About Special Education

There are many reasons students choose to attend the Special Education master’s program at CSULB. Cal State Long Beach is among the top 1% of all public universities, best-value four-year colleges and universities, and those institutions that are “Most Transformative,” according to a series of rankings released Tuesday by the online magazine, Money.

For these rankings, Money assessed factors such as educational quality, tuition, financial aid awards, graduation rates, debt load and early-career earnings to yield No. 17 (Best Public University), No. 27 (four-year institutions ranked by value), No. 11 (Most Transformative) spots. The university was previously recognized as No. 7 nationally in College Net’s Social Mobility Index, a survey that examines how well colleges and universities advance their low-income students into high-wage jobs. 

Additionally, there are numerous universities, college, and program-specific grants, scholarships and assistantships available to students to offset tuition fees. Our Special Education program was recently awarded two U.S. Department of Education OSEP grants to train special education teachers to work with school counselors in culturally responsive practices as well as transition-age foster youth and culturally and linguistically diverse learners. As a result, approximately 4-8 students every year receive over $10,000 in training stipends. For more information about the training grants, go to Financing Your Education to learn more.

A teaching credential in special education prepares candidates with knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach students with disabilities in public schools as well as in charter, non-public schools and other programs. Teachers must be licensed with a special education credential in order to plan and design instruction, adapt lessons and activities, assess students, and manage students’ individualized education programs (IEPs).

In contrast, a master’s degree is a graduate academic degree in special education provides specialized knowledge often times involving research and scholarship as well as enhanced knowledge in special education. A master’s degree may be required for salary increases in a school district or for leadership positions beyond a teaching credential such as a curriculum leader, induction coach, or master teacher. A master’s degree may also be required to apply to doctoral programs.

To learn more about the Special Education Credential Program (ESCP) at CSULB, please visit the Special Education Credential Program website.



Please visit the Application Process page

Visit the GSO Tips & Tutorials for Applying page for an application flow chart, advice on how to be a competitive applicant, and free resources and tips on the statement of purpose, letters of recommendations, and resume.

The GPA requirement is a minimum 2.85 overall grade point average in last degree (not credential or certificate) earned from an accredited institution of higher education. For more information please see the Eligibility Requirements. 

No, applicants do not need to take the GRE to be admitted into the program.

You must submit one set of official transcripts from the college or university from which you earned your bachelor's degree. Pathway 1 applicants who did not complete coursework at CSULB will also submit official transcripts from the college or university from which you completed your post-baccalaureate teaching credential program. Please visit the Submit Official Transcript website for more information.  

No. Students complete the pre-requisites during their first year in the program.

Two. For additional information on recommendations, please visit the Online Application Submission. 

Recommendations are due by the MyCED application deadline. For additional information on recommendations and the MyCED application deadline, please visit the Online Application Submission website.

Graduate school fees are set by the CSU Board of Trustees each academic year. The current fee structure may be found on the Enrollment Services website. The approximate cost as of Fall 2024 ranges from an estimated cost of $8,580 for students on pathway 1 and $14,305 for pathway 2 for residents in California.

The CSULB Special Education program is committed to social justice and equity. Therefore, faculty seek a diverse group of students whose unique professional or personal experiences add to the curriculum and instruction of the program. Public school experience with students with disabilities and a commitment to social justice are positive assets that we hope to see among applicants. A strong academic record such as solid grades and strong letters of recommendation will also increase your chances of being admitted to the program.


The Special Education program is a fully online program. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires International applicants (F1 visa) to be enrolled in at least 8 units every semester, and must take at least 6 units of coursework with an in-person or hybrid modality. This program is fully online and does not meet this requirement. We would like to encourage you to consider applying to one of our CSULB College of Education graduate programs that has in-person or hybrid classes, as that this program will not meet the requirements for a student visa. Please visit the International Applicants tab for more information.


Degree Requirements

Students can bring up to four post-baccalaureate credential classes (12 semester units) from an accredited institution with approval into the Master of Science in Special Education program

There are two pathways in the MS program. Students in Pathway 1 can complete the program in as few as 3 semesters or 1.5 academic years. In Pathway 2 students may compete the master’s program in four semesters or 2 academic years. Please see the Program Description page to learn more about these pathways.


Pathway 1 is a fully online program designed for classroom teachers who completed an accredited post-baccalaureate credential program. These students complete 6 core classes and would potentially use 12 post-baccalaureate semester units to reach the 30 unit minimum required for the degree. Students may finish the program in three semesters.  

Pathway 2 is designed for non-credentialed teachers who work in a private school or internationally and do not have a teaching credential. These students also complete 6 fully online core classes as well as an additional 4 classes (12 units) that support their educational interests to reach the 30 unit minimum required for the degree. Students may finish the program in three or four semesters and classes are offered in a combination of online, hybrid and in-person. Please note that Pathway 2 is NOT to "clear" a credential. 

Typical Pathway 1

  • CSULB alumni who reserved credential courses for post-baccalaureate credit , or took classes in post-baccalaureate status, from an accredited university
  • Non-CSULB alumni who reserved credential courses for post-baccalaureate, or took classes in post-baccalaureate status, from an accredited university
  • Classes may not have been used toward another degree and must have been completed within 7 years
  • Final review and guarantee of what will count toward Pathway 1 is made after students are offered admission

Typical Pathway 2

  • Completed requirements for a teaching credential but did not earn post-baccalaureate units from an accredited university. For example, someone who completed a BA+credential program but did not reserve units for post-baccalaureate use or completed requirements through a district
  • Private school teacher who does have a teaching credential
  • International students who do not have a California teaching credential with post-baccalaureate units from an accredited university
  • Classroom support staff who do not have a teaching credential
  • Teach for America or other K-12 education professionals
  • Those who have post-baccalaureate teaching credential units from an accredited university but completed more than 7 years ago

No, this program does not lead to earning a teaching credential. If you are interested in earning a teaching credential, please contact the CSULB Teacher Preparation Advising Center (TPAC). CSULB does not offer any programs that combine a teaching credential and master's degree. 


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