Preliminary Single Subject Credential

Preliminary Single Subject Credential

Credential: For new and aspiring middle school/high school teachers. Can be earned as a stand-alone credential or as part of a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.


Achieve your goal of making an impact on students' lives through a career in teaching. At PLNU, we’re here to partner with you and to model the kind of holistic care you want to give your own students in the future. 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. 

If you want to teach at the secondary level (middle or high school), you’ll need to pursue your single subject credential in an approved discipline of your choice. A single subject credential enables you to teach in a departmentalized (preschool-adult) classroom. You can earn your preliminary credential alone or as a part of the Master of Arts in Teaching program.

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 20 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 to 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.

Please note: Credential requirements are subject to change based on state and federal requirements, which supersede any existing catalog requirements.


PLNU Alum Lorean Molina teaching in her classroom.

A Reputation for Excellence: PLNU Forms Committed San Diego Educators

PLNU’s School of Education is one of the top producers of education candidates not only within San Diego, but the state of California. Read more about the work being done at PLNU.

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.

Application Information

Are you 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 2024 Quad I — September 2, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — January 13, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — May 12, 2025

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2024 Quad I — August 21, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — December 11, 2024
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — April 25, 2025

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full 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 the Preliminary Single Subject Credential 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 for admissions (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 are a PLNU alumnus, 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:

    *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.
  3. Submit a personal essay, 2-3 pages in length and double-spaced.
  4. Once you have submitted your admissions application, your two selected professional recommenders will automatically be sent the auto-generated document to complete on your behalf. If you'd like to include a written letter in addition to this required document, you may do so, but it's unnecessary.
  5. Basic Skills Requirement: Senate Bill 153 (Chap. 38, Stats 2024), effective June 29, 2024, makes two changes to the California Basic Skills Requirement (BSR). Specifically, the bill adds a provision that allows possession of a bachelor’s (or higher) degree earned at a regionally accredited college or university to meet the Basic Skills Requirement (BSR). The bill also removes the BSR as a requirement for earning any credential or permit where the applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree.
  6. Submit proof of registration for CSET exam.

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

Start Application

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 degree at Point Loma Nazarene University can prepare you for the following careers:

  • Elementary school teacher
  • Middle or high school teacher
  • Special education teacher

If you’re considering teaching outside of the traditional classroom environment, you may want to consider earning your credential as part of a Master of Arts in Teaching, which 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.

"The PLNU Master of Arts in Teaching program is focused on preparing candidates to be educational leaders in the era of 21st-century education and common core standards. Through coursework, fieldwork, and interaction with faculty in PLNU's School of Education, students will gain the knowledge and skills to empower them to provide high quality educational experiences to students and to be leaders in their schools and districts."

Kathy Caric
Special Education Program Advisor, Master of Arts in Teaching

San Diego educator teaches students in a classroom

A Reputation for Excellence: PLNU Forms Committed San Diego Educators

PLNU’s School of Education is one of the top producers of education candidates not only within San Diego, but the state of California. Read more about the work being done at PLNU.

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 Master of Arts in Teaching 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 pursuing a preliminary single subject credential are expected to complete two 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 phase for single and multiple credentials can take between 12-16 months depending when students start the program.

How many days a week do classes meet?

Courses for the MAT/credential program are offered in eight-week quads throughout the calendar year. 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 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.

We also will accept a 110 minimum score from DuoLingo as proof of proficiency. 

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?

The Preliminary Single Subject Credential is geared toward aspiring teachers. For seasoned teachers like you, PLNU offers a master’s in curriculum and instruction and a master’s in school counseling. Please contact your enrollment counselor if you’d like more personalized information.

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, our program is designed so that you’ll complete your credential in phase I and be able to start teaching right way. If you want to complete the master's program, you will continue coursework in phase II. Students who know they want a master's in teaching should select "Master of Arts in Teaching" in their application, and students who don't should select "certificate or credential."

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.

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. The credential phase for single and multiple credentials can take between 12-16 months depending when students start the program.

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).

Is a master’s thesis required for earning the degree?

No. If you are only completing the credential program, you’re not required to submit a master’s thesis. However, if you pursue a master’s degree, you’ll need tocomplete a master’s thesis. 

How many courses can I take each quad?

We advise students not to take more than 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 full 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 the 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 the 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 Single Subject Credential program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Department Faculty