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School of Teacher Education

School of Teacher Education

Liberal Studies
SDSU Liberal Studies

Pathways to Teaching

On this page: Learn about the elementary education emphasis, generalist emphasis, middle school math or science emphasis, and the ITEP emphasis.


Why Choose a Teaching Career? 

Why Choose the Liberal Studies Major?

The Liberal Studies major satisfies the Senate Bill 2042 requirements for Elementary Subject Matter programs approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in September 2001. The major includes a number of courses specifically designed for future elementary teachers including children’s literature, linguistics, mathematics, inquiry-based science, early world and United States/ California history for teachers, hands-on art and performing arts courses, physical education of children, and child development.

Explore These Pathways to Teaching

Numerous pathways are open to you as you consider the possibilities available in the teaching profession. You might choose to pursue an elementary education emphasis with a literacy focus and a Special Education option. Or you might choose to teach English, math, or science at the middle school level.

Both the Elementary Education Emphasis and the Education Generalist Emphasis are designed for students who intend to teach elementary school, especially the upper grades (4-6), or students who wish to complete their credential program in other parts of the state. Students are able to complete the traditional major and specialization in 8 semesters and, if desired, a post-baccalaureate credential program during a ninth and tenth semester. Students have 12 units of electives to use for study abroad and other enriching opportunities.

The Middle School Extended Pathway is designed for students who want the option to teach both elementary and middle school. Students complete the traditional Liberal Studies major plus an expanded specialization that includes subject area coursework in Mathematics or Science.

The ITEP 4-year emphasis combines the study of academic subjects with professional preparation courses and field experiences in an accelerated program. It will be available as early as fall 2018.

Follow the links below to explore various pathways to teaching that are available to you with a Liberal Studies degree from SDSU:

Elementary Education Emphasis

This emphasis is designed primarily for students who wish to teach at the elementary school level or pursue a career that requires an interdisciplinary liberal arts degree. The elementary education emphasis provides the greatest flexibility in meeting specific career goals or pursuing a variety of interests. Students in the elementary education emphasis complete both a focus and an option.

Education Generalist Emphasis

This emphasis is designed as preparation for teaching in elementary school, and it is open only to transfer students. Students choose a literacy, mathematics, or science focus; no option is required. Students who choose the literacy focus in this emphasis complete the units and coursework required to earn a Middle School Subject Matter Authorization in English, provided they earn a grade of C or better in each course. When coupled with a multiple subject credential, this authorization allows individuals to teach elementary school or English in middle school.

Middle School Extended Pathway (Math or Science Emphasis)

Students who major in Liberal Studies and wish to teach math or science at the middle school level can choose to follow an extended pathway. This means that in addition to the core coursework required by the major, students will complete additional coursework in their discipline to address middle school math or science content in greater depth.

ITEP 4-Year Emphasis

To ease the growing K-12 shortage in California, California policymakers have made it possible for teacher preparation programs to provide “Integrated Teacher Education Programs” (ITEP). It combines the study of academic subjects with professional preparation courses and field experiences. Funds will be used to expand the number of teacher candidates seeking credentials in the areas that are most needed: Bilingual, Math/ Science, and Special Education. SDSU is planning to offer these ITEP options as early as Fall 2019.


Note: If you choose to pursue a single subject credential, teaching at the high school level is also an option. Learn more about high school teaching opportunities.


Photo: elementary school classroom

Focus and Option

  • Focus: As a Liberal Studies major, you will choose a focus in either literacy, mathematics, or science.
  • Option: Options are 6 to 7 units that you choose, based upon your interests. Option courses may help you meet prerequisites to a credential program (bilingual or special education) or the TESL certificate. If you choose a math or science focus, additional optional courses may prepare you to teach at the middle school level. (There is no option requirement for the Education Generalist Emphasis.)
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