Unlike other states, students wishing to become teachers in California must first major in another subject as undergraduates before receiving certification from an accredited graduate program. Many colleges and universities in the state offer these certification programs, which can last from nine months to two years and provide future teachers with multiple-subject certification to teach elementary school or single-subject certification to teach high school.

Stanford University

Building at Stanford University.
Building at Stanford University.

Ranked No. 4 nationally by "US News & World Report," the Stanford Graduate School of Education offers both an honors program for undergraduates interested and supplementing their majors and an undergraduate minor that aims to provide a rigorous program that prepares students for a graduate studies program in education. The honors program accepts a small number of students each year to pursue a course of independent studies, while the undergraduate minor program is structured and introduces students to broad-based educational principles.

University of California, Los Angeles

Teacher working with student at desk.
Teacher working with student at desk.

Preparing future teachers to be successful in urban settings, UCLA's Teacher Education Program serves a wide range of options for pursuing a teaching credential or advanced degree in education. Offering tracks in elementary education and several core subjects, UCLA's two-year teaching credential graduate programs are consistently ranked highly by "US News & World Report." Students have access to such highly regarded institutions as the Higher Education Research Institute and the Center for International and Development Education.

University of California, Berkeley

Teacher checking on students' work in classroom.
Teacher checking on students' work in classroom.

Berkeley offers an innovative path for students interested in earning either their multiple subject credential to teach elementary education or their single-subject credential to teach secondary education. Small classes ensure individual instruction and hands-on supervision as students progress through the program, and the school provides immediate opportunities for students to teach in classroom settings. The developmental teacher education program can be completed in 15 months, and successful students are rewarded an M.A degree that will allow them to teach multiple subjects while the Master's and Credential in Science and Mathematics Education program focuses on a single-subject credential and can be completed in two years.

University of Southern California

Teacher and students in geography classroom.
Teacher and students in geography classroom.

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles offers qualified students a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in both elementary and secondary education. Bilingual authorization for Spanish as well as special education and gifted certificates are also offered through additional classes. The school's coursework is divided into four broad categories to prepare students for education careers after graduation: foundations, teaching methods, language and literacy and a capstone course providing students the opportunity to gain hands-on class experience through student teaching.