Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

Liberal Studies (B.A.) — Minimum 42 Units

Note: the courses that appear below are approved for the major. In the event that approved courses are not offered, substitutions may be made on advisement. All units must be upper division.

Required Core Courses

Before beginning the core courses, students should have completed ENG 214 or equivalent (e.g. AFRS 214, CWL 214, or ENG 1B at a community college). LS 300GW introduces important concepts of interdisciplinary study and should be taken either before or concurrently with the Area Core Courses, usually no later than the junior year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete all Area Core Courses before taking LS 690, the culminating experience for the major, in the senior year.

Please note: the courses that appear below are approved for the major. In the event that approved courses are not offered, substitutions may be made on advisement.

Introduction to Liberal Studies (3 Units)

LS 300GWPerspectives on Liberal Studies - GWAR (Prerequisite: ENG 214 or equivalent.)3

Area I — Communication, Language, and Literature (6–7 Units)

Select one course from the Literature list of courses, and one course from the Communication Studies list of courses. 


Select one course from the following:
AA S 322Chinese American Language and Literature3
AA S 332Japanese American Art and Literature3
AA S 352Filipina/o American Literature, Art, and Culture3
AA S 372Vietnamese American Literature3
AA S 512Asian American Children's/Adolescent Literature3
AFRS 411African and African American Literature3
CWL 440"Typical American": Narratives of Multiculturalism in the Americas from 1492 to the Present3
ENG 398/MGS 397Greek American Literature3
ENG 528American Literature: 1914-19603
ENG 535Literature and Ecology3
ENG 554Modern American Novel3
ENG 555The Short Story3
ENG 583Shakespeare: Representative Plays3
ENG 584Shakespeare: Selected Plays3
ENG 614Women in Literature: Authors and Characters3
ENG 631Post-Colonial Literature in English3
ENG 636Greek and Roman Myth and Modern Literature3
ENG 655Literature and the Adolescent Reader3
LTNS 560Contemporary Latina/o Literature3
RRS/ARAB 450Contemporary Arabic and Arab American Literature3
WGS 541Women Writers and Social Change3
WGS 548Literature by U.S. Women of Color3
WGS/SXS 551Queer Literatures and Media3

Communication Studies

Select one course from the following:
COMM 220Introduction to the Performance of Literature3
COMM 230Introduction to Argumentation and Debate3
COMM 250Introduction to Group Discussion and Teamwork3
COMM 551Persuasion4
COMM 552Women and Words4
COMM 553Oral Interpretation of the First Person Voice4
COMM 554Oral Interpretation of Children's Literature4
COMM 559Theory and Practice in Advanced Public Speaking4

Area II — Life Science, Physical Science, and Mathematics (6 Units)

Select one course from Life Science and one Physical Science:

Life Science

Select one course from the following:
BIOL 300Nature Study3
BIOL 310Biology for Today's World3
BIOL 313Principles of Ecology3
BIOL 318Our Endangered Planet3
BIOL 326Disease!3
BIOL 327AIDS: Biology of the Modern Epidemic3
BIOL 330Human Sexuality (BIOL 322 is not a substitute)3
LS 430Future of the Forests3

Physical Science

Select one course from the following (or approved alternative):
CHEM 380Chemistry Behind Environmental Pollution (Prerequisite: CHEM 115)3
ERTH 310The Violent Earth3
ERTH 325Geology of the National Parks3
ERTH 330California Water3
ERTH 335Global Warming3
ERTH 360California Weather Events3
ERTH 365Extreme Weather in a Warming World3
LS 309Physical Sciences for Elementary School Teachers3

Area III — Behavioral and Social Sciences (6 Units)

LS 400
LS 401
Social Sciences Core I
and Social Sciences Core II

Area IV — Creative Arts and Humanities (6 Units)

HUM 425
LS 426
Thought and Image: Humanities
and Thought and Image: Creative Arts

Culminating Experience (3 Units)

LS 690Liberal Studies Senior Seminar (LS 300GW is a prerequisite)3

Emphasis Pattern Beyond the Core (12 Units)

Fifteen semester units beyond the core must be taken with liberal studies advisor approval, with at least six units completed at the upper division level. Students may choose to complete an approved minor in lieu of an area of emphasis. Refer to the Liberal Studies website ( and consult with a major advisor regarding possible emphases.

Students interested in becoming elementary school teachers are strongly encouraged to choose the Teacher Preparation Emphasis which can be found at the end of the list of other emphasis patterns.

Area I: Communication, Language, and Literature

  • English Language: Literature, Language, and Communication
  • Literature and Oral Performance
  • Languages and Literatures Other Than English
    • Chinese
    • Classical Languages
    • French
    • German
    • Italian
    • Japanese
    • Russian
    • Spanish

Area II: Life Science, Physical Science, and Mathematics

  • Earth and Space Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Life Science
  • Mathematics
  • Physics and Astronomy

Area III: Behavioral and Social Sciences

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Geography
  • Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation
  • History
  • International Relations
  • Political Science
  • Urban Studies

Area IV: Creative Arts and Humanities

  • Creative Arts
  • Humanities
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Religion

Integrated Studies

  • Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations
  • California Studies
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Gender, Culture, and Representation
  • Jewish Studies
  • Multidisciplinary Ethnic Studies

Teacher Preparation Emphasis

Future elementary school teachers are expected to be familiar with all of the subject matter taught in schools. Students seeking the Multiple Subject Credential must pass the CSET: Multiple Subjects examination. To support your preparation for the CSET, students are advised choose the Teacher Preparation emphasis for your courses beyond the core.  

Students interested in becoming elementary or special education teachers should also attend an information meeting given by the Credential and Graduate Services Center. At the meeting, students learn all of the credential program admission requirements. Call (415) 405–3594 for more information. General information about teaching careers may be found at the Credential and Graduate Services Center in BH 244.

Elementary Teaching Preparation Emphasis (15 units)

MATH 165
MATH 565
Concepts of the Number System
and Concepts of Geometry, Measurement, and Probability (or approved alternative)
Select three of the following or approved alternative:9
Promoting Young Children's Social and Emotional Development
Art and Learning
World History to 1500
Elementary School Physical Education, K-5
Music for Children
Storytelling and Folk Literature

Complementary Studies

All students completing a B.A. degree must satisfy the 12 unit Complementary Studies requirement. Students who complete the Liberal Studies major will automatically satisfy complementary studies with 12 units of courses outside of the Liberal Studies prefix (LS) and not cross-listed with LS. Students must consult with an advisor to identify the courses that will be used to satisfy the requirement.

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 in order 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 Elementary Teacher Education

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.

LS 300GW Perspectives on Liberal Studies - GWAR (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: ENG 214 or equivalent with a grade of C- or better. Enrollment priority for Liberal Studies majors.

Basic preparation for interdisciplinary study. Draws on language arts, mathematics, science, social sciences, humanities, and creative arts to prepare students for advanced work in Liberal Studies and for careers requiring breadth and depth of knowledge. (ABC/NC grading only) [CSL may be available]

Course Attributes:

  • Graduation Writing Assessment

LS 304 Making Comics (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Upper division standing or consent of instructor.

Introduction to the hands-on making of comics. Focus on in-class exercises and small projects in making comics alongside analysis of comics. Promotes understanding of how to communicate in comics and discover working methods that best work for them.

LS 309 Physical Sciences for Elementary School Teachers (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Completion of the Physical Sciences GE requirement.

Designed for prospective elementary/middle school (K-8) teachers. Understanding through inquiry the structure and property of matter and principles of motion and energy. Classwork, 2 units; laboratory, 1 unit.

LS 310 Physics for Future Elementary School Teachers (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Completion of lower-division physical science GE or consent of instructor.

Designed for prospective elementary/middle school (K-8) teachers. Understanding through inquiry-based instruction the principles of motion and energy. In compliance with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core.

LS 400 Social Sciences Core I (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Upper division standing or consent of instructor.

An interdisciplinary approach to the scientific study of human social behavior. Exploration of the similarities and differences between the social science disciplines of anthropology, psychology, and sociology with respect to their subject matter, concepts, models, and research approaches. [Formerly SS 300]

LS 401 Social Sciences Core II (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Upper division standing.

An interdisciplinary social science approach to the disciplines of history, geography, economics and political science with regard to their subject matter, concepts, models, and research approaches. Considers the prospects and problems of interdisciplinary vs. disciplinary social analysis. [Formerly SS 301]

Course Attributes:

  • UD-D: Social Sciences
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Perspectives

LS 403 Performance and Pedagogy of the Oppressed for Educators (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: CWL 214 or ENG 214 or equivalent.

Examination of theories of Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire and their application for educators and community activists.
(This course is offered as LS 403 and COMM 557. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.)

LS 426 Thought and Image: Creative Arts (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: ENG 114 or equivalent.

Works in the creative arts and humanities studied in terms of the unique ways the meanings, values, and forms reflect their cultures of origin. Works from at least two global cultures will be included. [Formerly CA 426]

LS 430 Future of the Forests (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: ENG 214 or equivalent; one course in college-level biology.

Ecological and social dimensions of Western-Hemisphere forests; forest ecology and science; socio-political relations of industries to forest decline and with minority forest dwellers and laborers; sustainability and the future role of forests.

Course Attributes:

  • UD-B: Physical Life Science
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Perspectives

LS 460 Childhood, Nature, and Society (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Upper division standing and ENG 214 or equivalent.

Exploration of the relationship between childhood and nature in pre-through-post industrial societies using theory, research and methods from the social sciences. [CSL may be available] [Formerly S S 460]

LS 681 Community Service Learning in the Schools (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Upper division standing.

Projects in history and social studies learning at the K-12 level. Meets state early field experience requirement for multiple and single subject credential program admissions. May be repeated for a total of 6 units. [CSL may be available]
(This course is offered as LS 681 and HIST 681. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.)

LS 690 Liberal Studies Senior Seminar (Units: 3)

Prerequisites: Senior standing; LS 300GW.

Interdisciplinary theory, research, and practice. Examination of key questions and complex problems from multiple perspectives through preparation of a substantial piece of work.

LS 699 Independent Study (Units: 1-3)

Prerequisites: Upper division standing; declared liberal studies major; and consent of instructor;

Independent inquiry into a specific interdisciplinary issue or problem formulated by the student and approved and supervised by a member of the Liberal Studies faculty.

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Elementary Teacher Education. This roadmap opens in a new tab.