Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

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.

Students intending to enter this program at the freshman level should have completed two years of algebra and one semester of trigonometry in high school. One year each of high school geometry and physics, as well as basic knowledge of computer organization and programming, are very desirable.

All lower division courses (course numbers below 300) included among the degree requirements are available at many community colleges in California; students intending to enter the program upon transferring to San Francisco State University from a community college should take as many of those courses there as possible.

Students should plan their program of study in the major with the help of a departmental advisor as soon as possible in order that the correct sequence of courses is taken and a proper set of electives is chosen. It is also suggested that students consult with an advisor before selecting courses to meet the General Education requirements. (See program below for acceptable science electives.)

Students are encouraged to participate in the Computer Science Cooperative Education Program at SF State. Under this program, they may obtain industrial employment related to their academic studies. This combination of on-the-job training and academic experience can greatly enhance the value of an undergraduate degree in Computer Science.

An Endowed Scholarship Fund, established in the memory of Jules H. Strauss, offers an annual award to a computer science major who shows scholarly accomplishment and demonstrates financial need.

Students are advised that CR/NC grades are not acceptable in courses to be counted for the Computer Science major or minor programs.

Computer Science (B.S.) — 71 units

Mathematics and Physics (22 units)

MATH 226Calculus I4
MATH 227Calculus II4
MATH 324Probability and Statistics with Computing3
MATH 325Linear Algebra3
PHYS 220General Physics with Calculus I3
PHYS 222General Physics with Calculus I Laboratory1
PHYS 230General Physics with Calculus II3
PHYS 232General Physics with Calculus II Laboratory1

Science Elective (3 units)

Science elective selected from the following GE Area B2, Life Science courses. Other science courses are subject to approval.

BIOL 100Human Biology3
or BIOL 176 Science and Politics of Stem Cell Biology

Core Computer Science Requirements (22 units)

CSC 210Introduction to Computer Programming3
CSC 220Data Structures3
CSC 230Discrete Mathematical Structures for Computer Science3
CSC 256Machine Structures3
CSC 300GWEthics, Communication and Tools for Software Development - GWAR3
CSC 340Programming Methodology3
CSC 412Advanced Software Lab1
CSC 413Software Development3

Advanced Computer Science Requirements (24 units)

CSC 415Operating System Principles3
CSC 510Analysis of Algorithms I3
CSC 600Programming Languages3
CSC 648Software Engineering3

Senior Presentations

Each major is required to make an oral presentation during his/her senior year. Guidelines for the presentations are available on the Computer Science web site:


Select four 3-unit courses (12 units) See requirements below.

Elective Requirements

Electives are selected from the nine subareas of Computer Science listed below. Electives must meet the following requirements.

  1. One of the electives must be CSC 520 or CSC 656. (CSC 520 and CSC 656 can be used to partially meet the depth and breadth requirements.)
  2. Depth Requirement: two of the electives must be chosen from the same subarea of the discipline.
  3. Breadth Requirement: electives must be chosen from three different subareas.

Note: It is recommended that students planning to continue their study of Computer Science in graduate school take both CSC 656 and CSC 520.

The same courses can be used to meet depth and breadth requirements. However, a course cannot be counted towards more than one area of emphasis. For example, the following four electives can be used to meet the requirements in different ways in order to highlight a different area of emphasis (areas of emphasis are shown in parentheses):

CSC 520Theory of Computing (Algorithms and Theory of Computing, Programming Languages)3
CSC 656Computer Organization (Architecture)3
CSC 675Introduction to Database Systems (Algorithms and Theory of Computing, Database)3
CSC 668Advanced Object Oriented Software Design and Development (Programming Languages, Software Engineering)3

The different ways in which these courses can meet the elective requirements are:


Algorithms and Theory of Computing

CSC 520Theory of Computing (meets requirement 1)3
CSC 520
CSC 675
Theory of Computing
and Introduction to Database Systems (meet requirement 2) (depth in Algorithms)
CSC 520Theory of Computing (Algorithms) (meet requirement 3)3
or CSC 675 Introduction to Database Systems
CSC 656Computer Organization (Architecture) (meet requirement 3)3
CSC 668Advanced Object Oriented Software Design and Development (Programming Languages or Software Engineering) (meet requirement 3)3


Programming Languages

CSC 520Theory of Computing (meets requirement 1)3
CSC 520
CSC 675
Theory of Computing
and Introduction to Database Systems (meet requirement 2) (depth in Algorithms)
CSC 520Theory of Computing (Algorithms) (meet requirement 3)3
or CSC 675 Introduction to Database Systems
CSC 656Computer Organization (Architecture) (meet requirement 3)3
CSC 668Advanced Object Oriented Software Design and Development (Programming Languages or Software Engineering) (meet requirement 3)3

In contrast, for example, the following courses do not meet the elective requirements because CSC 520 cannot be double counted as Algorithms and Programming Languages:

CSC 520Theory of Computing (Algorithms and Theory of Computing, Programming Languages)3
CSC 645Computer Networks (Operating Systems and Distributed Processing)3
CSC 650Secure Networked Systems (Operating Systems and Distributed Processing)3
CSC 651System Administration (Operating Systems and Distributed Processing)3

The courses listed below constitute a partial list of suitable courses for meeting the elective requirements. The department frequently offers, under the title of CSC 690, new courses that meet elective requirements. Many students also find that, by their senior year, they are prepared to undertake certain graduate courses in Computer Science. Occasionally, students in good academic standing may take CSC 699, instead of a regularly scheduled course. Students are advised to check university and college regulations regarding academic standing requirements. Finally, it is occasionally possible to use a course taken in a different department or at another university (but only if the course is not offered at San Francisco State University) to satisfy elective requirements. Any course substitutions must be approved in advance by a senior advisor.

Areas of Special Emphasis

Algorithms and Theory of Computing

CSC 520Theory of Computing3
CSC 621Biomedical Imaging & Analysis3
CSC 630Computer Graphics Systems Design3
CSC 637Software Techniques for Computer Music3
CSC 671Neural Networks3
CSC 675Introduction to Database Systems3
MATH 400Numerical Analysis3


CSC 641Computer Performance Evaluation3
CSC 656Computer Organization3

Artificial Intelligence

CSC 620Natural Language Technologies3
CSC 621Biomedical Imaging & Analysis3
CSC 665Artificial Intelligence3
CSC 671Neural Networks3


CSC 664Multimedia Systems3
CSC 675Introduction to Database Systems3

Graphics and Multimedia

CSC 621Biomedical Imaging & Analysis3
CSC 630Computer Graphics Systems Design3
CSC 631Multiplayer Game Develop3
CSC 637Software Techniques for Computer Music3
CSC 642Human-Computer Interaction3
CSC 664Multimedia Systems3

Numerical and Symbolic Computing

MATH 400Numerical Analysis3

Operating Systems and Distributed Processing

CSC 615UNIX Programming3
CSC 641Computer Performance Evaluation3
CSC 645Computer Networks3
CSC 650Secure Networked Systems3
CSC 651System Administration3
CSC 667Internet Application Design and Development3

Programming Languages

CSC 520Theory of Computing3
CSC 620Natural Language Technologies3
CSC 665Artificial Intelligence3
CSC 668Advanced Object Oriented Software Design and Development3

Software Engineering

CSC 642Human-Computer Interaction3
CSC 667Internet Application Design and Development3
CSC 668Advanced Object Oriented Software Design and Development3

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.

First Time Student Roadmap (4 year)

This 2016 - 2017 roadmap opens in a new tab.

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 year)

For students with a Computer Science Associate Degree for Transfer (AS-T). This 2016 - 2017 roadmap opens in a new tab.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Computer Science

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.