Single Subject Credential Quick Facts

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Teach middle or high school (secondary level)

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Teach the same subject to more than one group of students

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5-year issuance

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Specialize in a subject (not a generalist credential)

Is secondary school teaching right for you?

Was there one particular subject you enjoyed most at school? Maybe it was Chemistry (you really loved those lab experiments) or Theatre (you were the lead in every school play). With the Single Subject teaching credential, you'll continue your mastery of that subject and teach it exclusively. The Single Subject teaching credential authorizes you to teach the specific subject(s) named on the credential and is most frequently used in secondary school settings, which includes middle and high schools. For example, your middle school teacher who taught you Math and Science might have had a Single Subject credential in both Foundational-Level Math and Foundational-Level General Science, and your high school history teacher would have had Single Subject credential in Social Science. However, if you want to teach only one subject to elementary school students, you can also do that with a Single Subject credential too, like your elementary school music teacher who taught music to every student in your school.


Image shows a chemistry teacher in her white lab coat standing behind two students who are doing a lab experiment in a science classroom. They are all wearing goggles and the students appear to be listening to the teacher as she speaks.


These are the subject areas available for Single Subject teaching credentials.

  • Agriculture
  • Art
  • Business
  • Dance
  • English
  • Foundational-Level General Science
  • Foundational-Level Mathematics
  • Health Science
  • Home Economics
  • Industrial & Technology Education
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Science: Biological Sciences
  • Science: Chemistry
  • Science: Geosciences
  • Science: Physics
  • Social Science
  • Theater
  • World Language: English Language Development
  • World Language (languages other than English)


Image shows a high school acting class in a room with a black background. The students are all dressed in black and most are sitting in a circle on the floor with two standing in the middle doing improvisation while the other students and teacher watch.


So what's the process?

First things first: if you want to teach in California, you need a credential. There are different levels of credentials available depending on where your journey begins. You may start out with an emergency permit (which you would obtain through a public school employer), an Intern credential (which would allow you to teach while you complete a preparation program), or a Preliminary credential. It all depends on whether you want to begin working before completing a teacher preparation program, during, or after.

A teacher preparation program takes about two years to complete and receive your Preliminary credential. Once you have your Preliminary, the final step is to upgrade to the Clear credential by completing an induction program (which is a mentoring and support program for beginning teachers). After you have cleared your credential, all you have to do is renew it online every five years.

Flowchart showing the process of getting a credential and the options of substitute permit, emergency teaching permit, intern credential, preliminary credential, and clear credential.

Ready to get started on your Single Subject teaching credential?

High school students are sitting at their desks in their classroom, smiling and looking at the front of the room where the viewer is.


If you need help deciding which credentialing program model suits your needs, check out Which program pathway will you choose?



For the full list of requirements to obtain a Single Subject teaching credential, check out  Single Subject Teaching Credential Requirements for Teachers Prepared in California.

Updated January 02, 2024