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California Master’s Degree in Education: Preliminary Education Specialist

This on-campus, master’s degree program enables students to reach the next level in their professional journey by combining advanced study in education theory and practice with academic requirement for California State Teaching Credentials.

 Available Online

1 1/2 years full time or 2 1/2 years part time

43 units required for completion

Combines classroom learning with fieldwork in over 25 schools

M.A. Education: Preliminary Education Specialist Credential

The M.A. Education: Preliminary Education Specialist Credential builds on the foundation of the bachelor’s degree students bring with them as well as their professional experience. Students in this master’s program develop a sophisticated understanding of the social, political, and cultural contexts of child and human development, preparing them to be advocates for democracy, diversity and inclusion in education at the school, district and state level.

Students who complete this education specialist credential program are qualified to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings and to adults through age 22.

Sample Courses

Advanced Assistive Technology and Real World Application

This course addresses a variety of subtopics, including current legislation, funding, assessment, resources and curriculum related to assistive technology (AT) and transition to adulthood. Candidates will learn about advancements in technologies and services that can support a person with a disability to reach individual academic, employment and daily living goals. Candidates will develop skills in administering assistive technology and vocational assessments, and will develop appropriate goals and lessons for student success in school-related or post-secondary tasks. Emphasis will be on working with students who have learning, cognitive, communication and sensory disabilities that cause difficulties in academics, memory, organization, communication, self-help, movement, hearing and vision.

Advanced Language and Literacy in a Diverse Classroom

This semester three-unit course focuses on the historical, theoretical, and practical aspects of teaching reading, writing, speaking, and listening to K to 12th grade students in a diverse classroom that consists on a full range of learners. Emphasis is on incorporating state Frameworks and Standards into both general and special education programs that also draws on children’s real-life experiences and knowledge about language. In a language environment that parallels that of a dynamic elementary school classroom, candidates will explore reading and language arts through readings, discussions, activities, observations, and reflection. The unique needs of English language learners and students with special needs will be addressed through learning how to organize and manage differentiated reading instruction. Key topics include the reading process, phonemic awareness and phonics, elements of a balanced reading program including guided reading and the writing process, lesson planning, inclusion, student assessments, children’s literature, enrichment versus deficit models of schooling, and analysis of classroom discourse. Candidates will become skillful at implementing curriculum, instruction, assessment, and management strategies that relate to integrating reading and language arts across the content areas. 45 hours total: 30 hours of seat time and 15 hours online instruction through Canvas.

Other M.A. Education Credentials



The California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential qualifies candidates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings. This credential is a two-tiered process. Information on completing the second level is available through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Admission Requirements

  • Completed Application for Admission
  • Application Fee
  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Official Transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Official CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) scores*

*Passing the CBEST exam is an admissions expectation. However, applicants in the M.A. Education with Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, M.A. Education with Preliminary Education Specialist Credential, Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, or Preliminary Education Specialist Credential programs will be granted admission for 1 semester or 2 sessions if they have scheduled their CBEST exam at the time of application. Students without passing CBEST scores at the time of admission must participate in the CBEST workshop and support programs provided by the College. These students must pass the CBEST exam within 1 semester or 2 sessions to be allowed to progress in the program. Students who fail to pass the CBEST within this timeframe will be given the opportunity to change to the M.A. Human Development program, but must meet all admissions requirements for that program. Students who do not wish to change programs will be withdrawn. Students must request results of the exam be sent to Pacific Oaks College. The CBEST exam can be taken multiple times by the student, with a 45-day waiting period after each exam.

Fieldwork Requirements

  • Consists of observation and practicum as well as student teaching which is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Students may be able to complete a portion of their fieldwork at their current place of employment, upon approval.
  • Requires three units of practicum, including observation in various age groups, abilities and diversities
  • Requires ten units of directed teaching

This education degree is ONLY available in an online format for California students.