The most common way teachers become licensed in California is through a post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program.* At UCSC, the Science Education B.S. major, Mathematics Education B.A. major, and the STEM Education minor are explicitly designed to prepare students for success in a post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program. However, prospective science or math teachers can complete an undergraduate degree in any STEM field prior to enrolling in a teacher preparation program.

Typical Pathway to Becoming a Licensed Teacher in California


There are various options for earning a California teaching credential. Traditional university-based programs may offer a credential only (typically one academic year duration) or a combined credential/M.A. (one to two years, may include summers). There are also “intern” programs that are a) university-based b) district-based or c) affiliated with other programs, such as Teach for America. When deciding on a university-based program think about program variables such as strengths/nature of program, program timeline, price, location, etc. as well as entrance requirements.

Checklist for MOST traditional university-based programs

  • Application form
  • Transcript(s) from all undergraduate (and graduate if applicable) work
  • A college or university course or equivalent experience that addresses the cultural and linguistic diversity found in the U.S. today
  • Pre-professional field experience: Documented field experience in a formal or informal educational setting with youth at the same age level which the candidate aspires to teach. Experiences such as as directed observation, substitute teaching, work in after-school programs, camp counseling, instructional aide etc. Typically 30-60 hours. Okay to request documentation from Cal Teach.
  • Letters of Recommendation: At least two from university faculty who can address your academic merit/subject matter competency and at least one letter by a professional in the field who has observed your work with children or youth in the applicable age-group for the credential you are seeking.
  • California Basic Skills Requirement
  • Subject Matter Competency
  • Statement of Purpose (essay)
  • Personal History (essay)
  • Résumé
  • TB test
  • Certificate of Clearance
  • Fingerprinting
  • US Constitution Requirement

Cal Teach participants can get financial support for some application requirements. See our Financial Support page for more information.