- Mail or electronically send all official transcripts to University Graduate Admissions.
- Mail hard copies of official bachelor’s degree transcripts to department.
If you have any questions about your university and/or program application(s), visit the Support page or reach out to your admissions.
To apply to your teacher preparation program (TPP), you will need to submit one or more application(s). (Surprised? No, we didn’t think so.) Your application is a one-stop-shop for admissions officers to review your fit for their program.
Common sections include personal information, academic history, a personal statement and references (letters of recommendation).
California State University (CSU) programs use Cal State Apply for all or part of their application process. This applies to you if your checklist is for Cal State East Bay, San Francisco State University or San Jose State University. Most programs require similar documents. (Your application checklist will help you keep these requirements straight!)
Some California State University TPPs manage all application materials through Cal State Apply. Others manage some materials through Cal State Apply and additional materials through their departmental application processes.
You may have to complete two applications—for the university and for your specific program—or just one. Make sure to follow the application process and deadlines outlined for your TPP.
To get started, head over to the Cal State Apply website, select the term you will begin your program, click Apply and then Create an Account.
Cal State Apply is divided into four sections:
Your TPP will provide guidance on how you should fill out each section. You might upload documents in the application portal, email them or mail hard copies.
We know you’re diligent, responsible and capable. ? But rockstar qualities aside, double-check which documents your program requires you to upload through this portal and which documents go directly to the department. Make sure that you are not missing any information. Failing to fill out certain fields could jeopardize the timing or your acceptance to the program.
Whether you’re using Cal State Apply or another application system, most California TPPs require similar materials. For instance, all TPPs and universities will ask you to enter your background information. This section commonly includes fields for your name, address, email, phone number, social security number and more.
Cal State Apply also asks about financial information in this section. This means you will need your tax documents handy. If someone can claim you as a dependent, then you’ll use their documents instead.
For most TPP applications, your transcripts will provide proof of your academic history. When requested, include your transcript as part of your TPP application.
You may be able to upload unofficial transcripts for the initial application, but you will need to formally request your official transcripts before (or shortly after) you are admitted. Contact the Transcript Office (or equivalent) of the school(s) you attended, and follow their procedures to request your transcripts. Budget at least three to five days for processing. Some schools will send transcripts via mail; others may have electronic copies.
In your request, be sure to specify:
Keep in mind that TPPs may have different instructions for submitting transcripts.
If you explored the Eligibility Guide, you’ll know that California TPPs look for several pieces of evidence that show a candidate’s ability to succeed in their program. With this in mind, you will need to gather your documents that show:
For test scores, be prepared to submit official copies of your score reports. For other requirements, your TPP may have their own forms. This is where an application checklist can help keep you on track.
Keep copies of all of your application materials and have extra score reports on hand, if possible. Now is a great time to flex your organizational muscles. You know you’ll need them as a teacher!
Depending on your TPP and the subject or grade level of the credential, you may have to submit a few additional materials. Timing and submission processes vary, but common supplemental materials for California TPPs include:
Your essay response—aka personal essay, statement of purpose, statement of intent, or some combination thereof—is your unique opportunity to tell admissions staff exactly why you are the perfect fit for their teacher preparation program.
Before writing your essay, make sure you’re clear on why you want to be a professional educator. Get up, grab your phone, and call a friend or family member. Explain to them why you’re applying to a teacher preparation program, and get their feedback on your explanation.
Better at brainstorming alone? Make a bulleted list of all the reasons you want to be a professional educator. More of an artist? Draw your feelings about the subject. No joke.
The goal here is to hone your thoughts and feelings around teaching. Once you’re clear on “why,” writing an essay becomes a straightforward task that you can spend time perfecting (rather than stressing over).
In your essay, you want to:
Some applications break essay responses into individual parts or questions. When this is the case, remember to choose rationale and specific examples that directly relate to the topic at hand.
Visit your teacher preparation program’s website and social media profiles. You can get a good sense for what the program values (and what you might speak to in your essay) by doing a little recon.
Your personal essay is an opportunity to be creative—to a point. It’s vital to make an impression by demonstrating your relevant skills, experience and vision.
Pay close attention to the word count or page limit for your personal response. (It’s never been a better time to make friends with an editor.)
Here’s our recommended outline for your personal essay. Just remember: You’re the expert on you! Take what works; revise what doesn’t.
When writing your essay, stay away from these sayings and clichés:
When it’s time to submit references, aka letters of recommendation, choose your recommenders wisely. Your references have the power to give your application a major boost. (You know how the best compliment is the one you overhear? This is like that, but staged, eloquent, and directly tied to your academic and professional ambitions.)
You will typically need two to three references from people can who can attest to your skill sets, strengths and fit for a career in education. Common types of recommenders include employers, supervisors, teachers and professors.
Some TPPs have specific guidance about who you should choose to provide a reference. You may need recommenders from your field experience supervisor(s).
Give your recommenders plenty of time to reflect on your accomplishments and to write their letters. Some programs recommend asking at least 30 days in advance.
Don’t assume that someone will have the time or be willing to recommend you for a teacher preparation program. Make your request far enough in advance to allow for any necessary course-corrections.
To make it easy on your recommender, provide them with as much of the following as you can:
Instructions about how to submit your letters of recommendation. Some programs require recommenders to use a web submission form or program-specific email address, others want letters the old-school way — in the mail.
If your recommender is a past instructor, include the grade(s) you received in their course(s) and a couple of samples of work you completed for them. This will remind them of your performance and fit.
Make sure to get confirmation from your recommender once your letter is submitted.
Once you’ve received confirmation of submission, give your recommender a big thank you in the form of an email, phone call or card. Just like you, recommenders have day jobs, and providing a reference is a favor they are doing for you (that’s how great you must be!). Not only is this polite, but it will encourage your recommender to support you in the future.
If you are accepted to your teacher preparation program, let your recommender know! It takes a village.