Preliminary Education Specialist Credential (Dual Mild/Moderate & Extensive Support)

Preliminary Education Specialist Credential (Dual Mild/Moderate & Extensive Support)

Credential: For new and aspiring teachers seeking to work with students with special support needs. Can be earned as standalone credentials or as part of a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

Overview

You aspire to teach students with unique support needs in a K-12 setting.

This education specialist credential prepares you to work with a wide range of students by creating, developing, and implementing individualized supports, adaptations, and accommodations to facilitate access to core curriculum in a variety of environments. We offer both a fully online curriculum throughout the state of California and an in-person curriculum at our Southern California campuses in San Diego and Bakersfield. 

The program’s coursework focuses on state and federal regulations, including but not limited to: 

  • Co-teaching
  • Developing high leverage practices
  • Determining appropriate assessments
  • Creating Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Learning how to develop specialized curricula
  • Designing safe learning environments
  • Building positive behavior support systems
  • Planning for transition strategies
  • Use of current and assistive technologies
  • Enhance your skills working as a collaborator in educational settings
  • And more!

Establish Your Credibility

Gain the skills and the credential you need to live out your calling to teach. Earn a credential that establishes you as a knowledgeable, committed teaching candidate in as little as 24 months (three to four semesters depending on your start date). PLNU’s accreditations and district partnerships mean your degree will be from a university that’s well-known and respected in the community.

Be Confident in Your Calling

Learn in an environment where your goals, faith, and passion are shared and valued. At PLNU, we’re here to partner with you and give you the same holistic care you know every student deserves. Your curriculum is grounded in research and tied to critical needs and current topics facing educators.

Build a Lasting Network of Support

PLNU faculty and master teachers mentor you. Career counselors guide you. PLNU’s Education Associates alumni network keeps you connected long after graduation. And further professional development opportunities are available as you advance in your career.

Earn your education specialist preliminary credential as a standalone degree or as part of PLNU’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.

PLNU Alum Lorean Molina teaching in her classroom.

A Reputation for Excellence: PLNU Forms Committed San Diego Educators

Educators in San Diego and Bakersfield share about their positive experience working with PLNU and their committed alumni teachers and educators.

teacher pointing to a screen in a classroom

Why Earn a Teaching Credential in San Diego?

If you enjoy helping young people learn and grow while making a positive impact on your community, earning a teaching credential in San Diego, California could be a meaningful career move.

children reading with a teacher

The Benefits of Special Education Added Authorizations

Although added authorizations are not complete substitutes for a credential in special education, they will provide a much-needed resource for you—making you a valuable asset to your district.

Application Information

Ready to take the next step and apply?

We're here to make the entire process a simple one. We'll walk you through the application process, answer your questions, and get you one step closer to earning your degree.

Program Start Date(s):

  • Spring 2023 Quad I — January 9, 2023
  • Summer 2023 Quad I — May 8, 2023
  • Fall 2023 Quad I — August 28, 2023 

Application Deadline(s):

  • Spring 2023 Quad I — December 19, 2022
  • Summer 2023 Quad I — April 19, 2023
  • Fall 2023 Quad I — August 9, 2023

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU challenges students to live a full and meaningful life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission under exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's Preliminary Education Specialist Teaching Credential (Dual Mild/Moderate and Extensive Support) program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript from an institution that indicates the completion of an undergraduate degree.

Admissions Interview: You may be eligible for an interview waiver. Eligibility can be discussed in more depth with a PLNU admissions counselor once you've started your application. 

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit an online application (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alums, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).

  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. (If you’re a PLNU alum, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

    Official transcripts must be sent to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:
    gradprocessing@pointloma.edu

    *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.
  3. Submit a personal essay, two to three pages in length and double spaced, addressing the following topics:
    • Describe your professional career goals for the next five years.

    • Describe the variety of experiences that helped you determine these goals.

    • Explain what motivates you to work in California’s diverse schools.

    • Explain why you’re applying to PLNU, a private Christian university.

  4. Provide two professional recommendations. You’ll be asked to register your recommenders by providing their names, titles, and email addresses.

  5. Basic Skills Exam: Submit passing results for CBEST OR equivalent exam.*

    • Test scores should be emailed to gradprocessing@pointloma.edu.

    • Please note: PLNU does not receive scores sent from testing centers.

      *Options for meeting the Basic Skills Requirement:

      • Pass the CSET: Multiple Subjects Plus Writing Skills Examination.

      • Pass the CSU Early Assessment Program or the CSU Placement Examinations.

      • Achieve qualifying score on the SAT or ACT.

  6. Submit proof of registration for CSET exam.

Start Application

*Exceptions Policy: If you have below a 3.0 GPA in your baccalaureate degree, you’ll need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

Professional Licensure or Certification

This program is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and meets the requirements for educator certification in the state of California, where Point Loma Nazarene University is physically located. PLNU cannot confirm whether or not specific programs meet out-of-state requirements for professional licensure or certification. Information about out-of-state requirements in teacher credentialing is available on this website

Career Opportunities

Pursuing an education specialist teaching credential at Point Loma Nazarene University can prepare you for a career working with students with special needs from elementary school, middle school, and high school.

 

Adding a preliminary education specialist credential opens job opportunities for you to work with a wider range of students. After earning this credential, you’re more employable because you’re certified to teach students with special needs. Your ability to educate a diverse range of students makes you eligible for more jobs because schools can place mild/ moderate to high-needs students in your classroom. 

Behavior Viewpoint Article

Seeing Behavior Differently: Trauma-Sensitive Education

How we heal the world one child at a time by recognizing our longing to be seen, feel cared about, and be provided with physical and emotional safety.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's Preliminary Education Specialist Credential (Dual Mild/Moderate & Extensive Support) program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript. You must also have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. If you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, please contact your enrollment counselor regarding the exceptions process.

Can I work while completing the program?

Full-time work is not recommended once you begin the program because of the required hours of field work and clinical practice. 

How long does the program take to complete?

Students are expected to complete three semesters of coursework and one semester of clinical practice (student teaching) at the end. Please note that PLNU no longer places students into clinical practice during the summer, so the credential can take between 24 - 28 months depending on when you start the program.

How many days a week do classes meet?

In-person cohorts meet in a traditional classroom once a week from 4:30-9 p.m. Online cohorts are fully asynchronous. Other than participating in required in-person student teaching hours, online students are free to study when it’s most convenient for them. 

How large will the classes be?

Class sizes have a 30-student maximum for in-person classes and a 25-student maximum for online classes.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes! International students can apply during their senior year of university or any time after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

I’m already a practicing teacher. Is this the right program for me?

If you’re already a practicing teacher who’s looking to work with students with special needs as well as increase your employer marketability, this program is right for you! 

How do district partnerships work?

PLNU has agreements with districts throughout the San Diego and Bakersfield areas. For students enrolled online outside of these locations, PLNU will partner with your local school district to place you for your fieldwork and student teaching hours. No matter your location in the state of California, PLNU will place you at a district to complete your fieldwork hours and clinical practice (student teaching hours) before you enter the fieldwork phase of your program.

 

Do I need to pass the CSET before starting the program?

PLNU recommends students to have their CSET passed prior to starting the program. However, students whose GPA is above 2.5 can start the program before the CSET is passed. Please note that all students will need to have all subtests passed within 12 units in the program.

When must I have the CSET completed to advance in the program?

Students who don't have all subtests passed will not be able to register for the next semester. It is recommended students plan ahead. If they don't pass any of the subtests they will need to wait 45 days in order to have the test retaken and some tests are not offered regularly. If students don't pass CSET successfully within 12 units they will be asked to take a break until the CSET is passed and will need to re-admit into the program.

Can I earn the credential alone or do I need to do the MAT as well?

Yes, you can earn the credential alone.

My GPA is below 3.0. Am I still eligible for admissions?

The GPA requirement for all graduate programs is 3.0. Students who have a GPA below 3.0 are encouraged to apply under our exceptions policy. All exceptions students must submit an exceptions statement and additional materials based on requirements per program.

What GPA should I maintain to be successful in the program?

You need to maintain a 3.0 GPA at all times. If you receive a C- or less in a course, you'll need to repeat the course.

When can I start the Credential Program?

Students pursuing the credential only can only be admitted in quad I (beginning of the semester). Students who are pursuing the master's can choose to take one master's-level class in quad II (second half of the semester).

How long will it take me to complete the master's phase of the program?

Some of the master's courses are taken in sequence and may take two to three semesters to complete.

How many courses can I take each quad?

The most you can take is two courses per quad. We purposely limit the number of courses you can take in eight weeks so you can thoughtfully process the contents of each course and be ready to apply to teaching. If you’re working or teaching full time as an intern, you’ll be advised to take one course per quad.

Can I work on more than one credential at a time?

Yes, you can earn more than one credential at the same time. Ask your advisor about what your program plan will look like to do this. Many candidates are working on more than one credential at a time to increase their employability. Just as a reminder, this will add another eight weeks to your program for clinical practice.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Preliminary Education Specialist Credential program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Department Faculty

TOP SEARCHES