Modern Languages and Literatures

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

College of Liberal & Creative Arts

Dean: Andrew Harris

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Humanities Building, Room 475
Phone: 415-338-1421
Web Site:
Chair: Mohammad Salama

Program Scope

Bachelor of Arts

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures offers courses leading to the Bachelor of Arts in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. The department also offers a minor in these languages and a minor in Russian. Programs are designed for students who are planning to use foreign languages in professional careers, as well as for students who wish to acquire an appreciation of the cultures of other peoples. Students may select courses in language, conversation, composition, reading, linguistics, culture, and literature. Some of the programs offer courses in business and translating skills, and literature and culture courses in English.

Students who have had foreign language experience before enrolling at San Francisco State University should consult with an advisor in the specific language program for placement in the proper course in which they can receive credit.

A multimedia foreign language laboratory is open to all students enrolled in any class in the department. Basic level courses usually require preparation using audio and video cassettes, CD roms, DVDs, laser discs, and computer programs, located in the multimedia language laboratory.


The Bachelor of Arts requirements for a major in any foreign language are the same for all students, including credential candidates. It is suggested that students intending to major in a foreign language consult with an advisor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures early enough to assure proper scheduling of essential courses.


For students who wish to take a minor in a foreign language, the requirements for all seven languages are 21 units. The first two years of language instruction (lower division courses) are preparatory courses. A few lower division courses may be applied to the minor but must be approved upon consultation with an advisor. For the specific upper division courses required for completion of the minor, consult the individual language program.

Upper division courses in the foreign language programs are, in general, conducted in the language under study.

Master of Arts

The department offers the Master of Arts in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. The various master's programs provide advanced instruction in culture, language, and literature. A limited number of graduate teaching assistant positions are available for students engaged in graduate study in the programs. The M.A. programs are designed to prepare students for a variety of careers. M.A. graduates often become teachers in private or public secondary schools, in community colleges, or after completing doctoral studies, in universities.

Admission to Programs

Students seeking admission to a master of arts program must have completed an undergraduate major comparable to the major in the appropriate language and literature at San Francisco State University.

Applicants without such a major may be admitted conditionally after developing, through consultation with advisors, a program of studies to establish the equivalent of that major. Courses prescribed for equivalency may not be credited toward the master of arts program.

Students in all Master of Arts programs are required to have a GPA of at least 3.0 in their undergraduate major.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to meeting all the university general requirements, students prior to advancement to candidacy must:

  • Meet all conditions required by the language of concentration.
  • Where required, complete with grade of A or B the course 700, Seminar in Research Methods.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English by passing the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or appropriate courses recommended by specific foreign language graduate advisor. Units earned in these courses may not be applied toward the master's degree. Both native and non-native speakers of English must meet this requirement. Students must take the GRE, if required by the program, and have the results sent before beginning the first semester of graduate study.
  • Demonstrate oral and written proficiency in the language of concentration.

If students are unable to meet the above requirements for advancement to candidacy, they may be advised to enroll in additional courses prior to being considered for candidacy. In such cases the courses will not be credited toward the master's degree.

Demonstration of Exit-Level Language Proficiency

Professional level of proficiency in the language studied is demonstrated by satisfactory completion of written and oral comprehensive examinations.

Students interested in any of these programs are urged to contact the department office or the undergraduate or graduate advisor.

International Programs

For undergraduate majors or minors, the department recommends an overseas experience of academic and cultural studies. Students who participate in the International Programs of the California State University may undertake an academic year at certain designated major institutions of higher learning located outside the United States. All students in the overseas language programs should consult with an advisor in the specific language to ensure that courses taken abroad can be applied to the major, the minor, or the degree at San Francisco State University. For the Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish B.A. programs, 15 of the 30 upper-division units required for the major must be taken at the home campus. For the minor, 9 of the 15 to 18 upper-division units must be taken at the home campus. There may also be limits in the other language programs. For graduate students in the German and Italian M.A. programs, a maximum of 9 units from the CSU International Programs will be accepted for the degree. For graduate students in the Chinese, French, Japanese, and Spanish M.A. programs, a maximum of 12 units will be accepted for the degree.

Teaching Credentials

A bachelor of arts from San Francisco State University in French, German, Italian, or Japanese may be used to fulfill the subject matter requirement for a Single Subject Teaching Credential required to teach in the secondary schools in the State of California. A master of arts in any of these languages may be used to fulfill the state's requirement to teach that subject at the two-year community colleges.

Note: While the master's degree may qualify students to teach at the community college level, it will not qualify them to teach at the elementary or secondary levels. A single subject or multiple subject credential is necessary for such employment. (Refer to the section on Credential Programs in this Bulletin for further details.)

Students considering teaching a foreign language and obtaining a teaching credential must see the credential advisor in their language of concentration before planning their program. Specific courses and an assessment of competencies are required for admission to the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program. Students should also contact the Student Service Office in the College of Education, 415-338-7038, regarding teaching credential information.

Special Courses

First and second year language courses in Arabic and upper-division literature and culture courses in Arabic and English translation are offered as well as first year courses in Filipino, Hindi, and Persian; first and third semester in the fall for Arabic, and first semester in the fall and second semester in the spring for Filipino.

Career Outlook

Some careers require a foreign language as a primary skill. For those employed in teaching foreign languages, culture and literature, and for those who work as interpreters and translators, a high degree of fluency or near-native competency is required. On the other hand, there are a great number of career alternatives open to people who possess good competency in one or more foreign languages. Local and state agencies as well as the federal government (such as the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Peace Corps) often have openings for people with language skills. Further employment possibilities are in multinational companies with significant global operations (international marketing and accounting firms, international banking, and other international business), advertising, journalism, publishing, communications, and information services, media and entertainment, travel and tourism, the hotel and restaurant industry, health care, as well as in the arts. Competency in one or more foreign languages will open the door to many exciting careers.