Financing Your Degree

The Department of Philosophy at SF State values our university’s role as a public institution and we are dedicated to providing a philosophical education to all those who desire and are qualified to receive it. Consequently, while we do not currently offer tuition remission specifically, there are multiple ways that students can mitigate the already relatively low cost of attendance.

As a quick overview of funding opportunities:  For in-state residents State University Grants cover almost all of tuition. Out-of-state applicants can apply for the Provost Scholar Award, which reduces tuition to the (very low) in-state level. All students may apply for additional funding in the form of Philosophy Graduate Student Tuition Scholarships, Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarships, positions as Teaching Assistants or Teaching Associates, as well as other university-, system- and state-wide awards.

Please see these sections below for further details:

  1. Financial Aid
  2. Scholarships and Fellowships
  3. Teaching Opportunities
  4. California Residency and Housing

Philosophy Graduate Student Tuition Scholarships

Thanks to a generous six-figure bequest from a former SF State M.A degree holder who went on to earn his doctorate, the SF State Department of Philosophy has a scholarship program for students entering the M.A. program known as the Philosophy Graduate Student Tuition Scholarship. These scholarships may be matched with Graduate Teaching Associate Fellowships. 

1. Financial Aid

Students seeking the maximum in financial aid for Fall entry should submit a FAFSA by the end of February, even if they have not yet applied to the Philosophy M.A. program.

Students are often surprised to find how much assistance they are eligible for from the state and federal government. For example, State University Grants (SUGs) provide gift aid that covers almost the entire cost of tuition and fees to classified graduate California residents (see below).

Filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is free and relatively painless, so we strongly encourage prospective students to file a FAFSA as early as possible (even if you haven’t yet decided whether or not to apply!). Visit the FAFSA government website to get started.

Another reason to get started on your FAFSA early is to avoid running up against important federal and state deadlines.

Our school code is:  001154

The university has put together a helpful guide to financial aid.

Great News!!! 2/11/19 We are pleased to announce that the Department of Philosophy at SFSU is now part of the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which enables students in 16 Western states and territories to enroll in participating public graduate programs as nonresidents, yet pay the lower resident tuition rate.
These states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
2. Scholarships, Fellowships, Awards, Etc.

[Consult the University Scholarship page for a complete list]

Philosophy Graduate Student Tuition Scholarships



Application for academic year 2019-2020

The application period for next year's scholarship is now open! We will award scholarships during two rounds: a first round for early applications, and a second round for later applications (see below for dates). While applicants can apply through the end of the second round, we encourage interested students to submit their scholarship application by the first round deadline so that they will be notified of their award status by Mid-February, versus Mid-June notifications for the second round.

The entire application process is administered online, through SF State Academic Works. No hard-copies of any document will be needed. Please start at the "Sign In" button and create your generic profile. Search for the "Philosophy Graduate Tuition Scholarship" and begin applying.


$2000 ($1000 at the beginning of Fall 2019, and $1000 at the beginning of Spring 2020 if the scholarship is maintained).


  • Open to residents and non-residents
  • Limited to incoming students and students in their first semester in the M.A. program
  • To maintain the scholarship, the student will have to complete the fall semester after the award (Fall 2018) with a GPA of at least 3.3. and must be enrolled in at least seven units for both semesters of the award year.

Material required for the application:

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Unofficial transcripts from the student's prior degree program(s)
  • Writing sample (this can be a paper from a class)
  • Statement of purpose (no more than two pages) explaining your motivation for studying philosophy and your plans for further study. The statement should also include an explanation of why the scholarship would be useful, and additional information that you think would be helpful in evaluating your application.


  • GPA at least 3.3 in student’s prior program (and in Fall '18 in order to maintain the scholarship)
  • Enrollment in at least nine units in Fall 2018 (and in Spring '19 in order to maintain the scholarship)

Deadlines for submitting the application:

  • First-Round Deadline: March 1, 2019
  • Second Round Deadline: April 15, 2019

Jason Louis Zarri Memorial Scholarship



The Jason Louis Zarri Memorial Scholarship is now open for applications! This scholarship is supported by donations from the family of Jason Zarri, former graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at San Francisco State, and other contributions in Jason's honor.

View Jason's Obituary and Remembrances.

The entire application process is administered online, through SF State Academic Works. No hard copies of any document are required.

Amount: $1,000

Requirements and Criteria:

  • Submit a one-page statement of purpose that includes evidence of interest in Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysics, Ethics, Logic or a combination of these.
  • Evidence of financial need, which may include but is not limited to FAFSA information (FAFSA is not currently required).
  • Unofficial transcripts from your degree program(s).
  • Willingness to attend a luncheon with the Zarri family upon award of scholarship.
  • This scholarship is open to all Philosophy graduate students.
  • Must be enrolled in a minimum of four units in Fall 2019 to receive the disbursement.
  • GPA must be at least a 3.0

Deadline: April 15, 2019


California Pre-Doctoral Program (Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars)



The California Pre-Doctoral Program is designed to increase the pool of potential faculty by supporting the doctoral aspirations of CSU students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages. Announcements and application forms are circulated early each spring. Students are selected by a committee of faculty from the California State University and the University of California. This is a one-time award. Current or former pre-doctoral scholars are not eligible to reapply.

Provost Scholar Award



The Provost Scholar Award provides selected domestic, non-resident students with an out-of-state tuition waiver for one year. Please let us know if you are a domestic non-resident applicant and wish to be considered for the Provost Scholar Award. Awards are granted based an academic excellence, standardized test scores (if required for department admission), department-required essay or statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. Forward all information required by the department to the department for review. Awardees will be notified of the award by the Division of Graduate Studies.

The SF State University Scholarship



The San Francisco State University Scholarship is available to continuing SF State students on a competitive basis in recognition of academic excellence, community involvement and financial need. Students must demonstrate financial need as determined by the SF State Office of Student Financial Aid, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or graduate GPA of 3.5. The application requires a personal statement. To apply, use the University Scholarship Application Form (pdf).

Graduate Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards

The purpose of San Francisco State University's Graduate Equity Fellowship program is to increase diversity by encouraging students with educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds and outstanding academic records to pursue and complete master's and doctoral degrees. The fellowship is only available to students admitted to a SFSU master's or doctoral degree program. Credential-only and certificate students are not eligible.

Graduate Student Award for Distinguished Achievement



The San Francisco State University Graduate Student Award for Distinguished Achievement is conferred on students who have earned a distinguished record of academic performance and contribution in the major field. Nomination for the award is based on criteria that are specified by the faculty in the respective graduate major subject areas. Academic achievement, contribution to the profession or discipline, to the department, college or university, or to the community are examples of student achievement that may be taken into consideration. In the Department of Philosophy, the graduate faculty chooses nominees for the award from departmental recommendations based on the top six GPA earners to the committee. One or two of the top nominees are then sent to the College of Humanities. The award is ultimately determined by the College Graduate Advising Committee (i.e., all of the graduate coordinators).

Other Fellowships and Awards



The SF State Fellowships Office keeps an extensive list of National and CSU fellowships and scholarships, many of which could be of interest to graduate students.

Financial Assistance Links



3. Teaching Opportunities

There are three types of teaching opportunities available to graduate students in the Department of Philosophy:

  • Projects in Teaching Philosophy (PHIL 717): in which students receive course credit for assisting faculty in large lecture classes,
  • Instructional Student Assistant (ISA) Positions: in which students assist professors for remuneration,
  • Graduate Teaching Associateships (GTAs): in which students teach their own courses. GTAs usually teach PHIL 110: Intro to Critical Thinking, however, advanced GTAs may be assigned sections of PHIL 101: Introduction to Philosophy, PHIL 105: Introduction to Philosophy and Religion, PHIL 130: Social and Political Philosophy, or PHIL: 160, Introduction to Philosophy of Art. In assigning these courses, we strongly prefer GTAs who have assisted a faculty member with the course (or something similar) and who have related research interests.

Students who are interested in assisting faculty for credit or remuneration should contact the professor with whom they wish to work and submit an application (for a paid position) online. Those interested in GTAs positions should fill out an application at the same address and submit it by the department deadline. The deadline usually occurs about a month before the end of the semester.

4. California Residency and Housing

California Residency

Even as an out-of-state resident, the cost of tuition at San Francisco State is comparatively very low. Becoming a resident of California for tuition purposes substantially lowers even this cost. The Office of Graduate Studies has a FAQ about obtaining residency.


The cost of housing in San Francisco can be intimidating to some students, but there are a number of ways to mitigate these costs. For example, SF State makes on-campus housing available to many students and provides resources for finding affordable off-campus housing. Visit the main housing webpage for more information. The earlier you apply for on-campus housing the better! Finally, for those students planning to begin attending in the fall semester, the graduate coordinator overseeing admissions will put incoming philosophy graduate students seeking roommates in touch with one another via email.