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Frequently Asked Questions


I am in the B.S. Liberal Studies integrated program, why would I want to switch over to the new catalog (2013-15)?

The new catalog allows a student to receive a concentration in a subject of his/her choosing rather than an emphasis. A concentration is listed in their transcripts but an emphasis is not.  The new curriculum also allows the student to separate the credential from the undergraduate degree, giving both programs better coherency and stronger candidates.   Un-linking programs allows candidates to receive additional pay during their teaching career since the courses needed for a multiple subject credential are taken as post-baccalaureate units.

How do I switch to the new (2013-15) catalog?

Go to the registrar’s office and request a change of catalog form.  Students have a right to catalog choice that matches the start of their university studies and well as current curriculum changes.

Why is the integrated program no longer offered at Cal Poly (B.S. with first quarter of credential program)?

Un-linking the two programs  (B.S. and credential) allows candidates to pursue additional areas of concentrations (minors or ISMAs) as undergraduates and creates a more coherent credential program.  Also, unlinked credential candidates may benefit from having additional post-baccalaureate units to count for professional salary (45 quarter units).

Where can I gain access to a LS curriculum sheet and flowchart to guide me in scheduling classes?

Hard copies are located just outside of the Liberal Studies office (25-125B). Electronic copies are located at the website: 

What is the difference between a concentration and emphasis?

A concentration (13-15 curriculum) is a block of at least 5 designated courses from a list of designated courses in an approved subject of your choosing versus an emphasis (11-13 curriculum and older) , which is 16 units, 4 courses, in which 8 units need to be upper division in a subject of your choice.  A concentration is included in your transcripts while an emphasis is not.

What subjects can I concentrate in?

Biology, Child Development, English, Kinesiology, Mathematics, Performing Arts, Physical Sciences, History/Social Science, Spanish, and Teaching English as a Second Language

How do I declare a concentration?

To declare your catalog and concentration, please send an email to "" IMPORTANT: YOU MUST SEND THIS EMAIL FROM YOUR CAL POLY E-MAIL ACCOUNT to verify its authenticity. Your email should begin with a subject line titled: "Insert Your Last name/Concentration Declaration."  In the body of the email, please provide the following information: 






How do I declare an emphasis?

You need to pick up a form at the LS office or CSM advising and list 4 courses with 16 units, 8 units need to be upper division. Please fill out the form 4 quarters before graduation.

When do I declare and emphasis or concentration?

In your Junior year, you should have a good idea of the emphasis or concentration that you want to follow.  Please see faculty advisors or chair if you need any guidance.  Declare your emphasis/concentration four quarters before you graduate.  For most LS students this is the Spring quarter of your third year.

Can I use major support courses to complete an emphasis/concentration?

No, courses listed as major or support cannot be included in your emphasis/concentration.

Where do I pick up the drop a class form?

At the Records Office located in Building 01-222. Most all other forms may be retrieved from you department office.

I’m registering for a class that I am currently taking the prereq for but the system won’t let me register. What do I do?

Contact the instructor and their corresponding Department to request a permission number. 

My substituted courses are not showing up on my Degree Progress report. Who do I contact?

Inquire with the Records Office located in Building 01-222.  Forms take 4-6 weeks to process and you will be notified by e-mail.

My emphasis or concentration courses are not showing up on my profile. Who do I contact?

Inquire with the Records Office located in Building 01-222.  Forms take 4-6 weeks to process and you will be notified by e-mail.

When should I take the CBEST for a multiple subject credential?

The CBEST do not have expiration date and we advise you to take them in your first year at Cal Poly.  This meets the Basic Skills requirement and you may have met these.  Please check on this website for more information: 

What are the basic skill requirements?

For Multiple Subject and Single Subject Teaching Credential candidates, the basic skills requirement (BSR) must be met prior to being assigned daily responsibility for whole-class instruction in student teaching or serving as an intern. In Cal Poly, you are required to have proof that you met the BSR before you start the credential program.

Passage of the California Basic Educational Skills Test™ (CBEST®) remains one of the options. As an added option, candidates who pass all three subtests of CSET: Multiple Subjects AND CSET: Writing Skills will be considered proficient in the basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics and will not be required to take the CBEST to earn a teaching credential. On January 1, 2009, two more options were for satisfying the basic skills requirement.  These are (1) passage of both the English and mathematics sections of the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP) and (2) passage of both the CSU Placement Examinations: English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry-Level Mathematics Test (ELM). For more information regarding the basic skills requirement, see the CTC's website at

When should I take the CSET: multiple subjects exams?

We recommend that you take all three no later than in the summer between your Junior and Senior year.  If you want to take one at a time, here are our recommendations:

CSET Multiple Subjects: Subtest II: Science and Math (test code 102): Take soon after Math 329 and science courses are completed.  

CSET Multiple Subjects: Subtest I: Reading, Language and Literature/History and Social Science (test code 101): - take after ENGL 391 and HIST 210

CSET Multiple Subjects: Subtest III: Physical Education, Human Development and Visual and Performing arts (test code 103):  take after KINE 310, EDUC 207 and LS 370

How do I sign up to take the CBEST/CSETs?

Follow this link: 

What are the requirements I need to complete before applying to the School of Education Multiple Subject Credential Program (MSTEP)?

General information is on this website:

  • Download and complete the MSTEP I application packet
  • Complete pre-requisite coursework
  • EDUC 207  Introduction to the Learner’s Development, Culture, Language, and Identity (4 units)
  • LS 230 Field Experience in the Elementary Classroom I  (2 units) and LS 250  Field Experience in the Elementary Classroom II  (2 units)
  • EDUC 427  Theories, Methods, and Assessments of 1st and 2nd Language Acquisition in Schools (4 units)
  • EDUC 428  Primary Grade (K-3) Literacy and Language Arts Instruction in Schools (4 units)
  • Issuance of Certificate of Clearance
  • Health Clearance Verification (TB and Rubella Clearances)
  • Professional Aptitude Interview (see MSTEP I application)
  • Evidence of completion of the SPEAKING AND WRITING ENGLISH competencies requirement.
  1. WRITING REQUIREMENT. If you are a CSU graduate within the past 7 years, you automatically fulfill the requirement.
  2. COMS 101 Public Speaking or COMS 102 Principles of Speech Communication or exam (4 units) (Speech Requirement)
  1. POLS 112 (3 units) American/California Government (U.S. Constitution Requirement); CSU graduates automatically fulfill this requirement.

Credential Program:

The following requirements must be met prior to recommendation of your preliminary credential. You can complete these requirements before entering, during, or after the program.

  • KINE 250 or KINE 443- Health Education or approved equivalent (4 units)  12. CPR Certification (must include Infant, child, and adult training; online CPR certification is not acceptable).

When should I attend a Multiple Subject credential meeting (MSTEP a.k.a. STEP meeting?

Go to an information meeting during your junior year so you can get general information.  We recommend that you take a second meeting closer to your application- some policies change from year to year.  

When should I complete my MSTEP A/I?

One quarter before graduation.  Make sure that you have all your exams completed before you apply!

What is the difference between the MSTEP A and MSTEP I?

MSTEP A is for students that are in a blended or integrated curricula (2011-13 and earlier).  These curricula include the first quarter of the credential program.  MSTEP I is for students that are in the stand alone B.S. and credential curricula (2013-15 and later).  Students in this curricula will graduate first and then proceed to the credential program.

What is the ISMA and what does it allow you to do?

Introductory Subject Matter Authorization (ISMA) authorize the holder to teach the subject matter content typically included in curriculum guidelines and textbooks approved for study in grades 9 and below. An employer may assign a teacher with an introductory authorization to teach a class in which the curriculum is for grades 9 and below but the students in the class may be in grades 10-12.

When do I get an ISMA?

Liberal Studies students may align their concentrations to an Introductory Subject Matter Authorization (ISMA).  This requires 48 units of courses in a subject matter.  Our concentrations aligned to ISMA are: Mathematics, Physical Sciences, English and History and Social Studies.  Please refer to the advising pages for each of the concentration and remember that you will a credential to get an ISMA. 

What subjects are available to add as an ISMA?

Our concentrations that are aligned to ISMAs are: Introductory English, Introductory Mathematics, Introductory Science, and Introductory Social Science.  Please visit the advising pages for more information.

Is it possible for B.S. Liberal Studies students to pursue a minor at Cal Poly?

Four of our concentrations are aligned to minors: English, Spanish, Child Development and Biology.  You need to meet with an advisor from the respective Departments early to work on a plan of study; there may be additional courses that you need to take.  Our graduates have also pursued other minors like: Psychology, Latin American Studies, Sociology and Dance.  It is possible to concentrate in our subject and minor in another but this requires proactive planning and extra summer work.

Who can I see if I have questions about scheduling LS courses, graduation requirements, concentrations, multiple and single subject credentials, courses substitutions, catalogs, and credential requirements?

Visit the Advising office in 53-211 or call (805) 756-2615  to make an appointment.  You may also visit Dr. Berber during her office hours located at 25-125C. If her office hours do not work with your schedule email Loni LaRose at

Who can I see if I want help with scheduling my classes for the next quarter or an overview of the classes I need to complete for my degree?

Call (805) 756-2615 or stop by in person to schedule an appointment with the College of Science and Math Advising Center, located at 53-211.

Who can I see if I have questions regarding career objectives, approving major coursework for study abroad, internships, research opportunities, Masters/Ph.D. programs, senior project, and letters of recommendation?

Meet with your faculty advisor that was assigned to you upon entering Cal Poly or your Department Chair.

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