are not the same as undergraduate degree programs. Post-secondary institutions govern academic programs that lead to the award of degrees, including baccalaureate degrees in English, mathematics, science and history. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) sets standards for academic programs that lead to the issuance of credentials. An applicant for a teaching credential must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, but the degree may be in a subject other than the one to appear on the credential. Similarly, degree programs for undergraduate students may or may not fulfill the Commission's standards for subject matter preparation. Completing an approved subject matter programIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site that satisfies the standards enables a candidate to qualify for the single subject credential.

There are three different types of teacher preparation programs:

  1. "Blended" Programs
    Some colleges and universities have programs that combine course work for the bachelors degree and credential. Designed for individuals who know, early on, that they want to teach, these options are generally more intense than traditional programs but enable you to become a teacher faster. Some community colleges have become part of the blended program package.

  2. Post-baccalaureate Programs
    Many colleges and universities offer state-approved courses for college graduates. This "fifth year" approach involves two or three semesters of coursework and student teaching and sometimes includes a master's degree.

  3. Alternative Certification or Intern Programs
    Once you have your bachelor's degree and have met subject matter competency requirements, you may choose to work while you learn how to teach through a district or university alternative certification programIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site. These specially designed programs put you in the classroom as a teacher (under supervision) while you complete coursework on teaching theory and techniques.