Liberal Arts Prerequisites (Secondary Spanish & Special Education) Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What are liberal arts prerequisites?  

A:   New York State requires that teachers complete liberal arts prerequisites and show competency in various subject areas. Previous undergraduate and graduate courses in which a grade of C or better was earned can meet these requirements.  Courses with a grade of C- or D are not accepted.  These requirements must be met prior to graduation, and you cannot be recommended for an initial teaching certificate without them.   

Q:  What exactly are the liberal arts requirements for different subject areas? 

A:  The following information is from the New York State Department of Education

General information 

College coursework is study taken for college credit, completed at or transferred to a degree-granting institution of higher education approved by the New York State Commissioner of Education or a regional accrediting agency. Coursework must be offered for degree credit by the college, whether or not you obtain the degree. 

Unacceptable coursework is that which is not credit-bearing or not applicable toward a degree. Examples of unacceptable coursework: professional development courses, continuing education courses, often measured in Continuing Education Units (CEUs), audited courses, and courses that have been waived or for advanced placement (such as high school courses) without credit toward a degree. 

Mathematical Processes (6 credits) 
Acceptable courses are those typically offered by a mathematics department and are considered core requirements toward a degree in mathematics. This includes courses in mathematical reasoning, quantitative methods, number theory and concepts, algebra, analytic geometry, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, data analysis, probability, and discrete mathematics. Courses in computer science, accounting, finance, and studies in which mathematics is applied to solving problems (e.g., engineering) are not acceptable. 

The State's liberal arts requirement for math is, for the most part, any credit-bearing course in a mathematics department (e.g., prefix MATH) that is not applied mathematics.  So, for example, algebra, geometry, calculus, theoretical probability, or statistics in a math department will count, but applied statistical analysis or business math will not.  Statistics work completed in a psychology department are considered social science credits, NOT math credits. What is crucial is not the level (beginner or advanced) but the content. 

  • Recommended City College offerings: 
    The course EDCE 5950C: Mathematics Knowledge for Teachers (Birth to Grade 6) is recommended for meeting 3 credits of mathematics, and can be taken by both K-6 and 7-12 graduate students. 
  • Recommended CLEP exams: 
    College Mathematics (6 credits) 
    College Algebra (3 credits) 
    Precalculus (3 credits) 

Scientific Processes (6 credits) 
Acceptable courses are those typically offered by specific science departments (biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics) and are considered core requirements for a degree in any of those sciences. 

In biology, this includes courses in cell biology and biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, genetics and evolution, biological diversity, human biology, and zoology. Courses in nutrition are acceptable only if they are in cell nutrition. 

In chemistry, this includes courses in matter and atomic structure, energy, chemical bonds and molecular structure, chemical reactions, and quantitative relationships. Courses in geochemistry are generally applied science courses, so they are not acceptable. 

In earth science, this includes courses in space systems, atmospheric systems, geological systems, and water systems. Applied science courses, such as environmental science, conservation and wildlife management, and agriculture are not acceptable.  

In physics, this includes courses in mechanics and heat, electricity and magnetism, waves, sound and light, and quantum theory and the atom. Applied science courses, such as study in engineering, are not acceptable.  [However, please note that AMNH courses, such as ‘Climate Change,’ will be accepted.] 

NYSED regulations state specifically that courses in nutrition and other applied sciences do not meet this requirement. 

  • Recommended City College offerings:
    CCNY offers three undergraduate science courses that undergraduate education majors take to fulfill their science requirement:  SCI 12400 (Principles of Physical Science),  SCI 12500 (Principles of Life Science), and SCI 12600 (Principles of Environmental Science).  These excellent courses are highly recommended, but in Fall and Spring are generally offered during the day.  Usually one of these courses is also offered each Summer. 

    There are other courses offered at the graduate level through the CCNY Secondary Science program that can satisfy the liberal arts requirements of teacher candidates at all levels in a way that reflects the approaches and pedagogy valued in the School of Education:  SCIE 1403E (Physical Science for Middle School Teachers 1), SCIE 1404E (Physical Science for Middle School Teachers 2, SCIE 4101E (Life Science for Middle School Teachers I), SCIE 4102E (Life Science for Middle School Teachers II).  Please note that the undergraduate courses are 3 credits each, while the graduate courses are 4 credits.   

    Any credit-bearing coursework offered at City College with the prefix “SCI,” “SCIE,” “PHYS,” “BIO,” “BIOE,” “CHEM,”  are also accepted. 
  • Recommended CLEP exams: 
    Chemistry (6 credits) 
    Biology (6 credits) 
    Natural Sciences (6 credits) 

Other recommended options: 
Online coursework with the American Museum of Natural History is accepted, and is a more cost-effective route than most college coursework. Note that contrary to the Museum website’s instructions, an e-permit is NOT required. AMNH coursework is accepted without an e-permit by submitting proof of course completion to your advisor. However, it may be advisable to register via e-permit in order to count this coursework toward the DoE continuing education salary step. Check with your advisor for the most current details. 

Historical and Social Sciences (6 credits) 
Examples of acceptable studies include courses in history, geography, anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science. 

  • Recommended City College Offerings: 
    Acceptable coursework at City College includes coursework in the historical or social sciences beginning with “ASIA,” “ANTH,” “BLST,” “ECO,” “HIST,” “LALS,” “PSY,” “SOC”, “URB,” and “WS.” Check with your advisor for details. 
  • Recommended CLEP exams: 
    History of the United States II 
    Introductory Psychology 
    Introductory Sociology 
    Principles of Macroeconomics 
    Principles of Microeconomics 
    Social Sciences and History 
    Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648 
    Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present 

Language Other Than English / 6 credits or equivalent for Bilingual SPED 
Certification in Bilingual SPED requires that students complete 6 credits or equivalent study of a language other than English (LOTE). These credits are considered to have been completed upon passing the CCNY language proficiency test.   

Certification in 7-12 Spanish requires a minimum of 30 upper-level credits (i.e., 300 level, 400 level, or graduate) in Spanish. These credits may be in language (e.g., grammar), composition, linguistics, literature, and culture. Students may take any missing Spanish courses as they complete the program. 

  • Recommended City College offerings: 
    Any non-English language course offered at City College is acceptable in meeting the Language Other than English requirement. Students with a second language background may test out of an introductory course and take a mid-level (e.g. 200) language course, meeting all six required credits via this route. 
  • Other recommended options: 
    CCNY language proficiency test 
    3 years of a language other than English completed during high school with a Regents  
    score of >85 
    4 years of language other than English in highschool with no Regents score 
    CLEP exam 

Q:  Where can I take these courses? 

A:   Liberal arts prerequisites can be met with graduate or undergraduate courses taken at any accredited college or university.  We recommend that you check with your advisor before registering.  If you take these courses at another CUNY campus, do not apply for an e-Permit; visit the campus and register as a non-matriculated student.  CUNY announced (June 2014) that ‘graduate students taking undergraduate courses are assumed to require these courses as prerequisites and as such will be charged the undergraduate rate for these classes.  Computer systems should make this adjustment automatically, but you are advised to check your bill and to confirm that you have been charged the undergraduate rate for any undergraduate courses you may take at CUNY.’ 

Q:  What are CLEP tests and are they accepted? 

A:   The College Level Examination Program (CLEP), administered by the College Board, provides students with opportunities to demonstrate mastery of content area subjects.  CLEP examinations can be used to meet certain liberal arts requirements.  Please check with your adviser regarding which CLEPs will be accepted, as this information may vary.   

Q:  Are online courses accepted? 

A:  Online courses from accredited universities are accepted.  (Note that this excludes StraighterLine, which is not accredited.)  Online courses offered by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) for teachers are also accepted. 

Last Updated: 02/21/2024 17:06