Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

Philosophy is traditionally identified with the love of wisdom and the ability to think well about the foundations of human action, the nature of reality, and the purposes and priorities of life. Our department offers the opportunity for a systematic study of the philosophies of past and present and also of East and West, a study that deepens and broadens one’s outlook on the world and human affairs.

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. 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 examine their personal philosophy, investigate the philosophies of others, or sharpen their skills as independent thinkers.

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

Undergraduate advisors are authorized by the department to designate units obtained in other departments as satisfying unit requirements in Philosophy for application to the Philosophy program. Neither students nor advisors should view this as an escape clause that enables a student who has not quite satisfied the major requirements in Philosophy to do so. Units outside the department are to be designated for use in the major based on 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 culminates in a 1-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 second semester of the student's senior year.

The program includes 9 units of elective courses in Philosophy, permitting individualized emphases in specific areas. Students majoring in Philosophy 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 6 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

Philosophy (B.A.) — 41 units

Required Courses (17 units)

PHIL 205Formal Logic I3
PHIL 300Academic and Professional Pathways in Philosophy1
PHIL 303Modern Philosophy3
PHIL 320GWPhilosophical Analysis - GWAR 13
PHIL 321Being and Knowing3
PHIL 450Ethics3
PHIL 696Directed Reading: Learning Outcomes1

History (3 units)

Select one:

Ancient Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy
Topics in the History of Philosophy
Islamic Philosophy

Normative Issues (6 units)

Select two:

Ethics Bowl
Political Philosophy
Law and Society
Peace Law and Human Rights in the U.S.
Philosophy of Criminal Law
Philosophy of Law
Ethics in Medicine
Philosophy of Research Ethics
Ethical Issues: Science and Technology
Human Rights in Global Perspective
Islamic Political Philosophy
Feminist Moral Issues
Philosophy of Art
Environmental Ethics
Philosophy and Personal Development

Metaphysics & Epistemology (6 units)

Select two. At least one course must be non-GE. Approved GE courses below are PHIL 350, PHIL 351, and PHIL 621:

Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of Risk
Theory of Knowledge
Philosophy of Mind
Minds, Brains, and Computers
Philosophy of Language

Electives (9 units)

Any PHIL course not used to satisfy a previous requirement can be used as an elective. At least 3 units must be an upper-division PHIL course. The remaining 6 units may be lower- or upper-division.


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 Major

Twelve units of Complementary Studies are required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than PHIL, and not cross-listed with PHIL. Philosophy 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 philosophical topic in a multi-disciplinary way. Philosophy 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 an area of philosophical specialization. Philosophy is rich in such specializations. Here are some illustrative philosophical specializations in which studying philosophy and studying other disciplines is complementary: Philosophy of the Arts, Ancient Philosophy, Asian Philosophy, Bioethics/Medical Ethics, Business Ethics, Philosophy of Cinema, Philosophy of Dance, Philosophy of Economics, Environmental Philosophy, Global Justice, Islamic Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Literature, Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Music, Philosophy of Mind, Modern European Philosophy, Philosophy of Music, Philosophy of Perception, Philosophy of Photography, Philosophy of Psychology/Cognitive Science, Political Philosophy and Social Justice, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Sexuality, Philosophy of Science and Technology, Philosophy and Society, Philosophy of Social Science, Philosophy of Sport, Philosophy of Under-represented Groups, Philosophy of Women and Gender. To accommodate emerging areas of philosophical study, students are encouraged to design 12 unit modules for the review and approval of the department advisor.

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

SF State Scholars Roadmap

SF State Scholars Roadmap.

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Philosophy.
PHIL 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 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.