Undergraduate Education  {SF State Bulletin 2012 - 2013}

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Undergraduate Degree: Overview

San Francisco State University undergraduates will emerge from their studies with a breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding developed from integrating their course work and academic experiences in both general education and in the major. The abilities, knowledge, and qualities of mind fostered by general education will be reinforced, extended, and deepened in the major. Students should pursue a secondary focus in addition to their major (e.g., a second major, minor, certificate). We expect the following interconnected educational outcomes from a baccalaureate of San Francisco State University:


  1. Competencies for Lifelong Intellectual Endeavor: San Francisco State University's baccalaureate graduates will be competent in critical questioning and analysis, creative and independent thought, attentive reading and interpretation, written and other forms of communication, quantitative reasoning, research drawing upon a variety of resources, problem solving, and collaboration. Students should have knowledge of a language other than English.
  2. Intellectual Attainments: Graduates will be conversant with the principal domains of knowledge associated with liberal learning: the sciences and mathematics, the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts. They will be able to apply the modes of inquiry associated with these domains and will have engaged questions and issues of enduring importance. They will also gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of at least one major course of study. These competencies and attainments will provide graduates with intellectual foundations for careers or for advanced study.
  3. Appreciation of Diversity: Graduates will know, understand, and appreciate multiple forms and variations of human diversity, both within the United States and globally. Graduates will respect themselves and others. They will have obtained a historical perspective about the development of our diverse nation and will be able to engage in informed, civil discourse with persons different from themselves in intellectual and cultural outlook.
  4. Ethical Engagement: Graduates will have an appreciation of the necessity and difficulty of making ethical choices, both private and public, and will be able to identify and analyze the values that inform those choices. Graduates will demonstrate ethical conduct in their own work and their acknowledgement of the work of others. Graduates will recognize their responsibility to work toward social justice and equity by contributing purposefully to the well-being of their local communities, their nations, and the people of the world, as well as to the sustainability of the natural environment.
  5. Integration and Application of Knowledge: Graduates will know how to make connections among apparently disparate forms of knowledge and modes of inquiry across academic disciplines and between the principal domains of knowledge and their majors. They also will be able to place such knowledge and approaches within their cultural, historical, and sociopolitical contexts. Graduates will be able to apply academic knowledge to what is important in their own lives and to local and global communities.
  6. Qualities of Mind and Spirit: Graduates will take with them dispositions that facilitate lifelong learning and growth, including curiosity, a sense of wonder, intellectual flexibility and adaptability, a refusal to simplify what is inherently complex and ambiguous, a sense of responsibility and accountability, critical self-reflection, independence of mind, respect for wellness and healthy living, a readiness to assume leadership roles, and reverence for all that unites us as human beings across time.


At SF State, students acquire these skills and this knowledge through General Education (GE), major, minor and/or elective courses. All are important parts of the overall experience of a liberal education to prepare students to be successful in the 21st Century.


SF State awards three baccalaureate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), the Bachelor of Science (B.S.), and the Bachelor of Music (B.M.). Requirements for all three degrees are listed on the following pages. Consult your major department for specific degree requirements.



Completion of a major is a graduation requirement. A major is a study in depth -- a focused area of study that requires the student to take a specific set of courses that lead to a deep understanding of a particular subject matter. At SF State there are over 100 undergraduate majors. Choosing a major involves declaring this choice at the time of admission or consulting with faculty advisers and then submitting a Change of Major form to the department office of the intended major.


Typically, students declare their major during their sophomore year after completing most of their lower division General Education requirements. Lower division students who are undecided about their major may identify themselves as undeclared. Being undeclared provides the opportunity to explore a variety of courses in different areas of interest. Students who enter SF State as freshmen must declare a major by the time they complete 70 units.


Some majors are identified as impacted. These majors are in high demand and more students than can be accommodated want to declare these areas of study as their majors. An impacted major includes supplemental admission requirements. Requests to declare impacted majors must be received by the end of the initial filing period for the term for which new majors are being accepted. Continuing students who have earned 96 units or more may not apply to an impacted major.


Some majors require that students meet specific prerequisites before gaining admission. The change of major time period for all non-impacted majors is August 1 – October 1 for the Fall semester and January 1 – March 1 for the Spring semester.


The following rules apply to all undergraduate majors:

  • Double Major Students may complete two majors only if both may be completed within 120 units. Students who complete two majors may apply for both degrees in a single commencement by submitting two separate applications simultaneously. No additional fee is required for the second application.
  • Duplicate Use of Credit Between Majors Students who complete two majors may count the same courses for both majors where there is a clearly stated overlap in the Bulletin requirements. While these courses may be used to satisfy requirements for two majors, the units shall be counted only once in fulfillment of the minimum units required for award of the baccalaureate degree.
  • Duplicate Use of Credit Between the Major and GE If applicable, an unlimited number of courses used to meet General Education Segment I and II requirements may be used to fulfill major requirements. A maximum of two courses in Segment III also may be used to meet major requirements. While these units (courses) may be used to satisfy both major requirements and GE requirements, they shall be counted only once in fulfillment of the minimum units required for award of the baccalaureate degree. Consult the section on General Education requirements for complete rules on duplicate use of credit.
  • Change of Major Students who change their major after being admitted, or who declare a major after being admitted with an undeclared major, must fulfill the major requirements in effect at the time they declare or change their major. Students may not change majors after they have completed 96 units.
  • Residence Units A minimum of twelve units in the major must be completed in residence.
  • Grade Point Average Students must have a minimum 2.0 grade point average (GPA) in their major. Some majors have additional minimum grade requirements. Consult with the major department.
  • Time limit to complete requirements for undergraduate degree There is normally no statutory period for units required for an undergraduate degree at SF State. However, if any course required for the major, minor, or certificate was taken more than seven years prior to graduation, then departments and programs may require students to retake that course or demonstrate currency in that subject. Consult with the department for more information.



Students may also elect to complete a minor if it is possible to complete the minor and major within 120 units. Like a major, the minor is a focused area of study; however, a minor does not require as many units. Currently, at SF State, only the Journalism major requires a minor to earn a bachelor's degree.


The following policies apply to completion of an approved minor:

  • Duplicate Use of Credit Between Major and Minor. Courses may count for both a major and a minor where there is a clearly stated overlap in the Bulletin requirements. While these courses may be used to satisfy requirements for both a major and a minor, the units shall be counted only once in fulfillment of the minimum units required for award of the baccalaureate degree.
  • Duplicate Use of Credit Between Minor and GE. No limitations.
  • Upper Division/Residence Units. At least half of the units making up the minor must be taken in residence and at least half must be upper division.
  • Minimum Units. A minor must include a minimum of fifteen (15) units.
  • No Minor in Major. Students may not earn a major and a minor in the same discipline.
  • Grade Point Average. A minimum 2.0 grade point average is required in the minor. Some minors have additional minimum grade requirements. Consult with the department.


Introduction to General Education

Your major provides study in depth in one subject matter, often one directly related to a particular career. General Education (GE), on the other hand, involves study in breadth -- for acquiring knowledge and skills for a range of future experiences throughout life, for providing the intellectual agility to move from one career to another, and for making future contributions in a number of possible communities. The University requires students to complete 48 units of General Education requirements (GE).


Segment I of GE is designed to improve students’ basic skills in writing, speaking, and reasoning. Segment II of GE provides a breadth of knowledge about human creativity past and present, about different ways of knowing, and about the role of science and technology in modern life. Segment III of GE draws upon several disciplines to study a particular topic. GE at SF State satisfies the General Education Breadth Requirements of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.


Segment I: Basic Subjects

The Basic Subjects curriculum develops skills in effective written and oral communication, builds critical thinking abilities, and develops greater competence in mathematical analysis.


Segment II: Arts and Sciences Core

The Arts and Sciences Core helps students develop an understanding of the contributions to and influences on our world of the physical and biological sciences, social sciences, humanities, and creative arts. Students study human accomplishments past and present, are introduced to different ways of analyzing and understanding the natural and created environment, and may participate actively in creative endeavors.


Through study of the physical and biological sciences, students develop an understanding of the role of science and technology in modern life. Students apply the scientific method through a laboratory course or field experience.


Study of the behavioral and social sciences develops skills for analyzing and understanding human behavior -- individually and in groups, past and present, here and elsewhere in the world -- and fosters civic and global responsibility and an appreciation for diverse values and cultural traditions.


In the humanities and arts, students explore fundamental questions regarding human values, aesthetics, and expression. Such study stimulates reflective thinking, imagination, and creativity; increases civic and global responsibility; and cultivates moral and ethical action.


Within Segment II, students gain understandings useful to their lifelong personal development (LLD—Lifelong Development), to their development as active and constructive participants in a diverse society (AERM—American and Ethnic Racial Minorities), and to their awareness of the scientific method (L/F—Laboratory or Field component).


Segment III: Relationships of Knowledge

Segment III, Relationships of Knowledge, provides a focused and coherent study of a theme that challenges students to integrate and apply skills and knowledge. Each theme includes one or more courses that address the diversity of human experience, values, and contributions (CESD—Cultural, Ethnic, or Social Diversity).


Summary of General Education Requirements

Segment I:

Basic Subjects Units
Written Communications 3
Oral Communications 3
Critical Thinking 3
Quantitative Reasoning 3

12Total units in Segment I

Segment II:

Arts and Sciences Core
(including AERM, LLD, and L/F components)
Physical and Biological Sciences 9
Behavioral and Social Sciences 9
Humanities and Creative Arts 9

27Total units in Segment II

Segment III:

Relationships of Knowledge Units
Upper Division Residence Units in a Cluster
(including CESD)

9Total units in Segment III

48Total Units in General Education


A detailed listing of all General Education areas and courses begins on General Education Segments I and II. You can find specific areas of our GE program by visiting the General Education Table of Contents


Other Academic Programs

Certificate programs provide individuals the opportunity to develop specialized skills in areas that may complement majors or minors. These programs focus on a narrow spectrum of knowledge or skills and require fewer units than a major. SF State's College of Extended Learning also offers certificate programs. Students who are pursing a baccalaureate degree and certificate at the same time may only do so if they can complete them within 120 units.


Pre-credential programs are offered for students interested in pursuing teaching credentials after completing the baccalaureate degree. Students may complete preparatory course work as an undergraduate student and are encouraged to seek advising from the College of Education's Credential Services Teacher Preparation Center, the Liberal Studies office and/or the Child and Adolescent Development Program.


Pre-professional programs are available for students who are interested in pursuing professional school studies after the baccalaureate degree. For information and referral, consult the University Bulletin and/or the Advising Center.


Second Baccalaureate Degree

Subject to restrictions imposed by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, in rare instances a student who already holds a bachelor's degree may apply for admission to work toward a second baccalaureate degree. If approved, the student will be admitted to the undergraduate program, typically at the senior level. Check CSU Mentor (www.csumentor.edu) for programs open to second baccalaureate applications.


Students who have previously earned a baccalaureate or higher degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association will be held to the residence requirement at SF State (30 minimum/24 upper division) and the requirements of the new major. An Advanced Standing Evaluation (ASE) and/or Degree Audit Report (DARS) will indicate that requirements in General Education, Written English, and U.S. History and Government have been met.


Whether or not the second baccalaureate degree is ever completed, none of the credits earned may later be considered for post-baccalaureate status at this University. The only possible exception is in the last semester before the award of the degree as provided for under the section Courses in Excess of Bachelor Degree Requirements.


Undergraduate Education continues in Undergraduate Advising.

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