Undergradate Application Procedures

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

SF State accepts applications from prospective students for part-time or full-time undergraduate programs of study in day and evening classes. Undergraduate applicants must file a complete undergraduate application at www.csumentor.edu and submit a $55 nonrefundable application fee. The application fee may not be transferred or used to apply to another term. The applications of persons denied admission to an impacted campus may be re-routed to another campus, at no cost but only if the applicants are CSU eligible.

Application Acknowledgment

Students applying on-line on CSU Mentor will receive an e-mail acknowledgement as soon as the application is successfully submitted and a confirmation number is issued. Additional e-mail notifications will be sent by the campus requesting submission of academic records necessary for the campus to evaluate the student’s qualifications. Local area applicants may be assured of admission if the evaluation of relevant qualifications indicates that applicants meet CSU admission requirements, and in the case of admission impaction, campus requirements for admission to an impacted program. Campus Impaction may result in out of area applicant being held to a higher admission standard. An offer of admission is not transferable to another term or to another campus.

Notification of Admission

Applicants who have received an application receipt notice and have submitted all required admission materials will begin to receive notification of acceptance or denial of admission to the fall semester on November 1, and for the spring semester on August 15. If the processing schedule permits, some applicants may be notified in advance of these dates.

Appeal of the Notification of Denial of Admission

Applicants may appeal the Notification of Denial of Admission to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions within fifteen days of the date on the denial notification. The appeal should be initiated by the applicant via phone (415) 338-6486 or (415) 338-1634. Many appeals will be resolved in the initial contact. When additional information is required, the applicant will be instructed about how to provide this to Undergraduate Admission. The time frame for conclusively addressing an appeal will vary with the complexity of the appeal.

Hardship Petitions

The campus has established procedures for consideration of qualified applicants who would be faced with extreme hardship if not admitted. Petitioners should enclose with their applications a statement of the hardship situation. The application and statement should be sent to the Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

Impacted Programs

The CSU will announce during the fall filing period those programs that are impacted and the supplementary criteria each campus will use. System-wide impaction of admission may be announced, when unexpected circumstances necessitate a curtailment of admission to specific campuses. Detailed information on campus and program impaction is available at www.calstate.edu/impactioninfo.shtml, http://www.calstate.edu/sas/impaction-campus-info.shtml, and via www.csumentor.edu. That announcement will also be published in official CSU publications distributed to high school and college counselors, and made available online at www.calstate.edu. Information about the supplementary criteria is also provided to program applicants.

Applicants must file applications for admission to an impacted program during the initial filing period. Applicants who wish to be considered in impacted programs at more than one campus should file an application at each campus for which they seek admissions consideration.

Impaction at SF State

The CSU designates major programs as impacted when more applications are received in the initial filing period from CSU eligible applicants than can be accommodated by the campus. Impacted majors are authorized to use supplementary admission criteria and/or higher admission standards than the CSU minimum requirements in considering applicants to the program. These criteria are applied equally to continuing SF State students and new applicants alike. For information regarding specific application criteria and deadlines for majors impacted at SF State click on the program of interest below.

Supplementary Admission Criteria

Each campus with impacted programs or admission categories uses supplementary admission criteria in screening applicants. Supplementary criteria may include rank–ordering of freshman applicants based on the CSU eligibility index or rank-ordering of transfer applicants based on the overall transfer grade point average, completion of specified prerequisite courses, and a combination of campus-developed criteria. Applicants for freshman admission to impacted campuses or programs are required to submit scores on either the SAT or the ACT. For fall admission, applicants should take tests as early as possible but no later than December of the preceding year.

The supplementary admission criteria used by the individual campuses to screen applicants are made available by the campuses to all applicants seeking admission to an impacted program. Details regarding the supplemental admissions criteria are also provided at http://www.sfsu.edu/future/apply/impacted.html .

Undergraduate Admission Requirements

Test Requirements

Freshman and transfer applicants who have fewer than 60 semester or 90 quarter units of transferable college credit must submit scores for either the ACT or the SAT. Please note: SF State is not currently accepting applications from lower division transfer applicants. Persons who apply to an impacted program may be required to submit test scores and should take the test no later than November or December. Test scores are also used for advising and placement purposes. Registration forms and dates for the SAT or ACT are available from school or college counselors or from a CSU campus testing office. Students may also write to or call:


The College Board
Registration Unit, Box 6200
Princeton, NJ 08541-6200


ACT Registration Unit
P.O. Box 414
Iowa City, IA 52240

TOEFL Requirement

All undergraduate applicants whose native language is not English and who have not attended schools at the secondary level or above for at least three years full time where English is the principal language of instruction must present a minimum score of 61 on the internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), 500 on the paper-based TOEFL, or 173 on the computer-based TOEFL. Students whose native language is English and attended an educational institution at the secondary level or above where English was the principal language of instruction for at least three years full time will not be held to the TOEFL admission requirement. Some majors may require higher scores. Institutional TOEFL scores are not accepted. Campuses specify the conditions for meeting the requirement of three years full-time English language instruction. Achieving the minimum TOEFL score shall be evidence of the applicant’s English competency at a level that will allow the applicant to participate satisfactorily in and benefit from university study. For complete information regarding TOEFL, go to www.toefl.org.

Systemwide Placement Test Requirements

The California State University requires that each entering undergraduate, except those who qualify for an exemption, take the CSU Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) examination and the CSU English Placement Test (EPT) prior to enrollment. These placement tests are not a condition for admission to the CSU, but they are a condition of enrollment. These examinations are designed to identify entering students who may need additional support in acquiring college entry-level English and mathematics skills necessary to succeed in CSU baccalaureate-level courses. Undergraduate students who do not demonstrate college-level skills both in English and in mathematics will be placed in appropriate remedial programs and activities during the first term of their enrollment. Students placed in remedial programs in either English or mathematics must complete all remediation in their first year of enrollment. Failure to complete remediation by the end of the first year may result in denial of enrollment for future terms. (For more information, see Entry Level Mathematics [ELM] examination and English Placement Test [EPT].)

Students register for the EPT and/or ELM at their local CSU campus. Questions about test dates and registration materials may be addressed to the Testing Center, HSS 206, (415) 338-2271, or at the Testing Center web site: www.sfsu.edu/~testing.

First-Time Freshmen Applicants

A first-time freshman is a student who has earned no college credit beyond the summer immediately following high school graduation. Generally, local area first-time freshmen applicants qualify for regular admission if they:

  1. have graduated from high school, have earned a Certificate of General Education Development (GED) or have passed the California High School Proficiency Examination; and
  2. have qualifying minimum eligibility index (see Eligibility Index below), and
  3. have completed with grades of C or better each of the courses in the comprehensive pattern of college preparatory subject requirements also known as the "a-g" pattern (see Subject Requirements).

Note: Applicants from outside of SF State’s six county service area may be held to different requirements. For more information concerning service area admission please visit on-line at: http://www.sfsu.edu/future/apply/impacted.html.

Eligibility Index

The eligibility index is the combination of the high school grade point average and scores on either the ACT or the SAT. The grade point averages are based on grades earned in courses during the final three years of high school. Included in calculation of GPA are grades earned in all college preparatory "a-g" subject requirements, and bonus points for approved honors courses. (See Honors Courses below).

The CSU Eligibility Index (EI) can be calculated by multiplying the grade point average by 800 and adding the total score on the mathematics and critical reading scores of the SAT. Students who took the ACT, multiply the grade point average by 200 and add ten times the ACT composite score. California high school graduates (or residents of California for tuition purposes) need a minimum index of 2900 using the SAT or 694 using the ACT. The Eligibility Index Tables illustrate several combinations of required test scores and averages (California High School Graduates or Residents Eligibility Index Table / Nonresidents or Graduates of High Schools Outside of California Eligibility Index Table).

For admission to terms during the 2015 - 2016 college year, the University has no current plans to include the writing scores from either of the admissions tests in the computation of the CSU Eligibility Index.

Persons who have not graduated from a California high school and are residents of California for tuition purposes need a minimum index of 3502 (SAT) or 842 (ACT). Applicants from outside the local area may be held to a higher standard. Graduates of secondary schools in foreign countries must be found to have academic preparation and abilities equivalent to applicants eligible under this section.

All applicants for admission are required to take the SAT or ACT and provide the scores of those tests to each CSU to which they seek admission. Campuses use these test results for advising and placement purposes and may require them for admission to impacted majors or programs. Impacted CSU campuses require SAT or ACT scores of all applicants for freshman admission.

Honors Courses

Up to eight semesters of honors courses taken in the last three years of high school, including up to two approved courses taken in the tenth grade, can be accepted. Each unit of A in an honors course will receive a total of 5 points; B, 4 points; and C, 3 points.

Note: A grade point average of 3.00 and above qualifies with any score on the ACT or SAT. Applicants from outside of SF State’s six county service area may be held to different requirements. A grade point average of below 2.00 does not qualify for regular admission.

Subject Requirements

The California State University requires that first-time freshman applicants complete, with grades of C or better, a comprehensive pattern of college preparatory study totaling 15 units. A “unit” is one year of study in high school.

  • 2 years of social science, including 1 year of U.S. history, or U.S. history and government;
  • 4 years of English;
  • 3 years of mathematics (algebra, geometry, and intermediate algebra);
  • 2 years of laboratory science (1 year of biological science and 1 year of physical science, both must include laboratory instruction);
  • 2 years in the same language other than English (subject to waiver for applicants demonstrating equivalent competence);
  • 1 year of visual and performing arts (art, dance, drama/theater, or music);
  • 1 year of electives selected from English, advanced mathematics, social science, history, laboratory science, foreign language, visual and performing arts, or other courses approved and included on the UC/CSU “a-g” list.

Subject Requirement Substitution for Students with Disabilities

All freshman applicants are encouraged to complete 15 units of college preparatory subjects. If an applicant is otherwise qualified, but unable to complete certain subjects because of a disability, an appeal can be made to the Admissions Office. The appeal committee recommends that the appeal include disability documentation by a qualified professional that illustrates how the disability has affected academic performance.

Subject Substitutions for Students with Disabilities: After admission to and enrollment in the university, students with disabilities who find they need to seek a course substitution should consult with the Disability Programs and Resource Center and be aware that course substitutions may limit later enrollment in certain majors.

Language Other Than English (LOTE) Requirement

The language other than English subject requirement may be satisfied by applicants who demonstrate equivalent competence in another language comparable to two years of high school foreign language study. Consult with a school counselor or the campus admissions office or Student Outreach Services for further information.

Making Up Missing College Preparatory Subject Requirements

Lower division applicants who did not complete subject requirements while in high school may make up missing subjects in any of the following ways.

  • Complete appropriate courses with a C or better in adult school or high school summer sessions.
  • Complete appropriate college courses with a C or better. One college course of at least three semester or four quarter units is considered equivalent to one year of high school study.
  • Earn acceptable scores on specified examinations, e.g., SAT subject tests.

Please consult with any CSU admissions office for further information about alternative ways to satisfy the subject requirements.

Note: Many CSU campuses, including San Francisco State University, are not accepting lower division transfers. Ask the CSU campus if you can apply as a freshman or sophomore transfer before taking college courses to make up high school subject requirements.

Conditional Admission

San Francisco State University may conditionally admit first-time freshmen applicants using self-reported academic preparation through the junior year of high school and planned courses for the senior year. Students are required to submit an official transcript after graduation to certify that all college preparatory course work has been satisfactorily completed as well as proof of high school graduation. Official high school transcripts must be received prior to deadline set by the university. Documentation of high school graduation may not be received any later than the census date for a student’s first term of enrollment. The University may rescind admission decisions, cancel financial aid awards, withdraw housing contracts and cancel any university registration for students who are found not to be eligible after the final transcript has been evaluated.

Applicants will qualify for regular (non-conditional) admission when the university verifies that they have graduated and received a diploma from high school, meet the minimum eligibility index, have completed the comprehensive pattern of college preparatory “a-g” subjects, and, if applying to an impacted program, have met all supplementary criteria.

High School Students

Students still enrolled in high school are considered for enrollment in certain special programs if recommended by the principal and the appropriate campus department chair and if preparation is equivalent to that required of eligible California high school graduates. Such admission is only for a specific program and does not constitute a right to continued enrollment.


Transfer Policies of CSU Campuses

Authority for decisions regarding the transfer of undergraduate credits is delegated to each California State University (CSU) campus. Most commonly, college level credits earned from an institution of higher education accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education is accepted for transfer to campuses of the CSU.

General education requirements are the same for all CSU campuses, so California community college articulations of general education courses (about one third of degree requirements) are handled centrally and may be accessed at www.assist.org.

Campuses may enter into articulation agreements on either a course for course or program to program basis. Such articulations are common between CSU campuses and any or all of the California community colleges. Other articulation agreements may exist between CSU campuses and other institutions outside of the California Community College system. Established CSU/CCC articulations may be found on www.assist.org.

No more than 70 semester units may be transferred to a CSU campus from an institution which does not offer bachelor’s degrees or their equivalents, e.g., community colleges. Given the university’s 30-unit residency requirement, no more than 90 total units may be transferred into the university from all sources.

First Time Freshmen with Transfer Units

Students who complete college units during high school or through the summer immediately following high school graduation are considered first-time freshmen and must meet those admission requirements.

Lower Division Transfer Requirements

Due to enrollment pressures, many CSU campuses do not admit or enroll lower division transfer students. Currently, SF State is not accepting lower division transfer students. Students who have completed fewer than 60 transferable semester college units (fewer than 90 quarter units) at the time of entrance are considered lower division transfer students.

Upper Division Transfer Requirements

Students who have completed 60 or more transferable semester college units (90 or more quarter units) at the time of entrance are considered upper division transfer students. Generally, applicants qualify for admission as upper division transfer students if they meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Have a grade point average of at least 2.0 (C or better) in all transferable units attempted. Applicants from outside of SF State’s six county service area may be held to a different GPA requirement.
  2. Are in good standing at the last college or university attended and have completed at least 60 transferable semester units of college course work with a grade point average of 2.0 or higher.
  3. Receive a grade of C- or better in each course used to meet CSU general education requirements commonly referred to as the Golden 4 which includes Written Communication, Oral Communication, Critical Thinking and Quantitative Reasoning.
  4. The 60 units must include the Golden 4 requirements listed above.

Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act (SB 1440)

The Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act (SB 1440) establishes an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) for transfer for California Community College students and is designed to provide a clear pathway to the CSU degree major.

Students will submit official transcripts documenting conferral of the ADT upon request. Upon final verification of conferral of the ADT, Students earning either a transfer associate (AA-T or AS-T) degree prior to matriculation at SF State are guaranteed admission with junior standing to the CSU and given priority admission over other transfer students when applying to a local campus, or non-impacted program. AA-T or AS-T admission applicants are given priority consideration to an impacted campus/program or to campuses/programs that have been deemed similar to the degree completed at the community college.

Students who earn an AA-T or AS-T have met all lower division General Education (GE) requirements in transfer. Students should consult their Degree Progress Report (DPR) to see whether they have satisfied American Institutions and lower division Written English Requirements prior to transfer.

Students who earn an AA-T or AS-T degree but change their major to a non-similar major after admission to SF State have satisfied all lower division GE requirements but may not be able to complete all graduation requirements for the new major within 60 semester units. This also applies to students who choose to pursue a second major, or a minor, certificate or credential simultaneously.

Students with verified ADTs admitted during the 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017 academic years and who are pursuing similar majors are waived from the SF State Studies (previously Overlay) requirements.  B.A. students must complete the Complementary Studies requirement as defined by the major department; with approval of a department advisor, units taken in transfer or in residence at SF State may be used to satisfy Complementary Studies.

SF State degree programs formally approved as “similar” to ADT degree programs, with links to sample roadmaps, are available here: http://ueap.sfsu.edu/articulation/roadmaps

These sample roadmaps display a possible pathway through the major based on four semesters of full-time attendance. Note that “similar” in this context means that SF State faculty have reviewed the relevant ADT curriculum and determined that a student earning that ADT can complete the SF State degree in no more than 60 units. Although the STAR Act guarantees completion of a similar BA or BS degree in 60 units, a timeframe for degree completion is not specified or guaranteed, particularly if options chosen as part of the AA-T or AS-T were not consistent with the prerequisite structure of the major at SF State.

Conditional Admission of Transfer Applicants

San Francisco State University may conditionally admit transfer applicants based on their self-reported academic preparation and courses planned for completion. All accepted applicants are required to submit official transcripts of all college-level work completed and final review will be conducted prior to the start of semester to ensure that those admitted completed all required courses satisfactorily. The University may rescind admission for any student who is found not to be eligible after the final transcript has been evaluated. In no case may such documents be received and validated by the University any later than a student’s registration for their second term of CSU enrollment.

Students with Disabilities

If an applicant is otherwise qualified, but unable to complete certain subjects because of a disability, an appeal can be made to the Admissions Office. The appeal committee recommends that the appeal include disability documentation by a qualified professional that illustrates how the disability has affected academic performance.

Reentry Student Admission

As an alternative to regular admission criteria, an applicant who is twenty-five years of age or older may be considered for admission if he/she meets all of the following conditions:

  1. Possesses a high school diploma (or has established equivalence through either the General Educational Development or California High School Proficiency Examinations).
  2. Has not been enrolled in college as a full-time student for more than one term during the past five years.
  3. If there has been any college attendance in the last five years, has earned a C average or better in all college work attempted.
  4. Is exempt from ELM and EPT or has taken course work that demonstrates competence in the entry-level skills that those tests assess.
  5. Has applied to and been denied university admission based on regular admission criteria and has received a referral for an interview from Undergraduate Admissions.
  6. Has completed an interview to determine
    1. the adequacy of the applicant's motivation, preparation, and ability for academic success and
    2. that other educational alternatives are not appropriate.
      Upon the recommendation of the interviewer, the student may be admitted to the university under the aegis of CSU Executive Order No. 413.

Evaluation of Academic Records

Advanced Placement

San Francisco State University grants credit toward its undergraduate degrees for successful completion of examinations of the Advanced Placement (AP) Program of the College Board. Students who present scores of three or better may be granted up to six semester units of college credit.

The university also recognizes advanced placement (AP) courses undertaken by high school students in conjunction with a collegiate institution in those instances where the collegiate institution has recommended credit. For additional information, the student may call or write the Admissions Office or visit One Stop in the Student Services Building.

Credit from Colleges Holding Regional Accreditation

Credits earned in colleges holding regional accreditation are evaluated and advanced standing allowed on the basis of the evidence submitted on official transcripts. Credit toward the fulfillment of graduation requirements is allowed if the courses satisfactorily completed meet the standards and requirements of the university.

Credit from Colleges Lacking Regional Accreditation

Credits earned in colleges lacking regional accreditation may be accepted as a basis for advanced standing only when an applicant can demonstrate by examination, after he/she has enrolled in the university, that a satisfactory degree of proficiency has been attained in the courses in question. See Credit by Examination for further information.

Credit for Community College Courses

Credit earned in accredited community colleges will be evaluated by the Admissions Office in accordance with the following provisions:

  1. Community college credit is allowed up to a maximum of 70 semester units. Credits and grades earned after the student has the maximum allowable may be used on approval only to satisfy subject and grade point requirements but under no circumstances may they be applied toward the total units required for graduation from the university.
  2. No upper division credit may be allowed for community college work.
  3. Credit for one course may be transferred from a community college for a course in the introduction to education. No other credit is allowed for professional courses in education.

Credit by Examination

Students may challenge courses by taking examinations developed at San Francisco State University. Credit shall be awarded to those who pass them successfully. See Maximum Credit by Examination or Evaluation for additional information.

Credit for Non-Collegiate Instruction

San Francisco State University grants undergraduate degree credit for successful completion of formal instruction appropriate to the baccalaureate degree in non-college settings, either military or civilian, that has been recommended by the Commission on Educational Credit and Credentials of the American Council on Education. The Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experience in the Armed Services and the National Guide to Educational Credit for Training Programs establish the numbers of units allowed.