Subject Matter Competency

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) requires that Education Specialist candidates prove they possess a body of appropriate knowledge that reflects California State Standards. While the Department of Special Education requires that Subject Matter be met as a condition for admission to the program, candidates may be given one additional semester after admission to meet this requirement.

The Subject Matter Requirement (SMR) is required for all credential candidates in the Extensive Support Needs, Mild to Moderate Support Needs, and Visual Impairment programs. *Candidates for the Early Childhood Special Education and Orientation & Mobility programs are exempt.

For detailed information about the Subject Matter requirement, you can refer to the CTC Website on Subject Matter.

Submitting the Subject Matter Requirement

Candidates may submit any score reports or completed SMR Degree Waiver requests to the Department of Special Education at Please send electronic or scanned copies – pictures will not be accepted. If opting to use coursework or a mix of options, complete a SMR Degree Waiver request form and submit along with a set of official transcripts.

Submission Instructions for Prospective Candidates

Under the Program Materials section of the Cal State Apply application, go to the Documents tab and upload your score report/waiver.

  • SMR Waivers – upload your form to the Supplemental Materials section
  • CSET Exams or Registrations – upload to the corresponding section, either CSET Multiple Subjects or CSET Single Subject

SMR Waiver requests will not be reviewed until after your application has been submitted. If you intend to use exams but have not yet taken them, you may upload proof of registration for a qualifying exam that must include the test name and date.

How to Meet Subject Matter

These are the various ways candidates can meet the Subject Matter Requirement:

Candidates can complete a commission-approved subject matter program that addresses the subject matter domains through coursework. Typically a credential analyst or designee at the institution you took the courses must provide a letter or form verifying completion.

Candidates can take and pass a qualifying CSET Exam. For details about the CSETs and for registration information, please visit the California Assessment website.

  1. CSET: Multiple Subjects: Candidates must pass all three subtests of the CSET: Multiple Subjects.
  2. CSET Single Subject: Candidates must pass all subtests of a qualifying Single Subject CSET. Qualifying CSETs must be in a core academic area including Art, English, Music, Mathematics (including Foundational-Level Mathematics), Foreign Language, Science including (Foundational-Level General Science or Specialized Science), and Social Science. The number of subtests vary depending on the subject area.

If a candidate holds a bachelor’s degree or higher in one of the following areas, this will demonstrate subject matter competency for that subject area:

  1. Liberal Studies
  2. Agriculture
  3. Art
  4. Business
  5. Dance
  6. English
  7. World Language (in any of the languages for which there is a credential)
  8. Health Science
  9. Home Economics
  10. Industrial and Technology Education
  11. Mathematics
  12. Music
  13. Physical Education
  14. Science (including Biology, Chemistry, Geoscience or Earth and Space Science, and
  15. Physics)
  16. Social Science
  17. Theater

Degree title must be an exact match with the areas above in order to qualify. Applied majors (e.g. Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics) and additional modifiers (e.g. Art History, Environmental Biology) are also acceptable, but must include the specific area in the title.

Candidates who qualify for the Subject Matter Waiver through degree match can complete the SMR Waiver form and submit it to the Department of Special Education at with a copy of their official transcript.

Candidates who do not qualify through Degree Major can demonstrate subject matter competency through coursework. The candidate must demonstrate they have taken courses that cover all subject domains of a given CSET exam. Note that each domain may also have sub-areas that all need to be met as well.

Example: if a candidate wishes to domain match with the CSET: Social Science, the candidate must show coursework that covers all six domains of this CSET. If any domain/subtest is not covered, then it will be considered incomplete. Below are additional resources that list the domains per each CSET as well as a description of each domain.

  1. List of Domains by CSET
  2. Description of all domains

Candidates can mix and match methods to meet subject matter requirement within a given subject area. For example, if a candidate takes and passes two out of the three subtests for the CSET: Multiple Subjects, they can use domain review/coursework to meet the requirements of the third subtest.