Advising Guidelines

Cinema Major Overview (for 4-year students)

The Cinema Major is a three-year program that commences in the Sophomore year (Note: This means the student must have acquired at least 30+ units, not simply be in the 2nd year of his/her college education). The completion of the Major requires a minimum of 45 units, including:

  • Core: 13 units (CINE 200, 202/204, 211 and 212)
  • Foundation: 7 units (CINE 340/341 and GWAR)
  • Studies: 9 units (300 or 500 level CINE classes)
  • Electives: 16 units (300+ CINE classes)

Course Numbering System

  • 200 – Introductory / Core (Sophomore level)
  • 300 – Intermediate Critical Studies / Foundation / GWAR (Junior level)
  • 400 – Intermediate Production and Screenwriting (Junior level)
  • 500 – Advanced Critical Studies / Capstone (Senior level)
  • 600 – Advanced Production and Screenwriting / Capstone (Senior level)

Sophomore Year (30-59 units): Core Classes

The necessary prerequisites to take Core classes in the Cinema major are: 1. declaring as a Cinema major, and 2. official Sophomore standing (30+ units). Students are also required to meet with a full-time faculty member while enrolled in CINE 200 to discuss both the major and the courses available after the Core is completed. The Core classes for the Cinema major are: CINE 200, CINE 202/204 (taken concurrently), CINE 211, and CINE 212. Students must receive a C grade or better in all Core classes.

Students are encouraged to divide their Core class responsibilities in half each semester of the Sophomore year (ex: CINE 202/204 and 211 in the Fall; CINE 200 and 212 in the Spring). Core classes are occasionally offered during the summer semester and/or online.

Junior Year (60 - 89 units): Foundation Courses/Begin Electives

In the Junior year students should take the two required Foundation courses. These are: CINE 340/341 (taken concurrently) and one of the Cinema Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) classes: CINE 302GW, 303GW, 318GW, 343GW, and/or 350GW. Students should take a GWAR within the Cinema major. A student who has taken a GWAR class when they had a different major, and who wishes to count it towards the major, must request and obtain formal approval from a Faculty Advisor. Students must receive a C grade or better in all Foundation classes in order for them to count toward the major.

Critical Studies Classes: All students who declared as Cinema majors in Fall 2017 or later must take three 300 or 500 level Cinema studies classes in order to complete the Cinema major. Please note: 1. These three courses cannot be counted with articulating courses from another university. 2. CINE 340/341 does not count towards this 9-unit Critical Studies elective requirement.

400-level Production Classes: Students who have 60+ units and have also successfully completed the core may begin to take 400-level production classes, which emphasize skill development and group work. Students with Senior standing may also take 400-level classes, but Juniors will be prioritized.

Note: Advanced production classes are time- and labor-intensive, and always in high demand among Cinema majors. The Cinema department strongly discourages students from taking more than two advanced production classes in any given semester.

Senior Year (90+ units)

Senior Cinema majors will continue to take advanced electives to reach the required 45 units for the major.

600-level Production Classes: Students who have 90+ units and have completed 6 units of 400-level production classes may take 600-level production classes, which emphasize individual projects and advanced/capstone experiences. Students may not take more than two 600-level production classes in any semester.

Up to 12 approved units relevant to cinema may be taken outside the major and count towards elective credit. An advisor needs to sign off on all of these units (signature on the blue sheet). Seniors should apply to graduate during their last semester – a faculty advisor will sign off on graduation form (see below for more information about the Graduation Application).

Transfer Students

Core Classes: All core classes may articulate with courses offered at California junior colleges which offer equivalencies within their curriculum. The articulated classes should be reflected in the student’s Degree Progress Report, and can be researched specifically at If a transferred course is not already articulated, but seems a possible equivalent for a Cinema Core class, the student may ask an advisor to review the course syllabus and, if approved, articulate the course manually. Only certain faculty can provide this assessment - inquire at the Cinema Department office. If students have any classes manually articulated by faculty, they will also need assistance to enroll in a specific registration pool that allows access to Foundation classes.

Core classes that weren’t taken at a Junior Community College should be taken during a transfer student’s first semester at SFSU, or through Open University if offered the summer before their fall official admission.

Transfer students that receive manual articulation of courses will need to meet with an advisor to get signatures confirming this agreement on their Blue Sheets. The Blue Sheet should be saved so that it may be formally reviewed when it is time to graduate.

JCC Quarter System: Students from JCC schools that operate on the quarter system will not have their units articulate on a 1-to-1 basis, thus they may need to take additional classes to reach the minimum units. This will be reflected in the Degree Project Report, but students transferring quarter system credits should talk with a faculty advisor to ensure they are counting course credit accurately.

Upper Division Courses: CINE 340/341 cannot be articulated from another college. Up to 13 units can transfer from a JCC toward the Cinema major. These units are usually applied to the Core, but up to six units may be upper division courses in video production or screenwriting.

Selecting Classes/Areas of Study 

School of Cinema offers a wide breadth of educational opportunities and has a strong emphasis across the curriculum on how critical theory informs filmmaking practice. Students are encouraged to develop a course plan with a faculty advisor, and to take classes that demonstrate an investment in a range of production skills, as well as varied critical perspectives and film history, facilitating a broader foundation of craft training, creative practices, and written and analytic skills.

Students should review the current SF State University Course Bulletin to see the full list of courses offered by the School of Cinema. Reviewing class schedules from previous semesters may provide insight into the regularity of specific course offerings.


The deadline for graduation applications for fall semester is usually the last Friday in September. For spring semester, the deadline is usually the third Friday in February. Please check the SF State University Academic Calendar to confirm the specific deadlines in the term you intend to apply. Applications must be completed, signed by student, a department adviser, and the Director of the School of Cinema, paid at the Bursar's Office, and submitted to the Registrar’s Office by this date.

In order for a Graduate Application to be signed by a faculty advisor, it must demonstrate the following:

  • A total of 45 units in major
  • Completion of all Core and Foundation courses with grades with a C or better.
  • Completion of the “Complementary Studies” requirement: See below for more information.
  • 12 upper division units may be from another department as long as they complement cinema and are approved by a Cinema advisor
  • Up to 4 one-unit courses from the following may be counted toward major: CINE 325, 326, 650
  • A maximum of 12 units from the following may count toward the major: CINE 376, 690, 692, 699
  • Up to 9 CR/NC units may count toward the major
  • If courses taken in other departments are to be counted toward the major, or for classes from other schools that don’t articulate on the Degree Progress Report, you must provide a Blue Sheet with these approvals signed by your Faculty advisor.

Complementary Studies

Complementary Studies is a 12-unit requirement for Bachelors of Arts students. Cinema majors should consult with a faculty advisor to determine which units may apply. Approval of this requirement may be noted on the blue sheet.

School of Cinema complementary studies guidelines:

  • Students who complete a second major, a minor, or 12 units of a foreign language automatically fulfill the requirement.
  • All non-CINE prefix units are eligible for this requirement, including lower division, upper division, and transferred units.
  • Since cinema is a broad field encompassing many disciplines -- including anthropology, business, creative arts, ethnic studies, gender studies, humanities, literature, philosophy, photography, theatre, etc. -- students are asked to identify 12 units that inform or broaden their personal relationship to cinema.

Additional information

Incompletes in courses on a graduation application will prevent graduation until the incomplete is resolved (even if the units are in excess of the 45 required for the major). The student will have to reapply to graduate and pay another application fee. Also, if a student does not complete a course that is included on a graduation application, he/she must file an additional petition to remove the course from the application.

Duplicate Use of Credit Between Majors: Students who complete two majors may count the same courses for both majors where there is a clearly stated overlap in the Bulletin requirements. While these courses may be used to satisfy requirements for two majors, the units can be counted only once in fulfillment of the total minimum units required for graduation.

Double Major: Students who complete two majors may apply for both degrees in a single commencement by submitting two separate applications simultaneously. No additional fee is required for the second application.