California Alternative Teacher Certification

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
California offers alternative teacher certification through intern programs. Read on to learn about the policies of this alternative certification option, and find tools and resources to help interns earn their credentials.

Overview of California's Alternative Teacher Certification Program

California's intern programs are alternative certification options in which individuals may complete required coursework while working as a teacher. Intern programs are offered jointly by colleges and local school districts and are designed to fill teaching openings for which certified teachers are unavailable. Interns must meet several prerequisites and typically have a two-year window in which to complete their programs' curricula.

Prerequisites and Requirements for Intern Programs

To be accepted into an intern program, applicants must have a bachelor's degree and obtain clearance via background checks. They also must meet the state's basic skills requirement for teachers, pass appropriate subject-matter exams, and prove knowledge of the U.S. Constitution (typically by passing another exam). Before they teach in a classroom, they must also complete 120 hours of pre-service coursework.

Basic Skills Requirement

To satisfy the basic skills requirement, intern candidates must pass one of the following test options that measure reading, writing and mathematics skills. Whichever option you choose, has comprehensive prep courses to help you prepare. Click on the links below to check out the self-paced video lessons, assessment quizzes and practice tests that you can access online whenever you have time to study.

Additionally, applicants who took the ACT or SAT to gain acceptance to their bachelor's degree program can use test scores to meet basic skills requirements if they earned high enough scores. Acceptable scores on the CSU Early Assessment Program tests for high school students can also meet the basic skills requirement.

Subject-Matter Requirements

Interns may apply for multiple-subject or single-subject credentialing. For multiple-subject credentials, applicants must pass all three CSET Multiple Subjects subtests. Single-subject interns must either have completed an approved program in their subject area or pass the CSET exams for the subject they plan to teach. Along with the multiple-subject CSET courses listed above, offers prep courses for individual subject exams. Explore the more than 30 CSET prep courses available.

Pre-Service Studies

Before teaching, interns must complete 120 hours of pre-service studies. This coursework focuses on pedagogical skills. See below for an outline of the subjects required and the corresponding resources designed to help students ace this coursework. You can also use these resources to help prepare for your time in the classroom:

Subject Study Resources
Classroom management and planning Classroom Management Strategies for Teachers
Language arts and reading Teaching Strategies for Reading Skills, How to Teach Writing Skills, Literacy Instruction in the Elementary School
Subject-area pedagogy Instructional Strategies for Teaching Math, Instructional Strategies for Teaching History
Teaching English Learners Resources for Teaching English Language Learners
Human Development Human Growth and Development

Intern Program Course Requirements

All interns must have a professional development plan established by the district in which they are teaching. This plan outlines teaching evaluations and coursework that must be completed. Usually, this includes an additional two semesters' worth of coursework comprised of classroom lectures, seminars and supervised field experiences or practica. Topics of study can include such areas as inclusive education, student diversity and technology in the classroom.

Early completion programs may be available for interns who pass several assessments. For additional information, visit the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing website (

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