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Single Subjects Preliminary Credential

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Accreditation

CCTC Accreditation


1. Program Summary

1.1 Program Summary

University Overview

Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) is a not-for-profit institution of higher education, established nearly 100 years ago, providing a first-class college education to members of the greater Los Angeles community, with a significant student enrollment of low-income, first-generation college attendees. A Hispanic-Serving Institution, MSMU presently offers academic programs of instruction leading to Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate (Doctor of Physical Therapy or Clinical Psychology (PsyD)), primarily through traditional classroom-based delivery modality, from two campuses (Chalon and Doheny) in the City of Los Angeles.

Since 1960, Mount Saint Mary's University has offered coeducational graduate programs that offer masters degrees and attract women and men of all ages, religious backgrounds, and professional interests to the University's Doheny Campus. MSMU currently has 11 active graduate programs, 9 of which are at the Masters level, and 2 at the Doctoral level. MSMU enrolls approximately 900 students in graduate programs.

The Education Department serves undergraduate and graduate students seeking credentials and/or degrees. Many of our graduate students are already teaching in local Catholic Schools as they work toward credentials and masters. All candidates take classes together, despite coming from different pathways. Our aim is for candidates to be able to understand course material from multiple perspectives. In addition, candidates currently teaching offer insights that show use of the theories in practical application. Undergraduate candidates, completing their credentials concurrently with their degrees, often ask questions of their more experienced peers to help them prepare for their practice lessons that are part of their early fieldwork. In addition, all preliminary credential candidates take foundational courses together. This allows for good communication between those teaching or planning to teach in elementary, secondary, or education specialist positions and sets them up for collaborations as practicing educators.

*Please note that all content in this review describe our program without accommodations due to COVID-19. Please see the section related to COVID-19 to see what temporary modifications have been put into place. 

Program Design

Leadership within the credential program. The Chair of the Education Department reports directly to the Provost. Program Directors (Preliminary Credential Programs in Multiple Subjects, Single Subjects, and Education Specialist and the Clear Credential Program (Induction) work closely with each other and the Chair, ensuring that standards are being met in the curricula. Each of the three preliminary directors is responsible for a set of shared courses in addition to the courses specific to their program. There are several pathways within each preliminary program, including options for earning a credential concurrent with a bachelor’s degree. The Coordinator for the Liberal Studies program works with undergraduate candidates to ensure that they take the necessary courses for both their degree and their credential. Currently, students who complete our full, re-structured Liberal Studies program qualify for the Elementary Subject Matter (ESM) waiver for content competency needed to obtain their credential in California. Although rare, undergraduate students seeking a dual credential with Multiple Subjects and Education Specialist, will also be advised by the Director for the Education Specialist Program. Undergraduate students seeking a Single Subject credential will complete their degree in a specific content working with their major advisor and also consulting with the Director for the Single Subject Program.

Communication within the credential program and with the institution. The Chair is a member of Graduate Council (for candidates seeking credentials post-baccalaureate) and a member of the Academic Leadership Council (which oversees undergraduate students and programs).

Structure of coursework and field experiences in the credential program. The preliminary credential programs infuse early fieldwork experiences beginning with the first semester (unless a candidate begins in the summer). Programs (except DHH) do not require a full cohort model, but due to courses only being offered once per year, expected time to completion is based on a Fall start. Beginning in Spring or Summer allows for a slightly slower pace toward completion. Programs are designed for the working professional (often Catholic or other private school teachers already working full-time in the classroom or paraprofessionals in public settings) or full-time undergraduate students working to obtain a credential concurrent with their degree. Thus, we function as a part-time program where students take their courses in the evenings. Fieldwork hours, however, occur during the PK-12 academic hours. For those in their own classroom, a portion of the early fieldwork must still be completed in the school sites arranged by the University. Elementary and Education Specialist candidates are placed in classrooms each semester for early fieldwork experiences. Secondary candidates work with Content Area Coaches, assigned through their methods courses to complete early fieldwork. These Coaches also teach a portion of each methods course to provide content-specific pedagogy theory and practice. Undergraduates may sign up for “lab hours”, such as 154L, to carve out time in their academic coursework to visit classrooms on a consistent basis. All students submit logs that are reviewed by advisors each semester to ensure they will have a minimum of 150 hours of supported early fieldwork prior to their semester in supervised teaching.

Program modifications over the recent two years (excluding those due to COVID-19). The Education Department has focused on continued improvement of our data collection and analysis in the past two years. Our annual holiday party, which shifted into a working meeting for programs to convene full-time and part-time faculty, and other university support members (supervisors, coaches, etc.) followed by a gathering for dinner, has continued to guide our improvement. In the past two years, we have focused on creating a common Syllabus template that includes elements of inclusivity and have utilized a module created to introduce the reasons and tips for creating inclusive Syllabi. This more inviting introduction to the course and what is needed for success also serves as a good model to candidates for creating inclusive environments in their own classrooms. A second area of focus was on assuring that all faculty were using the MSMU common lesson plan template. Foundation courses might choose to “grey out” certain elements of the lesson plan template, as candidates might not yet have been introduced to the skills needed to complete those elements, but the exposure to the full-expectation for the end of the program and the culminating TPAs is seen as valuable. Most recently, the focus of these meetings has been on the redesign of our supervised teaching evaluation document. While we wanted to ensure that all TPEs that could be observed in this phase of the program could be evaluated, the revision focused on making the document more user friendly to both the candidate and the supervisor/cooperating teacher completing the form. The new form was piloted during the Spring 2021 semester.

The Education Specialist: Deaf and Hard of Hearing credential also saw some modifications in the last year. Candidates in that program are now taking more courses alongside other MSMU credential students. Although much of their clinical practice must still take place at the John Tracy Clinic facility, candidates in this program are now more intimately a part of the full MSMU community. Other minor changes have occurred in the curriculum as we ensure that the new TPEs are being adequately addressed throughout the program.

Means for Stakeholder Input. Our annual December adjunct meeting and convening of university supervisors is one formal means of gathering stakeholder input. In addition, we have sought input from members of our partner schools (Principals, cooperating teachers, alumni) in modifying course materials and collecting and analyzing data. From these data sharing opportunities, we have learned of needs for additional resources to support the passing of certain CSET examinations and RICA. These led to support to students to join, additional workshops focusing on elementary level mathematics, and a partnership with another institution to offer support for RICA. Additionally, we have begun work with our partner schools on identifying what makes an MSMU credential graduate unique—which may add to our current dispositions descriptions and processes.

Course of Study (Curriculum and Field Experience)

Description of the sequence of coursework. Courses are taken in each of three semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer) and are designed to begin in the Fall. It is possible to begin in other semesters, but that choice results in a slower pace of progressing through the programs, as most courses are only taught in a particular semester. While it is possible to take some courses out of order, the courses specific to each program (methods courses) are best taken in order. Exceptions to this are sometimes made for in-service teachers with experience levels that would allow them to successfully navigate the courses in an alternative order. *Note: Many of our candidates are Catholic school teachers with 1-10+ years of teaching experience seeking a credential.

Coordination of coursework with fieldwork. Fieldwork is infused throughout the programs, culminating in a final semester of full-time supervised teaching. Early fieldwork assignments are also included in some of the foundation courses. All students log hours with details about what was observed and with whom a debrief occurred. These logs are reviewed each semester to ensure students fulfill a minimum of 150 hours prior to supervised teaching. Elementary and Education Specialist candidates are placed in classrooms to enable observation and data collection with real students that are coordinated with course assignments. Secondary candidates are assigned a content-area coach in each of their methods courses. Candidates are able to visit their coach’s classrooms to allow for needed observations, data collection, and debriefing. Summer courses do not have associated fieldwork, but utilize realistic sample student files to practice using data to inform planning and teaching.

Type of Coursework in Critical areas. Learning about English learners and Exceptional students occurs in specific courses and throughout the program. Methods courses include consideration of English language skills and special needs in designing lessons and units. The final methods courses for both the elementary and secondary programs (Education specialists take at least one of these courses) is co-taught by an instructor specializing in literacy and an instructor from the Education Specialist program to guide candidates in using the tools learned in foundation courses as they create literacy lessons. For example, in the final methods course for the secondary program, candidates are introduced to three focus students with different special needs, read their “files”, and discuss potential accommodations. Final lesson plans must include accommodations for at least one of these profiled “students”, along with one real student with an English language need from their coach’s classroom, where they will guest teach a lesson from their unit plan. 

Number and type of field placements. Preliminary program students are expected to complete 50 hours each semester (excluding summer) prior to their full supervised teaching semester. Most candidates will fulfill this 150-hour requirement through the course assignments in the program. Candidates must log their hours and submit their running log each semester for tracking by their program director. Any hours not related to course assignments must be approved using the alternative fieldwork petition. The final semester includes 14+ weeks of full-time supervised teaching, resulting in a minimum of 450 hours of additional fieldwork.

Connection of field experience with coursework. Both foundation and methods courses include assignments that require candidates to collect data at selected field sites. These assignments help guide the candidates in how to learn about students and the available resources at school sites. In addition, while coursework is grounded in theory, there is a strong emphasis in practical application as candidates prepare for their culminating semester of full-time supervised teaching.

Field supervision, advisement, and evaluation. Early fieldwork experiences are guided by course instructors, coaches, and PK-12 school personnel. During supervised teaching, candidates are observed at least 6 times per course. Candidates that we place in full-time supervised teaching with a cooperating teacher (district-employed teacher) complete 2 courses in one semester. After each observed lesson, candidates receive written observation notes, an opportunity for debriefing, and review of the candidate’s lesson plan by the university supervisor. Candidates also receive formal written feedback mid-way through the semester, and at the end from their university supervisor and cooperating teacher.

Assessment of Candidates

The student handbook outlines the core requirements of the teacher preparation programs. Candidates are first introduced to the requirements during the initial meeting with their advisor. Each semester, candidates continue to meet with their advisor to discuss program progression. Dispositional competencies are introduced in the first advisement, and are monitored by instructors in designated courses throughout the program. In addition, there exists a policy for generating a notice of concern that can be submitted by any of the program education personnel, including cooperating teachers and supervisors. Pedagogical competencies are tied to the TPEs. These are introduced to the candidates in their first methods course for their program. Informal and formal feedback and opportunities for self-assessment by the candidate occur throughout the program.

1.1.1 Location, Delivery Models, and Pathways

LocationDelivery ModelPathway
Doheny Campus In-Person with some courses Hybrid* Undergraduate — Traditional Student Teaching 
Doheny Campus In-Person with some courses Hybrid* Graduate — Traditional Student Teaching 
Doheny Campus In-Person with some courses Hybrid* Graduate — Private School 
Doheny Campus In-Person with some courses Hybrid* Graduate — Intern 

*During COVID-related restrictions, all courses were temporarily converted to fully online.