Bachelor of Arts in Cinema

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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 in 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, including the emphases. 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.

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

Students are strongly encouraged to consult with an advisor on a regular basis as they advance through the program. 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.

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 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

Emphases (15 units)

An emphasis is a 15 unit suggested pathway through the major. Students may choose an established emphasis, or design their own in consultation with an advisor. See details for established emphases below.

Electives (10 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 7 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 6 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 4 units of different  CINE 325CINE 326, or CINE 650 courses.

Emphasis in Animation (15 units)

The Animation emphasis is a rigorous, cross-disciplinary program that encourages creative storytelling, social issue documentary and artistic experimentation. Using a variety of techniques: including drawing, stop-motion, 2D/3D computer, mixed media and effects animation, students make short films and learn pre-production, production and post-production animation methods. Students gain a strong foundation in animation principles applicable to creative, industrial, and scientific fields. Enrollment in all animation courses is open to students with upper division standing and requires portfolio review. Students must complete CINE 200 and CINE 202/CINE 204 (or the equivalent) by the time of the Portfolio Review.

Animation Portfolio Review Guidelines

The animation portfolio review is held in the fall semester, the day before classes begin. It takes place in Fine Arts 325 at 10 a.m. (If classes begin on Monday, the review is on the previous Friday.) Students must bring an unofficial transcript and Degree Progress Report (DPR) or equivalent report to confirm upper division standing.

Portfolio Guidelines

It is highly recommended that students take a beginning drawing and a life drawing class before the review. Portfolios should include student’s strongest work and be limited to 20 pages assembled in one book to include the following:

  • Four to six pages of life drawings done from live subjects (not from photographic references).
  • Four to six pages of rough and gesture style sketches of animals and humans in motion (not from photographic or cartoon references).
  • Two to four pages of color and design work that may include drawing, painting, photography, 2D and or 3D design.
  • Two pages of recent personal work in any media.
  • Optional: up to two animation or film samples on a DVD or portable drive (MAC compatible).

Animation Emphasis Required Courses

CINE 360Animation I (portfolio required)3
CINE 362Animation II3
CINE 365History of Animation3
CINE 466Animation III3
CINE 468Advanced Animation Workshop3

Note: Animation students may substitute CINE 365, for either CINE 211 or CINE 212.

Emphasis in Fiction Filmmaking (15 units)

The fiction filmmaking pathway provides students with the opportunity to develop the various crafts of filmmaking, including cinematography, directing, editing, and sound. Students apply these skills to the completion of well-executed short narrative film projects. To take upper division cinema production courses, students must have completed CINE 310 and CINE 316 and have upper division standing.

CINE 310Workshop in Film Production3
CINE 316Film Production Laboratory1
CINE 454Writing Short Films3

Electives from Among the Following (8 units)

CINE 423Introduction to Digital Filmmaking3
CINE 442Producing and Financing Films I3
CINE 510Directing Visual Style3
CINE 512Sound Production for Cinema3
CINE 515Directing Actors3
CINE 519Soundstage Workshop1
CINE 520Sound Post-Production for Cinema3
CINE 522Projects in Film Editing3
CINE 523Exploration in Interactive Cinema3
CINE 524Exploring Sound Design for Cinema3
CINE 525Cinematography and Lighting3
CINE 530Digital Cinematography3
CINE 542Producing and Financing Films II3
CINE 620Advanced Fiction Filmmaking I3
CINE 622Advanced Fiction Filmmaking II3
CINE 623Exploration in Cinema as an On-Line Medium3
CINE 624Advanced Production Crafts1
CINE 654Writing and Performing in Film and Theatre3

Emphasis in Documentary Filmmaking (15 units)

The documentary filmmaking pathway provides students with the opportunity to develop the various crafts of filmmaking, including cinematography, directing, editing, and sound. Students apply these skills to the completion of well-executed short documentary film projects. To take upper division cinema production courses, students must have completed CINE 310 and CINE 316 and have upper division standing.

CINE 310Workshop in Film Production3
CINE 316Film Production Laboratory1
CINE 342Documentary Film3
CINE 554Writing for Documentary and Nonfiction3

Electives from Among the Following (5 units)

CINE 430Documentary Filmmaking Workshop3
CINE 527Documentary for Health and Social Justice I6
CINE 532International Documentary Workshop6
CINE 630Workshop in Experimental Documentary3

Emphasis in Media and Culture (15 units)

Students pursuing the media and culture pathway study cinema and media within a broader cultural context, which includes the relation of cinema and media to aesthetics, authorship, genres, social and economic history and theory, industry, and ideology (including ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality). Critical thinking and writing about these topics are emphasized. All media and culture courses may be applied to this area of emphasis, with a minimum of 15 units required for completion of the emphasis.

CINE 610Senior Critical Studies Seminar (in student's senior year)3

Electives from Among the Following (12 units)

(at least one of which must be taken at the 400/500 level, prior to taking CINE 610):

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

Emphasis in Screenwriting (15 units)

The practice of screenwriting shapes entertainment, challenges social convention, and informs global culture. Students on the screenwriting pathway hone the necessary skills to craft compelling narratives that provoke, inspire, and entertain diverse audiences. Students that elect this pathway often graduate with two or more scripts they can use as evidence of their training.

CINE 356Fundamentals of Screenwriting3
CINE 454Writing Short Films3
CINE 456Feature Screenwriting I3
CINE 556Feature Screenwriting II3
CINE 656Screenwriting Workshop3

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 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 may be 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 sixty units and includes completion of all lower division GE and at least eighteen 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 is continuing in this 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), go to 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
  • 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 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 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. As described above, 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. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

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 outlines 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 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.