Master of Arts in Special Education Teaching (Education Specialist Early Childhood)

Total Units for Completion: 65-77

Program Description

The MA in Teaching (Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)) blends a teacher preparation program with a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). This program is a distance learning program offered fully online to candidates across the state of California who are more than 30 miles away from the Sacramento State campus (those within 30 miles of campus take some courses in person while distance learners join via remote technology). Courses are taken in the evening. Fieldwork is completed in a school district/program located near the candidate, while supervision of fieldwork is provided online in a mostly live/synchronous format.

The Education Specialist ECSE Teaching Credential authorizes the holder to provide educational services to infants, toddlers, preschool, and kindergarten age children with disabilities and their families in home-based programs, center-based settings, and school-based settings. This credential embeds the English Learner Authorization (ELA) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Authorization, which prepares candidates to work with second language learners and students with autism spectrum disorder, respectively. Additionally, teacher candidates may choose to apply to be an intern during the course of their program. 

  • The ECSE Teaching Credential provides candidates with applied experiences through coursework connecting theory to practice and supervised work with children (birth to kindergarten, all disabilities) across early field experiences and two student teaching requirements: 1) Infant/Toddler, and 2) Preschool/Kindergarten (student teachers have the option of being employed on an intern credential). The teacher preparation coursework focuses on preparing effective teachers for working with diverse student populations with an emphasis on preparing socially just teachers and leaders for systems change, committed to equity and inclusion in culturally and linguistically diverse schools and communities.
  • The MAT coursework focuses on inquiry-based education which includes hands-on instruction with problem-based learning and issues-centered curriculum and a focus on reflection during the teaching and research process. The program foundation rests in social justice and equity in education for all children and youth, including those with disabilities and their families.

Upon completion of the ECSE Teaching Credential coursework, program candidates may complete an additional sequence of four MAT courses (15 additional units), if they choose to finish the MAT. Throughout the MAT program, candidates will learn how to critically examine evidence-based practices, policy issues, and current research on teaching and learning in the field of special education. Candidates will be expected to apply analytical skills to develop and implement standards-based curriculum in diverse settings using best instructional and inclusive practices that positively impact the learning of all students, including English Learners and children and youth with disabilities. Candidates also will conduct original teacher action research using practice-based methods in diverse educational settings. The materials and associated activities presented in the MAT coursework are highly integrated to support candidates with successful completion of the Master of Arts in Teaching degree at the end of the program. 

Master of Arts in Special Education Teaching (Early Childhood Special Education)

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) establishes admissions requirements for all preliminary teaching credential programs and the CSU Chancellor's Office further specifies admissions requirements. The requirements listed below may be subject to change, based on actions of these two governing bodies. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the Academic and Program Services Office in Eureka Hall 401, (916) 278-6639, an advisor in the Student Success Center, or the MAT with Credential program website for the most current admissions requirements.

Program Admission Requirements

1.     A Baccalaureate degree is required for admission to the MAT. 

2.     Minimum of 45 hours of experience working with children or youth in a preK-12 classroom or equivalent is recommended.

3.     Submit two references: one from a person who has observed the applicant’s academic competence (current or former instructor) and the other from a person who has observed the applicant working with children or youth. NOTE: References from family members will not be accepted.

4.     Submit a graduate writing sample.

5.     Satisfy writing proficiency by meeting the Basic Skills Requirement.

6.     Satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement. For more detailed information, visit the CTC website.  Example of ways to satisfy Basic Skills Competence include:

a.     Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST)

b.     Pass the CSET Multiple Subjects plus Writing Skills examination

c.     Pass the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP) or the CSU Placement Examinations

d.     Achieve qualifying score on the SAT or ACT (see the CTC website)

e.     Score a 3 or above on specific AP examinations (see the CTC website)

f.      Earn a grade of "B-" or better in specific college or university courses as detailed on the CTC website.

g.    Mix and Match as detailed on the CTC website.

7.     Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.5 overall or 2.75 in last 60 semester or 90 quarter units as evidenced from official transcripts from every college/university attended.

8.     Complete Credential Prerequisite Courses: CHAD 30, EDUC 170, EDUC 100A, EDUC 100B. List of equivalent coursework is located on the Teaching Credentials website.

9.     Certificate of Clearance (COC) security clearance issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing: evidence of submitting the COC application and fingerprints must be submitted at application.

10.  Participate in a Mandatory Interview.

Detailed descriptions of all admissions requirements are contained in the program’s application instructions, which are available on the Teaching Credentials Application website.

Applications Required

CSU Graduate School Application for the University

Sacramento State graduating seniors, Sacramento State students completing a master’s degree or second bachelor’s degree, and applicants not currently attending Sacramento State MUST apply for admission to graduate school through the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) by completing and submitting the CSU application on-line: Cal State Apply. 

Supplemental Application

A separate Supplemental Application is only required for current undergraduate Sacramento State students who are not graduating; who are applying to take first semester program coursework while still classified as an undergraduate. Complete supplemental applications and all supporting documents must be submitted to Teaching Credentials by the deadline indicated on the Teaching Credentials website. The link is posted on the Teaching Credential website in October of the year prior to admission.

Additional Information

Certificate of Clearance (COC/Fingerprint Clearance)

All applicants must submit verification of having been issued a security clearance by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) before they will be allowed to officially start the credential program. 

EXCEPTION – it is not necessary to apply for the Certificate of Clearance if you can verify you hold a valid California certificate or credential such as an emergency permit for substitute teaching, Pre-intern certificate, PPS credential, Child Development Associate or Supervisor Permit, Adult Vocational Education credential or a valid Multiple or Single Subject credential.

NOTE: If you answered “YES” to any of the Personal and Professional Fitness questions on the Certificate of Clearance application, you will need to obtain the official arrest record and court paperwork regarding each incident. Refer to the CTC website for instructions, forms, and where to submit all additional paperwork. If you have arrests and/or convictions on your record, once you submit the additional documentation to CTC, the processing of your clearance application can take SIX MONTHS or longer. This means you may not be eligible to start the program if your clearance is not issued before the program begins. If you have any questions, contact the CTC directly via email.

Verification of Bachelor's Degree

All applicants must obtain a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college/university in the United States in order to be eligible for a credential. Proof can be obtained through official transcripts and listed as “Degree(s) Awarded” with the date the degree was awarded. To find out if your college/university is regionally accredited by one of the accrediting agencies approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), visit the CTC website.

Foreign Transcript Evaluation

Individuals who have completed college or university course work at an institution in a country other than the United States must obtain a complete evaluation of foreign transcripts, degrees, and other relevant documents prior to applying for the program. This evaluation is required by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and the university. It is recommended that credential program applicants have their documents evaluated by WES, since both the University Office of Graduate Studies and the Commission will accept the WES evaluation. Applicants should select the WES INTERNATIONAL CREDENTIAL ADVANTAGE PACKAGE (ICAP) Course by Course Evaluation. For additional information on foreign transcript evaluations please visit the CTC website and the Office of Graduate Studies website.

Verification of completing the United States Constitution Requirement

California Education Code, Section 44335, requires all candidates for Multiple Subject, Single Subject, and Education Specialist credentials to demonstrate knowledge of the United States Constitution by completing a college-level course with a “C” or equivalent grade or better, or pass a college-level examination in the subject, or verify AP exam credit for American History or American Government/Politics. While this is not a program admission requirement, this requirement must be completed before the credential can be granted at the end of the credential program. Most CSU graduates have met this requirement. More information can be found by contacting pre-credential advisors in the College of Education Student Success Center.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the MAT Degree 

Units required for the MAT degree: 30

Minimum Cumulative GPA for the MAT degree: 3.0

Additional Information for All Admitted Program Candidates: Credential Coursework

Continued Enrollment: Continued enrollment in the MA in Teaching with Early Childhood Special Education Teaching Credential Program is contingent upon candidates maintaining a GPA of 3.0 in all professional education courses. If incomplete grades or grades of "D", "F", and "NC" (No Credit) are received in professional education courses, the candidate must withdraw from the program unless a specific exception has been approved by the Credential Appeals Committee. Any student on academic probation is subject to automatic disqualification unless approved by the Credential Appeals Committee to continue.

Grade Requirement for the ECSE Credential: Any grade below C- in a course that meets a credential requirement must be retaken in order to meet credential requirements.

Delays: Candidates who have to delay progress in the MA in Teaching with Early Childhood Special Education Teaching Credential Program will file a "Program Delay Petition" in the Teaching Credentials Office. A student returning after a delay may be accommodated on a space available basis. Candidates must return and complete the program within the seven-year limit for graduate programs.

Appeal Process: A student who has been formally admitted to the program has the right to appeal to the Credential Appeals Committee about any policy affecting program continuation, except for those policies set by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing or state education code. Appeals petitions and assistance are available in the Teaching Credentials Office.


Admission into programs leading to licensure does not guarantee that students will obtain a license. Licensure requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the CSU and requirements can change at any time. For example, licensure requirements can include evidence of the right to work in the United States (e.g., social security number or tax payer identification number) or successfully passing a criminal background check. Students are responsible for determining whether they can meet licensure. The CSU will not refund tuition, fees, or any associated costs, to students who determine subsequent to admission that they cannot meet licensure requirements.

Additional Information for All Admitted Program Candidates: MAT Degree

Grade Requirement for the Master’s Degree: Courses required for the Master of Arts in Teaching degree require a grade of B- or better in order to be used to satisfy the requirements of the Master’s degree. If a student receives below a B- in any course required for the Master’s degree, the course must be successfully repeated with a grade of B- or better in order to satisfy the requirements of the degree program (grades of C- or better will satisfy the requirements for the teaching credential).

Delays: Candidates who have to delay progress in the MA in Teaching with Early Childhood Special Education Teaching Credential Program will file a "Program Delay Petition" in the Teaching Credentials Office. A student returning after a delay may be accommodated on a space available basis. Candidates must return and complete the program within the seven-year limit for graduate programs.

Advancement to Candidacy Procedures: Each student working toward a Master of Arts in Teaching degree must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy for the degree. The purpose of this application is to provide certification to the Office of Graduate Studies that the student will complete the necessary requirements and coursework for the Master’s degree. The student must be advanced to candidacy the semester prior to enrolling in EDSP 500.

This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • Completed 21 units in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA; and
  • Met the Graduate Writing Requirement through completion of the Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course, EDSP 281, with a B grade or better.

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available online through the Office of Graduate Studies. The student should complete the form in consultation with the MAT Program Coordinator. The form must be submitted online with the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Culminating Experience Enrollment: Before enrolling in EDSP 500, the student must submit a reservation form for a Culminating Experience to the MAT Program Coordinator.

Continuous Enrollment in the Master's Degree: Enrollment in EDSP 500 for the culminating experience is for one semester. The expectation is that students will complete the culminating experience during EDSP 500. Up to three semesters of continuous enrollment (EDSP 599) are allowed if the Culminating Experience advisor deems a reasonable amount of progress has been made and assigns a grade of "RP" for EDSP 500. If students fail to make adequate progress while enrolled in EDSP 500 and there are no mitigating circumstances (e.g., illness), a grade of "no credit" is given, and the student must re-enroll in EDSP 500.

Bilingual Authorization (BA)

The BA is a specialized authorization that authorizes the credential holder to provide instruction in the primary language to candidates with limited English proficiency. This option is available concurrently for all program candidates with oral and written fluency as well as cultural/historical knowledge of the target group (currently approved languages include Spanish or Hmong; other languages are in the process of being approved). Candidates can complete additional requirements to add the Bilingual Authorization in Spanish or Hmong. For additional information on the BA option, contact the College of Education Equity Coordinator for an advising appointment to review your transcripts.

Program Requirements

MAT in Special Education Core Courses (18 Units)
EDSP 281Critical Issues in Special Education Research and Practice 6
EDSP 282Methods in Research Design and Practice with Diverse Children, Youth, and Families3
EDSP 283Critical Analysis and Interpretation of Data within Diverse School and Community Contexts3
EDSP 209Developing Augmentative & Alternative Communication Systems: Assessment and Intervention3
Culminating Experience
EDSP 500Classroom Inquiry/Action Research Portfolio-Culminating Experience3
Early Childhood Special Education Concentration Courses (11 Units)
EDSP 208Positive Behavioral Supports and Evidence-Based Practices for Youth with Autism and Related Issues2
EDSP 210Assessment and Evaluation in Early Childhood Special Education3
EDSP 212Inclusive Curriculum, Intervention Strategies, and Environments in ECSE II: Preschool & Kindergarten3
EDSP 218Advanced program planning/instruction: Students with Extensive Support Needs/Multiple Disabilities3
Total Units29
Total Additional Units for the Credential (34-37 UNITS) 1
Early Childhood Special Education Credential Courses (21 Units)
EDSP 119Legal and Social Foundations of Inclusive Education3
EDSP 200Seminar I: Early Childhood Special Education1
EDSP 201Developing Collaborative Partnerships with Families, Professionals, and Communities in ECSE3
EDSP 211Curriculum, Intervention Strategies, and Environments in ECSE I: Infants & Toddlers3
EDSP 213Early Language and Literacy Development, Instruction, and Intervention in ECSE3
EDSP 217Foundations of Positive Behavioral Supports: Creating Safe and engaging Learning Environments3
EDSP 238Culminating Seminar for Education Specialist Candidates2
EDSP 293Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms3
Total Units21
EDSP 474ECSE Early Fieldwork Experience I3
EDSP 476ECSE Student Teaching: Infants & Toddlers4
EDSP 477ECSE Student Teaching: Preschool/Kindergarten6
EDSP 474ECSE Early Fieldwork Experience I3
or EDSP 478 ECSE Intern Teaching
EDSP 475ECSE Early Fieldwork Experience II3
or EDSP 478 ECSE Intern Teaching
EDSP 476ECSE Student Teaching: Infants & Toddlers4
or EDSP 478 ECSE Intern Teaching
EDSP 477ECSE Student Teaching: Preschool/Kindergarten6
or EDSP 478 ECSE Intern Teaching