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Masters of Arts in Teaching with Education Specialist Credential

Sac Metro Special Education Teacher Residency (SMSTR)

In 1 year, become a “Day One” ready teacher while getting paid to earn your credential. Residents receive $38,000 in scholarship to pay for tuition, books, etc. and support in applying for additional grants up to $20,000. Learn more about our new Sacramento Metro Special Education Teacher Residency scholarship program for the one-year pathway.

Why a Teacher Residency flyer

Is this program for me?

Do you:

  • Have your bachelor’s degree (or will by the time you start our program)?
  • Aspire to teach and empower families and children with disabilities?
  • Love to work closely with students and families to figure out who they are and what works best for them?
  • Believe ALL individuals can learn and belong in our schools and communities?

Then you should apply to one of our Special Education Programs!

About the Program

Become an Education Specialist while earning your Master of Arts in Teaching!

An Education Specialist is a credentialed special education teacher who is authorized to conduct educational assessments related to access to and progress within the core curriculum and provide educational support to students with disabilities in their area of specialization. Our special education programs are committed to age-appropriate, strengths-based, integrated educational programs for students with disabilities. Special education means support services, not placement in special education classrooms. Our courses are offered in the spirit and practice of inclusive education with a strong emphasis for providing high quality and rigorous special education services in the general education environment. Candidates develop skills in discovering ways for students to participate meaningfully and to be successful without being removed from their peers with or without disabilities.

Teach Special Education

Why Special Education Teachers matter

Teachers who specialize in supporting and providing educational services to children and youth with disabilities are powerful change agents in their lives. They build meaningful relationships with their students, gain a deeper understanding of who they are so that they can then partner with the students, their families, and their school teams to build a plan of supports and services that tap into students’ unique ways of learning and communicating. In the field of special education, we often celebrate those little successes that make a huge difference, like when a student independently uses their communication device for the first time, or attends the school dance with their friends, or learns a new strategy for reading. We see our job as breaking down barriers in their environment and instruction to increase students’ success and joy. When we are equity-minded, student-centered, and evidence-based then our students and their families feel a sense of belonging, feel empowered, and become as independent as possible.

Our Graduates

Photo of Cynthia Ordonez

I chose Sac State because it offered a Dual Program in which I could obtain my Mild/ Mod with Multiple Subjects Credential—providing me with more education and professional possibilities…. Being a second-grade teacher was an opportunity that I was not willing to pass because it was a chance for me to construct a classroom where all my students felt welcomed, safe, and included—fostering social justice.

Cynthia Ordonez | 2022

Photo of Jacob Mickelsen-Steele

It has been my experience that the professors in the College of Education truly enjoy what they do. They are supportive and they listen to their students. As educators themselves, they know what we are going through, what resources we will need, and how we can obtain our goals.

Jacob Mickelson-Steele | 2022

Hear Jacob's perspective

Photo of Geraldine Pelayo

One of my favorite memories in my career as a special education teacher is when I had a student that was in 3rd grade run her own Individual Education Plan or IEP meeting. We created a PowerPoint so that she could lead the meeting and the student had everyone including the principal laughing but also astonished at how well a 3rd-grade student could run her IEP meeting and bring joy to a meeting in such a natural way.

Geraldine Pelayo | 2021

Hear Geraldine's perspective

Meet the Faculty—Dr. Cindy Collado

Meet the Faculty—Dr. Kathy Gee

Meet the Faculty—Dr. Eric Claravall

Career Options

You have many career options when you earn your Education Specialist credential.

When you earn your ECSE credential you can work as:

  • Early intervention provider, visiting families’ homes to coach them on supporting their infant and/or toddler with disabilities or developmental delays
  • Infant/Toddler center education specialist in special education or inclusive settings
  • Preschool or kindergarten education specialist in special education or inclusive settings
  • Itinerant education specialist, visiting various programs to consult with general education teachers on how to support their preschool, TK, or kindergarten students with disabilities

Depending on your interest in the types of support needs of students, when you earn your MMSN or ESN credential, you can work as:

  • K - 12 Education Specialist in special education or inclusive settings
  • Transition Specialist

And with your masters you can advance over time to more leadership roles such as:

  • Curriculum Development Specialist
  • Education Consultant
  • Curriculum Evaluator

What are the Salaries like?

As a blended Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education (MAT-SPED) with any of our special education credentials, our graduates start at a higher pay level due to the master’s degree and additional units.

Starting salaries range from $45,000-$55,000. There are currently many signing bonuses available.

Program Pathways

All program applications are due February 1st

Preliminary Credential Program Pathways

Our programs offer a blended preliminary education specialist credential teacher preparation program with Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education (MAT). Students complete their credential then can opt to continue for one more year to complete their MAT-specific coursework while working in the field. Some students either continue with the MAT in the summer following graduating with their credential or return later to complete it within 7 years from admission into the program.

All Preliminary Credential Programs offer two pathways to earning your preliminary education specialist credential:

  1. 1-year, Summer start (3 semester) Residency/Student Teaching Pathway

    This pathway is an intensive program for non-working student teachers & Residents of the Sacramento Metro Special Education Teacher Residency scholarship (SMSTR). The Field Coordinator places you in a classroom relevant to your credential 4 to 5 days a week. With this option, students are not able to work during the week as they are completing their fieldwork as volunteers in their coordinating teachers’ programs/classrooms and taking courses in the evenings and during the day. Financial supports can make this possible!
  2. 2-year, Fall start (4 to 5 semester) Working/Intern Pathway

    This pathway is for those seeking to work in a classroom/program while completing their credential; typically for those pursuing an intern credential in their second year of the program (click here to learn more about our intern option: Guidelines for EDSP Intern Credentials). With this option, students intend to work in a classroom or program relevant to their credential such as a paraprofessional or emergency permit teacher (perhaps eventually as an intern). They work with Sac State education specialist program’s field coordinator to review and approve their place of employment as their fieldwork site since you they will be working in a program or classroom where you they will complete their fieldwork experience during the day while taking courses in the evenings. Note: students will need to gain experience in a variety of classrooms thus may need to change positions in their second year or find time to observe and complete fieldwork in other classrooms/programs.

Early Childhood Special Education - Added Authorization

For current credentialed Education Specialists or those enrolled in our Mild to Moderate Support Needs (MMSN) or Extensive Supports Needs (ESN) programs, the ECSE-AA offers a one-year pathway to adding on the authorization to teach young children with disabilities birth to preschool. This is an online program.

Explore more about our programs

Credential Concentrations

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

The ECSE credential authorizes you to provide educational services to young children with all types of disabilities birth to kindergarten. Students learn to partner with and coach families raising infants & toddlers with disabilities in their homes and work with a team supporting young children with disabilities in preschool and kindergarten programs. The ECSE program is a distance learning program with courses offered in an online format for students who live more than 30 miles from campus and in a hybrid format for local students. We also offer the ECSE-Added Authorization for current Education Specialists.

Mild to Moderate Support Needs (MMSN)

The MMSN credential authorizes you to provide educational services to children and youth with mild to moderate support needs ages 5 to 22 years old. Students learn to work with a school team to provide supports and services to students with a variety of disabilities who have mild to moderate support needs.

Extensive Support Needs (ESN)

The ESN credential authorizes you to provide educational services to children and youth with significant support needs ages 5 to 22 years old. Students learn to work with a school team to provide supports and services to students with a variety of developmental disabilities who have significant support needs.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH)

The DHH credential authorizes you to provide educational services to children and youth who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing from birth to 22 years old. Students learn to work collaboratively with families, educational teams, the Deaf community, and related service providers to support the diverse linguistic, cultural, and educational needs of DHH students. The program emphasizes the importance of incorporating both American Sign Language (ASL) and English pedagogy to ensure comphrehensive language development in Deaf children. The DHH program offers fully online courses complemented by in-person fieldwork.

MAT in Special Education

The MAT-SPED program focuses on inquiry-based education which includes hands-on instruction with problem-based learning and issues-centered curriculum and a focus on reflection during the teaching and research process. The program foundation rests in social justice and equity in education for all children and youth, including those with disabilities, and their families. The materials and associated activities presented in the MAT coursework are highly integrated to support candidates with successful completion of the Master of Arts in Teaching degree. The MAT-only courses are taken in the summer, fall, and spring after completion of the ECSE, MMSN, or ESN Preliminary credentials. Students have up to 7 years to earn the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT-SPED) with some continuing the summer following their graduation from the credential program while others take a break for one year (or more) before returning to complete their MAT-SPED. Note: taking a Leave of Absence is possible as long as they complete their requirements within the 7 years from admission to the credential + MAT-SPED program.


Have questions about the specialties? Contact one of the program coordinators

  • Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Programs and Field Coordinator - Cindy Collado
  • Mild to Moderate Support Needs (MMSN) Programs and Field Coordinator - Mei Shen
  • Extensive Support Needs (ESN) Programs and Field Coordinator - Kathy Gee
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Programs and Field Coordinator - Nate Dutra
  • Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education (MAT-SPED) Program/Graduate Coordinator - Jean Gonsier-Gerdin
  • Teaching Credentials Chair: Jenna Porter

Learn more!

Information sessions

Financial Supports

Fact Sheets

Sample Weekly Schedules

Ready to Apply?

To apply to one of our two pathways, follow the application procedures for the specific special education program concentration that interests you. Applications for the next cohort to begin each Summer or Fall are due February 1. After February 1st, you will be contacted to sign up for an interview day; at this time, you will indicate your interest in applying to the 1-year, Summer start Residency/Student Teaching Pathway or 2-year, Fall start Working/Intern Pathway by choosing your pathway interview day.

Learn about pre-requisites for the credential programs, download the application and resources, and see who to contact for help with your application: