Important Dates

Summer  Deadline
SPED Application April 1st
Cal State Apply Application April 1st
Basic Skills Requirement April 1st
Subject Matter Competence/CSET July 1st
Program Start Summer Quarter 
Program End Spring Quarter 


Master of Science in Special Education / Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Disabilities Credential Program

Welcome to the world of graduate education! We are pleased that you are interested in the Integrated M.S. in Special Education / Education Specialist (Special Education) Mild/Moderate Disabilities Credential Program  (MS/SPED) offered by Cal Poly's School of Education. By becoming a teacher, clinician, or professional in special education, you have an opportunity improve the quality of life not only of the children/ youth with disabilities but also their families.  Like any profession, it requires advanced study in the field of education as well as a deepening content knowledge in your subject specialization. By entering Cal Poly's Special Education program, you will have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills that will contribute to your success as a special day class teacher, resource specialist, inclusion specialist autism specialist, or clinician. 

Cal Poly Special Education program provides California with dedicated teachers who are collaborative, competent, caring, and creative. Graduates of the programs are particularly well prepared to:

  1. Wear the many “hats” required of a special educator, e.g., teacher, collaborator, data taker, behavioral specialist, advocate
  2. Make the accommodations and/or modifications necessary in creating individualized learning plans;
  3. Create learning environments that are equitable, nurturing, and joyful;
  4. Collaborate with parents and school professionals in supporting children/youth with disabilities;
  5. Support children/youth in both school and home contexts
  6. Develop, implement, evaluate, and adjust Positive Behavioral Support plans

Cal Poly Special Education graduates are also highly successful in obtaining employment. In the most recent graduating class, 22 of 23 graduates were offered school district teaching contracts by August.

The MS/SPED at Cal Poly prepares candidates to earn a Preliminary Education Specialist Credential in mild/moderate disabilities while concurrently allowing them to probe more deeply regarding one mild/moderate disability such as autism. The majority of candidates enter the MS/SPED as post-baccalaureate students with a wide variety of majors ranging from Art and Business to Child Development and Psychology. Some candidates enter the program already having earned an elementary or secondary California teaching credential. These students have met many of the State mandated requirements (e.g., CSET) for entering or completing credential programs. More about this will be described under the “How to Apply Tab” of this website.

The MS/SPED is a cohort-based (all students progress through the program together taking courses in a prescribed sequence) program beginning each fall quarter. Cohorts are limited each year to 20 candidates. The M.A. in Education and an Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Credential can be earned in three quarters of full-time enrollment. There is, however, an option to complete the program in two years.

Candidates who complete the MS/SPED earn a Preliminary Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Teaching Credential that is English Language Learner Authorized and includes the Autism Spectrum Disorder Authorization. The Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Credential authorizes teaching in grades K-12. While many graduates choose to teach at the elementary level, holders may teach in middle and high schools as long as their assignment consists of teaching multiple subjects in a self-contained setting or in subject areas where they have satisfied subject matter competency. Specific information about California's teacher credentials can be found at the website for the California Commission for Teacher Certification (

Candidates who complete the MS/SPED also earn an M.S. in Special Education. The M.S. courses allow candidates to “go deeper in a disability area,” and understand how action research/single subject research can improve and enhance a teacher’s classroom performance.


  Special Education Coordinators

Dr. Leah Wood

Phone: 805-756-2079

Office: Building 02, Room 108

Dr. Stephen Crutchfield

Phone: 805-756-7558

Office: Building 02, Room 107


Credential Office Advising


Please email with questions.

Credential Office Advising Hours

Use Bookings* to schedule a virtual advising appointment.


*Alternate times are available by appointment; please email for additional times.

Credential Application Office hours
These office hours will be held on Zoom and are open to anyone who would like support with credential applications. Pop in and ask your questions without having to schedule an appointment. 

Thursday, March 21 & 28 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Cal State Apply Q&A Sessions

These sessions are designed for those with in-progress Cal State

Apply applications for the upcoming application cycle. This session

will not cover general program info but is only offered for current

applicants ready to hit submit on their application. 


Special Education Summer 2024 - Application deadline is April 1, 2024

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School of Education
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407