Preparing to Teach Elementary School

There are several types of credentials offered by the state of California that students can receive.  Students interested in teaching at the Elementary level will be obtaining a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  The Multiple Subject Teaching Credential authorizes the holder to teach in a “self-contained” classroom. The teacher instructs all subjects to the same students on a daily basis.

How long does it take?  A bachelor’s degree is between 120-124 units (typically 4-5 years to complete).  In addition, a Teaching Credential Program takes approximately 1-2 years to complete.

Multiple Subject Teaching Credential Requirements


A bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university.
CBEST:  Pass the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST).  This can be taken at any time, preferable as an undergraduate.  To obtain more information about the CBEST, log on to

Professional Teacher Preparation

Complete a multiple subject teacher preparation program, including student teaching.  The California college or university where the program was completed must recommend the teacher candidate for the credential.

Provision and Principles of the U.S. Constitution

Completion of a course in the provisions and principles of our Constitution (Political Science 100 at Cypress College), or passage of an examination in the subject.

Subject-Matter Competence

This can be met by passing the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET).  For more information on the CSET go to

Completion of the Developing English Language Skills

This includes reading requirements by successful completion of a comprehensive reading instruction course.

Pass the Reading Instruction Competency Assessment (RICA)

Cost:  $134.  For more information on the RICA go to

Character and Identification Clearance

You must submit the appropriate paperwork along with fingerprints to the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing. Students with a criminal record are strongly recommended to see the dean of the Social Sciences Division, H-238, (714) 484-7188, to find out more about this clearance.