Since 1949, when the university was first granted the authority to award the master's degree, the graduate program has grown steadily. At any given time there are approximately 7,000 students enrolled in post-baccalaureate study, including master's programs, credential programs, and certificate programs.

Master's programs are carefully designed to serve multiple purposes, including the development of professional competence and the capability for continued self-directed learning, as well as preparation for advanced graduate study for those students interested. The professional degrees, often considered terminal degrees, are designed to prepare scholar-practitioners for career and leadership roles in business, government, the arts, and human/health service delivery fields.

The graduate program of the university has in recent years continued to build upon its strong liberal arts base by introducing new programs in such areas as classics, Japanese, kinesiology, and museum studies. In addition, significant efforts have been made to meet the evolving societal needs of Northern California, and especially the San Francisco Bay Area, by introducing new graduate programs in such areas as conservation biology, resource management and environmental planning, public health, physical therapy, women studies, gerontology, marriage and family counseling, ethnic studies, and the professional programs in art, cinema, creative writing, music, and theatre arts.

The university has also given considerable attention to the development of interdisciplinary programs to meet the varied needs of its graduate students. Most colleges of the university offer college-based graduate programs (e.g., interdisciplinary studies in creative arts, education, humanities, and social science). In addition, students may structure an individualized special major program, typically including course work that focuses on a selected theme from at least three departments across the campus.

On the following pages will be found general information about graduate study and about how to begin and complete a master's degree. For detailed information about a specific program, the student should refer to that program's entry in this Bulletin and/or contact the program's graduate adviser. Answers to questions of a more general nature may be found on the following pages or in other sections of this Bulletin (consult Index for appropriate page references) or by contacting the Graduate Division of the university.



A graduate student must meet all of the department curriculum requirements as reflected in the university Bulletin in effect the semester the student is officially classified in the major program or the semester the Graduate Approved Program is filed with and approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division. Any student who loses continuing enrollment status in the university (i.e., must be readmitted to the institution) must meet curriculum requirements in effect as of the time of reentering classified status or the semester in which a new GAP is filed.


A limited number of graduate assistantships are made available to students each semester. Interested graduate students should apply directly to the major department. These assistantships are designed to aid the faculty and to provide professional experience and financial assistance to qualified graduate students. These positions may involve work with undergraduate students in a classroom or laboratory (where responsibility for the class and its entire instruction, including the performance of the graduate assistant, is vested in a member of the faculty), research assistance or help to the faculty in preparation of course materials, participating in the evaluation of undergraduate student work, tutoring of students, etc.

To be eligible, a student must as a minimum:


The university through its major departments provides a number of currently enrolled, or newly admitted, graduate students with part-time employment offering practical teaching experience related to their advanced study. The appointments usually involve teaching regular classroom and/or laboratory courses, making assignments to undergraduate students, preparing course materials, administering examinations, assessing student performance, tutoring students, and determining course grades. The students appointed may also be assigned to assist faculty with field experiences, supervision, simulation exercises, and/or research projects.

To be eligible, a student must as a minimum:

Individuals interested in being considered for such an appointment should contact the appropriate major department.


Departments or programs offering graduate degrees assign faculty to teach graduate courses and to serve as committee members on theses, creative works, field projects, and/or graduate comprehensive examinations. It is expected that tenured/tenure-track faculty will be given these assignments. In special circumstances, a department/program chair may recommend that a qualified temporary faculty member serve in the graduate program. When such an assignment is made, the department/program chair is expected to submit a written request to the college dean and Dean of the Graduate Division. The name of the individual, rationale, and qualifications for appointment must be indicated. The signature of the appointee must be included to acknowledge the nature of the assignment and reimbursement arrangements, if any, for services rendered.


Departments with high graduate enrollments have the authority to assign priorities to students wishing to enroll in the available graduate level courses. Any use of a priority system must be implemented only for the purpose of allowing majors in the program an opportunity of taking the courses needed to complete their degree programs in a timely manner. From a pool of individuals, all of whom have met the prerequisites for a given class, the department would normally be expected to grant admission to the class in the following order of priority: (1) classified graduate majors of the department/program; (2) graduating seniors who have applied and been admitted to the department's master's degree program contingent upon completion of the baccalaureate degree; (3) classified graduate students from other departments; (4) unclassified graduate students; (5) advanced undergraduate students. It is the student's responsibility to determine that prerequisites have been met before enrollment. Enrollment may be nullified for students who do not meet the stated prerequisites. It would normally be expected that graduate level Special Major students with programs approved requiring courses from the department would be given an enrollment priority comparable to those in category (1) above.


Graduate students enrolled in upper division courses are expected to complete course work beyond, and to meet academic standards above, the requirements for undergraduate level students. It is the responsibility of the department and/or the faculty member teaching the course to prescribe the additional course work and/or academic standards to be required of graduate students enrolled in upper division courses. Such additional requirements are to be made known to enrolled graduate students within the first two weeks of a term.


Paired courses are those courses offered at a common meeting time and place, but eligible for either undergraduate or graduate credit, with differential requirements to be met. Graduate credit earned in a paired course may not be applied to graduate core program requirements. Paired courses are identified in this Bulletin and in the Class Schedule. A paired course taken at the undergraduate level may not be repeated for credit at the graduate level. Further information regarding guidelines can be obtained from the Graduate Division.


Most program areas offering the master's degree have available a Special Study 899 course for graduate students who have demonstrated ability to do independent work. This is typically an intensive study of an identified problem or subject which is carefully planned in advance, developed and completed under the direction of one or more members of the graduate faculty of the department. The student is expected to establish a regular meeting schedule with the professor and provide evidence, typically in detailed written form, of the type and quality of work accomplished during the term.

While each department may establish its own specific criteria, the following are typically used as basic guidelines:

A petition for special study form may be obtained from the major department office. It must be completed and approved before registration in the course.


Obtaining credit by examination at the graduate level is not a common practice at this university. In some instances, however, a graduate student may be exempted from completing a required course because of some special preparation which, in the opinion of his/her adviser and chair of his/her department/program, merits such action. Such an exemption does not decrease the number of units required for the specified graduate objective. Additional courses must be substituted for the exempted courses to provide the required number of units for the degree.

In unusual situations a graduate student, who is in resident study and in good academic standing, may request permission to obtain credit for courses by examination. An applicant for such an examination must obtain the approval of the instructor who normally teaches the course and the department chair. Grading options will be the same as that available to the course being challenged by examination.

Credit by examination is restricted to regular courses offered by the university. The examination is to be comprehensive and searching and include whatever activity, test, or demonstration is deemed appropriate for evaluating the skills, understanding, or knowledge required by the objectives of the course. Grades received as a result of the examination will be recorded on the student's permanent record and appropriate grade points assigned.


Fall and Spring Semesters. The typical full-time load for post-baccalaureate students is nine to twelve units per semester. A student may enroll in up to sixteen units with permission of the designated faculty adviser. Students seeking to take more than sixteen units must submit the Request to Exceed Regular Academic Unit Load form to the major adviser, college graduate coordinator, and Dean of the Graduate Division or designee for approval. After appropriate signatures have been obtained, the form is to be forwarded to the Registrar's Office.

Under no circumstances will a post-baccalaureate student be given permission to exceed eighteen units in any semester. Students attempting to do so will be administratively dropped from their excess units.

Summer Sessions. Graduate students are limited to sixteen units for the total summer.


It is possible for enrolled post-baccalaureate students to change the graduate major under certain circumstances. Only students who have a cumulative 3.0 grade point average in all course work taken while in post-baccalaureate standing at San Francisco State University are eligible to change from one degree program to another.

Consult the graduate major adviser in the proposed field of study. If initially accepted by the new department, the student should obtain from and file with the Student Services Center an Advancement to Classified Graduate Standing or Credential Standing application form. The Student Services Center will verify that the student is a post-baccalaureate student in good standing at SFSU; attach a copy of a student transcript showing any course work completed at SFSU to the present date; and forward the application (and transcript, if applicable) to the department offering the program requested. The student must submit any required supplementary materials (e.g., test scores, transcripts from other universities and colleges, recommendations, etc.) directly to the major department/program. The major department/program makes its decision and forwards the signed application form to the Student Services Center. The student receives from the Student Services Center a copy of the application indicating the action taken.

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