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 stand-alone credentials or as part of a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.


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. 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, and planning for transition strategies; as well as the use of current and assistive technologies. You’ll also enhance your skills in working as a collaborator in educational settings.

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

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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):

  • Fall 2022 Quad I – August 29, 2022

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2022 Quad I – August 10, 2022

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.

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:
  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: CBEST OR Equivalent*

    • Test scores should be emailed to

    • 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 passing results for CBEST exam.

  7. 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 a teaching credential at Point Loma Nazarene University can prepare you for the following careers:

  • Elementary School Teacher

  • Middle or High School Teacher

  • Special Education Teacher

A Master of Arts in Teaching degree provides excellent preparation for people who want to teach outside the traditional classroom environment as tutors or corporate trainers, or in settings such as museums or zoo education departments.

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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

Course List

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

Course Information

Department Faculty