Teaching, M.A.

Teaching, M.A.


You know your calling is to teach.

If you are an aspiring teacher, PLNU's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is the program for you. You can choose to earn your preliminary teaching credential in the following areas: multiple subject (for elementary school teaching), single subject (for middle and high school teaching), or education specialist mild/moderate or moderate/severe (for special education teaching).

Establish Your Credibility

Gain the skills and degree you need to live out your call to teach. Earn your credential paired with a master’s degree that establishes you as a knowledgeable, committed teaching candidate in only 18 months. PLNU’s accreditations and district partnerships mean your degree will be from a university that is 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 are 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 alumni network, Education Associates, keeps you connected long after graduation. And further professional development opportunities are available as you advance in your career.

Jill Hamilton Bunch


Jill Hamilton-Bunch, Ph.D.

Dr. Jill Hamilton-Bunch graduated from PLNU in 1990 with the desire to be a teacher, and that’s exactly what she’s done for the past 22 years — plus much more.

Read More

PLNU’s MAT program includes one or more of the four preliminary teaching credentials approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing:

You will complete the MAT program in two phases:

  • Phase I consists of 23-29 units of coursework and 10 units of clinical practice (student teaching), culminating in a preliminary teaching credential (33-39 units). You are not required to finish Phase II of the MAT degree to earn the preliminary credential.
  • Phase II usually takes place after you have earned your preliminary credential. This phase consists of 7-13 units, depending on your chosen specialization, for a total of 46 units. At the end of Phase II, you will be granted a master's degree.

When you complete the Master of Arts in Teaching, you and your classmates will be prepared to:


  • Promote the success of all students by being servant leaders who serve collaboratively and effectively with professional excellence, honesty, integrity, and sensitivity.


  • Demonstrate the positive power of diversity and advocacy for universal social justice within your classrooms, schools, districts, and communities, and apply faith-based influences and beliefs within educational organizations.


  • Reflect on and engage in ongoing scholarly, professional, and spiritual growth, and serve effectively as research-based, transformational leaders within your classrooms, schools, districts, and communities.

    If you are ready to pursue your passion for teaching, we are ready to make it possible.

    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

    San Diego educator teaches students in a classroom

    A Reputation for Excellence: PLNU Forms Committed San Diego Educators

    Our 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.

    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 2022 Quad I - August 29, 2022
    • Spring 2023 Quad I - January 9, 2023

    Application Deadline(s):

    • Fall 2022 Quad I - August 10, 2022

    • Spring 2023 Quad I – December 19, 2022

    Not all programs offer entry for new students each quad. Check with your enrollment counselor for programs and start dates.

    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 PLNU's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) 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 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:
    3. Submit a personal essay, 2-3 pages in length and double spaced, that addresses 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 are applying to PLNU, a private Christian university.
    4. Provide two professional recommendations. You will 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 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 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 will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

    Career Opportunities

    The MAT program at Point Loma Nazarene University will prepare you for the following careers, depending on which credential you select:

    • Elementary School Teacher
    • Middle or High School Teacher
    • Special Education Teacher

    An MAT degree also 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

    Our 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

    What is 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?


    How long does it take to complete the program?

    The expected completion time is 18 to 24 months.

    How many days a week do classes meet?

    Courses for the MAT/Credential program are offered in eight-week quads throughout the calendar year. Credential courses (phase 1) are offered in a traditional classroom, face-to-face environment. Each class meets once a week from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Master's courses (phase 2) are offered online. Some master's classes are offered in both formats and provide students with choice of instructional delivery.

    How large will the classes be?

    Class sizes have a 30-student maximum for face-to-face classes and a 25-student maximum for online classes.

    Are international students eligible to apply?

    Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your 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 am already a practicing teacher. Is this the right program for me?

    The MAT is geared toward aspiring teachers. For seasoned teachers like you, PLNU offers a Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in teaching and learning, counseling and guidance, or educational leadership. We also offer a Master of Arts in Special Education. Please contact your enrollment counselor if you would like more personalized information.

    How do district partnerships work?

    PLNU has agreements with districts throughout the San Diego and Bakersfield areas. PLNU will place you at a district to complete your fieldwork hours and clinical practice (student teaching hours).

    Does the CSET need to be passed 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?

    The program is designed for students to complete phase 1 first so they can earn their credentials and start teaching right away. Students then go into phase 2 and continue with the master's degree classes. However, they don't have to complete phase 2 of the program if they only want a credential. 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."

    What's the difference between a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Arts in Education?

    The Master of Arts in Teaching has a preliminary credential embedded and it is designed for aspiring teachers. The Master of Arts in Education does not have a teaching credential embedded.

    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 for me to complete the credential phase of the program?

    Mission Valley students pursuing a single or multiple subject credential are expected to complete two semesters of coursework and one semester of clinical practice (student teaching) at the end. Students pursuing a special education credential are expected to complete three semesters of course work and one semester of clinical practice. 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 long will 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.

    When can I start the MAT/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?

    Students are required to complete a three-unit semester-long course called culminating research and design. This course is designed to prepare students for the research and the writing of a master research paper focused on a single research question. After successful completion of this course, students will receive a university mentor to guide them in completing their research project. This portion typically takes two to three semesters.

    How many courses can I take each quad?

    At Mission Valley Regional Center, 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 process thoughtfully the contents of each course and be ready to apply to teaching. If you are working full-time or teaching full-time as an intern, you will 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 a reminder that this will add another eight weeks onto your program for clinical practice.

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