Liberal Studies 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. The Liberal Studies major is USD’s approved undergraduate teacher education program for elementary and special education teachers.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2020-2021, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2020. Access the catalog of record at

The Liberal Studies major is offered in the College of Arts and Sciences as USD’s undergraduate teacher education program for students interested in elementary education. Liberal Studies is a rigorous interdisciplinary major designed to prepare well-educated teachers who understand significant ideas, structures and values in a wide range of the liberal arts and sciences. We aim to train teachers who can critically analyze and synthesize information from multiple disciplines and who appreciate diverse perspectives. The major’s goal is to graduate future teachers with the necessary content knowledge and skills to teach in primary areas of instruction, as well as to feed their intellectual curiosity. This major fosters a holistic experience in the required multiple-subject content areas and provides students with a strong foundational understanding of these subjects. In addition to the content areas that are the focus of the courses in the College, courses on the foundations of education and teaching methods required for the preliminary teaching credential may be taken at the undergraduate level in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES).

The Liberal Studies major is ideal for students who are interested in earning either the preliminary Multiple Subject credential for K-6 elementary teaching, or the preliminary Education Specialist Instruction credential for mild-moderate disabilities. This major is designed as a nine-semester program: 8 semesters of coursework plus one additional semester for full-time student teaching. With careful planning, it is possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a preliminary teaching credential in four years if they take 18 units in several semesters and/or take courses during the summer/intersession. A Liberal Studies major can graduate without completing a teaching credential, as long as they meet all Liberal Studies major, core and concentration requirements, as well as all other university graduation requirements.

Students are urged to declare the Liberal Studies major early in the program to ensure efficient progress through the degree. It is important to complete LBST 100 and one of the MATH 115, 130, or 150 courses in the first year, or as soon as possible. In order to complete credential requirements successfully, students should apply to the undergraduate teaching credential program in the second semester of the sophomore year. The required coursework includes courses for the major, including concentration courses, and credential preparation courses. The major courses provide instruction in the content that is tested on the CSET (California Subject Matter Competency) exams. Within the major requirements, there are specialized courses designed for future educators; many of these courses also introduce the content standards for that particular subject and fulfill core curriculum requirements. Only grades of C or higher satisfy core and concentration course requirements in the major. Only grades of B– or higher satisfy credential preparation course requirements. No courses may be taken pass/fail. LBST 495 is the capstone requirement for the program and should be taken within the last 30 units. For students completing a teaching credential in addition to the Liberal Studies major, the CSET exams must be passed prior to student teaching.

It is important for all Liberal Studies majors to meet regularly with their academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences to ensure that all graduation requirements are met in a timely manner. Upon admission to the teaching credential program, students should also meet regularly with their Credential Program advisor in SOLES.

Liberal Studies majors may elect the Combined BA/MEd Teacher Education Program (CTEP) pathway offered jointly with SOLES, in which students earn the Liberal Studies BA, a preliminary Multiple Subject teaching credential, and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction in as little as five years. For MEd program information and course descriptions, please refer to the section in the Graduate Course Catalog for SOLES, Department of Learning and Teaching. Students who are interested in the CTEP pathway should consult with the Liberal Studies program director during their sophomore or junior year.