Learn about internship opportunities in the Department of Special Education and how to apply to an internship program.

Internship programs allow individuals to complete their teacher preparation coursework concurrent with their first or second year in a paid teaching position. These programs are led by colleges, universities and by school districts and county offices of education.

An internship is most ideally suited for someone who has had experience, but limited academic training, as a classroom teacher, as a substitute teacher or as a classroom assistant and who has a basic understanding of the challenges that face a first-year teacher. Candidates need to juggle their classroom and coursework responsibilities.

Completion of an internship program results in the same credential as is earned through a traditional teacher preparation program.

Internship Opportunities

An internship provides the opportunity for candidates to obtain their credential by taking courses in the Department of Special Education on a part-time basis while they are working as full-time teachers.

Interns receive their paycheck for teaching and support from the school district. Internship programs are formal agreements between the Department of Special Education and the school district. You can only be an intern if such a formal agreement has been created and approved.

Current internship programs exist for Mild/Moderate Support Needs, Extensive Support Needs, and Early Childhood Special Education with:

  • San Diego Unified School District
  • Coronado Unified School District
  • Sweetwater Union High School District
  • Grossmont Union High School District
  • The Institute for Effective Education

An agreement for Mild/Moderate Support Needs also exists with Balboa City School and multiple districts in Imperial County.

Process for Becoming an Intern

To qualify for an internship program, you must:

  • Possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Satisfy the basic skills requirement
  • Meet the subject matter competence and U.S. Constitution requirement
  • Obtain character and identification clearance

Acceptance into the program

Both SDSU and the district need to accept you into the internship program. To be accepted, you must meet district employment criteria and university and department admission standards.

For information about the process in becoming an Intern Student, contact the Office for Student Success (OSS) at 619-594-6320. Students apply to the OSS for the Internship Credential. The OSS is located in Lamden Hall, Room 259 (LH-259).

To become an Intern, you must complete Preliminary Credential Requirements.

Internship Program Details

The program provides teacher preparation coursework and an organized system of support from college and district faculty. The Internship is a 4-semester program in the areas of Mild/Moderate, Extensive Support Needs, or Early Childhood Special Education. Note that each requires a semester of prerequisites:

Teaching English Language Learners

All interns must also enroll in a 1-unit seminar for Teaching English Language Learners:

For those who hope to be hired with internship credentials:
To apply for the Internship Credential, based on amendments to Education Specialist Internships, Interns are now required to have English Learner and Language Arts Preparation (120 hours of practicum and course work in related areas) before beginning as an intern.

  • If you hold another credential issued before 2002, all of these requirements are met.
  • If you do not hold another credential, then in order to become an Intern,  you must take SPED 500, 501, 502, 527, 915C, and Teacher Education 930 all of which are offered in the summer. 

Throughout the program of study, all courses are infused with English learner and multicultural competencies; Interns will need to demonstrate competencies related to multicultural diversity, English language learner instruction, and Language Arts instruction during every semester of their program.


You will take the required practicum course (SPED 970 or SPED 980 for San Diego Unified School District interns only), but it will typically be offered at a site within or near (in the case of Imperial County) the district. In many instances, this class will be taught by a district employee who is working with the university on the internship program. Some of the courses you take at SDSU may be modified as to the time they are offered or the content presented. A meeting at the beginning of the academic year will be held to explain these changes. You will be challenged—especially by the unexpected.

Support for Interns

The school district will assign you an Intern Support Provider to work closely with you as you set up your teaching schedule, implement IEPs, and begin to work with your students. Although each district operates somewhat differently, you will most likely attend a new teacher orientation meeting and other internship training events in August. These are mandatory, so it will be important to reserve this time for beginning the program and your school year.

Financial assistance

Once you are accepted, several scholarship opportunities are available to you. If you are interested in applying for an internship, please obtain a handout from the Special Education department office.