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Becoming a High School Mathematics Teacher

Teaching can be an exciting and rewarding career, and high school mathematics teachers are in high demand. Teachers are highly qualified and highly trained professionals, and the requirements to become a teacher are demanding. The information below will help you to meet the requirements to become a high school mathematics teacher.

Single Subject Credential

Teaching high school mathematics in California requires a Single Subject Credential in Mathematics. This is a 1-year post-baccalaureate program that is typically completed immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. California State University, Fullerton offers the only nationally accredited program in Orange County, and graduates of the CSUF Single Subject Credential in Mathematics program have been highly successful in their teaching careers. Please contact Dr. Cherie Ichinose.



Admission Requirements

In order to apply to the program, students must complete both of the following requirements:

  1. 1. Subject Matter Preparation: Secondary teachers must be competent and knowledgeable in the subject(s) they teach. This competency may be documented in one of two ways:
  • Subject Matter Preparation Program (SMPP) coursework option:

Also known as the “math major” option, candidates may demonstrate subject matter preparation by completing a series of coursework equivalent to earning a BA in Mathematics in the Teaching Concentration, or in another concentration with a Teaching cognate. This series of coursework is referred to as a Subject Matter Preparation Program. The required classes are listed at This option is recommended for most candidates.

  • CSET option:

Candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in another subject may demonstrate subject matter preparation by successfully passing the California Subject Exam for Teachers. Three subtests are required:

  1. o#110 Subtest I Mathematics Algebra; Number Theory
  2. o#111 Subtest II Mathematics Geometry; Probability and Statistics
  3. o#112 Subtest III Mathematics Calculus; History of Mathematics

                        More information is available at

  1. 2.Prerequisite Education Coursework:

Secondary teachers must successfully complete a series of prerequisite education courses before entering the credential program. These courses are

  • EDSC 310
  • EDSC 320
  • EDSC 330
  • EDSC 340
  • In addition, EDSC 304 may be taken before or during the credential program.

Additional information on applying to the program can be found at



Credential Coursework

The credential program normally requires two semesters of coursework:

In the Extern Semester (First Semester), candidates complete 250 hours of fieldwork and are gradually inducted into the student teaching experience in an environment of collegiality and support. They become familiar with their master teachers and the characteristics, programs, and cultures of their school assignments. They also attend weekly seminars on general pedagogy (EDSC 440S), content-specific methods (MAED 442), and teaching English learners (EDSC 410). Throughout the program, candidatures develop skills and knowledge to meet the California Teaching Performance Expectations. They are observed twice by a University Supervisor and complete two of the Teaching Performance Assessments: Subject-Specific Pedagogy and Designing Instruction.

In the Student Teaching Semester, (Second Semester) of the program, each student teacher takes full control of three classes per day for 18 weeks and has a conference and preparation period. During this semester, candidates attend a weekly content-specific seminar (449S), are observed periodically by their University Supervisor and complete the remaining teaching performance assessments: Assessing Learning and Culminating Teaching Experience Task.



Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the minimum mathematics that I need?
You must be Subject Matter Competent, which is to have the equivalent of a mathematics major, to enter the program. (Follow link for further details.)

How long does it take to earn a credential?
The program takes one full year. During this year, it will be nearly impossible for you to hold a full time job because you will be in a classroom at least five hours a day in addition to having classes and homework at night.

Is there any financing available to me?
Here are four places to check for financial aid:

When can I start the program? How do I apply?
We accept students for both the fall and spring semesters. The deadline for the fall semester is February 28. The deadline for the spring semester is September 30. All documentation must be turned in by that time to the Education Office. This means successful passage of CBEST as well as other materials needed. (For the application packet of mandated requirements, please attend an overview held in the Education College.)

What grade point average do I need to be accepted?
In order to be accepted to the university, you must have a 2.75 GPA both overall and also in the major courses. Exceptions to this rule are made only in extreme, rare cases.

What else do I need to be admitted to the university?
All inquiries about admissions to the university should be directed to admissions, not the mathematics department.

Is teaching for me?
There is nothing more satisfying than teaching high school students, but it is also very demanding and quite intense. You do not really finish at 3:00 pm or get summers off! Both of those statements are myths.

For those who are just finishing up their mathematics major:

How do I demonstrate subject matter competency?
If you are a CSUF major, please see your advisor to have him or her sign off your SMPP waiver. If you are a mathematics major from an institution which gives subject matter competency waivers, please obtain one and include it with your application.  If you are a mathematics major from an institution which does not have waivers, please fax your transcripts to the Mathematics Education Committee, c/o Dr. Margaret Kidd (FAX: 657-278-8158) for an evaluation.  You will be notified if you are deficient in any necessary courses.

Can I work at the school where I am student teaching?
The program at CSUF requires two semesters to complete.  Accepting a job during the first semester (going Professional Track) is not allowed unless you have already been teaching full time in a public school for at least one year.  Accepting a job during the second semester is sometimes permitted if your supervisor, both master teachers, and the credential coordinator agree individually and as a group that your first semester work is far above average.  This is determined on a case by case basis and is not usually granted.

For those who have a major other than mathematics:

I have a bachelor’s degree in another subject.  What do I need to demonstrate subject matter competence?
If your major is not mathematics, please see the list of required courses below that must be completed before applying to the program.

I have completed the education prerequisite courses.  Are there more courses I need?
There are two different sets of prerequisite courses for entering the credential program-those in education and those in mathematics.

This is too many math courses for me.  What else can I do if I want to teach math?
If you do not have a degree in mathematics and are not interested in pursuing one, you may want to consider teaching middle school mathematics.  That program, Foundation Level, is housed in the Education College, not the mathematics department.  Please contact them for further information.                         

For those who are changing careers:

I must change careers.  What is the first step in starting the program?
If you have not been in a public high school classroom, other than your children's, in the last ten years, please arrange to volunteer or substitute teach for a semester before applying to the program.  This is for your own benefit!

I do not have all of the required courses.  Do I need to return to college?
If your major is fairly close to a mathematics major (see the list of required courses), an engineering degree for example, you may want to consider taking the state approved CSET exams instead of taking the courses required for the SMPP.  Refer to the state site for more information.

For general information or questions about the overall CSUF Single Subject Credential Program please see the Secondary Education Website: