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​Chances are good you've already heard about the desperate shortage of trained and credentialed teachers – about 20,000 are needed in California alone.

That makes the California State University's Educator Preparation Programs especially crucial right now; the CSU prepares a large percentage of the state's preschool through 12th-grade (P-12) teachers, awarding about 6,500 teaching credentials in California annually.

"The CSU's preparation of high-quality teachers is of enormous value to California, its communities, and its families," says Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Ph.D., CSU assistant vice chancellor for Teacher Education & Public School Programs at the Chancellor's Office, in Long Beach.

A key strength for the CSU is making a bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degree in education more accessible to more Californians; many campuses also offer the chance to earn your teaching credential at the same time you're getting your degree. A variety of scholarships and other types of financial aid are offered, too, for teachers-in-training, allowing students to find the program that's the right fit for them.

If you're considering becoming a teacher or educator, here are five things you should know about the CSU's Educator Preparation Programs (EPP): 

1. Our students are diverse.

Thirty-seven percent of the CSU's approximately 9,000 teacher candidates are Hispanic/Latino,  and 12 percent are Asian American. The majority of our students are the first in their families to attend and graduate from college, and many return to their communities to teach and lead.

2. We're committed to quality education.

The CSU's EPPs emphasize collaboration, clinically based preparation, deep content knowledge, and instructional strategies that ensure all learners succeed. As a result, more than one-third of our campus programs were selected to receive prestigious federal Teacher Quality Grants, given by the U.S. Department of Education.

3. Our teacher training is personalized.

 If you choose to attend a CSU to prepare to become a teacher, you can expect that your program will take into account your needs and goals and that you'll have multiple paths to become a teacher, counselor or leader in education.

 To teach in California, you must have a bachelor's degree and a teaching credential. The CSU offers a four-year combined bachelor's/teaching credential program; a post-bachelor's/teaching credential program; a teaching credential/master's degree program; and Doctorate of Education programs. (Not all of these are offered at all 23 campuses, however; visit the Teacher & Educator Degrees & Credentials page to see all your options.)

 Depending on the program, you can choose full- or part-time study; many courses are offered in the afternoon and evening to make it easier to attend class while working or holding down other responsibilities.

4. The CSU is a great value.

 The tuition and fees to earn a teaching credential at the CSU for the 2016-17 academic year were $6,348 per year; most students complete their credential studies in a year-and-a-half. CSU teaching students have access to both state and federal financial aid and scholarship programs as well.

 One-fifth of our students receive federal TEACH grants of $4,000 per year; 10 percent participate in the state Cal Grant Teaching Scholarship Program; 10 percent receive National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Scholarships of $10,000 per year; one-half receive federal Pell Grants; and most are also eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.

5. You'll find a job once you graduate.​

 More than 95 percent of the CSU's EPP graduates secure a teaching position once they complete their program. The average starting salary of our teacher graduates is $43,873, which is comparable to beginning teacher salaries statewide. Salaries for highly experienced teachers average $88,403 annually.

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July 28, 2017 will mark the third annual statewide "Better Together: California Teachers Summit," supported and sponsored by the CSU.