Preparing to Teach Middle School, High School, or College

There are several types of credentials offered by the state of California that students can receive. Students interested in teaching at the Middle School or High School level will earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential. A single subject teaching credential authorizes the holder to reach a particular subject, such as English or Math.

Students interested in teaching at the college level need to get a degree in the subject they wish to teach. Generally speaking, a student will need a Masters degree or higher to teach at the community college level, and a PhD, to teach at the University. A single subject teaching credential is not necessary to teach at the college level.

Time to Completion: 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.

Single Subject Credential Requirements


Earn a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a regionally accredited university or college.


Pass the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST). This can be taken at any time, preferable as an undergraduate. To obtain more, check out the CBEST website.

Professional Teacher Preparation

Complete a professional preparation program in secondary education, including an internship of successful 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 achieving a passing score on the California Subject for Teachers (CSET) for the appropriate single subject area. Cost for the CSET is $70 per test. To obtain more information, visit the CSET website.

Completion of the Developing English Language Skills

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

Passing the Reading Instruction Competency Assessment (RICA)

The cost is $130. For more information, visit the RICA website.

Character and Identification Clearance

You must submit the appropriate paperwork along with fingerprints to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. You may visit the California Commissions on Teaching website for more information. Students with a criminal record are strongly recommended to see the Teacher Preparation Director to find out more about this clearance.

College Major for Teaching

Under new federal legislation known as No Child Left Behind, teachers new to the profession must have an undergraduate major or equivalent in the subject taught. For example, students who want to teach Math should major in Mathematics. The CSET exam may be passed in lieu of majoring in the subject taught.