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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 embedded 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 13 additional units
  • Small class sizes offer personalized attention

Program directors

Photo of Megan Chaney

Megan Chaney, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor, Division Chair, Special Education

Lisa Keith, Psy.D.

Lisa Keith, Psy.D.

Associate Professor, Program Director, Mild/Moderate Credential & Special Education M.A.

Photo of Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson, Ed.D.

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

Admission requirements

Note: As a result of COVID-19, admission requirements have temporarily been simplified. Please contact your program representative for more information.

  • Apply online: apply.fresno.edu
  • Addendum to Graduate Application: Special Education
  • Three graduate reference forms
  • Official transcript of bachelor degree
  • Verification of negative TB test (within last 12 months)
  • Valid California credential or Certificate of Clearance
  • Educational plan form
  • Subject matter testing requirements:
    • Official CBEST results
    • Official CSET results
    • One CSET subtest passed for admission
    • All CSET subtests passed prior to third term (CSET is not required for Early Childhood Special Education candidates)

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 a 3.0 GPA in all coursework, have approval from your Program Director through an internship application, 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

Internship Program Requirements

  • Admission to classified standing in the credential program appropriate to your position
  • Passing scores on CBEST and all required subtests of the appropriate CSET exam (Not required for Early Childhood Special Education candidates)
  • Achieved a 3.0 GPA
  • Met the political science requirement (by coursework or approved exam).
  • Followed the Educational Plan developed by your advisor
  • Hold or offered a position that compliments your credential program in a setting that approximates a public school
  • Approved internship application by Program Director
    • Satisfied eligibility requirements as listed on internship application

Course listing

View our State Professional Licensing and Certificate Disclosure.