Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Liberal Studies (LS) major has a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary curriculum that encompasses many areas of knowledge in the humanities, arts, and sciences. The program consists of innovative courses in literature, performance, communication, education, environmental studies, natural and social sciences, humanities, and the creative arts. This richly diversified major gives students skills and knowledge that will serve them well for work and life in our increasingly complex and interconnected world. Its well-rounded curriculum provides robust preparation for future teachers. The LS major is officially recognized as a pathway for students who want to become elementary school teachers. It satisfies the subject matter requirements for future multiple subject teachers, waiving the requirements for the CSET exams.

In addition to the field of education, our graduates have also pursued advanced degrees in counseling, education, law, environmental studies, mathematics, English, psychology, film studies, library science, linguistics, theology, and more. Many of our alumni work in public service, resource policy, technology and innovation, library studies, creativity and communication, social media, education, health, and criminal justice.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Reflect critically on students' education and their program of study.
  2. Recognize scholarship on which practice and knowledge in a discipline are based.
  3. Write critical and/or argument-based papers that can distinguish between different disciplinary methods and perspectives and potentially integrate them.
  4. Identify and utilize modes of inquiry within their major field or discipline and be able to compare and contrast these modes with those in other disciplines and fields.
  5. Analyze a complex issue, theme or problem by applying multiple perspectives, theories, concepts, and modes of inquiry.

Liberal Studies (B.A.) — Minimum 42 units

LS 300GW introduces important concepts of interdisciplinary study and should be taken either before or concurrently with the Area Core Courses, usually no later than the junior year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete all Area Core Courses before taking LS 690, the culminating experience for the major, in the senior year. 

Required Core Course (3 units)

LS 300GWPerspectives on Liberal Studies - GWAR3

Literature and Culture (3 units)

Select one:

AA S 322Chinese American Language and Literature3
AA S 332Japanese American Art and Literature3
AA S 352Filipina/o American Literature, Art, and Culture3
AA S 372Vietnamese American Literature3
AA S 512Asian American Children's/Adolescent Literature3
AFRS 645Literature of the Harlem Renaissance3
CWL 440"Typical American": Narratives of Multiculturalism in the Americas from 1492 to the Present3
CWL 450Literary Crossings3
E ED 681Teaching Language and Literature with Elementary and Middle School Students3
ENG/JS/CWL 451Jewish Literature of the Americas3
ENG 526Age of the American Renaissance: 1830-18603
ENG 533Holocaust and Literature3
ENG 535Literature and Ecology3
ENG 54620th Century American Jewish Women Writers3
ENG 601Literature and Psychology3
ENG 602Literature, Identity, Society: Theoretical Approaches to Identity and Cultural Critique3
ENG 655Literature and the Adolescent Reader3
LS 450Banned! Contested Protest Literature in Schools3
LTNS 560Contemporary Latina/o Literature3
WGS 541Women Writers and Social Change3
WGS/SXS 551Queer Literatures and Media3

Communication Studies (3-4 units)

Select one:

COMM 551Persuasion4
COMM 552Performance and Feminism4
COMM 553Performance and Identity4
COMM 554Performance of Children's Literature4
COMM 559Theory and Practice in Advanced Public Speaking4
LS 403/COMM 557Performance and Pedagogy of the Oppressed for Educators3

Life Sciences (3 units)

Select one:

BIOL 300Nature Study3
BIOL 310Biology for Today's World3
BIOL 313Principles of Ecology3
BIOL 326Disease!3
LS 430Future of the Forests3
LS/HUM 440Mind, Body, and Culture3

Physical Sciences (3 units)

Select one:

ERTH 325Geology of the National Parks3
ERTH 335Global Warming3
ERTH 365Extreme Weather in a Warming World3
LS 209Physical Sciences for Elementary School Teachers3
LS 310Science and Culture for Future Elementary School Teachers3

Integrated Social Sciences (6 units)

Select two:

LS 200Self, Place, and Knowing: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Inquiry3
LS 401International Development and Resource Justice3
LS 402Introduction to Human Rights Education for Teachers and Local Communities3
LS 404Social Science and Medicine3

Interdisciplinary Humanities (3 units)

Select one:

HUM 425Thought and Image: Humanities3
LS/HUM 317Critical Animal Studies3
LS 410Social Justice Themes in the Interdisciplinary Humanities3

Visual Studies (3 units)

Select one:

LS 426Thought and Image: Creative Arts3
LS 427Social Movements & the Arts for Future Teachers3

Culminating Experience (3 Units)

LS 690Liberal Studies Senior Seminar3

Electives (12 units)

Choose one of the following options, in consultation with an advisor:

A. Complete at least 12 units that are part of a minor, certificate, or another major on campus. Suggested minors include Education, Special Education, any minor in Ethnic Studies, American Studies, California Studies, Comics Studies, Counseling, Holistic Health, Health Education, Earth Sciences, Communication Studies, Modern Languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Russian), Humanities, Math, History, Global Peace Studies, Criminal Justice Studies, and Women and Gender Studies. For double majoring, please consult a Liberal Studies adviser. 

B. Complete 12 units of additional courses (not already counted for the core) outlined in the Teacher Preparation Emphasis. See program website or adviser for a list of courses to choose from.

C. In consultation with a Liberal Studies faculty advisor, design and complete a 12-unit elective pattern.

Complementary Studies

Required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies are 12 units of Complementary Studies, which must come from courses bearing a prefix other than LS, and not cross-listed with LS. Complementary Studies for the Liberal Studies major can be satisfied via four possible routes: 
  • 12 units of a language
  • 12 units towards completion of a minor or 2nd major or certificate. Suggested minors include: Education, Special Education, any minor in Ethnic Studies, American Studies, California Studies, Comics Studies, Counseling, Holistic Health, Health Education, Earth Sciences, Communication Studies, any minor in Modern Languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Russian), Humanities, Math, History, Global Peace Studies, Criminal Justice Studies, Women and Gender Studies
  • Any 12 units outside of LS prefix and not cross-listed with LS
  • Study Abroad

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/or 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 AA-T in History
HIST ADT Roadmap

For students with an AA-T in Law, Public Policy, and Society
LPPS ADT Roadmap

For students with an AA-T in Political Science
PLSI ADT Roadmap

For students with one of the pathways below:
General ADT Roadmap

  • Anthropology (AA-T)
  • Art History (AA-T)
  • Biology (AS-T)
  • Chemistry (AS-T)
  • Child and Adolescent Development (AA-T)
  • Communication Studies (AA-T)
  • Early Childhood Education (AS-T)
  • Elementary Teacher Education  (AA-T)
  • English (AA-T)
  • Environmental Science (AS-T)
  • Geography (AA-T)
  • Geology (AS-T)
  • Global Studies (AA-T)
  • Kinesiology (AA-T)
  • Mathematics (AS-T)
  • Philosophy (AA-T)
  • Physics (AS-T)
  • Psychology (AA-T)
  • Social Justice Studies (AA-T)
  • Sociology (AA-T)
  • Spanish (AA-T)

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Elementary Teacher Education

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.