About Credential/MA Program

About the Program


Credential/MA Faculty

The faculty shown below have the primary responsibility of teaching and supervising in our Credential program.  Additional faculty/adjunct may teach classes or supervise students.


Courses You Will Complete

The UC Davis teacher education program utilizes an integrated model where student teaching and university coursework occur simultaneously. Through coursework, credential candidates expand their knowledge base in their content area, acquire dynamic teaching methods, and become well versed in educational theories which you will practice during your student teaching. You can find more information on student teaching here.


Student Teaching Overview

Although course offerings may change from year to year the links below will give you an overview of how you will be spending your time during the credential year.


Lab News


Our 1st Lab Social!

We launched our 1st monthly “lab social” this week and also welcomed, Josh, a neurodivergent incoming freshman to our team! This was also the first time some of us met in person. It was a great way to start the new year! Welcome back everyone, and welcome Josh!

Congratulations to our Recent Graduates, Jennie, Michelle, Kevin, & Christine!

Jennie graduated with her PhD in Human Development. She is now doing a postdoc at the UC Davis MIND Institute and continuing with the CARE lab! Michelle graduated with a BA in Psychology and minors in Human Development and Education. She is now working as a paraprofessional in an early childhood program and continuing with the CARE lab! Kevin graduated with a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a Minor in Psychology. He is continuing with the CARE lab and getting ready for medical school next year! Christine graduated with a BA in English and minors in Education and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies! She is now working on her teaching credential. We are very excited for you all! Congratulations!

Our IES Classroom Project made the UC Davis News!

UC Davis set a research record this year, $1.7 billion. Our classroom project was part of this exciting milestone!! Check out the article here and the video here (featuring our very own, Kevin & Cameron)!


Laurel Towers successfully passed her qualifying exam!! She has now advanced to candidacy! Laurel’s dissertation will focus on examining a coaching model to help educators learn about emotion regulation within the classroom. Congratulations, Laurel!

A big congratulations to Sandy Birkeneder for successfully passing her qualifying exam!! Sandy has now advanced to candidacy! She will begin her dissertation this summer, studying the development of joint attention in school age children and its impact on reading outcomes within learners with autism. Congratulations, Sandy!! We are proud of you! 

Congratulations to Dr. Jennie Bullen who successfully defended her dissertation examining the influence of sensory processing skills on academic outcomes within learners with and without autism. Dr. Bullen will graduate this spring with a Ph.D. in Human Development. Following her successful defense, Dr. Bullen began the ARTP postdoctoral training program through the UC Davis MIND Institute. She will be working as a postdoctoral scholar within the CARE lab over the next 2 years. 

Welcome to the CARE Lab! 

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to Cindy Parks and JD Oppermann who will begin their graduate studies this fall. Cindy will begin her doctoral studies within the School of Education, Learning and Mind Sciences. She is interested in studying inclusive practices for neurodivergent learners within general education classrooms. JD will begin his master’s program in Human Development. He is interested in understanding how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles align with the needs of autistic learners within classrooms. See their full bios here.

Welcome to the CARE Lab, Cindy and JD!! We are thrilled that you will be part of our CARE team. 

INSAR Presentations 2022

Sandy presented an oral presentation at the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) examining the reliability and validity of the Childhood Joint Attention Rating Scale for school-age children with autism. For more information about INSAR, click here.

Jennie presented a related poster at INSAR titled, Parent Report of Nonverbal Joint Attention Symptoms in ASD: Validating the Childhood Joint Attention Rating Scale. View the poster here!

School News!!

Christine Soliva was accepted into the combined Masters and Teaching Credential Program at UC Riverside!

Christine Soliva was recently accepted into the Teacher Education Program at the University of California, Riverside where she will earn a Master’s in Education with a single subject teaching credential in English. Following graduate school, she plans on teaching high school English. We are very proud of her and excited for her new journey as an educator! 

Cameron Alexander was accepted into the School Psychology Doctoral Program at UC Riverside!

Cameron Alexander was recently accepted into the University of California, Riverside School Psychology Ph.D. program where he will work with Dr. Katherine Stavropoulos to study the effects of bio-neurological processes, autism, and emotion regulation in children. He will be working with the Social Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience Lab, which does EEG research to better understand the reward system processes for children with autism. Cameron will also be involved with the SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center which provides autism screening, community outreach, and support for families within the Inland Empire. Although we will miss Cameron at the CARE lab, we are so very proud of and excited for him! 

CARE Lab Ph.D. Students Present at UC SPEDDR!

Johanna Vega Garcia, Sandy Birkeneder, and Jennifer Bullen all presented talks at the 2022 UC SPEDDR Conference at UC Riverside 

Johanna and co-presenter Helen Fann gave a talk exploring the association between teachers use of responsive language and teacher-level characteristics within preschool through 3rd-grade classrooms serving children with autism. Sandy and Jennie gave back-to-back talks looking at the Childhood Joint Attention Rating Scale (C-JARS) validity, IQ, & gender effects, and the validity and test-retest reliability of Childhood Joint Attention Scale and its relation to learning.

The CARE lab is proud of all of our graduate presenters!

Student-Teacher Interactions Facebook Live Talk 

Investigators Nicole Sparapani, Nancy Tseng, and Peter Mundy talk about their current research and the new IES project 

​Drs. Sparapani, Tseng, and Mundy recently gave a talk about the effect of teacher interactions on students with autism. They discussed previous findings on the best instructional practices for students in math and literacy lessons and also talked about their new IES exploratory project looking to bridge the gap between autism and general education research. Check out the talk on the UC Davis MIND Institute Facebook!

Congratulations to Johanna Vega and Sandy Birkeneder!

New Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellows

Johanna and Sandy were recently accepted into the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) fellowship. As part of the fellowship, they will be involved with many different learning opportunities, including the LEND curriculum courses, interdisciplinary clinical activities, community training activities, and research!

We are very proud of you both!

Welcome Cameron Alexander!

Cameron Joins the CARE Lab as a Full-Time Research Coordinator 

​We would like to welcome Cameron Alexander as our new research coordinator and lab manager for the Collaborative Autism Research in Education (CARE) Lab. He will be working with the lab to organize and manage our new IES project, The MAP Exploration! Cameron received a BS in Human Development and minored in Psychology and Education at UC Davis. He worked in the CARE lab as an undergraduate research assistant for 2 years. We are so lucky to have you join the team full-time, Cameron!!                                                                          

Our First IES Grant! 

$1.7 Million to Bridge Autism and General Education Research

​CARE Lab members, Dr. Nicole Sparapani and Dr. Nancy Tseng just received a competitive IES grant in the amount of $1.7 million to bridge autism and general education research! They will be working alongside a team of researchers, including Dr. Peter Mundy from the SOE, in an effort to improve the educational outcomes and support inclusion of learners with autism in K-3rd grade general education classrooms.

Here is more information about the grant


​Congratulations to our recent graduates, Julie Daseking and Cameron Alexander! Julie graduated with a BS in Human Development and Design. Cameron graduated with a BS in Human Development, and he’s minoring in Psychology and Education. Julie & Cameron also successfully completed and filed their honor’s projects! We, at the CARE Lab, are very proud of you both!!

Congratulations to Johanna Vega Garcia and Sandy Birkeneder for successfully completing and passing their 2nd year doctoral preliminary examinations!! What a milestone!! Proud Proud Proud!

Recent Publications

Evaluating Teacher Language Within General and Special Education Classrooms Serving Elementary Students with Autism

Nicole Sparapani & colleagues recently published a manuscript in the Journal of Autism and Related Disorders (JADD) examining how teachers and paraprofessionals in 126 kindergarten-second grade classrooms talked with their 194 students with autism, and further, how individual student characteristics in language, autism symptoms, and social abilities influenced this talk. You can read the full article here!

Authors: Sparapani, Reinhardt, Hooker, Morgan, Schatschneider, & Wetherby, 2021, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities

What Are the Odds?: Predicting the Likelihood of a Negative Episode in a Sample of Toddlers with ASD

Congratulations to Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally, postdoctoral scholar, recently published her 1st first-author manuscript in the international journal, Autism!! In this study, Amanda and colleagues evaluated emotion dysregulation in 71 toddlers with ASD while working on a task with their caregivers. You can check out her article here!

Emotion Regulation Skills Predict Friendship Quality in Children with Autism

Nicole Sparapani & Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally co-authored a manuscript recently published in the International Journal of Developmental Disorders. This manuscript is a joint collaboration between UC Davis, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, and the University of Rochester.

Authors: Heather J. Nuske, Wendy Shih, Nicole J. Sparapani, Lauren Baczewski, Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally, Samantha Hochheimer, Consuelo Garcia, Fernanda Castellon, Lynne Levato, Erin Fischer, Zabryna Atkinson-Diaz, Jennica Li, David S. Mandell, and Connie Kasari 

Project Description: Within this project, we evaluated the association among self-regulation, mental health, and friendship quality in a sample of 106 children with autism between 5–12 years of age. We found a positive predicative association between self-regulatory skills and social companionship. In addition, difficulties with self-regulation were associated with increased conflict. These data highlight the importance of self-regulation and mental health as intervention targets for school-aged children with autism. 

2021 Conferences and Talks

International Society for Autism Research (INSAR)

The CARE Lab presented a poster titled, Teacher-Student Interactions within Mathematics Instructional Contexts in Classrooms Serving Students with Autism at the INSAR annual virtual meeting. View the poster here!

Authors: Nicole Sparapani, Nancy Tseng, Sandy Birkeneder, Amanda Dimachkie Nullally, Laurel Towers, Cameron J. Alexander, Johanna Vega Garcia, Taffeta Wood. 

Sandy Birkeneder and Nicole Sparapani presented a poster titled, Measurements of Spontaneous Communication Initiations in Children with Autism in Preschool to Third Grade Classrooms at the INSAR annual virtual meeting. View the poster here!


Amanda Dimachkie Nullally, postdoctoral scholar, presented a poster presentation titled, Building Better Bridges: Factors Related to Teachers’ Perceptions of Transition Success for Their Students with Autism, at the 2021 virtual Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. View the poster here!


Dr. Sparapani and Dr. Tseng presented an interactive poster project titled, Classroom Math Learning Opportunities Provided to Students with Autism at the 2021 AERA virtual conference. Co-Authors: Laurel Towers & Taffeta Wood. You can view the interactive poster here.


Laurel Towers, doctoral student, presented a talk titled, Differences in Instructor Responsiveness Between Special Education Teachers and Classroom Paraprofessionals at the University of California Center for Research on Special Education, Disabilities, and Developmental Risk (SPEDDR) 2021 virtual conference. 

News from 2020… 

  • Nicole Sparapani was announced a recipient for the 2020 UC Davis Hellman Fellowship Award for her project, Evaluation of Interactions between Early Elementary Students with Autism and their Teachers during Literacy and Mathematics Classroom Observations.
Credential/MA Program Info

Structure of the UC Davis Credential Program

Where are student teachers placed?

Normally, student teaching is done in the communities within a 45 minute drive from the UC campus.  Districts we commonly place students in are: Davis, Dixon, Elk Grove, Fairfield-Suisun, Folsom-Codova, Language Academy of Sacramento, Natomas, Natomas Charter, Robla, Sacramento City, San Juan, Travis, Twin Rivers, Vacaville, Washington, Winters, and Woodland. 

Does UC Davis have a part-time program, night program, or summer program?

No, our credential program is definitely full-day and full-time over the course of the credential portion of the program. The Masters portion of our Credential/MA program offers more flexibility with class times scheduled around a teacher’s typical work schedule.

What does the credential year look like?

You will be involved in a very intense and extensive experience of coursework and field work. The amount of work is considerable. If you are to be successful, you will need to prepare yourself to devote all your energy and time to this program.

Will I have time to work during my credential program?

You will spend your mornings in the schools and afternoons on campus taking courses. Your evenings will be filled with homework (your own and your students’) and back-to-school nights, etc.  For most students working outside of their credential program is not feasible.

General information

General questions about earning a CA Teaching Credential

Who needs a teaching credential?

Everyone who teaches grades K – 12 in public schools on a permanent basis is required to hold a California teaching credential.

What kind of major do I need to have in order to become a teacher?

For teaching at the K-6 level, you can have any major as your background for teaching. For teaching at the secondary level in grades 7-12, a major in your area is the best thing.

If your undergraduate major is not in the subject area you wish to teach it is advisable for you to pass the subject matter examinations (CSET) prior to submitting your application for admission.

What if I am interested in earning more than one credential?

It is possible to become authorized to teach more than one subject. You must pass the CSET in the additional subject  you are interested in and take a methodology class as well. Our Credential Analyst will provide guidance to all registered students on how to add various authorizations based on testing or coursework completed. 

Are all credential programs the same?

No, every teaching credential program is different. It is for this reason that we encourage you to explore several programs in order to determine which program best fits your needs.  A very common difference between programs is the timing for you to compete course work and your student teaching.

Is a teaching credential also a Master’s degree?

No, a teacher credential authorizes you to provide instruction in a K-12 public school and is issued under the guidelines of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. A Masters in Education is an academic degree awarded by a College or University.

UC Davis offers a combined Credential/Masters Program that when completed results in both a California teaching credential and a Masters of Arts in Education.




Hear directly from School of Education students and alumni about why they decided to be teachers, what it’s like going through our Teacher Education program and what makes teaching a rewarding career.


Become a Teacher: The UC Davis Difference

Become a Teacher: The UC Davis Difference

Are you thinking of becoming a teacher? The UC Davis School of Education offers a rigorous program in which students earn their credential and are ready to start their teaching career in under a year, and while employed as a teacher return for one or two part-time quarters to complete the concurrent master’s program. Applicants from all undergraduate majors are welcome.


Being a Role Model

Why Alumna Faith Flomo Thinks You Should Become a Teacher

Being a Role Model

School of Education alumna Faith Flomo (‘12, Cred. ‘13, MA ‘14) shares why teaching is so important, and why you should consider becoming a teacher.


Why I Love Teaching

Why I Love Teaching

Why have our faculty, alumni and students decided to become teachers? “If you want to have an impact on the world,” says Lecturer/Supervisor Rebecca Rosa, “then you go into teaching, because there are hard days but the rewards are just unmeasurable.” Hear from UC Davis School of Education alumni—veteran teachers and more recent graduates—about what makes the field so special and why they love teaching.


Resident Teacher Training & Resources

Options for new Resident Teachers

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing requires that all Teacher Preparation Programs provide new Resident Teachers a minimum of 10 hours of initial orientation to the program curriculum, information on effective supervision approaches such as cognitive coaching, adult learning theory, and current content-specific pedagogy and instructional practices.

Our goal is to make this process as simple as A + B + C = 10 hours completed.

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