Apr 14, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog

Liberal Studies, Teaching - Elementary Subject Matter Preparation Option (ESM), B.A.

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SBSB 4-222


(760) 750-4104

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Program of Study

The Elementary Subject Matter Preparation Option offers an excellent curricular pathway to students interested in a career in elementary or middle school teaching (grades K-8). Coursework is selected to address the seven core subject matter areas of the K-8 curriculum (Reading, Language & Literature; History & Social Sciences; Mathematics; Science; Visual & Performance Arts; Human Development; and Physical Education), including all general education and breadth of study requirements. In addition, students choose an Area of Focus module that explores one of these subject matter areas in greater depth, or Bilingual Spanish.

Also see the other option in Liberal Studies
Liberal Studies, B.A.– Integrated Teacher Education Program Option   (ITEP)   

Subject Matter Competence and CSET Waiver

In order to apply to a Multiple Subject Credential program, students must satisfy subject matter requirements as established by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). Students graduating with a B.A. in Liberal Studies, in either the ITEP or ESM option, will automatically have satisfied the subject matter requirements for Multiple Subject, which means that they do not need to take the Multiple Subject California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSETs) I-III.

Furthermore, the curricula for the ESM and ITEP options have gone through a rigorous review process by the CCTC, and have been approved as a Multiple Subject CSET I-III Waiver Program. This means that students who finish all degree requirements for the ESM and ITEP B.A., earn a cumulative GPA of 2.67 or higher, and graduate, will earn the Multiple Subject Waiver, which will certify their high level of preparation for K-8 teaching.

Program Goals

The goals of the Liberal Studies Program are that all of our graduates:

  • Learn to engage in reasoned thinking.
  • Maintain open, inquiring, and skeptical minds.
  • Know how to access and evaluate information.
  • Develop cultural sensitivity and tolerance for cultural differences.
  • Acquire environmental awareness.
  • Establish a foundation for understanding social issues.
  • Take responsibility for their thinking, actions, and impact on the world.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies in the Elementary Subject Matter Option will:

  1. Earn the Multiple Subject CSET I-III Waiver.
  2. Articulate their role in the community, with an emphasis on how their educational experience informs their K-8 teaching.
  3. Collaborate with diverse groups and in multiple settings to achieve a goal.
  4. Collect, evaluate, and analyze primary and secondary data/resources.

Career Opportunities

For students in the ESM Option, the B.A. in Liberal Studies is the first step in becoming a K-8 teacher. For students in the ESM Option who do not want to be teachers, the B.A. in Liberal Studies serves as a liberal arts foundation for high school, community college, and university student services jobs, NGOs focused on education issues, most graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences, and law school.

Graduates of Liberal Studies are well-positioned for entry into CSUSM’s Multiple Subject (K-8 teaching) or Middle Level (6-8) Credential Program. (Please note: Students wishing to apply for the Middle Level program must also take and pass a single-subject CSET to be eligible for admission.)
For complete and up-to-date information, please contact the School of Education .

Special Conditions for the Liberal Studies Major

All courses counted toward the Major, including general education, must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better. No course counting for Major requirements may be taken for a grade of Credit/No Credit. Note that a 2.67 GPA is required for the CSET I-III Waiver.

Lower-Division Requirements (including GE) (60 -69 Units)

Because the Liberal Studies major is designed to meet Elementary Subject Matter standards, most General Education courses are specified as indicated below. Where no course is specified for a General Education requirement, students may use any course that meets that GE requirement.

The courses listed below satisfy General Education requirements as indicated at the time of publication. Check the Class Schedule for the most up-to-date list of courses satisfying these requirements.

Introduction to LBST (3 Units)

  • LBST 100  – An Introduction to Critical Education Units: 3 (LDGE D7)


  • LBST 300   – An Introduction to Critical Education Units: 3 (DEu)

(first-year students take LBST 100 ; transfer students take LBST 300 )

History and Social Science (HSS) (12 Units)

Reading, Language, and Literature (RLL) (12 Units)

Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) (6 Units)

Human Development (HD) (3 Units)

Physical Education (PE) (3 Units)

Ethnic Studies (3 Units)

  • Any LDGE F  course Units: 3

Language Proficiency (0-9 Units)

All students in the Liberal Studies Elementary Subject Matter Option must meet a second-language proficiency requirement. This is satisfied with a 200-level class or by demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English. One of the courses used to meet this requirement will be used to satisfy the CSUSM C3 (Arts and Humanities) General Education requirement. For details on how to satisfy this requirement, please refer to Language Proficiency Requirement .

Interdisciplinary Social Science Requirement (3 Units)

All Liberal Studies Elementary Subject Matter majors with an Area of Focus in Bilingual Spanish; History and Social Sciences; Human Development; Physical Education; Reading, Language, and Literature; Science; and Visual and Performing Arts, must meet an Interdisciplinary Social Science (IDSS) requirement. This is satisfied with an approved lower-division interdisciplinary social science course from the following departments or programs: American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Border Studies, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, Geography, Global Studies, Linguistics, Social Sciences, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The course taken to satisfy this requirement cannot double-count with other major requirements and must be outside the student’s major discipline. 

Check the Class Schedule or Degree Planner for the most up-to-date list of courses satisfying this requirement.

Breadth of Study Requirements (27 Units)


Courses must be taken in the following areas in order to fulfill the Breadth of Study requirement.

California History (3 Units)

Science (3 Units)

Linguistics (3 Units)

Arts (3 Units)

Field Experience (6 Units)

Multicultural Studies (3 Units)

One of the following courses:

Integrative Studies (3 Units)

One of the following courses:

Area of Focus Requirements for the ESM Option (15-16 Units)

All students must fulfill the Area of Focus requirement by selecting and completing a 15-16 unit module of coursework clustered around one of the seven K-8 subject areas. The Area of Focus allows students to gain greater appreciation of the development of a given academic field, from basic concepts and methods to more advanced applications and theoretical horizons.

Courses taken to satisfy the Area of Focus requirement may not be used to satisfy the Integrative, Arts, or Multicultural Studies requirements; however, Area of Focus coursework may also be applied toward completion of a minor (an official declaration of the minor must be filed with Registration and Records). 

Students must complete an Area of Focus in one of the following content areas (shown in alphabetical order). Consult the Approved Course Lists and talk to your academic advisor if you have questions.

Bilingual Spanish (15 Units)

Students seeking to complete this concentration must ensure they are sufficiently proficient in Spanish by completing any preparatory coursework. Note: if you test out of SPAN 202 , please see advisor to ensure that you complete the appropriate number of upper-division units for progress to graduation.

Mathematics (15 Units)

Note: Students who take equivalent courses elsewhere, or who test out of these courses, may have a different unit count, and will need to take an additional mathematics class. Please see advisor for further information.

Physical Education (15 Units)

Visual and Performing Arts (15 Units)

  • Any five upper-division arts course in Art, Media, and Design (AMD), Dance Studies (DNCE), Music (MUSC), and Theater Arts (TA)
    Students are strongly encouraged to check recommended preparation and other requirements to ensure adequate skills prior to enrolling in upper-division arts courses.

ESM Total (102-112 Units)

Minimum Total (120 Units)

Graduation Requirement: Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total number of units to a minimum of 120, including at least 40 at the upper-division level.

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