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During your onboarding period (the time after which you accept your TFA offer, but before you begin TFA’s summer teacher training) you will: 


  • Meet the the California Basic Skills Requirement by either submitting a score report with qualifying SAT, ACT, or AP scores OR passing the CBEST exam
  • Study for and pass two to six California subject matter exams (dependent upon your subject assignment)
  • Complete other credentialing requirements, such as getting a TB test, applying for a Certificate of Clearance, and getting fingerprinted three times
  • Enroll in LMU’s Teacher Credential Program

In order to meet CTC requirements, in your first summer and academic year as a Los Angeles corps member, you will: 

  • Complete an ELL course while simultaneously completing Teach For America’s Pre-Service summer teacher training
  • Engage in weekly LMU classes and complete the required university coursework

Credentialing requirements, including but not limited to testing, can cost up to $1,200. The out-of-pocket costs for LMU’s certification program tuition are approximately $6,000 after taking into account the AmeriCorps Education Award. If you are not eligible for an AmeriCorps award or you choose not to enroll in AmeriCorps, you will have a number of options for paying the full out-of-pocket tuition.

Do All Corps Members Work with LMU?

All Los Angeles corps members work with LMU to earn their intern credential unless they have earned a credential prior to joining Teach For America.

Becoming Certified to Teach

Requirements for Corps Members to Become Teacher Credentialed in California

Los Angeles corps members must meet the following requirements prior to our summer teacher training known as Pre-Service:

  • Fulfill the Basic Skills Requirement, which can be satisfied in multiple ways, such as passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or submitting a score report with qualifying SAT, ACT, or AP scores
  • Demonstrate Subject Matter Proficiency, which is mostly commonly satisfied by passing the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) for the subject matter(s) in which they are assigned to teach
  • Complete the U.S. Constitution requirement by passing the online exam or providing a college course credit (course credit must meet certain requirements and be approved)
  • Receive a Certificate of Clearance (COC) by completing a background check
  • Provide two copies of their degree-conferred transcript from an accredited college or university

While the cost of tests, test preparation, and alternative certification are the responsibility of incoming corps members, support from regional staff along with study sessions and guides are available to ensure success throughout the certification process.

What Fees Can I Expect During the Teacher Credentialing Process? 

It is important to understand, budget, and plan to have a successful financial transition to the Los Angeles corps. Below are the fees you will incur, as it relates to teacher credentialing, before receiving your first paycheck:

  • California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) - $102
  • California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) for the subject matter(s) in which you are assigned to teach: $200 - $300
  • U.S. Constitution Exam: $0 - $85
  • Degree-conferred transcript (2 copies): $0 - $75
  • TB Test & Physical: $0 - $100
  • Certificate of Clearance: $52
  • LiveScan Fingerprints: $100 - $150 
  • School District Fingerprints: $50 - $100

Graduate School

Second year corps members and alumni may pursue a Masters of Urban Education or Special Education at LMU; only a few additional courses are required for this degree.


To help offset credentialing costs, you may be eligible to enroll as an AmeriCorps member during your first and second year as a corps member. To qualify for enrollment, you must meet specific citizenship and service term requirements. After each successful year as an AmeriCorps member, you may receive an education award. The specific award amount varies each year, but is currently $6,495 for the 2022-2023 service year.