Bachelor of Arts in Cinema

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. 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. Additional required courses may be taken once 200-level core courses are completed, provided the student is an upper-division cinema major.

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.


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 at the 300 level or higher, however, all majors must:

  • Complete the core, foundation, and GWAR courses with a grade of C or better.

  • Have upper-division standing.

  • Complete the lower-division General Education requirements at SF State or the equivalent at another institution.

Advising Process

Consultation with an advisor is strongly encouraged upon completion of the core courses, at which time the student should obtain a Cinema Undergraduate Advising Form (Blue Sheet) for future use. Students should consult with an advisor on a regular basis as they advance through the program.

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 or the ARC (Advising Resource Center for the College of Liberal & Creative Arts in Humanities Building, Room 112) for information about General Education and other University requirements.

Program Learning Outcomes

The B.A. in Cinema strives to enable students to: 

  1. Acquire basic skills in the critical analysis of films, focused by the analysis of representative film texts from a range of periods and cultures.
  2. Relate cinema to the production, distribution, and exhibition industries, the other arts, and to society.
  3. Identify contemporary technological, artistic, and industrial trends in the cinematic arts.
  4. Acquire the basic technical skills necessary for cinematic expression (animation, filmmaking, and screenwriting).
  5. Locate personal voice in the creation of the cinematic arts.
  6. Produce competent and sustained research papers evidencing knowledge of major topics, theories, and methods.

CINE Course Level Designations

200-Level: Required Cinema core and cover introductory-level film history, cinema studies, and filmmaking.

300-Level: Required Foundation and GWAR classes in addition to an array of intermediate-level Cinema studies classes. Students are required to complete 9 units of electives from the 300 and/or 500 level.

400-Level: Intermediate-level film production, animation, and screenwriting. These are optional electives for juniors and seniors.

500-Level: Advanced-level film studies and theory all include a culminating project. Students are required to complete 9 units of electives from the 300 and/or 500 level.

600-Level: Advanced-level film production, animation, and screenwriting all include a culminating project. These are optional electives for seniors.

Cinema B.A. - 45 units

Core Courses (13 units)

Core courses must be completed 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

With a faculty advisor’s approval, up to 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.

Foundation and GWAR Courses (7 units)

Upon satisfactory completion of the 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. Foundation courses must be completed with a grade of C or better.

CINE 340Critical Studies3
CINE 341Critical Studies Discussion Group1
Select one:3
Writing About Cinema - GWAR
Art and Film - GWAR
Perspectives on Documentary Film - GWAR
The Art of Short Film - GWAR

Upper-Division Cinema Studies Courses (9 units)

Select 9 units from 300 or 500-level CINE courses, not including the courses used to fulfill the Foundation and GWAR requirements listed above. Additional GWAR courses may be applied to the Upper-Division Cinema Studies Courses requirement. A 500-level CINE course satisfies the Capstone Experience.

Capstone Experience (3 units)

Any three units at the 500 or 600-level apply, with the exception of CINE 685, CINE 690, CINE 692, CINE 695, and CINE 699. This course may contribute to the Upper-Division Cinema Studies Requirement or the Electives Requirement.

Electives (16 units)

Select additional upper-division Cinema courses to complete a total of 45 units required for the major. A 500-level or 600-level CINE course satisfies the Capstone Experience above:

  • With prior approval of an advisor, up to 12 units of Cinema-related upper-division courses outside the School of Cinema may count toward the major.
  • No more than seven units of advanced production courses may be taken in any one term unless special permission is granted by the instructor.
  • 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.
  • A maximum of 18 units of online coursework may be counted toward the major.
  • A maximum of 12 units of independent study and internship courses may be counted toward the major.
  • A maximum of nine CR/NC units may be counted toward the major, which may include up to a maximum of four units of different CINE 325CINE 326, or CINE 650 courses.
  • GWAR courses in addition to the first GWAR course may be counted towards Upper-Division Cinema Studies Courses or Electives.

Complementary Studies

Bachelor of Arts students must complete at least 12 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 of Cinema 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 SF State units can best be applied to this requirement to ensure degree completion within 60 units.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
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
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Ethnic Studies LD 3 F
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), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

The roadmaps presented in this Bulletin are intended as suggested plans of study and do not replace meeting with an advisor. For a more personalized roadmap, please use the Degree Planner tool found in your Student Center.

First-Time Student Roadmap

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AS-T in Film, Television and Electronic Media.
FTVE ADT Roadmap

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 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) 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 continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the 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

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit 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 requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units 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 a course was not passed on the 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 the 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 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. Note that, as described below, 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 (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. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

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.