San Diego Teacher Certification Program Overviews and School Info

The San Diego area has more than five schools that offer teacher certification programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools, all within 20 miles of downtown, and make an informed education decision.

Teacher Certification Programs at San Diego Schools

Several schools in San Diego offer teacher certification programs. This article looks at three that are no more than 20 minutes from the city center and at the programs they offer. There is also a table of information about each school, including enrollment figures, tuition, the graduation rate and the campus setting. Following this is a brief paragraph about a few more area schools with teacher certification programs.

  • Point Loma Nazarene University offers master's degrees in teaching and special education at its Mission Valley campus, about eight miles from downtown San Diego.
  • Nearly 10 miles from downtown, San Diego State University. The school offers a baccalaureate program in liberal studies, single and multiple subject teaching credential programs and master's degree programs in reading and K-8 mathematics education.
  • Alliant International University offers a baccalaureate degree in child development and a master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). This school is about 15 miles from downtown.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
  • Teaching, Adults
  • Teaching, Elementary
  • Teaching, High School
  • Teaching, Junior High
  • Teaching, Kindergarten and Preschool
  • Teaching, Waldorf and Steiner Education
  • Teaching, Young Children

Comparison of Schools

Individuals who are looking for a school need to consider many factors. The following table spotlights important facts about these three institutions and can help with making a decision.

Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego State University Alliant International University
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; public 4-year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2014) 3,374* 33,483* 3,957*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
'Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016) $32,400* $6,976, in-state;
$18,136, out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Aid (2013-2014) 90%* 60%* 88%*
Acceptance Rate (2014 70%* 34%* 39%*
Retention Rate (2014) 84% for full-time students and 50% for part-time students* 88% for full-time students and 79% for part-time students 83% for full-time students*
Graduation Rate (for students who began studies in Fall 2008) 73%* 66%* N/A*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator,

Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU)

PLNU is a Christian school founded in 1902. The university has three regional centers in California, including the Mission Valley campus in San Diego. This campus offers master's programs in teaching and special education.

Bachelor of Arts (Education)

Point Loma Nazarene University's School of Education offers a variety of undergraduate/bachelor's degree programs in teaching. They consistently develop highly qualified, high-performing educators of noble character in the context of a vital community.

Master of Arts in Teaching

Students who already have a bachelor's degree and wish to prepare for entry-level teaching positions can enroll in this program. The first phase of the degree program consists of a preliminary teaching credential. Credentials are available in single subject, multiple subject and special education. The single subject credential is typically designed for those who wish to teach in middle or high school, while the multiple subject credential is geared towards aspiring elementary school teachers. The special education credential is offered as a mild/moderate preliminary credential and a moderate/severe preliminary credential for teachers who wish to work with students who have disabilities. Students also complete an intern credential program where they work under the supervision of a full-time teacher.

Master of Arts in Special Education

This degree program stems from the education specialist credential (also known as the special education credential) and offers students more in-depth study in research theory and teaching practices. Coursework offered in the program allow students the ability to earn an educational specialist credential. Students also receive training to prepare for induction into a Beginning Teacher Support Assessment (BTSA) program at a school district. Topics covered in this degree program include advanced behavior analysis, educational psychology and instructional adaptation for students. Students also complete fieldwork in reflection induction and coaching, an independent study in special education and research projects.

San Diego State University (SDSU)

Founded in 1897, SDSU is the oldest university in the San Diego area. The university also has the largest student body population in the region and offers over 180 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Through the Division of Undergraduate Studies, students may complete a bachelor's program in liberal studies. The School of Teacher Education offers master's programs in education and preliminary teaching credential programs.

Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

This program is typically for students who wish to become elementary school teachers. However, students interested in teaching at the middle school level can also complete this program. Coursework is designed to prepare students for a multiple subject credential in bilingual education and special education. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET). Students who pass this exam qualify for admission into a California credential program.

Master of Arts in Teaching (Concentration in K-8 Mathematics Education)

To gain admission into this program, students must have a minimum of 12 credits in education or have a teaching credential. The program admits new students bi-annually during the fall semester on years ending with even numbers. To earn the degree, students must complete 30 course credits. Towards the end of the program, students complete a comprehensive exam and a final project.

Master of Arts in Reading Education

This degree program prepares students to teach language arts in schools and reading centers from the pre-kindergarten to the community college level. Students also learn how to develop curriculum and assess research outcomes. Typically, students complete this degree program along with a California Reading Specialist Credential. Students can complete both the degree and the credential program with 35 course credits. The School of Teacher Education also offers a 13-credit reading certificate program.

Multiple Subject Credential Program (K-6)

Admission requirements for this preliminary credential program include completion of a bachelor's degree. Students start out by taking nine credit hours of prerequisite courses. After which, students complete 45-46 credits hours on subjects such as mathematics, reading, social studies and science teaching for elementary school, classroom management and foundations of psychological education. Typically, students complete this credential concurrently with a bachelor's degree program. The university also offers single subject preliminary credential programs in areas such as art, mathematics, physical education and science.

Alliant International University

Established in 2001, this private school is a merger between the United States International University and the California School of Professional Psychology. The school currently has seven other campuses throughout California. The San Diego campus is located about 15 miles from downtown. The school offers teaching programs through the Hufstedler School of Education.

Bachelor of Arts in Child Development

Students enrolled in this program learn skills to teach children from birth to early adulthood. The program is designed so students can study at their own pace. Courses are offered on-campus and online. This degree also prepares students to complete the California preliminary teaching credential in single subject, multiple subject and special education.

Master of Arts in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

This degree program consists of 10 courses and provides training for practicing and aspiring English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers. Students can complete coursework entirely at that the San Diego campus or in a hybrid format. The hybrid curriculum consists of two weekend courses and one course per summer session. By completing this program, students gain skills to prepare for employment in adult, elementary or secondary school education.

Other School Options

Located about seven miles from downtown, the University of San Diego offers a bachelor's degree program in liberal studies. This program is designed to prepare students to become elementary school teachers. Another option is National University located in La Jolla about 16 miles from downtown San Diego. This school offers several undergraduate and graduate teaching degree programs such as a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching.

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