Bachelor of Arts in Cinema


At the time of admission to the University, all students may elect to be Cinema majors. No special permission, application or portfolio is required. Before advancing to courses at the 300 level or higher, however, all majors must:

  • Complete the core courses with a grade of C or higher (CINE 200, CINE 202, CINE 204, CINE 211, and CINE 212, or equivalent courses).
  • Complete the lower division General Education requirements at SF State or the equivalent at another institution.

Description of the Program

The School of Cinema is committed to a program of cinema studies and production as a common enterprise. For this reason, the 200-level core courses and the 300-level foundation courses are necessary prerequisites to advanced work in the major. Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) courses in cinema are an exception; if the necessary prerequisites have been completed, GWAR courses may be taken concurrently with core or foundation courses, provided the student is an upper-division Cinema major. The School of Cinema enforces the completion of the core courses before enrollment in all other courses. Additional required courses may be taken once 200-level core courses are completed, provided the student is an upper-division cinema major. 

Students should be aware that filmmaking is time-consuming and expensive. Although course requirements seldom demand it, students often spend considerable sums of money on their film projects. Production courses require hands-on practice and experience; this necessarily limits the number of students enrolled in such courses.

Advising Process

Consultation with an advisor is required upon completion of the core courses, at which time the student should obtain a Cinema Undergraduate Advising Form (Blue Sheet) for future use.  Students are strongly encouraged to consult with an advisor on a regular basis as they advance through the program. 

A list of School of Cinema advisors and a schedule of their availability can be found on the School website.

Students are also advised to consult with the University’s Advising Center or the ARC (Advising Resource Center for the College of Liberal & Creative Arts in Humanities Building, Room 112) for information about General Education and other University requirements.

Cinema B.A. — 45 units

Core Courses (13 units)

Students must complete core courses with a grade of C or better.

CINE 200Introduction to Cinema Studies3
CINE 202Introduction to Filmmaking3
CINE 204Introduction to Filmmaking Laboratory1
CINE 211Film History I3
CINE 212Film History II3

Foundation and GWAR Courses (7 units)

Upon satisfactory completion of core courses, Cinema majors should enroll in the foundation and GWAR courses. Other 300-level courses may be taken concurrently unless specific course prerequisites apply.

CINE 340Critical Studies3
CINE 341Critical Studies Discussion Group1
Select one GWAR course from the following:
Writing About Cinema - GWAR
Documentary Film - GWAR
The Art of Short Film - GWAR
Arab Cinema - GWAR
Art and Film - GWAR

Required Upper Division Courses (9 units)

Select nine units from the following:

CINE 304Gender and Film3
CINE 305Film and the Holocaust3
CINE 306Chinese Documentary Film3
CINE 308Third Cinema3
CINE 331Hollywood Representation of Race and Ethnicity3
CINE 332Understanding the Representation and Narration of Sexuality in Cinema3
CINE 342Documentary Film3
CINE 344Film Genre3
CINE 346The Art of Short Film3
CINE 365History of Animation3
CINE 372Film Theory3
CINE 373Film and Society3
CINE 375U.S. Culture and Cinema of the 1950s3
CINE 401National/Regional Cinemas3
CINE 402Arab Cinema3
CINE 407History and Film3
CINE 409Latina/o Cinema3
CINE 410Art and Film3
CINE 441Signs of Aliens: Semiotics of Film and Popular Culture3
CINE 502Experiments in Cinematic Form3
CINE 508Film Authorship3
CINE 540Issues in Film Theory3
CINE 541Race, Sex, and Identity Online3
CINE 610Senior Critical Studies Seminar3

Electives (16 units)

Elect additional cinema courses to complete the total of 45 units required for the major:

  • With prior approval of advisor, up to 12 units of Cinema-related upper division courses outside the School may count toward the major.
  • No more than seven units of advanced production units from the following courses may be taken in any one term unless special permission is granted by the instructor.  Such permission cannot be given prior to the first day of class. CINE 430, CINE 442, CINE 454, CINE 456, CINE 466 CINE 468, CINE 510, CINE 512, CINE 515, CINE 520, CINE 522, CINE 523, CINE 524, CINE 525, CINE 526, CINE 529, CINE 530, CINE 542, CINE 551, CINE 556, CINE 568, CINE 620, CINE 622, CINE 623, CINE 630, CINE 640, CINE 654, CINE 656, CINE 651.
  • If the minimum residence requirement of 12 units in the major is satisfied, credit for upper-division courses in the major from another four-year university is possible if syllabi are comparable.
  • With a faculty advisor’s approval no more than 13 units from a community college may be applied to the core courses in the Cinema major. Up to six of those units may be in screenwriting and/or filmmaking/video production.
  • A maximum of 18 units of online course work may be counted toward the major.
  • A maximum of 12 units of independent study/internship courses may be counted toward the major.
  • A maximum of 9 CR/NC units may be counted toward the major, which may include up to a maximum of four units of different  CINE 325CINE 326, or CINE 650 courses.

Complementary Studies

Bachelor of Arts students must complete at least twelve units of complementary studies outside of the primary prefix for the major. (Note: Students may not use an alternate prefix that is cross-listed with the primary prefix for the major.)

Students who complete two majors or a major and a minor automatically complete the complementary studies requirement.

Cinema majors will be offered several pathways toward completing this requirement, each of which is designed to facilitate graduation in a timely manner. Majors may, with the approval of a Cinema advisor, elect to apply 12 units in a single foreign language of their choosing, courses taken in an approved study abroad program (e.g., CSU Study Abroad), courses taken as part of a second major, a minor or a certificate, and courses in related disciplines. Related disciplines typically include: anthropology, art, business, creative writing, design, journalism, literature, music, philosophy, television, and theater. The School of Cinema allows up to 12 upper-division units from cinema-related disciplines to count toward the major. Where upper-division complementary studies courses are related to cinema, they may, with the approval of a School advisor, also be counted as cinema electives in fulfillment of major requirements.

Students who have earned AA-T or AS-T degrees and are pursuing a similar B.A. degree at SF State are required to fulfill the Complementary Studies requirement as defined by the major department. Students should consult with a major advisor about how transfer units and/or SF State units can best be applied to this requirement to ensure degree completion within 60 units.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), in a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = Lower Division; UD = Upper Division.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Film, Television and Electronic Media

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation, and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab and displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission, but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower division major requirements for this major, including 2nd-semester composition;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper division transfer (for example, if course was not passed on the first attempt, or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California community college of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower division general education in areas C and D until after transfer in order to focus on preparation courses for the major. (This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.)

Transferring from institutions other than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (GE A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All students must meet the transfer eligibility requirements outlined below for admission. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.00 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended
  • Complete 30 semester units (45 quarter units) of general education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and a minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90 quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a "C" or better grade in each basic skills course.