Undergraduate Education: Planning Your Studies {SF State Bulletin 2012 - 2013}

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Planning Your Studies at SF State

The baccalaureate degree includes General Education (GE) requirements, other university graduation requirements, an academic major, perhaps a minor or second major, and elective course work. Students, with the aid of advisers, combine these elements in a creative and thoughtful way. By taking the time to create a meaningful degree program, students will not only graduate in a timely manner, but will benefit from the opportunity to take personal responsibility for their own learning.


Check out your level of readiness.

If you begin college at SF State and are not exempt, you must take required entry-level tests (ELM/EPT) before your first semester to ensure that your skills in mathematics and English are at a college level. Any required remediation must be completed in one year.


Use GE to learn about yourself and your world.

If you are unsure about what you want your major to be, it is a good idea to spend your first semesters exploring different options. GE allows you to learn about different subjects.


It's OK to be undeclared.

A large percentage of incoming first-time college students have not yet declared their major. Take time to explore the possibilities. Meet with an adviser at the Advising Center and use SF State services, such as the Career Center, to help you find the right major. First-time college students need to declare a major before completing 70 units.


It's OK to change your major.

Most students change their major at least once while in college. If you find that the major you have chosen is not right for you, explore other options. You will probably find that there are many more choices than you have ever encountered. However, pay attention to unit limit requirements.


General Education and major requirements may sometimes overlap.

Most majors include courses that meet both GE and major requirements. This is referred to as “duplicate use of credit” or simply as "double-counting." By choosing certain courses, you can satisfy both GE and the major.


When you have decided on a major, make a tentative plan for your remaining semesters at SF State.

Many departments will provide you with an advising worksheet so you can keep track of your progress. Most majors have sample “roadmaps” that show a possible pathway to graduation.


Plan your program in consultation with an adviser.

Review your advising worksheet or road map frequently and meet with an adviser on a regular basis. Go to your major department and request an adviser or, if you are undeclared, or thinking about changing your major, meet with an adviser in the Advising Center.


Bring your advising materials to your advising sessions.(Unofficial transcripts, DARS Report, Advanced Standing Evaluation Form [ASE], if applicable, etc.).


This SF State Bulletin is the most complete source of information regarding graduation requirements and university policies and procedures. Use this Bulletin to help choose a major, and to determine course content and prerequisites.


Use the online Class Schedule to determine which courses are offered each semester. At the Web site, www.sfsu.edu/online/clssch.htm, you will also find an academic calendar and information on tests and deadlines. Some departments provide advance information on future course offerings, either online or in departmental offices.


Degree Audit Report System (DARS) informs students how courses have been accepted toward GE and other graduation requirements. Students should review the DARS report after each semester's grades are recorded in order to monitor progress in completing requirements and resolve errors and/or complete deficiencies. DARS reports can be downloaded at SF State Gateway. The list of DARS schools can be found at www.sfsu.edu/~admisrec/reg/dars.html.


Whether transfer students will receive a DARS report or an ASE (or both) depends on the college(s) attended prior to transferring to SF State. Transfer students who do not receive an evaluation of their transfer work by the middle of the first semester of attendance at SF State should inquire at the One Stop Student Services Center.


Advanced Standing Evaluation (ASE): For students who have completed coursework at non-DARS schools, the ASE indicates how SF State has accepted transferred courses toward GE and other graduation requirements. An ASE is mailed to students during the first semester of attendance.


Transcripts of SF State and Transfer Institutions assist students and advisers in determining that prerequisites have been met, that skills are sufficiently developed, and that courses have been taken appropriately for the degree. Bring copies of transcripts when meeting with advisers to help monitor progress and determine the best path toward the degree.


Major and Minor Requirements Worksheets and Roadmaps provide information to assist students in fulfilling requirements. Many departments publish flowcharts and graphic illustrations of prerequisite structures to help in planning. Often worksheets include details in addition to what is found in the Bulletin and also provide space for adviser verification of course equivalencies in the major/minor. Four-year roadmaps showing a possible pathway to the degree are available for most majors on the Registrar’s website (www.sfsu.edu/~admisrec/reg/roadmaps_faq.html).


Pay careful attention to course prerequisites.

Be sure to take courses in the proper sequence. Included in this Bulletin is a description of all courses offered at SF State. If you need prior experience or exposure to a subject as background to a course, prerequisite requirements are listed which must be taken before you can take that course.


Discuss effective use of elective credit with your adviser.

You may use these elective units to fulfill prerequisites for graduate school, develop a specific competency (for example, foreign language or computer skills), or to enrich your life and expand your understanding.


Take advantage of as many opportunities as possible while in college.

If you plan your education well, you will find time to participate in internships, student organizations, and many other programs and services available here. In most majors, you can spend a semester or a year studying at a university in another country; the staff in the Office of International Programs will help you plan both your academic program and your finances if you would like to study abroad.


Go at your own speed.

Take care of the basic skills first. Most students work while attending SF State and therefore may not graduate in the typical eight semesters. Each student should take the number of units that is consistent with his/her specific family, work, and social obligations.


Most majors consist of approximately 45 units. If a student is earning a B.A. degree, the following is a sample unit breakdown. This example assumes no duplicate use of credit (“double counting”) between the major and GE requirements. The distribution will be slightly different for transfer students. An average of 15 units per semester will be needed to complete the degree in eight semesters.

For example:

Units Elements of Degree Program
45 units in major
48 units in GE
0 - 6 units in History/Government
3 -6 units in English outside GE
 15 - 24  elective units required
120 minimum total units for B.A. degree


Most B.S. degrees can also be completed in 120 units, but in some programs a student will need more than 120 units. An average of 16.5 units per semester will be needed to complete the degree in eight semesters.

For example, the largest degree program at SF State is 132 units:

Units Elements of Degree Program
69 units in major
48 units in GE
0 - 6 units in History/Government
3 - 6 units in English outside GE
 3 - 6  elective units required
132 minimum total units for B.S. degree


How is GE transfer credit evaluated?

Transfer students from California community college or California State University campuses will be given credit for general education requirements which their former institutions certify as completed. Transfers from other public or private colleges will be given appropriate GE credit as determined by SF State evaluators.


Can I use the same course to satisfy Segment II and Segment III requirements?



Can I use the same class to meet General Education and U.S. History and Government requirements?

No, students may not double count courses taken at SF State toward both GE requirements and the U.S. History and Government requirement. Engineering majors must consult the Engineering GE adviser as soon as possible after admission for exceptions.


Can I earn GE credit for college-level learning that I acquired through prior work or life experience?

Yes. The CEEL (Credit by Evaluation for Experiential Learning) Program provides a way of earning General Education, elective, and, in some cases, major credit for those students who have acquired prior college-level learning for which no college credit has been awarded. To obtain further information about CEEL, contact the Advising Center.


Should I carefully plan my GE program?

Yes. Some courses may not be offered every semester. Exceptions to GE requirements are considered only under unusual and extenuating circumstances.


Undergraduate Education continues in Academic Checklist.



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