Special Education Program Admission


Summer April 1st

Note: The Single Subject Credential Program only starts once per year in the summer term. Bachelor’s degrees must be conferred prior to the program start in July.

The FAFSA application deadline for all program starts is June 30th. For more information about the FAFSA and Financial Aid, please reach out to the Cal Poly Financial Aid office at financialaid@calpoly.edu. 


1. Bachelor’s degree

Must be in progress or completed from a regionally accredited institution. Must have a bachelor’s degree conferred prior to the program start.

2. GPA

Cumulative higher education grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 for the last 90 quarter units (or 60 semester units) OR have a Higher Education cumulative GPA of 2.67.

If below the required GPA for both categories, contact the Credential Office as soon as possible.

3. Prerequisite Coursework

See approved coursework below.

4. Verification of Subject Matter Competency

Candidates are only required to utilize one of the following options to meet the Subject Matter Competency Requirement. 


Bachelor's Degree or Higher

AB 130 expanded the available options to allow candidates to meet the Subject Matter Requirement through successful completion of an academic major in the subject they will teach. Utilize the table below to determine eligibility.

Special Education Approved Degrees
- Any of the approved degrees for the Multiple or Single Subject Credential - SEE BELOW
Multiple Subject Approved degrees
-Liberal Studies
-Liberal Arts
-Elementary Education
- Interdisciplinary major that includes coursework in the content areas identified in subdivision (b) of California Education Code section 44282. Interdisciplinary majors will require an evaluation.
Single Subject Approved Degrees
-Agriculture -Art -Business


-English -Health Science -Home Economics -Industrial & Tech Education
-Mathematics (including Statistics) -Music -Phys. Education -Science (including Biology, Chemistry, Geoscience or Earth and Space Science, and Physics)
-Social Science -Theater -World Languages  

Additions added June 30, 2023, in Program Sponsor Alert 24-03:

  1. For the single subject area World Language: English Language Development, an academic degree major in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

  2. For the single subject area of Home Economics, an academic degree major in family and consumer science.

  3. For the single subject area of Mathematics, an academic degree major in statistics.

  4. For the single subject area of Science: Biological Science, an academic degree major in biology, biological engineering, or biochemistry. PROGRAM SPONSOR ALERT 23-04: Approval of Regulations Regarding Demonstration of Subject Matter Competence Page 3

  5. For the single subject area of Science: Chemistry, an academic degree major in chemical engineering or biochemistry.

  6. For the single subject area of Science: Geoscience, an academic degree major in geology or earth science.

  7. For the single subject area of Science: Physics, an academic degree major in mechanical or structural engineering.

  8. For the single subject area of Science: Foundational-Level Science, an academic degree major in any type of engineering or any degree major offered by a college or university science department.

Please email soe@calpoly.edu if you would like additional clarification of approved degrees.


AB 130 allows candidates to use qualifying coursework to meet the domains of the CSET subtests. Candidates can determine if they are eligible for this option by requesting a SMC Evaluation.

  • Candidates are only eligible to request Cal Poly SMC Evaluations if they are affiliated with Cal Poly, including candidates who: 

    • Completed an undergraduate degree at Cal Poly and are applying to enroll in an Educator Preparation Program at Cal Poly* OR,

    • Completed an undergraduate degree at another institution and are applying to enroll in an Educator Preparation Program at Cal Poly 

  • Cal Poly SMC Evaluations can be requested by emailing the SOE Credential Office at soe@calpoly.edu

*We are unable to accept requests from Cal Poly undergrads who are not attending a Cal Poly credential program. 

CSET Exams

Successful passing of all the CSET subtests specific to your credential objective. Special Education candidates can decide which CSET content subtests they would like to use however the Multiple Subject CSET is recommended.

COntent area cset subtests
Agriculture Agriculture Subtests I (172), II (173) & III (174)

Science: Life Science Subtests I (215) & II (217)

(prior to 8/6/17 I (118), II (119) & III (120))


Science: Chemistry Subtests I (215) & II (218)

(prior to 8/6/17 I (118),

II (119) & III (121)

English English Subtests I (105), II (106), III (107) & IV (108)

Science: Earth & Space Sciences Subtests I (215) & II (219)

(prior to 8/6/17 I (118), II (119) & III (122)

Mathematics Mathematics Subtests I (211), II (212) & III (213)
Multiple Subject Multiple Subject Subtests I (101), II (214) & III (103)

Science: Physics Subtests I (215) & II (220)

(prior to 8/6/17 I (118), II (119) & III (123))

Social Science Social Science Subtests I (114), II (115) & III (116)
Spanish Spanish Subtests I (145), II (146) & III (147)

Visit our Subject Matter & Basic Skills Resources page for test prep suggestions!

Exams + Coursework

This option allows for some subtests to be met by coursework and some to be met by passing the CSET. For example, a candidate may meet Multiple Subjects CSET Subtest I with qualifying coursework, and meet Subtests II & III by passing the exams. Candidates should start by requesting a SMC Evaluation of their coursework to determine which subtests they meet with coursework. The Credential Office will then provide them with instructions on which subtests the candidate needs to take.

  • Candidates are only eligible to request Cal Poly SMC Evaluations if they are affiliated with Cal Poly, including candidates who: 

    • Completed an undergraduate degree at Cal Poly and are applying to enroll in an Educator Preparation Program at Cal Poly* OR,

    • Completed an undergraduate degree at another institution and are applying to enroll in an Educator Preparation Program at Cal Poly 

  • Cal Poly SMC Evaluations can be requested by emailing the SOE Credential Office at soe@calpoly.edu.

*We are unable to accept requests from Cal Poly undergrads who are not attending a Cal Poly credential program. 

Subject Matter Preparation Program

Completion of a subject matter program approved by the commission.

Single subject content area Cal Poly Prep program offered?
Agriculture Yes - Agriculture
English Yes - English
Mathematics Yes - Mathematics
Music (Credential Not Offered @ Cal Poly) Yes - Music
Science No
Social Science Yes - Social Science
Spanish No 


We recommend reaching out to the Credential Advisors for support in determining how you will meet Subject Matter Competence. 


Credential Office Advising

Please email soe@calpoly.edu 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.

5. Basic Skills Requirement

A candidate’s bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education will serve as demonstration of basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.


6. Certificate of Clearance (CoC)

Complete the two-step process* including LiveScan fingerprinting and COC application on the CTC website and ensure issuance of a Certificate of Clearance.

COC Instruction Sheet & LiveScan Form

7. Verification of Tuberculosis Clearance for Clinical Practice Placement



For application assistance and clarification, attend a Multiple Subject Information Meeting.

1. Complete the SPED Program Application

Complete the application in its entirety ensuring all requirements are fulfilled, all required signatures are present, and necessary attachments are gathered. Download the application and save it to your computer before completing it.

2. Submit a graduate application

Cal State Apply by the deadline (or preferably before) to be considered for the Integrated M.S. in Special Education / Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Credential Program (MS/SPED). Visit the Cal State Apply Help Center for more information. Please note there is a $70 application fee for Cal State Apply. 

3. Upload the following requirements (within Cal State Apply)

  • SPED Program Application and necessary attachments.
  • CV/Resume
  • Letter of introduction/personal statement - A brief letter of introduction expressing your interest in applying to the MA/SPED. Please include your contact information at the conclusion of this letter.
  • Issuance of Certificate of Clearance
  • Evidence of Subject Matter Competency - Registration for the Multiple Subject CSET examination (all three subtests); if you have passed one or more subtests, please submit a copy of the results! See the Program Prerequisites page for more details on fulfilling this requirement. 
  • Evidence of passing Basic Skills Requirement (BSR) See the Program Prerequisites page for more details on fulfilling this requirement. 
  • Name and email of 3 individuals to submit a letter of recommendation

4. Send official transcripts to the Cal Poly Admissions Office

Transcripts must be sent directly from the degree-granting institution by the Cal State Apply deadline.

  • Instructions on how to submit your official transcripts
  • Cal Poly bachelor's degree holders do not need to provide these transcripts
  • Transcripts verifying Community College and/or Graduate-level coursework should also be sent to Cal Poly Admissions




Program 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.


Thursdays in March (6, 13, 20, & 27) 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Program Application 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. 


Special Education Summer 2025 - Application deadline is April 1, 2025


Successful completion (grade of "C" or better) of the following courses is required for admission into the SPED program:

EDUC 427 

Theories, Methods, and Assessments of 1st and 2nd Language Acquisition in Schools

EDUC 427 (4 units) Theories, methods, materials and assessment involved in the instruction of emergent bilingual students. Bilingual, transitional, and English only programs compared across a historical framework. Emphasis on an integrated language arts approach; theories of language acquisition. 3 seminars, 1 activity. Participation in public schools requires mandated fingerprint clearance.

EDUC 440 

Educating Individuals with Exceptional Needs

EDUC 440 (4 units) Characteristics, incidence, and etiology of individuals with exceptional needs. Problems, assessment, and approaches toward accommodating students with exceptional needs in the regular classroom. 3 seminars, 1 activity.

HLTH 250 

Healthy Living

HLTH 250 (4 units) Personal health with emphasis on healthful behavioral practices including physical fitness, nutrition, psychosocial well-being, alcohol and other drugs, intentional and unintentional injury, reproductive health, infectious and non-infectious diseases. Not open to students with credit in HLTH/KINE 255. Course may be offered in classroom-based or online format. 4 lectures. Fulfills GE Area E (GE Area D4 for students on the 2017-19 or earlier catalogs).

Transfer Coursework

Transfer coursework can be reviewed for approval as substitutions for the above prerequisite courses by completing the steps below. *

Provide the following supporting documents via email to soe@calpoly.edu:

  1. An unofficial transcript** highlighting the course to be substituted; AND
  2. A copy of the course catalog description from the college you attended; AND
  3. A copy of your course syllabus

* Course substitutions are not guaranteed and requests can be denied if the transfer coursework does not meet the necessary requirements.

** For credential program courses, we will only consider substitutions if you received a grade of “C” or better.


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