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With this Preliminary Education Specialist Credential, you may choose a focus which best suits your unique student population.

Mild/Moderate Disabilities

Students with mild/moderate disabilities may be learners who have difficulties imposing structure in learning tasks. They may display delays in intellectual development, specific learning disabilities and/or emotional disturbances. This credential authorizes the teaching of individuals who experience mild-to-moderate learning disabilities, intellectual disability, other health impairments and emotional disturbances. Serves ages 5 to 22

Moderate/Severe Disabilities

Students with moderate/severe disabilities require specialized support to address unique learning needs resulting from a range of intellectual, behavioral, emotional, communication, sensory and/or motor impairments. This credential authorizes the teaching of individuals with moderate to severe autism, intellectual disability, hearing and/or vision impaired, emotional disturbances and multiple disabilities. Serves ages 5 to 22.

Early Childhood Special Education

Specialists with this credential may provide educational services to children from birth through pre-kindergarten who are eligible for early intervention, special education and/or related services under federal and state laws. Serves ages infant to 5.  

Foundational Coursework Option

Candidates may be admitted to the Preliminary Education Specialist Credential Program and enroll in Foundational Coursework (SPEC 601 & SPEC 602) without the completion of the CBEST or CSET. In order to proceed into the official cohort start (Fall) candidates must meet the minimum testing requirements of successful completion of the CBEST and a minimum of one section of the Multiple Subject CSET. CSET is not required for candidates seeking only the Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential.


  • Cohort model
  • Coursework offered in online, blended and traditional models
  • Autism authorization imbedded in each credential
  • Option to complete an education specialist credential and multiple subjects credential concurrently
  • Option to complete Master of Arts in Special Education with 12 additional units

Program directors

Lisa Keith, Psy.D.
Lisa Keith, Psy.D.

Associate Professor of Special Education, Program Director, Mild/Moderate Credential, Program Director, MA in Special Education

Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor of Special Education, Program Director, Moderate/Severe, Early Childhood Special Education and APEAA

Kelly Bentz, Ph.D.
Kelly J. Bentz, Ph.D.

Program Director Special Education Merced Campus, Assistant Professor

Donna Martin
Donna Martin

Special Education Program Director - Visalia Center


Megan Chaney
Megan Chaney, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor of Special Education, Division Chair, Special Education

Course listing

Required Courses (9 Units)

EDUC 609Final Student Teaching: Multiple Subject Special Education1
EDUC 637Curriculum Perspectives and Design: Multiple Subjects3
EDUC 645Curriculum Design and Implementation: Multiple Subject3
EDUC 647Teaching Elementary Science2

Internship Program

All FPU preliminary candidates who are employed as special education teachers may seek qualification for an internship credential. An application may or may not be accepted due to qualifications and/or suitability of the candidate. This credential may be applied for and obtained following the successful completion of 120 hours of specific pre-service coursework, qualifying experiences, and employer agreement. All criteria are determined satisfactory at the discretion and evaluation of the program or site director. Intern candidates are considered promising educators who demonstrate the innate qualities of a distinguished teacher and educational leader.

Internship program participation may lead to the opportunity for the preliminary candidate to teach with the same status and benefits of a fully credentialed teacher for up to two years. The program or site director is able to serve both as an advocate for the candidate and an administrative partner to the employer. These advantages allow for an enhanced degree of communication between parties and permit the university faculty to monitor the mentorship structure provided by the employer.

The university provides candidates with special training seminars and activities specifically designed to assist them in their new responsibilities. An internship is an expanded opportunity to augment communication with the university faculty, peers and the employer. Interns maintain a vigorous program of study. New interns are required to enroll for SPEC 690 - Intern Support each term enrolled as a preliminary credential candidate and an intern under contract with a district. Intern Support is in addition to the candidate’s regular coursework and practicum experience.

An intern candidate must meet all of the requirements of admissions, demonstrate maturity and a professional manner, maintain grades of A or B in all coursework and progress on their academic plan as designed. Preliminary coursework is expected to be completed within the provisions of the two- year internship credential.

SPEC 690Intern Support2
Admission Requirements
  • Acceptance to classified standing by FPU School of Education.
  • Satisfactory completion of CBEST/CSETs (the CSET is not required for ECSE).
  • Completion of political science course or constitution exam.
  • Maintain adherence to the prescribed FPU education plan.
  • Grades of A or B in all coursework.
  • Enroll and successfully complete Intern Support each term (SPEC 690)
Electives Courses

Candidates may enroll in elective courses as advised by the respective Program Director.

SED 714Augmentative Communications and Technology2
SED 734Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities3
SED 736Psychological, Sociological and Vocational Implications of Physical and Health Impairments3
SED 750Advanced Learning Theory and Brain Research3
SED 760Collaboration, Consultation, and Inclusion3
SED 775Educating Learners with Autism with Autism3
SED 776Assessment to Intervention for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder3

Added Authorizations

FPU currently offers two added authorizations. Please contact graduate admissions for further information.

Adapted Physical Education Added Authorization

The Adapted Physical Education (APE) added authorization program prepares teachers to work within a school setting and engage children and adolescents in meaningful and beneficial physical exercise. Candidates participate in a comprehensive program that prepares them to identify motor needs and the necessary supports to engage students in meaningful physical exercise. Candidates complete courses addressing the characteristics and needs of students served in the APE setting; roles, responsibilities, and legal considerations for serving students with special needs; instructional design for APE settings; motor behavior for APE settings; and scientific principles of motor behavior. Candidates participate in a culminating practicum experience to receive guided support toward implementation of course principles and to participate in a formal evaluation of competencies.

Admissions Requirements

Three current reference forms

Educational plan
  • All other official transcripts from colleges/universities attended
  • Verification of negative TB test (within last 12 months)
  • Addendum to Graduate Application: Education Specialist Credential Program
  • Applicants must hold a valid Ryan Specialist Credential in CH, LH, PH, SH or VH or hold a valid Preliminary or Level I credential in ECSE, D/HOH, M/M, M/S, PHI, or VI or a multiple subjects credential or a single subject credential in physical education. (Additional course work may be required dependent upon physical education course work previously completed.)
  • Letter of explanation if GPA is under 3.0
Required Courses (19 Units)
SPEC 762Characteristics of Students in Adapted Physical Education3
SPEC 763Motor Behavior as Applied to Adapted Physical Education3
SPEC 764Scientific Principles of Human Behavior3
SPEC 765Adapted Physical Education: Roles and Responsibilities3
SPEC 767Adapted Physical Education: Curriculum and Technology3
SPEC 791APEFinal Directed Practicum: Adapted Physical Education4
SPEC 792APEFinal Independent Practicum: Adapted Physical Education4

Emotional Disturbance Added Authorization (10 Units)

This document authorizes appropriate credential holders to expand service to populations characterized by emotional disturbances, from newborns to 22 year olds.

Admissions Requirements
  • Three current reference forms
  • Educational plan
  • All other official transcripts from colleges/universities attended
  • Verification of negative TB test (within last 12 months)
  • Addendum to Graduate Application: Education Specialist Credential Program
  • Letter of explanation if GPA is under 3.0
Required Courses
SPEC 770Foundations for Working with Students with Emotional Disturbance Disorders3
SPEC 771Empathetic Teaching and Therapeutic Communication3
SPEC 772Instruction and Collaboration in the Classroom for Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders3