California has a two-tier credential structure. A preliminary credential is the first document issued after an individual meets basic credential requirements. The preliminary credential is issued for a maximum of five years. A clear credential is issued when all credential requirements have been completed. If requirements for the clear credential are not completed before the expiration of the preliminary, the holder will be unable to teach in California’s public schools with that credential until those requirements are met and the document is renewed.

A Single Subject Teaching Credential authorizes the holder to teach the specific subject(s) named on the credential in departmentalized classes such as those in middle and high schools. However, a teacher authorized for single subject instruction may be assigned to teach any subject in his or her authorized subject(s) at any grade level:
preschool, grades K–12, or in classes organized primarily for adults. The statutory subjects available for California Single Subject Teaching Credentials are as follows:

 

Agriculture
Art
Biological Sciences (Specialized) [1]
Business
Chemistry (Specialized) [1]
Dance
English
Foundational-Level General Science
Foundational-Level Mathematics
Geosciences (Specialized) [1]
Health Science
Home Economics
Industrial and Technology Education

 

Mathematics
Music
Physical Education
Physics (Specialized) [1]
Science: Biological Sciences
Science: Chemistry
Science: Geosciences
Science: Physics
Social Science
Theater
World Language: English Language Development
World Languages-Languages other than English (specify)

Note [1]: The last administration of the examinations in the Specialized Sciences was July 11, 2015. Applicants will have five years during which to use passing examination scores toward obtaining California certification. The last date to verify subject-matter equivalency by coursework for any of the Specialized Sciences was July 11, 2015. See Coded Correspondence 14-09.

Individuals Prepared Outside of the United States

Individuals who have completed their teacher preparation program outside of the United States and do not hold a comparable teaching credential issued by a US state other than California should refer to Commission leaflet CL-870, entitled Single Subject Teaching Credential – Requirements for Individuals Prepared Outside of the United States.

Your Application Packet

To qualify for the Single Subject Teaching Credential, individuals may determine from the routes listed which one best applies to their circumstances. Individuals who have completed their professional preparation program outside of California may apply directly to the Commission for their initial credential by submitting an application packet by mail consisting of all of the following:

  1. Completed application (Form 41-4), and, if not previously submitted to the Commission, a completed Live Scan receipt (Form 41-LS). Out-of-state residents must submit two fingerprint cards (FD-258) in lieu of a Live Scan receipt. If submitting fingerprint cards, current fingerprint processing fees must accompany the application packet in addition to the application processing fee. Fingerprint cards may be ordered by sending an email to Fingerprints@ctc.ca.gov.
  2. Application processing fee.
  3. Official transcripts, letters of experience, verification of completion of the basic skills requirement (if applicable), photocopies of out-of-state credentials, and performance evaluations as applicable to the route used to earn the credential.

ROUTE 1 – Less than Two Years of Out-of-State Teaching Experience

Requirements for the Five-Year Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential

Individuals prepared outside of California who have less than two years of out-of-state full-time teaching experience (see Terms and Definitions) may qualify for a California teaching credential by documenting all of the following in their application packet:

  1. Baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally-accredited college or university.
  2. Basic Skills Requirement. Individuals may be issued a preliminary credential prior to satisfying the basic skills requirement but must meet the requirement within one year of their credential issue date. See Commission leaflet CL-667, entitled Basic Skills Requirement for additional information on acceptable scores and submitting score reports.
  3. Comparable teaching credential (see Closely Related Single Subjects in Terms and Definitions) earned in a state or U.S. Territory other than California based upon completion of a professional preparation program (or alternative program) in secondary education, including student teaching, taken at a regionally-accredited institution
    1. The credential does not have to be valid at the time of application.
    2. A photocopy of the out-of-state credential is acceptable verification of this requirement (front and back as applicable).
    3. The subject area listed on the out-of-state credential authorization must correspond to a California subject area.
    4. If the credential is in a subject area that does not correspond with an area that may be listed on a California single subject credential (see subject list above), the candidate must have completed 32 semester units of course work in the California subject area.
    5. If the subject matter course work has not been completed, a preliminary credential will be issued but the applicant will be required to meet California subject-matter requirements (see Terms and Definitions) before the clear credential will be issued.

Requirements for the Clear Single Subject Teaching Credential for Route 1

Individuals who qualify for the preliminary credential via Route 1 must complete all of the following to qualify for the clear credential:

  1. Meet subject-matter competence, if not met with the issuance of the preliminary, as explained in Number 3 above (see Terms and Definitions).
  2. Complete a Commission-approved Teacher Induction Program (See Terms and Definitions).
  3. Earn an authorization to teach English learners by one of the following methods:
    1. Obtain an English learner authorization issued by the Commission authorizing service in English Language Development (ELD) and Specially Designed Academic Instruction delivered in English (SDAIE). See Credential Leaflet CL-628C for more information.
    2. Submit a copy of an out-of-state credential verifying a full English learner authorization.

Candidates completing a Teacher Induction program will have their applications for the clear credential submitted online by the program sponsor.

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ROUTE 2 – Two or More Years of Out-of-State Teaching Experience

Requirements for the Five-Year Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential

Individuals prepared outside of California who verify two or more years of out-of-state full-time teaching experience (see Terms and Definitions) may qualify for a California teaching credential by documenting all of the following in their application packet:

  1. Baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally-accredited college or university.
  2. Basic Skills Requirement. Individuals may be issued a preliminary credential prior to satisfying the basic skills requirement but must meet the requirement within one year of their credential issue date. See Commission leaflet CL-667 entitled Basic Skills Requirement for additional information on acceptable scores and submitting score reports.
  3. Comparable teaching credential (see Closely Related Single Subjects in Terms and Definitions) earned in a state or U.S. Territory other than California based upon completion of a professional preparation program (or alternative program) in secondary education, including student teaching, taken at a regionally accredited institution.
    1. The credential does not have to be valid at the time of application.
    2. A photocopy of the out-of-state credential is acceptable verification of this requirement (front and back as applicable).
    3. The subject area listed on the out-of-state credential authorization must correspond to a California single subject area.
    4. If the credential is in a subject area that does not correspond with an area that may be listed on a California single subject credential (see subject list above), the candidate may satisfy this requirement with completion of 32 semester units of course work in the California subject area.
    5. If the subject matter course work has not been completed, a preliminary credential will be issued but the applicant will be required to meet California subject-matter requirements (see Terms and Definitions) before the clear credential will be issued.
  4. Letter from the out-of-state employer verifying at least two years of out-of-state full-time teaching experience accompanied by two satisfactory performance evaluations (see Terms and Definitions).

Requirements for the Clear Single Subject Teaching Credential for Route 2

Individuals who qualify for the preliminary credential via Route 2 may apply directly to the Commission for a clear teaching credential by submitting an application packet by mail (Form 41-4), including current processing fees, with documentation of all of the following (in addition to all the requirements for the preliminary credential):

  1. Meet subject-matter competence, if not met with the issuance of the preliminary (see Terms and Definitions).
  2. Earn an authorization to teach English learners by one of the following methods:
    1. Obtain an English learner authorization issued by the Commission authorizing service in English Language Development (ELD) and Specially Designed Academic Instruction delivered in English (SDAIE). See Credential Leaflet CL-628C for more information.
    2. Submit a copy of an out-of-state credential verifying a full English learner authorization.

If all requirements for both the preliminary and the clear credential are met with the initial application, the individual will be issued the clear credential and not the preliminary.

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Route 3 - National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification

Teachers who are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) will be issued a Clear Single Subject Teaching Credential in the subject area in which they have received national certification (see Table 1). Individuals applying for their initial California credential under this route are exempt from the basic
skills requirement and all other credential requirements except fingerprint clearance. 

Individuals applying under this option may apply directly to the Commission for a clear teaching credential by submitting an application by mail that includes all of the following:

  1. Photocopy of National Board Certification.
  2. Copy of a professional level credential from a state other than California (the credential does not have to be in the subject area of National Board Certification).
  3. Completed application (form 41-4), and, if not previously submitted to the Commission, a completed Live Scan receipt (form 41-LS). Out-of-state residents must submit two fingerprint cards (FD-258) in lieu of a Live Scan receipt. If submitting fingerprint cards, the current fingerprint processing fee must accompany the application packet. Fingerprint cards may be ordered by sending an email to Fingerprints@ctc.ca.gov.
  4. Application processing fee.

Teachers who are certified by the NBPTS after receiving their California Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential will be issued a Clear Single Subject Teaching Credential in the subject area in which they have received national certification (National Board Certification must be in the subject area listed on the preliminary credential— see Table 1).

In addition, individuals may earn an additional credential or add a content subject area to a general education teaching credential based on National Board Certification. This is an option for individuals who earned their original Multiple or Single Subject Credentials, or equivalent previously issued general education teaching credentials, based on completion of a California, out-of-state, or outside the United States preparation program. See Credential Leaflet CL-621A for additional details.

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Out-of-State Dual Certified Teachers

Out-of-state prepared individuals who have earned a Clear California Education Specialist Credential and also earned professional level certification from another state in a general education single subject area may apply for the Clear Single Subject Teaching Credential without first obtaining a preliminary credential, provided they have met the California English learner requirement. If the out-of-state-prepared educator holds a California Preliminary or Level I Education Specialist Credential and a comparable out-of-state general education teaching credential in a single subject area and meets all other requirements, the Commission will issue a Preliminary Single Subject Credential.

If the individual has not completed the English learner requirement, the Commission will issue a preliminary general education teaching credential and the individual will need to complete the English learner requirement to earn the clear credential. See Credential Leaflet CL-628C for more information.

Transition Renewal Options for Out-of-State Prepared Teachers Issued a Single Subject Teaching Credential Prior to January 1, 2007

Individuals who were issued a Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential prior to January 1, 2007 on the basis of completion of an out-of-state teacher preparation program may use the transition option under Senate Bill 1209 to the current clear credential requirements. See Coded Correspondence 17-06 and Coded Correspondence 06-0027 for more information.

Private School Experience

Individuals who do not hold an out-of-state credential but have three or more years teaching experience in a regionally-accredited private school should refer to the information leaflet entitled Single Subject and Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials – Requirements for Teachers with Private School Experience (CL-834) for information on additional options to qualify for the credential.

Terms and Definitions

Closely Related Single Subjects: Applicants applying under Route 1 or Route 2 must have an out-of-state credential in either the single subject content area sought or in a closely related subject acceptable to the Commission. An individual issued a professional level teaching credential by another state or U.S. territory with a middle school or departmentalized classroom teaching authorization that is not comparable and that does not list a comparable authorization may verify subject matter competence for the Single Subject Credential with a degree major or 32 semester units (or the equivalent in quarter units).

The academic majors for single subject credentials include the following:

Agriculture: agribusiness, animal science, agriculture mechanics, agriculture science, forestry, plant science, landscaping, crop science, dairy science, natural resources management, horticulture, or soil science.

Art: art history, art appreciation or studio art.

Business: accounting, business management, economics (business), business administration, finance, or marketing.

Dance: composition and production, folk/traditional, hip hop, ballet, modern, jazz, world.

English: composition, drama, journalism, speech, theatre arts, debate, forensics, or literature.

Health Science: child development, foods, nutrition, health science, human sexuality, or public health.

Home Economics: child development, foods, nutrition, interior design, or clothing.

Industrial and Technology Education: photography, radio and television, industrial technology, computer education/science, or industrial design.

Mathematics: algebra, calculus, statistics, probability, or mathematics.

Music: instrumental or vocal music.

Physical Education: dance, kinesiology or physical education.

Science: Biological Sciences: biology, marine biology, anatomy, ecology, environmental science, genetics, zoology, physiology, life science, or botany.

Science: Chemistry: chemistry or biochemistry.

Science: Geoscience: astronomy, earth science, ecology, oceanography, meteorology, or geology.

Science: Physics: physics or thermodynamics.

Social Science: anthropology, economics (social science), psychology, sociology, geography, government, political science, or history .

Theater: acting, directing, performance and production, improvisation, musical theater, playwriting, stagecraft, make-up and costume design.

World Language: English Language Development.

World Languages: French, German, Spanish, or any language other than English, including American Sign Language.

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Commission-approved Teacher Induction Program:

A two year, job embedded program of mentoring, support and learning based in the California Standards for the Teaching Profession for the beginning teacher. A Verification of Induction Program Completion Form must be signed by the induction program director or designee. Individuals should contact their employing agency concerning enrollment in an induction program.

Full-time Teaching Experience:

Teaching experience must be verified by an original letter on official letterhead of the district or districts where the teacher was employed, signed by the superintendent, assistant superintendent, or director of personnel or human resources (not the local school principal). The letter must explicitly state the service performed was on a full-time basis and indicate all of the following:

  • Experience must be full-time teaching; no part-time or a combination of teaching and other school employment will be accepted. Full-time teaching is defined as a minimum of 4 hours per day for at least 75% of a school year. Beginning and ending dates of service should be clearly indicated.
  • All experience must be gained in regionally-accredited schools outside California. Teaching experience gained in California is not acceptable.
  • Teaching experience does not need to correspond with the type of certification requested and may be a combination of general education and special education.
  • Day-to-day substitute, Adult education, and Vocational/Career Technical education experience is not acceptable.

Satisfactory Performance Evaluations:

Originals or photocopies of the teacher’s performance evaluations for at least two years of teaching on which ratings of ‘satisfactory’ or better were received must be submitted by individuals applying via Route 2. The evaluations must be from the period of full-time service verified by the out-of-state employer. Applicants must submit summative teacher evaluations (as are generally done at end of year for purposes of continued employment or establishing tenure). Classroom visits/observations or pre-observations, plans for professional growth, self-assessments, self-reflections, or personal reviews do not meet the criteria for performance evaluations and will not be accepted.

Individuals who were not evaluated or who cannot obtain photocopies of their evaluations may provide a supplemental evaluation letter(s) signed by their out-of-state principal or superintendent in lieu of actual performance evaluations. The supplemental letter must cover two separate years of full-time teaching and verify that the individual’s performance in at least the four following areas was “satisfactory” or better:

  1. The use of teaching strategies that motivates all students to engage in the learning process.
  2. The ability to establish and maintain high standards for student behavior.
  3. A demonstration of deep knowledge of the subject being taught and the use of appropriate instructional strategies that promote student understanding.
  4. An ability to plan and implement a sequence of appropriate instructional activities.

Each evaluation or performance letter must be completed, dated and signed by the appropriate school or school district administrator.

Subject-Matter Competence:

Subject matter competence for the Single Subject Teaching Credential may be verified with possession of a professional level teaching credential issued by another state or U.S. territory with a departmentalized classroom teaching authorization that is comparable to a California authorization. If the subject(s) listed on the out-of-state credential is for middle school instruction only, a preliminary credential may be issued but the applicant will be required to meet California’s subject-matter requirement before the clear credential may be issued.

An individual issued a professional level teaching credential by another state or U.S. territory that does not list a comparable authorization may verify subject matter competence for the Single Subject Credential with a degree major or 32 semester units (or the equivalent in quarter units) in the California content area sought. If the individual does not have the degree major or 32 semester units (or the equivalent in quarter units) in the content area, see Credential Leaflet CL-674S entitled Verifying Subject Matter Competence by Examination for Single Subject Teaching Credentials for information on how to meet California’s subject-matter requirement.

California participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement. Visit the NASDTEC website for more information.

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TABLE 1
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification

National Board CertificationCalifornia Certification
  • Early and Middle Childhood Certificate in Art
  • Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Certificate in Art
Single Subject Teaching Credential in Art
  • Early Adolescence Certificate in English Language Arts
  • Adolescence and Young Adulthood Certificate in English Language Arts
Single Subject Teaching Credential in English
  • Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Certificate in Career and Technical Education
Single Subject Teaching Credential in Industrial and Technology Education
  • Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Certificate in World Languages Other Than English
Single Subject Teaching Credential in World Languages (specify language)
  • Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood in Health
Single Subject Teaching Credential in Health Science
  • Early Adolescence Certificate in Mathematics
  • Adolescence and Young Adulthood Certificate in Mathematics
Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics
  • Early and Middle Childhood Certificate in Music
  • Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Certificate in Music
Single Subject Teaching Credential in Music
  • Early and Middle Childhood Certificate in Physical Education
  • Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Certificate in Physical Education
Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physical Education
  • Early Adolescence Certificate in Science
  • Adolescence and Young Adulthood Certificate in Science
Single Subject Teaching Credential [2]
Foundational-Level General Science
Science: Biological Sciences
Science: Chemistry
Science: Geosciences
Science: Physics
  • Early Adolescence Certificate in Social Studies-History
  • Adolescence and Young Adulthood Certificate in Social Science-History
Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science

Note [2]: Teachers holding National Board Certification in the area of Science will be issued the specific California
science authorization based upon:

  1. an out-of-state credential with a matching subject,
  2. a copy of the individual’s NBPTS “My Profile” status page report which indicates the specific science certificate specialty area in which National Board Certification was issued (a National Board score report will not meet this requirement), or
  3. official (original) transcripts from a regionally-accredited college or university showing a bachelor’s or higher degree major or 32 semester units of coursework in the appropriate Science subject.

The required documentation must be submitted with the photocopy of the individual’s National Board Certificate and all other supporting materials. Option 2 is only available to individuals who obtained National Board Certification in Adolescence and Young Adulthood in Science.

Teachers with out-of-state credentials issued in the general subject area “Science” who hold National Board Certification in “Science” will be issued a California Single Subject Teaching Credential in Foundational-Level General Science unless a specific subject pathway is identified.

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Reference:

California Education Code, Sections 44252, 44253.3, 44257, 44274.2, 44279.1, 44280, 44281, 44282, 44398 and Title 5,
California Code of Regulations, Section 80413.3


CL-560  May 2021
Updated July 23, 2021