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Liberal Studies

Program Overview

In the state of California, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) awards credentials to teachers upon the recommendation of colleges and universities with approved teacher education programs. USD’s approved teacher education program for elementary and special education teachers is the Liberal Studies (LS) major. The LS major is open only to students intending to become elementary or special education teachers.

The LS major is a nine-semester program that consists of required LS Core courses, courses within a chosen concentration, and professional preparation courses. With careful planning, it is possible for USD undergraduate students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a preliminary teaching credential in four years if they carry 18 units per semester and/or take courses during the summer and/or intersession. For students majoring in LS, the following credentials are offered:

USD also offers the Single Subject Credential for teaching in middle and secondary education. A major other than Liberal Studies should opt for this credential. A separate Single Subject Handbook is available from the School of Leadership and Education Sciences for students interested in becoming middle or high school teachers.

Declaring the Major

In order to pursue an academic program leading to a degree and teaching credential, students must declare their major as soon as possible, preferably in their first semester. Delay in declaring the major can lead to delay in graduation.

  • File the Declaration of Major form with:
    Kay Etheridge, Ph.D. –Camino 161B – (619)-260-2243 or

Demonstrating Subject Matter Competency

The CCTC requires that candidates for multiple subject credentials demonstrate knowledge of the subjects taught in public elementary school classrooms. Candidates demonstrate knowledge by taking all required LS core and concentration courses ( with a grade of C or higher, no pass/fail), and passing the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers).

LS Core nd Concentration Academic Requirements

  • LS core and concentration courses may not be taken pass/fail.
  • Only grades of C or higher in LS core and concentration courses satisfy program requirements.
  • LS majors must save all major assignments and exams completed in LS core courses for possible inclusion in the final project to be created in ENGL 306W.
  • The course ENGL 306W should be taken within the last 30 units of course work at USD.

CSET Requirement

  • The state of California requires that all elementary school teachers pass the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers).
  • The state of California recommends and many school districts require that all mild/moderate education specialists pass the CSET.
  • All portions of the CSET should be taken (though not necessarily passed) before enrolling in ENGL 306W. Students who enroll in the course without having met this requirement could be dropped.

Upon successful completion of all subject matter requirements, including ENGL 306W and the CSET, candidates will receive a Subject Matter Letter from the Liberal Studies Program director. The Subject Matter Letter is required for applying to enter student teaching and will be sent to SOLES either during intersession or summer after all course grades are posted..

Students who do not meet LS core and concentration grade requirements and/or do not pass the CSET do not receive the Subject Matter Letter and do not qualify to enter student teaching.  Students who meet University requirements for graduation but do not meet all requirements for entry into student teaching may still graduate with the LS major.

Example of Subject Matter Letter