Master of Arts in Teaching

Master of Arts in Teaching

For aspiring teachers looking to enter the field. You’ll earn your degree and your preliminary teaching credential in as little as 18 months. 


You know your calling is to teach and guide the next generation of students.

If you’re an aspiring teacher, PLNU's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is the program for you. We offer both a fully online curriculum through the state of California and in-person curriculum at our San Diego and Bakersfield campuses.  

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) 
  • Education specialist (for special education teaching)

You can also earn more than one credential at a time to increase your employability. Adding a credential adds eight weeks to your program for clinical practice. 

Establish Your Credibility

Gain the skills and the degree you need to live out your calling to teach. Earn your credential paired with a master’s degree that establishes you as a knowledgeable, committed teaching candidate in as little as 20 months. PLNU’s accreditations and district partnerships mean your degree will come 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.

Deborah Erickson Headshot


Deborah Erickson

Dr. Deborah Erickson, dean of PLNU’s School of Education, has been on faculty since 2013, after serving 11 years in faculty and leadership positions at California Lutheran University’s Graduate School of Education.

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’ll 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’re not required to finish phase II of the MAT degree to earn the preliminary credential.
  • Phase II usually takes place after you’ve earned your preliminary credential. This phase consists of 7-13 units, depending on your chosen specialization, for a total of 48 units. At the end of phase II, you’ll be granted your 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’re ready to pursue your passion for teaching, we’re 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

PLNU Alum Lorean Molina teaching in her classroom.

How Much Can a Master's Degree Increase a Teacher's Salary?

Pursuing a career in education can yield lifelong benefits for teachers and students alike. Earning a master’s degree in education can set you apart as a teacher and expand your career opportunities and salary earnings.

teacher in classroom with students sitting at their desks.

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Education?

Explore the career opportunities that a master’s degree in education affords you, both inside and outside the classroom. Learn more about why you should earn your master's in education. 

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):

  • Summer 2024 Quad II — July 1, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Quad I — September 2, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Quad II — October 28, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — January 13, 2025
  • Spring 2025 Quad II — March 17, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — May 12, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad II — July 7, 2025

Application Deadline(s):

  • Summer 2024 Quad II — June 19, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Quad I — August 21, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Quad II — October 16, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad I — December 11, 2024
  • Spring 2025 Quad II — February 28, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad I — April 25, 2025
  • Summer 2025 Quad II — June 20, 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 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.

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 Exam: Submit passing official score reports for CBEST OR equivalent exam.*
    • Official score reports should be emailed to
    • Please note: PLNU does not receive official score reports 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 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, while simultaneously qualifying you for a higher salary scale:

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

After earning your master’s in teaching, you’re a well-rounded educator with a degree that bolsters your resume and is immediately eligible for higher salary.  

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

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

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 move from the in-person track to the online track once I begin?

No, your course sequence will be built based on your modality. Switching formats may require you to take a semester off.

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 it take to complete the program?

The expected completion time is 20 to 30 months. 

Completion time depends upon the quad start and how quickly the candidate completes fieldwork hours and finishing coursework.

I’m 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’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 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 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.

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.

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."

What's the difference between a Master of Arts in Teaching and a master’s in curriculum and instruction?

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?

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 coursework 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 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.

When can I start the MAT/Credential Program?

Students pursuing the credential can be admitted at the start of six different quads a year in quad I.  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 will complete a research project in lieu of a thesis. This course associated with the research project 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?

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 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 Master of Arts in Teaching program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Department Faculty