Extensive Support Needs

Preparing educators and other professionals to work with students with a wide range of disabilities in grades K-12, and adults up to age 22.

Students who specialize in Extensive Support Needs special education may pursue:

  • Preliminary Credential (2- or 4-semester programs available)
  • Clear Education Specialist Credential (Induction Program)
  • Master or Arts Degree in Special Education

We are pleased that you are interested in the Department of Special Education at San Diego State University. You are considering an important field at an exciting time, and there are many opportunities for special educators in our community and throughout the nation.

Preliminary Credential

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing issues a two-level special education teaching credential. The levels are ‘preliminary’ and ‘clear’. A Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential is the first document issued after an individual has met basic credential requirements. The Clear credential is issued once all credential requirements have been completed including a commission-approved Teacher Induction Program.


The Education Specialist Credential in Extensive Support Needs allows individuals to teach students k-12 with moderate to severe disabilities, including autism, intellectual disabilities, and multiple disabilities, across a range of educational environments and settings.

  • Resource rooms or services
  • Special education settings
  • General education settings
  • Special schools
  • Home/hospital settings
  • State hospitals
  • Development centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Non-public, non-sectarian schools and agencies
  • Alternative and non-traditional instructional public school settings other than classroom

Extensive Support Needs (ESN)

The Extensive Support Needs specialization includes autism, deaf-blindness, moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, and serious emotional disturbance. It gives you permission to teach in grades K–12 and in classes organized primarily for adults through age 22.

Program Options

There are 2 options in the Extensive Support Needs program:

Apply online and allow yourself adequate time to gather the information and complete the application. There are a number of details that require your attention, and in some cases you may have to request information from others. If you have questions or need clarifications after you have reviewed all of the material, you may contact the department office for assistance. If you have not attended a Group Advising Session, please plan to attend. 

Visit Preliminary Extensive Support Needs Credential Admissions for more information.

Clear Education Specialist Credential (Induction Program)

Admission Requirement:  Completion of Preliminary Education Specialist Credential in Special Education and must be employed as a Special Education educator (not subbing, but teacher of record).

Include the development of the Individualized Induction Plan (IIP) and non-university experiences. The District Support Provider and the University Advisor will work in partnership to support the Clear Education Specialist Credential Candidate in the context of field work in the schools and coursework at the university.

Visit the Clear Induction Program for more information.

Master's Degree

Admission requirements for the M.A. include the prerequisite course SPED 527 and at least a 3.0 GPA from credential and undergraduate studies. 

Visit the Extensive Support Needs Master's Admissions and Master's in Special Education for more information.

Opportunity for Funding for Preliminary Extensive Support Needs Credential

The Department of Special Education currently has two Residency Grants. One with the Sweetwater Union High School District and one with the Cajon Valley Union School District. These are wonderful opportunities to receive $35,000 while you are earning your special education credential under the guidance and mentorship of a Master Teacher in the district. See below for additional information

SDSU Residency Flyer

Sweetwater Residency Flyer

The Department of Special Education also has a partnership with Stein Education Center. ESN candidates are eligible to apply for this funded position for Fall 2024. See flyer below for details.

SEC Residency Program Flyer


Contact Dr. Bonnie Kraemer, Program Coordinator