Undergraduate FAQs


How do I apply for admission to the School of Cinema?

The School of Cinema does not review undergraduate applications for admission. A review of past work (i.e., portfolio review) is not required for admission unless a Cinema major decides to follow the emphasis in Animation. There are no particular requirements for admission to the major other than being accepted at SF State; applicants should choose the Cinema major when applying to SF State.

For details on applying to San Francisco State University, visit Application Central.

Students who enter SF State as first-time freshmen do not begin their coursework in the Cinema major until their sophomore year; their first opportunity to register for Cinema courses will be in late April/early May of their freshman year.

How do I transfer to SF State as a Cinema major?

Cinema majors are advised to complete the core classes: CINE 200, and CINE 211 in fall semesters; CINE 202/204 and 212 in spring semesters. Upper-division transfer students should also take a CINE GWAR course in their first semester. Upon completing the 200-level courses with a grade of a C or better, Cinema students may proceed to the foundation courses: CINE 340 and CINE 341. Note that upper-division transfer students, in consultation with a Cinema faculty adviser, may take CINE 340/341 concurrently with CINE 202/204/212 in the spring semester.

Transfer credit for courses similar to CINE 200, CINE 202, CINE 211 and/or CINE 212 is accepted in cases where an official articulation agreement exists. To determine if your school has an articulation agreement with SFSU for any of these courses, go to Assist.org. If an agreement exists and if you passed the articulated course(s) with a grade of C or better, completion of this requirement will be noted on your DARS. Upper-division transfer students with credits for CINE 200/202/211/212 may register for CINE 340 and CINE 341.

I have taken courses equivalent to CINE 200/202/211/212 but my transfer institution has no course comparable to CINE 204. Do I need to take it?

CINE 204 is a one-unit lab course that is unique to the School of Cinema at SFSU; however, some transfer institutions offer four-unit courses that include a lab element. Transfer students who have received three units of credit for CINE 202 are eligible for a waiver of the 204 requirement. Consult with a Cinema faculty adviser.

I have taken courses that seem very similar to the School of Cinema’s 200-level courses, but they are not listed on Assist.org. Can someone review these courses to see if I can get credit for them?

Yes. Consult with a Cinema adviser and present transcripts documenting course credits, and syllabi of the courses you have taken. If the adviser agrees that the courses you have taken are equivalent, obtain the adviser’s comment/signature on the Blue Sheet and present this to the staff in the Cinema office.

When I apply, should I also declare an emphasis?

At this time, the University does not request this information when students apply; however, students should indicate that they intend to major in Cinema.

Do I have to declare an emphasis?

All Cinema majors are strongly encouraged to choose an emphasis because doing so provides a clear pathway through the major. Students may also opt to create an individualized emphasis in consultation with a Cinema adviser.

Eventually, a formal process for declaring an emphasis will be introduced. Currently, DARS will detect and report the completion of a particular emphasis.


How do I talk to an adviser? Who is my adviser?

Cinema advisers are full-time faculty who oversee your progress through the curriculum and offer academic guidance. View more information about Cinema advising.

What is the Blue Sheet?

The Blue Sheet is an important tool for tracking progress through the major. As students complete requirements in the major, they should record this on the Blue Sheet and request an adviser’s review and signature. Students will need to retain the Blue Sheet throughout their studies. It will be an important reference document at the time of applying for the B.A. 

When should I see an adviser? How often?

Students are encouraged to consult with a Cinema faculty adviser on a regular basis. Students should also consult with the University’s Advising Center (Administration Building, second floor) for information about University requirements such as General Education. Consultation with a Cinema adviser is recommended in advance of early priority registration, particularly in spring semesters so that students can take the benefits of summer courses into consideration as they plan registration for the fall.

What if I am on probation?

The Cinema chair, Britta Sjogren, advises all students on academic probation. You should make an appointment to see her as soon as possible by e-mailing cinedept@sfsu.edu. For more information about probation, visit the Advising Center website.

Cinema Major

How do I change my major to Cinema?

Submit the Change of Major form for Cinema majors, along with a copy of your DARS report or your unofficial transcript, to the Cinema office. Current SFSU students who request a change of major to Cinema must be in good standing (overall GPA of 2.0 or above) and must have completed First-Year Written Composition. Regardless of class level, all students who change their major to Cinema must complete all of the core classes with a grade of C or better. (Community college courses that are articulated with Cinema courses on assist.org may be substituted.)

Which Cinema courses should I take in my first two years?

First-time freshmen should focus on GE requirements in their first year. They may take CINE 102: Introduction to Contemporary Cinema.

The core classes in Cinema should be taken in the sophomore year: 200 and 211 in the fall semester; 202, 204 and 212 in the spring semester.

I heard the B.A. in Cinema changed in 2012. How does this affect me?

Here is a quick summary of the B.A. Program, “Then” and “Now”:

Before fall 2012: To start the major, students needed to complete 60 units overall; complete CINE 301 with a grade of C or higher; and, complete all GE Segment I and II requirements. Students then completed a 10-unit foundation I (CINE 340/341, 311, 312) before proceeding into other upper-division courses in the major.

Beginning fall 2012, Cinema majors can begin the B.A. program in the sophomore year and need to complete 13 units of core Cinema classes with a grade of C or higher before taking upper-division Cinema courses. Next, students must complete foundation/GWAR courses (CINE 340/341, GWAR) and may begin an emphasis.

What if I completed CINE 200 or 202 in the past? Or 203? Or 301?

Students who passed both CINE 200 and 202, or CINE 203 or CINE 301with a C or better should complete the film history courses (now CINE 211 and 212), foundation courses (CINE 340 and CINE 341) and a CINE GWAR course next.

If you have not completed both CINE 200 and 202, or CINE 203, or CINE 301, we recommend the following:

  • Students with sophomore standing should take CINE 200 in the fall along with CINE 211; they should take CINE 202, 204 and 212 in the spring.
  • Students with upper-division standing who have completed CINE 200/202, or 203 or 301 during or before fall 2012 can proceed to CINE 340/ 341 and a CINE GWAR course; the film history classes (now CINE 211 and 212) must also be completed.

Can I test out of the core courses?

No. Students can earn equivalency for core courses in two ways:

  • Pass the course(s) with a C or better at another institution that has an articulation agreement on assist.org, or
  • Present syllabi for similar course(s) taken at another institution to a Cinema faculty adviser for review for possible exemption.

What Cinema courses can I take if I haven’t finished the core courses?

Work toward completion of the University’s GE (General Education) Segments I and II. You may take, and count toward the major, any upper-division Cinema course classified as a GE course (this will be indicated in the class schedule or in the bulletin). Cinema courses commonly offered as GE courses include CINE 342: Documentary Film; CINE 373: Film and Society; and CINE 304: Women and Film, as well as several other courses, depending on the semester.

Note: Because these are upper-division courses, you must have upper-division standing in order to register for them; however, you may attempt to add them the first day of class, if space permits. Also, up to four of the one-unit weekend classes (CINE 324/325/326) may be counted toward the Cinema major. Also, after pre-approval from a Cinema adviser, up to 12 Cinema-related courses in other departments may be counted toward the Cinema major.  

What courses should I take once I have completed CINE 200 and 202 or 301, and CINE 211 and 212?

Once you have successfully completed the core courses, you should next enroll in the required foundation/GWAR courses. While you are completing the foundation/GWAR course requirements, you can take classes from a variety of 300-level Cinema courses. Certain 400-level courses may also be taken prior to completion of the foundation courses; see the Blue Sheet for details.

Upon completion of the core and foundation/GWAR courses, students may begin to focus on fiction filmmaking, documentary filmmaking, studies of media and culture in cinema, animation, screenwriting or some combination of these emphases. Depending on the emphasis, certain prerequisites may be required before taking more advanced courses. For example, taking either CINE 356 or CINE 454 is a prerequisite for taking more advanced screenwriting courses, and CINE 310/316 is a prerequisite for most advanced production courses.

Do I have to declare an emphasis?

All Cinema majors are strongly encouraged to choose an emphasis because doing so provides a clear pathway through the major; students may also opt to create an individualized emphasis in consultation with a Cinema adviser. View the Emphasis area of the website for more information.

Eventually, a formal process for declaring an emphasis will be introduced. Currently, DARS will detect and report the completion of a particular emphasis.

Do I have to take my GWAR course in Cinema?

Cinema majors are strongly encouraged to fulfill the University’s Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) by taking a Cinema GWAR course. Students who have fulfilled the GWAR in a different discipline are not required to take a Cinema GWAR course, however. And, Cinema majors who have an interest in taking a GWAR course in another department should do two things: consult with a Cinema adviser to confirm that the school will count an external GWAR course toward the Cinema B.A.; and, inform themselves of the prerequisites for the external GWAR course. Priority may be given to students in that major, which will prevent Cinema students from enrolling in advance of the start of the semester.

Can I transfer cinema units from other schools?

Yes. Up to six units of credit can be given for community college courses in film/video production and/or screenwriting. Credit for film history courses from other institutions may be substituted for 211 or 212, subject to syllabi comparison. If you have taken such courses but the credit is not noted on your DARS report, consult with the Cinema chair. Be prepared to present transcripts documenting course credits and syllabi of the courses you have taken. No more than 13 lower-division transfer units may be applied to the Cinema major.

The numbers or titles (or both) of some of the CINE courses have changed. How does this affect my plan to progress in the major?

In some cases, it may appear that a course is completely new. Several course numbers and/or titles were revised in 2012 and 2013 as part of the revision of the B.A. in Cinema; the content of these courses, however, is the same. Check the list below carefully to be sure that you do not enroll for a course that you have already taken. Current course numbers and titles are to the left, followed by previous numbers and titles.

  • CINE 211: Film History I — CINE 311: Film History I — CINE 300: Film History I
  • CINE 212: Film History I — CINE 312: Film History I — CINE 302: Film History I
  • CINE 356: Fundamentals of Screenwriting — CINE 353: Intro to Screenwriting
  • CINE 402: Arab Cinema — CINE 401: Arab Cinema
  • CINE 410: Art and Film — CINE 407: Art and Film
  • CINE 454: Writing Short Films — CINE 354: Short Format Screenwriting
  • CINE 456: Feature Screenwriting I — CINE 355: Screenwriting I
  • CINE 510: Directing Visual Style — CINE 510: Film Directing
  • CINE 512: Sound Production for Cinema — CINE 512: Sound for Film
  • CINE 515: Directing Actors — CINE 515: Narrative Directing
  • CINE 520: Sound Post-Production for Cinema — CINE 520: Projects in Post-Production Sound
  • CINE 524: Exploring Sound Design for Cinema — CINE 524: Digital Sound for Film
  • CINE 556: Feature Screenwriting II — CINE 455: Screenwriting II
  • CINE 620: Fiction Filmmaking I — CINE 620: Advanced Film Production I
  • CINE 622: Fiction Filmmaking II — CINE 622: Advanced Film Production II
  • CINE 654: Writing and Performing in Film and Theatre — CINE 555: Writing & Performing in Film & Theatre
  • CINE 656: Screenwriting Workshop — CINE 655: Projects in Film Writing

*Note that these courses are not equivalent to the non-GWAR version of the course. To fulfill the GWAR requirement, you MUST take the GW version.

  • CINE 342 GW: Documentary Film — GWAR version
  • CINE 346 GW: Art of the Short Film — GWAR version
  • CINE 402 GW: Arab Cinema — GWAR version
  • CINE 410 GW: Art and Film — GWAR version

How do the “weekend classes" work?

CINE 324/325/326 classes are one-unit, credit/no-credit (CR/NC) courses. CINE 325 and 326 are open to all majors, and there are no prerequisites. There are no textbooks, but students must come to class prepared to take notes. The courses usually require a short paper (three pages) or a multiple-choice test. Students can register for these classes during the priority enrollment periods. Once the semester starts, students should contact the Cinema office to obtain a permit number.

Each section of these classes takes place over the course of two or three days. Classes are sometimes scheduled in conjunction with local film festivals, and attendance at screenings in local theatres may be required, as well as the purchase of tickets. You must attend each day to receive credit for the class.

Up to four units of CINE 324/325/326 may be counted towards the Cinema B.A., but each course taken must be on a distinct topic. For example, you cannot take the “Focus on Science Fiction” course more than once unless you receive a grade of No Credit (NC).

I want to sign up for a weekend class, but I didn’t do it during priority registration. How can I add?

If there are seats available once classes start, students may obtain a permit number from the Cinema office in Fine Arts 245. Permit adding can occur until the University’s add deadline. Students may not add a weekend class by showing up at the beginning of the class. The School of Cinema will not approve late adds for weekend classes.

I signed up for a weekend class, but now I can’t attend and the drop deadline has passed. What should I do?

These classes are taken for credit/no-credit grading only. If you don’t attend, you will receive a grade of No Credit, which does not impact your grade-point average. Many students ask about petitioning to withdraw instead. We don’t recommend this approach because:

  • A grade of No Credit (NC) does not impact one’s GPA.
  • A Withdrawal grade implies that a student began the class but could not finish it for a serious or compelling reason.
  • University policy penalizes students for accruing too many withdrawals (the maximum is 18 units).

How many credit/no credit units can I count toward the Cinema major?

A maximum of nine CR/NC units in Cinema or cinema-related courses may be counted toward the major.

How many independent study units can I count toward the Cinema major?

Students may count up to 12 total units of independent study and internship courses toward the major. Individual courses have restrictions as follows:

  • CINE 690 (3 units): Production Practice (up to 9 units)
  • CINE 695 (3 units): Independent Critical Studies (up to 9 units)
  • CINE 699 (3 units): Independent Study (3 units only)
  • CINE 376 (1 unit): School of Cinema Internship (up to 9 units) CR/NC only
  • CINE 692 (3 units): Internship (up to 6 units) CR/NC only

I’m confused about the GE policy for Segment III and how it works with my Cinema courses.

The policy has changed. In essence, all nine of your Segment III units may be part of a single, pre-defined cluster and according to a recommended pattern, or they may be chosen from different clusters; however, at least one course in your Segment III group must be both a non-Cinema course and not listed on your graduation application’s approved major program page. In other words, if you have taken a course in the School of Art and want to use it to fulfill your Segment III requirement, you cannot count this course as an elective towards the 45-unit Cinema major. Also, no more than two of your Segment III courses can be Cinema courses (and of course, these must be courses that are approved Segment III courses).

Can I take courses in other departments and count them towards the Cinema major?

Yes, up to 12 upper-division cinema-related units (including CEL academic units) may count as electives or be applied to a student’s area of emphasis, with the approval of a Cinema adviser.

If I have earned credit, before transferring to SF State, for any of the 200-level courses in the core, do these units count toward the 45-unit requirement for the major?


Cinema Minor

How do I obtain a minor in Cinema?

The Cinema minor program does not lead to a credential or degree, but is intended to give students an opportunity to further their interests in cinema in an organized manner. A minimum of 20 units is required, which must include CINE 200, CINE 211 and CINE 212 as well as at least 11 upper-division units. Only Cinema majors are permitted to enroll in CINE 310 and advanced production courses. (Effective Bulletin year 2013-2014)

University Policies

How do I file for an incomplete?

Discuss the matter with your professor. If you both agree that this is the appropriate action to take, your professor will enter the Incomplete grade in Web Grades, and will enter the terms of your Incomplete: what your grade is so far, what work must still be submitted, what your grade will be if you do not complete the work. Students have a year to complete the remaining work required to earn a grade for a course in which they have an Incomplete. Upon completion of the work, the Petition for Grade Change/Makeup of Incomplete should be completed and submitted to the professor.

How do I petition to change a grade?

Discuss the matter with your professor. If you received an Incomplete and have done the required work, be sure to fill out and include the Petition for Grade Change/Makeup of Incomplete when you submit your work to your professor. Once your professor determines that you have fulfilled the course requirements, she or he will submit the petition to the department.

Questions about grades should be directed to the instructor.

How do I withdraw from a class?

The drop deadline occurs two weeks after the semester starts. After this deadline, students must petition for a Withdrawal or receive a non-passing grade for a class if they do not complete the requirements. Generally, withdrawals are permitted only for serious and/or compelling reasons. In the last three weeks of the semester, students must be able to document the reason for their withdrawal.

Obtain the petition for course withdrawal from the Registrar’s website and discuss the option with your professor. If your professor agrees that this is the appropriate action to take, submit the petition with signatures to the Cinema office. Processing a withdrawal usually takes 1 - 2 weeks.

Important: University policy limits the number of permissible Withdrawals. Carefully note deadlines for dropping classes so that you do not accumulate Ws merely because you did not drop a class by the deadline.

Can I add a class after the final deadline to add?

The final deadline to add a class is four weeks into the semester. After this, you must discuss the matter with the instructor. Obtain the petition for Waiver of College Regulations. If the instructor allows you to add the class at this late point, submit the petition with signatures to the Cinema office. Processing a late add usually takes 1 - 2 weeks.

Important: Complete all petitions as thoroughly and accurately as possible before submitting to the Cinema office. Errors and omissions often result in delays, unfortunately.