Bachelor of Arts in Cinema


Program Description

Program Scope

The Cinema Department was founded amid the political activism and artistic experimentation of the 1960s. In 2014, the department became the School of Cinema. Today, in an era of new technologies and new opportunities, the School continues to encourage and celebrate cinematic expressions that challenge social and artistic norms. Cinema faculty are committed to providing students with a liberal arts education focused on three intertwined values: creative expression, critical thinking, and social engagement.

Students in the Bachelor of Arts in Cinema program complete introductory courses in cinema history, theory, and production. They proceed to advanced classes across the field of cinema, including the option to focus part of their studies through one of our undergraduate emphases: animation, experimental film, documentary filmmaking, fiction filmmaking, media and culture, and screenwriting. Students may also combine courses from several emphases in their major program. All emphases lead to a B.A. in Cinema.


At the time of admission to the University, all students may elect to be cinema majors. No special permission, application or portfolio is required. Before advancing to courses in the 300-level or higher, however, all majors must:

Complete the core courses with a grade of C or higher (CINE 200, CINE 202, CINE 204, CINE 211, and CINE 212, or equivalent courses). Complete the lower division General Education requirements at SF State or the equivalent at another institution.

Description of the Program

The School of Cinema is committed to a program of cinema studies and production as a common enterprise. For this reason, the 200-level core courses and the 300-level foundation courses are necessary prerequisites to advanced work in the major, including the emphases. Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) courses in cinema are an exception; if the necessary prerequisites have been completed, GWAR courses may be taken concurrently with core or foundation courses, provided the student is an upper-division cinema major. The School of Cinema enforces the completion of the core courses before enrollment in all other courses.

Students should be aware that filmmaking is time-consuming and expensive. Although course requirements seldom demand it, students often spend considerable sums of money on their film projects. Production courses require hands-on practice and experience; this necessarily limits the number of students enrolled in such courses.


School of Cinema facilities include a 150-seat screening theatre, a 2500 square-foot shooting stage, editing and post-production areas for both sprocket and digital media, sound recording and mixing studios with digital editing workstations, including a Foley stage. The School also houses an animation studio with film and computer workstations, three high-end computer labs, a media library, the Bill Nichols Reading Room, and the Cinema Studies Center.

Career Outlook

Graduates of the program often work as independent film producers or as professionals throughout the film and media industries—as producers, directors, creative executives, cinematographers, editors, sound recordists and mixers, animators, and multimedia artists. Many B.A. graduates continue to advanced studies in animation, filmmaking, media and culture, or screenwriting.

Last updated Feb 2018

About the School

San Francisco State University is one of the nation's leading public urban universities. Promoting respect for scholarship, freedom, and human diversity, the University's faculty and administration en ... Read More

San Francisco State University is one of the nation's leading public urban universities. Promoting respect for scholarship, freedom, and human diversity, the University's faculty and administration encourage students to ignore traditional barriers. Here students learn by helping people solve real-life problems, take part in research projects with senior faculty, collaborate with classmates, and explore future personal horizons and career pathways. Read less
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