Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy: Concentration in Philosophy and Law

Concentration in Philosophy and Law

The Philosophy and Law Concentration enables students to earn a philosophy degree while focusing on our department’s rich array of undergraduate courses that consider such topics as the foundation of law, legal reasoning, U.S. and global human rights, social justice, law and society, health care law, sex and the law, philosophical foundations of the U.S. Constitution, philosophy of criminal justice, wrongs as crimes and torts, and theories of ethics and political philosophy that influence jurisprudence. Philosophy majors consistently receive the highest scores on the law school admissions test (LSAT). This program positions them to excel in law and public policy.

The enterprise of philosophy requires sharpening the skills necessary for clarifying premises, uncovering presuppositions (one's own and those of others), weighing the pros and cons of conflicting values, and analyzing concepts and issues, all of which are crucial for graduate programs in law and public policy. Courses in philosophy serve to develop and enhance these skills. Some courses concentrate on specific philosophical issues. Others provide an overview of an entire area of human inquiry or endeavor (such as the sciences, the arts, political theory and law, medicine, social justice, and how our minds, senses, and emotions work) or of the philosophical foundations that characterize a historical period.

The department welcomes students from other majors or programs who wish to acquire excellent training for law schools, public policy programs, and the competitive admissions processes to these programs.

The Concentration in Philosophy and Law includes three units from related fields. This gives students an opportunity to integrate courses offered by other departments into the major, so long as those courses are substantially concerned with law and approved by an advisor. Undergraduate advisors are also authorized by the department to designate units obtained in other departments as satisfying unit requirements. Neither students nor advisors should view this as an escape clause which enables a student who has not quite satisfied the requirements of the Philosophy and Law Concentration to do so. Units outside the department are to be designated for use in the major on the basis of their contribution to the student's major program. To avoid confusion on this point, students should obtain written approval from an advisor before obtaining non-department units to be utilized in the major.

Students who have not taken PHIL 110 may begin the program but should complete this course or its equivalent at the earliest opportunity. Equivalencies must be approved by a departmental advisor.

The Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy: Concentration in Philosophy and Law culminates in a one-unit personalized learning outcomes course in which students reflect philosophically on their own development of skills and knowledge. This learning outcomes course, PHIL 696, should be taken in the second semester of the student's senior year.

To best take advantage of the program's tremendous resources in preparing students for law school, students pursuing the concentration in philosophy and law are urged to lay out a tentative program of courses with their advisors early in their tenure at the university. Depending upon the student's area of specialization, up to six units of courses outside the philosophy department may be approved by a department advisor as elective units for the B.A.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Gain knowledge of the history or current state of the discipline of philosophy. 
  2. Develop a grasp of representative philosophical issues and ways of dealing with them. 
  3. Develop a capacity to apply philosophical methods to intellectual problems.
  4. Develop a sense of how philosophy bears on other disciplines.
  5. Develop a sense of how philosophy bears on human life more generally.
  6. Develop a critical mind.
  7. Develop analytic skills.
  8. Develop interpretive skills.
  9. Apply philosophical conventions and tools.
  10. Develop the ability to apply normative philosophical arguments in legal contexts.
  11. Develop an understanding of the nature of law.
  12. Develop an understanding of the justification of law.

Philosophy (B.A.): Concentration in Philosophy and Law  44-45 units

Required Courses (23 units)

PHIL 205Formal Logic I3
PHIL 300Academic and Professional Pathways in Philosophy1
PHIL 303Modern Philosophy3
PHIL 320GWPhilosophical Analysis - GWAR3
PHIL 321Being and Knowing3
PHIL 330Political Philosophy3
PHIL 380Philosophy of Law3
PHIL 450Ethics3
PHIL 696Directed Reading: Learning Outcomes1

Disjunctive History (3 units)

Select One:

PHIL 301Ancient Philosophy3
PHIL 302Medieval Philosophy3
PHIL 410Topics in the History of Philosophy3
PHIL 516Islamic Philosophy3

Metaphysics and Epistemology (6 units)

Select Two:

PHIL 350Philosophy of Science3
PHIL 351Philosophy of Risk3
PHIL 605Metaphysics3
PHIL 610Theory of Knowledge3
PHIL 620Philosophy of Mind3
PHIL 621Minds, Brains, and Computers3
PHIL 630Philosophy of Language3

Normative Issues (9 units)

Select Three:

PHIL 304Ethics Bowl3
PHIL 315Introduction to Global Peace Studies3
PHIL 335Law and Society3
PHIL 373The Ethics of Migration and Membership3
PHIL/GPS 375Peace Law and Human Rights in the U.S.3
PHIL 378Philosophy of Criminal Law3
PHIL 383Ethics in Medicine3
PHIL 384Philosophy of Research Ethics3
PHIL 395Ethical Issues: Science and Technology3
PHIL 435/I R 436Human Rights in Global Perspective3
PHIL 436Islamic Political Philosophy3
PHIL 451Feminist Moral Issues3
PHIL 455/SXS 569Sex and the Law3
PHIL 470Environmental Ethics3
PHIL 494Philosophy and Personal Development3

Additional Course (3-4 units)

Select one course from the following list or on advisement:

AFRS 375Law and the Black Community3
AIS 205American Indians and U.S. Laws3
AIS 330American Indian Law3
ANTH/LABR 343Women and Work3
BECA 324Media Law3
C J 435/LTNS 430Race, Crime, and Justice3
C J 501Criminal Law3
EDAD 763Law and Education3
GPS/PHIL 375Peace Law and Human Rights in the U.S.3
HIST 470The U.S. Constitution to 18963
HIST 471The U.S. Constitution Since 18963
HIST 472The Supreme Court and Social Change in U.S. History3
I R 330World Law4
JOUR 307News Media Law3
JS/HIST 318The Holocaust and Law: Complicity, Dissent, and Correction3
PLSI 308Research and Writing for Public Law4
PLSI/I R 422Law and Courts in Comparative Perspective4
PLSI/SXS/WGS 470The Politics of Sex and Reproduction4
PLSI 478Judicial Process4
PLSI 552Individual Rights and the Constitution4
PLSI 553Legal Issues4
PLSI 561Jurisprudence4
RRS 250Race, Ethnicity and Power in America3
USP/PLSI 513/GEOG 668Politics, Law, and the Urban Environment4
SXS 455Sex, Power, and Politics3
WGS 536Gender, Globalization, and Women's Human Rights3
WGS 563Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Disability3

Complementary Studies for Philosophy Majors

Twelve units of Complementary Studies are required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than PHIL, and not cross-listed with PHIL. Philosophy majors may pursue a multitude of pathways toward completing this requirement, designed by the student with approval of a department advisor.

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 Philosophy.
PHIL ADT Roadmap

For students with an AA-T in Social Justice Studies.
SJS ADT Roadmap

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

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Social Justice Studies

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.