Stanford Step

Last Updated on July 29, 2023

Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) | Stanford Graduate School of  Education

The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) is a program at Stanford University that prepares teachers and leaders for an influential career in education.

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Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP)

The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) is a nationally renowned 12-month full time program preparing future teacher leaders at the elementary and secondary levels. STEP integrates a high quality academic program with a well-supported, yearlong classroom placement. Who are STEP candidates?

1 Strong Academic Preparation

The design of the program makes for an academically rigorous year. A record of academic success gives applicants the opportunity to succeed at the Master’s level. Applicants to STEP Secondary should demonstrate a strong knowledge of and commitment to the subject matter of their teaching specialization (i.e., Math, Science, English, History/Social Science, or World Languages).

2 Experience with Youth

The desire to work compassionately and constructively with youth is essential for finding fulfillment and success as a teacher. We seek applicants with a range of meaningful prior experience with youth (e.g., experience as a camp counselor, athletic coach, special needs classroom assistant, church youth group leader, etc.).

3 Commitment to Teaching as a Profession

Our teacher candidates are committed to teaching for social justice, they recognize the value of working with diverse populations, and they are dedicated to equity and excellence for all students.

4 Collegiality, Professionalism, and Leadership

At its best, teaching is a collaborative, professional endeavor. Our Teacher Candidates work together to support shared goals and enhance the teaching profession.

At STEP, we strive to prepare expert teachers for leadership within and beyond the classroom.

About STEP

The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) of the Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) aims to cultivate teacher leaders who share a set of core values that includes a commitment to social justice, an understanding of the strengths and needs of a diverse student population, and a dedication to equity and excellence for all students. The program takes an approach to teaching and learning that is sensitive to the family, community, and political contexts of education, focused on the needs and development of learners, and grounded in the study of subject matter that enables inquiry, critical thinking, and problem solving.

“One thing that is unusual about STEP is the length of the program; students receive an MA degree and a teaching credential in one rigorous year. I think that this short and intensive year facilitates bonding among students. […] Another thing that strikes me as unusual about STEP, and a large university like Stanford, is the attentiveness of the STEP staff. In the short time that I have been in the program the STEP staff has done a great job of being supportive and responsive to my needs.”

STEP seeks to prepare and support teacher leaders working with diverse learners to achieve high intellectual, academic, and social standards by creating equitable and successful schools and classrooms. Desired outcomes for graduates include an understanding of teaching as intellectual work and as a caring profession; a depth of content knowledge and a repertoire of powerful pedagogical practices; and a view of teaching and of the role of education in society informed by appreciation of the socio-cultural contexts of education. The content and design of the program are organized to foster an understanding of and commitment to research, reflection and inquiry in the classroom; collaboration across individuals, institutions and communities; a blending of theory and practice; and the effective use of technology as a teaching and learning tool.

“ At STEP, we have just 3-4 teacher candidates per supervisor (check out that student: teacher ratio!), so I get to have brilliant teachers and teacher educators pay close attention to my teaching and learning. Not much more than a month into the program, the benefits of such an attentive structure on my learning, reflection, and development as an educator are already becoming clear to me. ”

The goal is to prepare program graduates to meet both the practical and intellectual challenges of the teaching profession, to serve the needs of the diverse population of today’s students, and to revitalize the profession and the field by preparing educational leaders for tomorrow’s schools.

STEP Elementary

STEP Elementary is 12-month, full-time program leading to a Master of Arts in Education and a preliminary California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Its small size (approximately 20 candidates), access to top faculty and experienced cooperating teachers, and coherent design offer highly focused instruction interwoven with hands-on teaching experience, sustained mentoring and personalized advising. STEP recognizes the integration of the many areas of knowledge that underlie effective teaching and provides multiple opportunities for observing, planning, and practicing diverse pedagogical approaches in specific clinical contexts.

STEP Elementary teacher candidates gain deep classroom experience in this year-long program, and are therefore extremely well-prepared for their first year of teaching. Candidates conduct three field placements in local, public elementary schools, covering a range of grade levels. Fieldwork consists of an average of sixteen hours a week at the school site and a weekly Seminar at Stanford. Teaching responsibilities gradually increase during the year with the candidates’ growth and development.

Elementary teacher candidates who are proficient in Spanish and meet additional requirements may earn a Bilingual Authorization to supplement their multiple subject credential.

A coterminal pathway into STEP is available to current Stanford University undergraduates.

STEP Secondary

STEP Secondary is a 12-month, full-time program leading to a Master of Arts in Education and a preliminary California Single Subject Teaching Credential. Its small size (approximately 70 candidates), access to top faculty and qualified cooperating teachers, and coherent design offer highly focused instruction interwoven with hands-on teaching experience, sustained mentoring, and personalized advising. STEP recognizes the integration of the many areas of knowledge that underlie effective teaching and provides multiple opportunities for observing, planning, and practicing diverse pedagogical approaches in specific clinical contexts.

STEP Secondary teacher candidates gain deep classroom experience in this 12-month program; they are extremely well-prepared for their first year of teaching. After a summer at a local middle school, candidates complete year-long field placements under the guidance of expert cooperating teachers in local middle schools and high schools. Fieldwork involves four hours each day at their school sites and attending a weekly Seminar at Stanford that is designed to support their growth. Teaching responsibilities gradually increase during the year with the candidates’ growth and development.

Application Requirements for the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) Secondary Master’s Program

Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) with the Secondary concentration leads to teacher certification in the state of California, and requires intensive, supervised practice at school sites, as well as academic course work that focuses on cutting-edge, school-based research.

  • Degree Offered: Master of Arts
  • Specializations include: Teaching of English, History/Social Sciences, Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Spanish, French, and Mandarin.
  • Length of Program: 4 quarters (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring)
  • Tuition 2019-2020: Summer (10 units): $10,990; Autumn (18 units): $17,493; Winter & Spring (10 units): $11,370/quarter
  • STEP Secondary: Visit STEP Secondary website

Application Requirements

Application Form

Complete and submit Stanford’s graduate online application. Applicants for 2020-21, will start their program in summer which is in Stanford’s 2019-20 academic year. Please indicate summer 2019-20 as your start term.

Current Stanford undergraduate students:  The online application is now open! To begin your application please click here.  Please note, requirements for coterms differ slightly from outside applicants so make sure to review the coterminal application requirements page found here. For additional questions or concerns contact [email protected].

Application Fee

$125. Application fees are non-refundable and submitted with the online application. Visit for information on fee waiver eligibility and process.

STEP Essay & Statement of Purpose

To complete your application to STEP, you are required to write a STEP-specific essay (STEP Essay) responding to the prompt below.

Applicants may choose to write a second essay (Statement of Purpose) answering the general prompt on the online application. However, the Statement of Purpose is optional and the STEP admission committee does not encourage applicants to submit this second essay.

One or both essays can be submitted electronically with your online application by uploading them into the personal statement section. If you chose to write two essays please combine them into one word document before uploading. Your statement should be typed,  single spaced and not exceed three pages in length.

STEP Essay: In 750-1250 words, please describe your educational background, your experience working with youth, and your interest in teaching.  Please specify your interest in teaching a particular subject matter area at the secondary level (STEP Secondary, single subject program) or your interest in teaching at the elementary level (STEP Elementary, multiple subject program).  In addition, explain your views on the role of education in society and your reasons for wanting to enter the teaching profession.  Indicate how your talents, skills, and experiences might contribute to the STEP community.


Resumes are required of all applicants. Please upload your resume in the online application.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. In the online application, you will be asked to identify your recommenders and their email addresses. Please notify your recommenders that they will receive an email prompt to submit their recommendation online. Stanford GSE only accepts online recommendations through the application system; Stanford GSE cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed recommendations.

Professors and people who have seen your work with youth are good choices for writing letters of recommendation. The letters should speak to your commitment to the profession, character, work ethic, and academic ability. It might also include why you would be a good fit for STEP.

College and University Transcripts

When submitting your online application, you will be asked to upload your transcripts as a PDF document. We cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed copies of your transcripts during the application process. Transcripts should be submitted for any institution at which you spent at least one-year doing academic study.

Upon admission, admitted students will be prompted to submit official transcripts by mail.

Concerning course work completed in a study abroad program

If the course work and grades are reflected on the transcript of your home institution, you do not need to submit original transcripts from the study abroad institution.

Concerning foreign institutions

If your institution provides a transcript in a language other than English, we require that you submit a translation of the transcript that is either provided by the institution or a certified translator.


Stanford University requires the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) from all applicants whose native language is not English. The Test of Written English (TWE) portion of the TOEFL is not required. Applicants who have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree or a two-year master’s program (or its equivalent) in the U.S. or at an institution where English is the main language of instruction are not required to take the TOEFL. For more information on TOEFL requirements, please see the “Review Requirements” section on the Graduate Admissions website.

The Graduate School of Education requires a minimum TOEFL score of 250 for the computer-based test, 600 for the paper-based test or 100 for the internet-based test in order to be considered for admission.

The test may be taken no earlier than 18 months prior to the application deadline. Be sure to take the test in time for your scores to be received at Stanford by the application deadline.

Stanford Institution code: 4704 (no department code is required). TOEFL website:

STEP Supplemental Form

Applicants to STEP must complete the STEP Supplemental Form. The supplemental form is included in the online application.

All STEP applicants who are interested in receiving fellowships should  complete the fellowship application section found on the supplemental form in the online application.

Basic Educational Skills Test

Applicants residing in California must take the CBEST by the application deadline and receive passing scores prior to the start of the program in June. Out-of-state candidates admitted to STEP will need to pass the CBEST no later than the end of their first quarter in the program. Some out of state basic skills exams can be used in lieu of the CBEST.  Email Viviana Alcazar at [email protected] to verify eligibility.

The Basic Skills Requirement can be satisfied with other options. Please go to this link for more information.

All STEP students must satisfy the basic skills requirement before they can assume daily teaching responsibility in their placements. If you have previously passed the exam, include a score report with your application.

Visit the CBEST website for test dates and registration information: Stanford reporting code: 327

Subject Matter Competence

Option 1 – California Subject Exam for Teachers (CSET)

The CSET is the primary way to verify your subject knowledge. Due to California credentialing requirements we do not accept subject matter competency tests from other states. We strongly urge applicants to take the CSET before applying to STEP. Applications will be reviewed if candidates have not taken the exams or have not received their results by the application deadline. To begin the program in June, however, applicants must pass a minimum of two CSET subtests in their intended teaching subject. Candidates must ultimately pass all subtests by January of their program year.

STEP Secondary Science Applicants – When registering for the CSET please choose the “Science” series (not “Foundational Science”).  All Science applicants should take subtest I (test code 215) in addition to their subject specific area (ie Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science or Physics – test codes 217, 218, 219 or 220).  Keep in mind only  subtest I is required to start the program. All two subtests will be required by January of the program year.

STEP Secondary Candidates in English, Math, Science and Social Science  – CSET subject tests are now offered as a computer based test year round, Monday through Saturday.  Advanced registration is required. Advanced registration is required. English, Math, Science and Social Science candidates should plan on taking the CSET no later than March 31st, 2020.

STEP Secondary Candidates in French, Mandarin, and Spanish – CSET subject tests are currently only offered in California.  French, Mandarin, and Spanish candidates should plan on taking the CSET no later than the March 14, 2020 scheduled test date.

Please visit for information on California test date locations, registering for the exam and test preparation materials.

If you have previously passed any of the exams, include a score report with your application.

CSET Stanford reporting code: 582

Option 2 – Subject Matter Program

Certain California institutions have been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) to offer subject matter programs (essentially, specialized majors) that meet state requirements for subject matter competence, in lieu of the approved exams. This program verifies you have completed the course work (undergraduate or graduate level) that the university feels is critical to a solid subject matter understanding. If you are completing/have completed one of these approved subject matter programs, contact the teacher education department at your institution for an evaluation of your course work.

STEP Transcript Summary

On a separate sheet of paper, summarize all of your college course work following the format below. Include any courses in which you are currently enrolled or plan to take before enrolling in STEP. Please upload your transcript summary along with the transcripts in the online application.

This summary does not replace your official transcripts. Group courses under the following headings:

  1. English
  2. Fine Arts (art, drama, music, etc.)
  3. Foreign Languages, grouped by language
  4. Humanities (philosophy, religion, speech, etc.)
  5. Mathematics
  6. Natural Sciences (biological and physical sciences)
  7. Social Science (history, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, geography)
  8. Other (business, education, physical education, etc.)

Social Science

Year Dept & Course No Title Institution Units/Qtr Units/Sem Grade
Aut 01 Poli Sci 183 Criminal Justice UCSD 5 A
Wtr 02 Psych 101 General Psych UCSD 4 A-
Aut 02 Soc 01 Intro Sociology Scripps 4 B
Spr 04 Econ 151 Econ Analysis Scripps 4 B+

Contact Information

Program Director: Professor Peter Williamson
MA Officer & Credential Analyst: Viviana Alcazar


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