M.A. Education, Preliminary Education Specialist Credential

Program Description

Students in the M.A. Education program who complete the Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential are qualified to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings and adults through age 22. Our Master of Arts in Education prepares students to take the next step in their professional journey by combining advanced study in Education theory and practice with the academic requirements for California State Teaching Credentials. The program is designed to build on the foundation that students bring with them to the classroom and to enhance the knowledge and skills they have acquired at the undergraduate level and/or through their prior professional experience.

In keeping with Pacific Oaks College's emphasis on experiential learning, coursework for the joint degree/credential program combines both classroom learning and fieldwork at more than 25 local public schools, enabling students to draw powerful connections between theory and practice. Students are prepared to be advocates for diversity and inclusion in education. They develop a sophisticated understanding of the social, political, and cultural contexts of child and human development, preparing them to be effective advocates for democracy in education at the school, district, and state level.   

  • May be completed in as little as two and a half years.
  • Students pursuing the on-ground course of study may also have the opportunity to enroll in online courses.

FAQ'S for Teacher Credentialing Accreditation



Total Credits



The California Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential (mild to moderate disabilities) qualifies candidates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings and adults through age 22. This credential is a two-tiered process; information on completing the second level is available through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing [linked].

Fieldwork Requirements

The program requires three (3) units of practicum; and six (6) units of directed teaching (supervised practicum)


Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

Sample Courses

Advanced Studies in Working with Children in a Diverse World

Students will evaluate developmental needs of children and the different assumptions which underlie developmental and constructivist approaches to working with children. Students will investigate and critique the uses of interpersonal power in settings where adults and children encounter each other, observe children in a variety of contexts, and create effective facilitative strategies for teaching, parenting, and social and educational change. Emphasis will be on valuing diversity and respecting the individual; active experiential learning; synthesis of theory and practice; and the impact of social contexts on oneself and others. 

The Child with Special Needs: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

This course is designed to explore the context of culture and anti-bias issues related to educating children and adolescents with special needs in both inclusive and more restrictive settings. For purposes of enhancing the teacher's effectiveness in the classroom, the following areas will be addressed: 1. Knowledge of, and sensitivity toward, people with disabilities 2. Knowledge of federal/state mandates for educating students with disabilities; 3. Identification and screening of a child with special needs; 4. Involvement of parents in the process of meeting student needs; 5. Collaboration with other professionals to identify appropriate interventions; 6. Application of methods used to modify the curriculum and accommodate various learning styles; and 7. Accessing educational and community resources such as assistive technology, career and vocational education. 

Pedagogical, Social, and Cultural Implications

This third course is designed as both a scholarly and reflective opportunity where candidates ground their ethnography within a theoretical framework. The course helps students access the larger social and political context of schooling by analyzing issues such as society's perception of schools; the racial, economic, and linguistic pressures placed on parents and their children; and the policies and trends that impact learning. The candidates synthesize their experiences within schools and write about how they will work to create equitable learning environments in the future. Section IV of the ethnography project helps candidates synthesize previous readings by analyzing, supporting and discussing their data. 

POC:Pasadena, CAPOC:Online