Credential and Certification FAQs

General Teaching Credential FAQs

 What is a teaching credential?

A teaching credential is a state license to teach in a public school setting. California law requires all teachers in the California public school system to hold a valid teaching credential. Credentials are most often obtained by completing a state-approved credential program at an accredited college or university. USC offers programs for teaching credentials in English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Science. The three basic teaching credentials used in public schools are the Multiple Subject, Single Subject and Education Specialist credentials.

 What credential is needed to become an elementary school teacher?

To be an elementary school teacher a Multiple Subject credential is required. This credential authorizes teaching in public school settings where the teacher teaches all subjects to one group of students in a self-contained classroom. This credential is sometimes used in core subject blocks in some middle schools as well. The following link to the CCTC will provide more detailed information.

 What credential is needed to become a junior high or high school teacher?

To be a junior high or high school teacher a Single Subject credential is required. This credential authorizes teaching in public school settings where the teacher teaches one subject to several different groups of students in a departmentalized classroom. This type of classroom structure is found in some middle schools as well. The following link to the CCTC will provide more detailed information.

What credential is needed to become a special education teacher?

To be a special education teacher an Education Specialist credential is required. USC currently offers the Education Specialist credential in Mild/Moderate disabilities. The following link to the CCTC will provide more detailed information. 

USC Specific Credential FAQ’s

Which credentials does USC recommend to CTC and how long is the program?

USC recommends for California teaching credentials in the following areas through the MAT Program. USC offers full-time and part-time tracks in online and on campus options.

What is the process for online students applying for certification in another state?

  • This process varies by state. In some cases there is what is called ‘Reciprocity’. If states have reciprocity with California, then you may use a CA credential to apply for an equivalent certification in the participating state. In that case you would complete the process for earning your CA credential first. Then apply to that state directly.
  • In other cases, you would need to apply directly to a State’s licensure/certification department and follow their guidelines. USC would fill out a form (provided by that state) to verify your completion the program. These forms vary by state and you should review the information on your State’s website for the most updated facts. Here is a link to an interactive map that provides links and information on the various states requirements and process.

Which authorizations and certificates does USC offer?

  • Reading Certificate
  • English Language Authorization (embedded within MAT program)
  • BCLAD: Spanish

Program completion process

When should I apply for my Credential?

  • The Credential Recommendation Request (CRR) form initiates the application for your credential document.
  • We encourage you to submit a Credential Recommendation Request at the beginning of your final semester in the program.
  • Additional requirements such as RICA, CPR, and U.S. Constitution should be completed prior to submitting the Credential Recommendation Request form. 

Credential Request Process

Before beginning the process, please note the following:

  • Initiating this process at the beginning of your last semester of coursework will ensure timely processing. The following information is also included along with a general list of required documentation on the ‘Credential Recommendation Process’ memo.
  •  Eligibility for a credential recommendation is based upon completion of all components of your program.  Being placed in an assignment or even completing student teaching will not guarantee recommendation for the credential if other requirements are not met.  All requirements for your credential must be completed prior to submitting a credential request.
  • Upon receipt of your Credential Recommendation Request (CRR) Form the Credential Analyst will process your paperwork making sure that everything is in order. If you are not finished with your program coursework, your request will be held until the end of the semester for a final check once grades have posted.  You will be kept informed of your status all throughout the process via email.
  • As soon as it is determined that all requirements have been met, a Credential Analyst will complete the CTC online recommendation for your credential document.
  • Once the credential has been recommended you will receive an email from the CTC requesting that you complete the application process and pay the required fee.

Steps of the Credential Request Process

  1. Review the Credential Checklist.  Be sure that you have all items that are specified in the appropriate checklist for the credential that you are applying for. You must submit any required items, via email or by US mail to the Credential Office
  2. Submit the Credential Request Form via email, fax or US mail.  All required materials will need to be submitted to the Credential Office.
  3. The Credential Analyst will check documents, verify eligibility. After all requirements have been met, analyst will recommend for the credential using the online, Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) processing system. Requests will be processed in the order in which they are received.  Depending upon volume, it may take several days before your file is processed. Processing will start at the end of the semester when grades have been posted and all components of the program have been met.  If additional documentation is required, you will be notified via e-email by the Credential Office.
  4.  Once the Credential Office has submitted the online recommendation, you will be notified by the CTC to complete the ‘Personal and Professional Fitness’ questionnaire and payment portion of the process.  Please note that the CTC processing system requires both an e-mail address and a credit card to complete this step.  Payment must be made within 90 days of the recommendation date or CTC will cancel the recommendation. A few days after making your payment, the CTC will forward a payment confirmation number to you.  Provided that there are no extenuating circumstances, the CTC will then send you an e-mail confirming that the credential has been issued.  Following that, you will receive one additional e-mail notice which will provide the details of your credential.  This final notice is the one you will use for employment purposes. Your credential and all information pertaining to such will appear as granted on the CTC website.

IMPORTANT: Please note effective July 1, 2015 the CTC application fee has increased from $70 to $100.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Cathy R. Creasia
Program Specialist for Accreditation and Evaluation
Credential Analyst/Coordinator
USC Rossier School of Education

P: (213) 821-3409
E: Creasia@rossier.usc.edu