California has a two-tier credential structure. A five year preliminary credential is the first credential issued after an individual meets basic credential requirements. A clear credential is issued when all credential requirements have been completed.
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 most middle schools and high schools. However, a teacher authorized for single subject instruction may be assigned to teach any subject in his or her authorized fields 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:
Biological Sciences (Specialized) 
Chemistry (Specialized) 
Foundational-Level General Science 
Geosciences (Specialized) 
Industrial and Technology Education
Physics (Specialized) 
Science: Biological Sciences
World Language: English Language Development
World Languages-Languages other than English (specify)
Note : 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.
Note : To obtain the preliminary credential in Foundational-Level General Science, applicants must verify completion of a minimum of 18 semester units across the four science areas of biological science, chemistry, geoscience, and physics. A minimum of one course in each of the four areas is required.
The preliminary credential is issued for a maximum of five years. 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 renewed.
Individuals who have completed their teacher preparation program outside of the United States and have also earned a comparable teaching credential issued by a US state other than California should refer to Commission leaflet CL-560, entitled Single Subject Teaching Credential – Requirements for Individuals Trained Out-of- State.
Your Application Packet
Individuals who have completed their professional preparation program outside of the United States may apply directly to the Commission for their initial credential by submitting an application packet by mail consisting of all of the following:
- Completed application (form 41-4), and, if not previously submitted to the Commission, a completed Live Scan receipt (form 41-LS). Persons residing outside the United States must submit two fingerprint cards 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 the Commission at Fingerprints@ctc.ca.gov.
- Application processing fee.
- Foreign transcript evaluation (see Commission leaflet CL-635 entitled Foreign Transcript Evaluation for additional information).
- Photocopy of comparable teaching credential or letter verifying eligibility.
Requirements for the Five-Year Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential
Individuals who have completed a teacher preparation program outside of the United States may apply directly to the Commission for their initial credential by submitting an application packet consisting of all of the following:
- Foreign transcript evaluation showing completion of a baccalaureate or higher degree from a college or university that has been deemed to be equivalent to a regionally-accredited institution in the United States.
- Foreign transcript evaluation showing completion of a professional preparation program in secondary education, including student teaching, taken at a college or university that has been deemed to be equivalent to a regionally-accredited institution in the United States.
- Issued or eligible for a comparable teaching credential (see list of Closely Related Single Subjects in Terms and Definitions below) earned in a country other than the United States. The credential does not have to be valid at the time of application. A photocopy of the credential is acceptable verification of this requirement.
Requirements for the Clear Single Subject Teaching Credential
Individuals must satisfy all of the following requirements:
- Satisfy the basic skills requirement prior to the issue date of the preliminary credential or within one year of the issue date of the preliminary credential in order to be eligible to continue teaching. See Commission leaflet CL-667, entitled Basic Skills Requirement for additional information.
- Complete course work in Developing English Language Skills including Reading that is research-based and includes the study of phonemic awareness, spelling patterns, early intervention techniques, ongoing diagnostic techniques, and a strong literature, language, and comprehension component (Submit a copy of the course description for evaluation purposes).
- U.S. Constitution – individuals must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Complete a course (at least tow semester units or three quarter units) in the Provisions and Principles of the United States Constitution from a regionally-accredited college or university (Submit a copy of the course description for evaluation purposes).
- Pass an examination in the Provisions and Principles of the U.S. Constitution given by a regionally-accredited college or university.
- Subject Matter Competence – individuals must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Achieve a passing score on the appropriate subject-matter examination(s). Information about appropriate subject-matter examination(s), including passing scores and registration, can be found in Commission leaflet CL-674S, entitled Verifying Subject-Matter Competence by Examination for Single Subject Teaching Credentials.
- Complete a Commission-approved subject-matter program or its equivalent and obtain verification of completion from the authorized person in the education department of a California college or university with an approved program (California colleges and universities may have recency requirements that have to be met before a subject-matter equivalency statement can be granted).
- For Specialized Science Subjects only, individuals may take and pass all appropriate subject matter examinations or obtain verification of completion of subject-matter course work from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Requirements and procedures are explained in Coded Correspondence 03-0010. 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.
- Individuals must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Complete a Commission-approved Professional Teacher Induction Program. (See Terms and Definitions) Verification of training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that covers infant, child, and adult CPR skills is also required.
- If a Commission-approved professional teacher induction program is not available (this must be verified by the employing agency), individuals may complete a Commission-approved General Education Clear credential program, securing that institution’s formal recommendation for the clear credential.
Note: Individuals who were issued a Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential prior to January 1, 2007 on the basis of a teacher preparation program completed outside the United States must complete the requirements listed on their document no later than January 1. 2018 to obtain the clear credential (see Coded Correspondence 11-02).
Course Work Submitted for a Credential
Individuals must have an overall grade point average of “C” or better on a five-point scale in all course work offered toward fulfillment of credential requirements. Continuing education units (CEU’s) and professional development units are not acceptable to fulfill credential requirements. A course description or a letter from the appropriate department chairperson verifying the content of the course work should be enclosed with the credential application for course work in Developing English Language Skills including Reading and U.S. Constitution.
Terms and Definitions
Commission-approved Professional Teacher Induction Program
A Commission-approved Professional Teacher Induction Program is a two-year program of situated learning for the preliminary credentialed teacher. Once completed, the induction program sponsor will submit the application for the clear credential using the Commission’s online application process.
Closely Related Single Subjects
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, journalism, speech, 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: 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 (other than English): French, German, Spanish, or any language other than English, including American Sign Language.
California Education Code, Sections 44227, 44257, 44259, 44274.1, 44274.2, and 44275.4
CL-870 May 2021