American Institutions

As mandated by Title 5 and explained in CSU Executive Order 1060, the US History component of the American Institutions requirement may be met either by examination (AP, CLEP, or SF State competency exam) or by taking a course meeting the following content requirements and their corresponding student learning outcomes. All courses approved for the US History requirement must cover:

  • significant events occurring in the entire area now included in the United States of America during a period of “a minimum time-space of approximately 100 years,” including the relationships among regions within that area and with external regions and states;
  • the role of major ethnic and social groups in such events and the contexts in which the events have occurred, with attention to the multiple heritages of US culture, including Native American peoples and cultures;
  • the events presented within a framework which illustrates the continuity of American experience and its derivation from other cultures including consideration of three or more of the following: politics, economics, social movements, and geography; and
  • basic American values and ideals, including freedom; equality of opportunity, equality before the law, equality of moral regard for each other; and social fairness.

American Institutions Requirement

The California State University (CSU) system requires that all graduates demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of American institutions and ideals, the Constitution of the United States, the operation of representative democratic government under that Constitution, and the processes of California's state and local governments. Because this is a competency requirement, it may be satisfied by passing examinations, by taking courses, or by a combination of examinations and courses. In unusual circumstances, students may be able to demonstrate competency in other ways as well.

Transfer students from other California institutions may complete the U.S. History and Government Requirement prior to transfer. Public colleges and universities in California typically cover the entire requirement, often called American Institutions, in two courses in the same way as SF State. However, transfer students from colleges and universities outside of California or from private institutions within California or students who have AP or CLEP credit in U.S. government usually have not studied California government and will therefore need either to pass the California state and local government examination (see below) or to take a course to complete the California State and Local Government component of the U.S. History and Government requirement. Students should consult their Degree Progress Report (DPR) or their Advanced Standing Evaluation (ASE) to verify completion of the entire requirement.

Students who believe that they can demonstrate a proficient understanding of any part of this requirement based on other coursework they have taken should consult with the Undergraduate Advising Center.

Students starting SF State as first-time college students in fall 2014 or later will satisfy this requirement by completion of Areas D2 and D3 of General Education. Transfer students who need to complete the requirement at SF State should choose from the lists below.

Satisfying the U.S. History and Government Requirement by Examination

Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations

A score of 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement examination in U.S. history will satisfy the U.S. History requirement. Students who have achieved a score of 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement examination in U.S. Government and Politics will satisfy the U.S. government component of the requirement. For more information, go to the College Board website. Satisfactory completion of AP examinations also carries college credit. See Advanced Placement Test Scores page. No AP examination will satisfy the requirement in California state and local government.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Examinations

A passing score (50) on the CLEP exam in either U.S. History I or U.S. History II will satisfy the U.S. History requirement. A passing score (50) on the CLEP exam in American Government will satisfy the U.S. government component of this requirement. For more information, go to the College Board website. Satisfactory completion of CLEP examinations will also carry college credit. See College-level Examination Program Test Scores page. No CLEP examination will satisfy the requirement in California state and local government.

SF State Equivalency Examination in California State and Local Government

This requirement may be met by achieving a passing score on an SF State equivalency examination. This examination may be taken only once. For information about this examination and preparation for it, contact the Testing Center.

Students may submit any combination of examinations and courses to satisfy this requirement.

Satisfying the U.S. History and Government Requirement by Taking Courses

Students who begin at SF State as first-time college students will complete the American Institutions requirements by completing Areas D2 and D3 of the General Education program. Transfer students who have not completed these requirements prior to admission can see the list of courses below that satisfy this requirement. Please note, multiple classes fulfill both the upper-division GE requirement and American Institution Requirements. Transfer students who need to fulfill ONLY the California Government component of the requirement may take a course from the CSLG list below.

U.S. History Requirement Courses (USH)

AA S 210History of Asians in the United States (D2, AERM, USH)3
AFRS 208Introduction to African American History (D2, AERM, GP, SJ, USH)3
AFRS 375Law and the Black Community (AERM, SJ, USH, USG/CSLG)3
AFRS 376Government, the Constitution, and Black Citizens (AERM, SJ, USH, USG/CSLG)3
AIS 103Introduction to Pacific Studies (D2, AERM, GP, SJ, USH)3
AIS 150American Indian History in the United States (D2, AERM, SJ, USH)3
AIS 460Power and Politics in American Indian History (UD-D, AERM, SJ, USH)3
AIS 550American Indians in Contemporary U.S. History (AERM, SJ, USH)3
ETHS 241Health and Social Movements in the United States in the 20th Century (D2, AERM, SJ, USH)3
HIST 120History of the U.S. through Reconstruction (D2, USH)3
HIST 121History of the U.S. since Reconstruction (D2, USH)3
HIST 130Survey of U.S. History for Foreign Students (D2, USH)3
HIST 278History of Latinos in the U.S. (D2, AERM, SJ, USH)3
HIST 418Society and Politics in American History (AERM, SJ, USH)3
HIST 420American Colonial History (USH)3
HIST 449American Jewish History (UD-C, AERM, SJ, USH)3
HIST 455The Philippines and the United States (UD-C, AERM, GP, SJ, USH)3
HIST 465American Ethnic and Racial Relations II: 1890-Present (UD-C, AERM, GP, SJ, USH)3
HIST 466History of People of Color in the U.S. (UD-D, AERM, SJ, USH)3
HIST 467Women in the U.S. to 1890 (UD-C, AERM, SJ, USH)3
HIST 470The U.S. Constitution to 1896 (UD-C, AERM, SJ, SUH, USG/CSLG)3
HIST 471The U.S. Constitution Since 1896 (UD-C, AERM, SJ, USH, USG/CSLG)3
HIST 475History of Sexuality in the United States Before 1900 (SJ, USH)3
HIST 478American Popular Culture History: Barnum to Reality TV (UD-C, AERM, USH)3
HIST 482Religion in America (USH)3
HIST 484Disability and Culture in the U.S. (UD-C, SJ, USH)3
HIST 485History of Sexuality in the United States Since 1900 (SJ, USH)3
JS 449American Jewish History (UD-C, AERM, SJ, USH)3
LTNS 278History of Latinos in the U.S. (D2, AERM, SJ, USH)3
MUS 506Survey of Jazz (UD-C, AERM, USH)3
MUS 559Women in Jazz (UD-C, AERM, USH)3
PH 241Health and Social Movements in the United States in the 20th Century (D2, AERM, SJ, USH)3
PH 305Critical History of Public Health in the United States (SJ, USH)3
RRS 103Introduction to Pacific Studies (D2, AERM, GP, SJ, USH)3
RRS 240All Power to the People: Comparative Freedom Movements of the "Sixties" (D2, AERM, SJ, USH)3
RRS 252Beyond Bars and Borders: Race and the Carceral State (D2, AERM, USH)3
RRS 600History of People of Color in the U.S. (UD-D, AERM, SJ, USH)3
TH A 559Women in Jazz (UD-C, AERM, USH)3
WGS 150Women and Gender in U.S. History and Society (D2, AERM, SJ, USH)3

U.S. and California Government (USG and CSLG)

AA S 213Asian Americans and American Ideals and Institutions (D3, AERM, SJ, USG/CSLG)3
AFRS 375Law and the Black Community (AERM, SJ, USH, USG/CSLG)3
AFRS 376Government, the Constitution, and Black Citizens (AERM, SJ, USH, USG/CSLG)3
AIS 205American Indians and U.S. Laws (D3, AERM, SJ, USG/CSLG)3
HIST 470The U.S. Constitution to 1896 (UD-C, AERM, SJ, USH, USG/CSLG)3
HIST 471The U.S. Constitution Since 1896 (UD-C, AERM, USH, USG/CSLG)3
LTNS 276Latina/o, U.S. Government, and Constitutional Ideals (D3, AERM, USG/CSLG)3
PLSI 200Introduction to American Politics (D3, USG/CSLG)3
PLSI 451Engaging Democracy: Participating in Historical Debates (UD-D, GP, SJ, USG/CSLG)3
RRS 250Race, Ethnicity and Power in America (D3, AERM, SJ, USG/CSLG)3
WGS 160Gender, Politics, and Citizenship (D3, AERM, USG/CSLG)3

California State and Local Government Requirement (CSLG)

This course satisfies ONLY the California State and Local Government component of the U.S. History and Government requirement. Students whose degree progress report indicates that they have not met this component of the requirement should either take a US and California Government course from the list above, the examination in state and local government or the following course to fulfill the California State and Local Government component of this requirement.

HIST 308Engaging Democracy: Participating in Historical Debates (UD-D, GP, SJ, USG/CSLG)3
HIST 450History of California (UD-D, USG/CSLG)3
PLSI 373Essentials of California Politics (USG/CSLG)1
PLSI 473California Politics and Government (SJ, USG/CSLG)4

Undergraduate Education continues in General Education Lower Division.

Visit our General Education Table of Contents or review the Overview of General Education from the beginning of Undergraduate Education.