Education Specialist Credential Programs

Special Education

The curriculum meets the licensing requirements of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Preliminary Education Specialist programs include requirements in a general education component, core requirements including health education and CPR, plus specialization courses including student teaching. The education specialist credentials meet standards for special education birth to grade 12 teachers. The preliminary education specialist credential allows graduates to teach in the area of specialization for five years.

Admission Procedures

Admission to post-baccalaureate programs is based on the evaluation of applications to both the department and to the University. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for admission to credential programs and must be maintained for continuation in the program. All credential applicants are required to apply to the Master of Arts in Special Education plus the education specialist credential program. If a prospective applicant already has a master’s degree, they may petition the department chair to be exempt from this requirement. Program applications are available online at: https://www2.calstate.edu/Apply. For application assistance, go to https://gcoe.sfsu.edu/current-students/how-apply

For admission related questions:
Graduate College of Education Credential and Graduate Services Center
Burk Hall 244
(415) 405–3594
Email: credinfo@sfsu.edu


For program related questions:
Department of Special Education
(415) 338–1161
Website: sped.sfsu.edu.
Email: sped@sfsu.edu

Preliminary education specialist credential programs are approved for the following areas:

  • Early Childhood Special Education (birth to pre–k only) – mild to moderate and moderate to severe disabilities and traumatic brain injury.
  • Mild/Moderate Disabilities (k–12, adults up to 22 years) – specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, other health impairment, and emotional disturbance.
  • Moderate/Severe Disabilities (k–12, adults up to 22 years) – autism spectrum disorder, mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, deaf-blindness, emotional disturbance, and multiple disabilities.
  • Visual Impairments (birth–22 years) – blind, visually impaired, deaf–blind, and autism spectrum disorder.

For Orientation and Mobility specialization and Speech–Language Pathology services see Other Services Credentials.

Substitution of Requirements

Substitutions of course and field placement requirements may be granted when candidates have prior transcript credit and when the required skill, knowledge, and performance competencies have been mastered and verified. The department chair and faculty in the area of specialization review and approve requests for course substitutions. Courses requested for substitution have a 7-year limit.

Preliminary Education Specialist Credential

Admission and credential requirements include the following:

  • A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Satisfy Subject Matter Competency Requirement: Successful passage of the CSET Multiple Subjects Test or by completing a subject matter program prior to admission. May be satisfied by completing the subject matter requirements outlined for the Multiple Subject or Single Subject Credentials. Required for all education specialist areas except Early Childhood Special Education. 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of the United States Constitution, prior to award of credential. Applicants may satisfy the U.S. Constitution requirement either by course work or examination.
  • Satisfy Basic Skills Requirement: successful passage of the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), CSET Multiple Subjects Test plus CSET Writing Skills Test, OR an approved out-of-state basic skills exam. Refer to the Department application for additional ways of satisfying the Basic Skills Requirement using the ELM/EPT, SAT, and/or ACT scores.
  • Complete Certificate of Clearance: Fingerprint Clearance via LiveScan and Commission on Teacher Credentialing online application.
  • Pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) examination, prior to award of credential. RICA is required for all education specialist areas, except Early Childhood Special Education.
  • Apply for student teaching, with annual deadlines of February 28 for fall enrollment and September 28 for spring enrollment.
  • Submit a Credential Approved Program (CAP) prior to student teaching reflecting all course work completed or to be completed and non-curricular requirements (submitted with the application for student teaching).
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): must cover infant, child and adult CPR; an online course is not acceptable.

Education Specialist Credentials: Special Education

Core Requirements for Preliminary Education Specialist Credentials (7–9 Units)

H ED 630Elementary School Health1-3
or H ED 635 Secondary School Health
SPED 788Law, Ethics, and Instructional Planning3
SPED 801Development, Diversity, and English Language Learners: Special Education3

Health Education courses are offered through the College of Extended Learning. A list of health education courses approved for substitution is available on the department website: sped.sfsu.edu/content/forms-0

General Education Requirements (6 Units)

E ED 784Curriculum and Instruction in Mathematics (CLAD Emphasis)3
E ED 882Literacy Instruction in K-12 Classrooms3

Not required if the student possesses a Multiple Subject or Single Subject Credential, or if pursuing an Early Childhood Special Education preliminary credential.

Early Childhood Special Education (54–56 Units)

Core and General Education 13–15 units

SPED 729Student Teaching Workshop: Early Childhood Special Education (1 unit, 2 units total)1
SPED 730Student Teaching: Special Education (3 & 9 units, 12 units total)12
or SPED 731 Special Education Field Experience
SPED 737Infant Intervention3
SPED 738Preschool Intervention3
SPED 747Physical Disabilities and Sensory Impairments3
SPED 774Positive Behavior Support3
SPED 777Development and Learning of Young Children with Special Needs3
SPED 779Family Systems and Services for Young Children with Disabilities3
SPED 780Assessment and Program Evaluation in Early Childhood Special Education Setting3
SPED 885Advanced Topics in Special Education3
Select one of the following:3
Nature of the Autism Spectrum
Communication, Behavior and Instructional Supports: Autism

Note: SPED 730 and SPED 731-Student teaching requires a one-semester placement with preschool children and a second-semester placement with infant/toddlers. Student teachers concurrently enroll in SPED 729 for two semesters.

Mild/Moderate Disabilities (46–48 Units)

Core and General Education 13–15 units

SPED 726Workshop: Student Teaching Support Sessions for Mild/Moderate Disabilities or Orientation Mobility3
SPED 730Student Teaching: Special Education9
SPED 763Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities3
SPED 770Introduction to Mild/Moderate Disabilities3
SPED 772Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities3
SPED 774Positive Behavior Support3
SPED 775Curriculum and Instruction in Elementary Special Education3
SPED 778Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary Special Education3
Select one of the following:3
Nature of the Autism Spectrum
Communication, Behavior and Instructional Supports: Autism

Moderate/Severe Disabilities (52–54 Units)

Core and General Education 13–15 units

SPED 723Workshop: Student Teaching Support Sessions for Moderate/Severe Disabilities or Visual Impairments3
SPED 730Student Teaching: Special Education9
SPED 745Environmental Design for Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities3
SPED 747Physical Disabilities and Sensory Impairments3
SPED 763Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities3
SPED 773Methods of Assessment and Instruction for Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities3
SPED 787Advanced Assessment and Instruction for Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities3
SPED 789Advanced Environmental Design for Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities3
SPED 791Nature of the Autism Spectrum3
SPED 821Fieldwork in Moderate/Severe Disabilities (6 total units)3
SPED 601Observation and Participation in Special Education3

Visual Impairments (58–60 Units)

Core and General Education 13–15 units

SPED 655Basic Orientation and Mobility for Learners with Visual Impairments3
SPED 723Workshop: Student Teaching Support Sessions for Moderate/Severe Disabilities or Visual Impairments3
SPED 730Student Teaching: Special Education9
SPED 735Technology for Visually Impaired Students2
SPED 749Medical, Educational, and Rehabilitative Implications of Visual Impairment4
SPED 750Assessment for Learners with Visual Impairments3
SPED 751Instruction for Learners with Visual Impairments3
SPED 752Issues in Visual Impairment3
SPED 753Living Skills Assessment and Instruction for Learners with Visual Impairments3
SPED 754Basic Communication Skills for Learners with Visual Impairments3
SPED 757Visual Impairment: Special Populations3
SPED 758Advanced Communication Skills for Learners with Visual Impairments3
SPED 763Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities3