Undergraduate Education

Degree Requirements

General Education (GE)

American Institutions

SF State Studies


Complementary Studies


Undergraduate Degree Learning Outcomes

San Francisco State University undergraduates will emerge from their studies with a breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding developed from integrating their coursework and academic experiences in both General Education and the major. The abilities, knowledge, and qualities of mind fostered by General Education will be reinforced, extended, and deepened in the major. We expect the following interconnected educational outcomes from a baccalaureate of San Francisco State:

  1. Competencies for Lifelong Intellectual Endeavor: SF State's baccalaureate graduates will be competent in critical questioning and analysis, creative and independent thought, attentive reading and interpretation, written and other forms of communication, quantitative reasoning, research drawing upon a variety of resources, problem-solving, and collaboration.
  2. Intellectual Attainments: Graduates will be conversant with the principal domains of knowledge associated with liberal learning: the sciences and mathematics, the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts. They will be able to apply the modes of inquiry associated with these domains and will have engaged questions and issues of enduring importance. They will also gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of at least one major course of study. These competencies and attainments will provide graduates with intellectual foundations for careers or advanced study.
  3. Appreciation of Diversity: Graduates will know, understand, and appreciate multiple forms and variations of human diversity, both within the United States and globally. Graduates will respect themselves and others. They will have obtained a historical perspective about the development of our diverse nation and will be able to engage in informed, civil discourse with persons different from themselves in intellectual and cultural outlook.
  4. Ethical Engagement: Graduates will have an appreciation of the necessity and difficulty of making ethical choices, both private and public, and will be able to identify and analyze the values that inform those choices. Graduates will demonstrate ethical conduct in their own work and their acknowledgment of the work of others. Graduates will recognize their responsibility to work toward social justice and equity by contributing purposefully to the well-being of their local communities, their nations, and the people of the world, as well as to the sustainability of the natural environment.
  5. Integration and Application of Knowledge: Graduates will know how to make connections among apparently disparate forms of knowledge and modes of inquiry across academic disciplines and between the principal domains of knowledge and their majors. They also will be able to place such knowledge and approaches within their cultural, historical, and sociopolitical contexts. Graduates will be able to apply academic knowledge to what is important in their own lives and to local and global communities.
  6. Qualities of Mind and Spirit: Graduates will take with them dispositions that facilitate lifelong learning and growth, including curiosity, a sense of wonder, intellectual flexibility and adaptability, a refusal to simplify what is inherently complex and ambiguous, a sense of responsibility and accountability, critical self-reflection, independence of mind, respect for wellness and healthy living, a readiness to assume leadership roles, and reverence for all that unites us as human beings across time.

At SF State, students acquire these skills and this knowledge through General Education (GE), major, minor, and elective courses. All are important parts of the overall experience of a liberal education to prepare students to be successful in the 21st Century.

SF State awards three baccalaureate degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • Bachelor of Music (B.M.)

Overviews of the General Requirements for all three degrees are listed below. For more detailed information check the specific requriement pages. Consult your major department for specific degree requirements.

Introduction to General Education

The major provides in-depth study in one subject matter, often one directly related to a particular career. General Education (GE), on the other hand, involves study in breadth -- for acquiring knowledge and skills for a range of future experiences throughout life, for providing the intellectual agility for moving from one career to another, and for making future contributions in a number of possible communities. The University requires students to complete 48 units of General Education requirements (GE).

General Education Breadth requirements have been designed to complement the major program and electives completed by each baccalaureate candidate, to assure that graduates have made noteworthy progress toward becoming truly educated persons. These requirements are designed to provide the knowledge, skills, experiences, and perspectives that will enable SF State students to expand their capacities to take part in a wide range of human interests and activities; to confront personal, cultural, moral, and social problems that are an inevitable part of human life; and to cultivate both the requisite skills and enthusiasm for lifelong learning. Courses approved for GE Breadth are responsive to the need for students to have developed knowledge of, or skills related to, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, intellectual inquiry, global awareness and understanding, human diversity, civic engagement, communication competence, ethical decision-making, environmental systems, technology, lifelong learning and self-development, and physical and emotional health throughout a lifetime.

Areas A through E of GE contain only lower-division classes and should be taken in the first two years of college. They provide basic skills as well as breadth in a variety of disciplinary areas. Area A of GE is designed to improve student’s basic skills in communication in English (oral and written) and critical thinking. Area B of GE provides a breadth of knowledge about the physical and life sciences, including laboratory experiences. Area B also provides students an opportunity to expand their mathematics and quantitative reasoning skills. Area C of GE focuses on the Arts and Humanities and gives students a chance to explore the Humanities through literature. Area D of GE covers the social sciences and includes the US History and Government requirements. Area E courses are the second part of the first-year experience. The courses cover rhetorical knowledge, the writing process, information literacy, and reflection and metacognition.

Area F contains both lower and upper-division courses and is designed to widen a student's knowledge of the various ethnicities that make up our world.

Upper-Division General Education is designed to provide students with the opportunity to integrate and apply the knowledge, skills, and insights gained from their lower-division General Education courses. All students must complete a total of 9 units with one course in each of the following CSU-mandated groupings of domains of knowledge and inquiry:

  1.  Upper-Division Physical and/or Life Sciences (Area UD-B),
  2.  Upper-Division Arts and/or Humanities (Area UD-C), and
  3.  Upper-Division Social Sciences (Area UD-D).

A detailed listing of all General Education areas and courses begins on General Education Lower Division. You can find specific areas of our GE program by visiting the General Education Table of Contents.

General Education Requirements for all Baccalaureate Degrees

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.

American Institutions Requirement

The California State University (CSU) system requires that all graduates demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of American institutions and ideals, the Constitution of the United States, the operation of representative democratic government under that Constitution, and the processes of California's state and local governments. Because this is a competency requirement, it may be satisfied by passing examinations, by taking courses, or by a combination of examinations and courses. In unusual circumstances, students may be able to demonstrate competency in other ways as well.

You can find more information on our American Institutions program and how to fulfill this requirement by visiting the American Institutions page.

SF State Studies Requirement

SF State Studies courses fulfill graduation requirements but do not have specific unit requirements. They are meant to ensure that students take a least one course in areas that the campus feels are important to graduates of our University. There are currently four graduation requirements that students must meet:

Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper- or lower-division, may be in General Education, a major or minor, or an elective. Because of the large number of SF State Studies courses, most students will take more than one SF State Studies course and will not have to seek out such courses. 

You can find specific areas of our SF State Studies program by clicking on the links above or visiting the SF Studies Table of Contents.


Completion of a major is a graduation requirement. A major is a focused area of study that requires the student to take a specific set of courses that lead to a deep understanding of a particular subject matter. At SF State there are over 100 undergraduate majors. Choosing a major involves declaring this choice at the time of admission or consulting with faculty advisors and then submitting a Change of Major form to the department office of the intended major.

You can find more information about general major requirements by visiting the Majors page. For a list of all Undergraduate degrees offered at SF State, please visit the Baccalaureate Degrees page.

Complementary Studies

Bachelor of Arts students must complete at least 12 units of Complementary Studies outside of the primary prefix for the major. For general information on Complementary Studies, please visit the Complementary Studies page. Degree-specific Complementary Studies information can be found in the specific program's Degree Requirements.


In addition to their major, students may also elect to complete a minor. Students are encouraged to complete the minor and major within 120 units. Like a major, the minor is a focused area of study; however, a minor does not require as many units. Currently, at SF State, only the Journalism major requires a minor to earn a bachelor's degree.

You can find more information about general major requirements by visiting the Minor page. For a list of all minors offered at SF State, please visit the Minor Programs page.

Other Academic Programs

Certificate programs provide individuals the opportunity to develop specialized skills in areas that may complement majors or minors. These programs focus on a narrow spectrum of knowledge or skills and require fewer units than a major. SF State's College of Professional & Global Education also offers certificate programs. Students who are pursuing a baccalaureate degree and certificate at the same time are encouraged to complete both programs within 120 units.

Pre-credential programs are offered for students interested in pursuing teaching credentials after completing the baccalaureate degree. Students may complete preparatory coursework as an undergraduate student and are encouraged to seek advising from the College of Education's Credential and Graduate Services Center, the Liberal Studies office, and/or the Child and Adolescent Development Program.

Pre-professional programs are available for students who are interested in pursuing professional school studies after the baccalaureate degree. For information and referral, consult the Undergraduate Advising Center.

Second Baccalaureate Degree

Subject to restrictions imposed by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, in rare instances a student who already holds a bachelor's degree may apply for admission to work toward a second baccalaureate degree. If approved, the student will be admitted to the undergraduate program, typically at the senior level. Check Admissions for programs open to second baccalaureate applications.

Students who have previously earned a baccalaureate or higher degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association will not have to complete any GE or additional graduation requirements. These students will only be held to completing courses specifically required for the secondary major.

Whether or not the second baccalaureate degree is ever completed, none of the credits earned may later be considered for post-baccalaureate status at this University. The only possible exception is in the last semester before the award of the degree as provided for under the section Courses in Excess of Bachelor Degree Requirements.