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Preliminary Special Education, Mild/Moderate Credential, How to Apply

Learn how to apply to the Preliminary Special Education, Mild Moderate Credential Program.

Note: Apply to this program if you do not yet hold any credential in Special Education and you want to work with mild/ moderate special needs children from age 5 through 22.

Important Dates for Fall 2020

Item Due Date
1. Cal State Apply application
(opens October 1 each year)
February 1, 2020
2. Transcripts due  April 1, 2020


Steps to Apply

Follow the steps below to apply to the Preliminary Special Education Mild/ Moderate Credential Program:

  • You must first apply to the California State University via Cal State Apply for the program you are interested in.
  • Then, request official transcripts.

1. Cal State Apply

For assistance, see Tips on Completing the Cal State Apply University Application

Go to Cal State Apply (CSU application)-- Apply Now

Photo of young woman with an open book sitting outdoors on a campus talking on cell phone with the words Cal State Apply.


Items Needed to Complete the Cal State Apply Application

Please gather the items below and have them ready to upload to the Cal State Apply application in the Program Materials box/quadrant:

You must hold a Bachelor’s degree or be finishing a Bachelor’s degree program to apply to the credential program.  More information

Please have your official transcripts sent to SDSU after you submit your Cal State Apply application.  If you send them in before you submit the application, they will take longer to process.

In addition to official Bachelor's Degree transcripts, please download unofficial transcripts (or scan a paper transcript) for the main institution where your degree was earned and be prepared to upload it to the Program Materials section of Cal State Apply. This is in addition to, not a substitution for, having official transcripts sent to SDSU Graduate Admissions office. All applicants, including SDSU undergraduates, must submit unofficial transcripts for faculty to review.

All credential candidates must have completed (or be in the process of completing) a bachelor’s degree program. 

The SDSU Credential Programs require one of the following:

  • 2.67 GPA Cumulative Overall
  • 2.75 GPA in your last 60 semester/90 quarter units

If you do not meet these criteria, click here for more information

There are several ways to meet the Basic Skills requirement for the credential program at SDSU.  The most common way is passing the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST).


Please plan to take the exams early.  We are requesting passing scores for CBEST by March 1, 2020 for Fall 2020 applications.  If you are applying close to the deadline, please take the exam as soon as possible.

Use this link for other ways to complete this requirement

Most Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe SPED credential applicants complete the Multiple Subject CSET exam to prove subject matter competency.  This allows you to work with special needs children in all the subject areas.


If you take the Single Subject CSET (in Math or Social Science…) you would only be able to work with special needs children in that subject area.

Use this link for more information about this exam

These courses must be completed with a C or better prior to starting the credential program.  They can be completed the summer right before the credential program starts.

  •  SPED 450: Classroom Adaptations for Special Populations (3 units)
    (Note: if you have previously taken SPED 500, that will be accepted in lieu of SPED 450)
  • SPED 501: Typical & Atypical Learning Processes (3 units)
  • SPED 502: Field Experiences in General and Special Education (1 unit)
  • SPED 527: SPED in a Pluralistic Society (3 units)
  • DLE 915A: Teaching and Learning in the Content Area: ELD/SDAIE ( 3 units)
Candidates must verify their personal and professional fitness for service in public schools through a state and federal review (basically a background check).  This clearance is granted through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).


Candidates must be granted either a Certificate of Clearance or an Emergency 30-day Substitute Teaching Permit prior to start of the Teacher Credential Program

Use this link for more information on how to obtain these clearances

Verification of a negative TB test (verification of no presence or active case of TB through PPD or Mantoux test), must be valid and on file throughout the credential program.

  • TB tests are valid for 4 years and can be taken at SDSU Student Health Services(for students currently enrolled at SDSU) or through any public health clinic, HMO, or private physician.
  • If you receive a positive skin test, then you will need to provide proof that your TB is not active by a doctor’s note or x-ray results.
  • You will need to upload proof of negative TB test to the Cal State Apply application.
A $25 application fee is required to process your credential program application.

If you are a current/former SDSU student and have a Red ID:

You must pay this fee through the SDSU WebPortal.

  1. Log into SDSU WebPortal.
  2. Select Student Account Services.
  3. Select Make Payment(in the top red menu bar).
  4. Select College of Education Fee Menu.
  5. Select Credential Application Fee.
  6. Click on Add to Basketbutton to proceed with checkout and payment.


If you are a new applicant and do not yet have an SDSU Red ID:

To be able to log into the WebPortal you must first complete and submit the Cal State Apply application  by uploading a document that states, "I will pay this fee as soon as I am able to".  

Within a couple days of submitting your Cal State Apply application, you should receive an email from SDSU Graduate Admissions with your Red ID (SDSU identification number) and directions on how to log into WebPortal. You can then follow the directions above and email the receipt to [email protected]

If you are applying close to the deadline, please submit your Cal State Apply application by uploading a document that states, "I will pay this fee as soon as I am able to".  Once you are assigned a red ID, please follow the directions above and email the receipt to [email protected]

For your application to move forward in processing and faculty evaluation, this fee MUST be paid by March 15, 2020

Please respond to the following prompt - "Please write a brief (500-word maximum) statement addressing your background and experiences that have contributed to your desire to be a special education teacher as well as the personal and professional factors that you consider to be most important if one is to become an effective and caring special educator."
Identify at least 2 people to serve as references.

In the recommendation section of your application, you will be prompted to provide the name and e-mail address of the references. The application system will e-mail your references and request that they submit a recommendation on your behalf.

It is the applicants' responsibility to follow up with each reference to be sure that the letters are submitted in a timely manner.  Letters should be submitted by the application deadline, so please make your requests early to allow time for your recommenders to complete this for you.

Use this link to learn more about the letters of recommendation

Important Information about Credential requirements:

  • These items need to be completed prior to admission to SDSU's Credential program. Some items can be in progress when you are applying (like pre-reqs and your degree), but all exams and the Clearance MUST be complete BEFORE admission.
  • Please maintain all your original documents as you may need to submit these again to Districts for student teaching and/or employment.


2. Request official transcripts

Request that your official transcripts be sent to SDSU, following instructions on our Submit Test Scores and Transcripts page.

Exit requirements

Please be aware that there are additional exit requirements which you must fulfill to earn your credential.  These must be completed by the time you finish the credential program.