Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religion

The Philosophy and Religion degree program has some general aims similar to those of the Philosophy program; in addition, this course of study assists students in the exploration of the origin, nature, and structure of the quest for human meaning. The philosophy and religion degree includes the study of the spiritual thought and practice of diverse groups, communities, and individuals throughout the ages. Courses emphasize the central importance of integrating diverse areas of knowledge and experience into wider visions of human community, reading and analyzing texts, and developing skills for the disciplines of profound self-reflection and contemplation. Students will gain basic knowledge about diverse religious traditions and develop a deeper understanding of their special areas of interest. The goal of this program is to provide students with techniques and insights needed for rigorous examination of the issues, experiences, and concerns arising from religious quests for certainty, community, and social justice.

The department welcomes students from other majors or programs who wish to examine their personal philosophy and religious beliefs and practices, investigate the philosophies and religions of others, or sharpen their skills as independent thinkers.

Many of the courses offered are not only appropriate as part of a philosophy and religion major but are of special interest to students in other fields. These courses are designed to help students understand the theoretical frameworks, religious implications, and more abstract dimensions of the paramount areas of knowledge. Students interested in either the philosophical and religious understanding of a field of knowledge, or in philosophy and religion for self-understanding, should feel free to consult the department chairperson or an advisor on appropriate courses.

The philosophy and religion major program includes six 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 philosophy or religion 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 major requirements in philosophy and religion 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 and Religion culminates in a one unit personalized learning outcomes course in which students reflect philosophically on their development of skills and knowledge. This learning outcomes course, PHIL 696 , should be taken in the second semester of the student's senior year.

The program offers a great deal of flexibility, permitting individualized emphases in specific areas. Students majoring in philosophy and religion 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.

Career Outlook

A principal reason for the study of philosophy and religion is the enrichment of one's own life and understanding. Fortunately, the study of philosophy and religion also is excellent preparation for a variety of post-baccalaureate professional studies and careers in law, medicine, public policy and strategic planning, the helping professions, computer-assisted enterprises, and innovative business and non-profit organizations.

The broader outlook and the ability to think critically about larger issues that are fostered by the systematic study of philosophy and religion are often highly valued by commercial firms in their management level personnel. Some students continue to graduate work in philosophy or religious studies. SF State graduates now are teaching in colleges across the country. And opportunities to teach philosophy in K–12 have increased as educators realize the importance of enhancing children’s critical thinking skills. The philosophy and religion program is a strong foundation for the helping professions, the ministry, and advanced studies in theology.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Gain knowledge of the philosophical issues that arise in the seminal texts of the major world religions.
  2. Develop an understanding of the issues and problems that arise at the intersections of philosophy and religion.
  3. Develop a capacity to apply philosophical methods to religious ideas.
  4. Develop a sense of how philosophy bears on other disciplines in which religion is studied.
  5. Develop a sense of how philosophy bears on religious life more generally.
  6. Develop a critical mind.
  7. Develop analytic skills.
  8. Develop interpretive skills.
  9. Develop a capacity for the imaginative development of abstract formulations and their concrete applications.

Philosophy and Religion (B.A.) – 41 units

For the Philosophy and Religion B.A., a minimum of 41 units are required, at least 31 of which must be upper-division units.

Required Courses (20 units)

PHIL 300Academic and Professional Pathways in Philosophy1
PHIL 303Modern Philosophy3
PHIL 320GWPhilosophical Analysis - GWAR 13
PHIL 450Ethics3
PHIL 500Philosophy of Religion3
PHIL 502World Religions3
PHIL 525/RELS 300The Nature of Religious Experience3
PHIL 696Directed Reading: Learning Outcomes1

Comparative Thought (6 units)

Select Two:

PHIL 436Islamic Political Philosophy3
PHIL 494Philosophy and Personal Development3
PHIL/HUM/JS 501Judaism, Christianity, and Islam3
PHIL 509The Buddhist Tradition3
PHIL 511Chinese Philosophy and Religion3
PHIL 514/JS 410Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism, and Literature3
PHIL 520Philosophy and Mysticism3

History (6 units)

Select Two:

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

Metaphysics and Epistemology (3 units)

Select One:

PHIL 321Being and Knowing3
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

Elective Units from Related Fields (6 units)

Selected from related fields on advisement.


PHIL 320GW satisfies the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). Students who have satisfied GWAR in a discipline other than philosophy will still be required to complete PHIL 320GW as a requirement of the major.

Complementary Studies for the Philosophy and Religion Major

Twelve units of Complementary Studies are required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy and Religion. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than PHIL, and not cross-listed with PHIL. Philosophy and Religion majors are given a multitude of pathways toward completing this requirement, each of which is designed to facilitate graduation in a timely manner and deepen the student’s knowledge and appreciation of a set of relevant issues in a multi-disciplinary way. Philosophy and Religion majors may, with the approval of a department advisor, elect to apply 12 units in a single foreign language of their choosing or; courses taken in an approved study abroad program (e.g., CSU Study Abroad). Otherwise, with the approval of a department advisor, the student may take 12 units of courses that complement the study of philosophy and religion. The study of philosophy and religion is enhanced by learning drawn from complementary areas, such as history and culture of Africa, American Indian studies, the arts, alternative medicine, history and culture of ancient religions, history and culture of Asian religions, bioethics/medical ethics and healing professions, business ethics, cinema studies, counseling, environmental studies, global history and culture, history and culture of Islam, Jewish studies, holistic medicine, the human sciences, oral and written communication, legal studies, literary studies, European studies, history and culture of Latina/Latino peoples, music, justice studies, LGBTQ studies, religious studies, sexuality studies, social justice, the social sciences, underrepresented groups, women and gender studies. To accommodate emerging areas of philosophical study, students are encouraged to design 12-unit modules for the review and approval of the department advisor.

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 in order 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 Philosophy.
PHIL ADT Roadmap

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

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.