SF Scholars in Philosophy

The Philosophy Department offers the opportunity for undergraduate students to become SF State Scholars.

Once accepted into the program, SF State Scholars receive additional advising and take graduate courses such that they seamlessly transition into the M.A. program. No GRE or M.A. application is needed. Entry into the M.A. program at San Francisco State presents the student with attractive opportunities, such as the Certificate in Ethical Artifical Intelligence, student teaching opportunities, scholarship opportunities, and much more. Note also that students who are receiving as undergraduates the Pell Grant for their tuition often receive as graduate students the State University Grant (SUG) for their tuition. 

SF Scholars Chart from Graduate Studies


  • If you have a GPA above 3.0, you can apply to the SF State Scholars Program as early as the end of your freshman year (most students apply when they have taken between 30 and 105 units).
  • The application for the SF Scholars program is here. When completing the application, you are required to request the "Planned Course of Study" form (an excel sheet) from the SF Scholars advisor. Submit the excel sheet instead of the table on pages 2 and 3 of your application. Also submit your unofficial transcripts from each college and university you have attended (including those from SFSU). 
  • When filling out the Planned Course of Study, take a look at the following the Roadmap for Philosophy (PDF) so that you can better understand one basic way in which you can move through the program. Note that no one’s Planned Course of Study will look exactly like this or like anyone else’s.
  • Note also that when filling out your Planned Course of Study, you should plan first to take the core requirements for the B.A. Major in Philosophy, starting with the 100-400 level courses.
  • Consult the relevant "Program Study Guide" for your BA in Philosophy or Philosophy and Religion so that you can see which classes are needed for your major: https://philosophy.sfsu.edu/undergraduate-program
  • Plan to use Winter and Summer sessions to do GE requirements, as these are sessions in which few if any philosophy courses are offered.  
  • Note: you will need to achieve B or higher grades in a critical mass of specific coursework before doing graduate-level seminars, so we advise you to prioritize taking the classes listed below before taking other electives.
  • Applications are due to the Department of Philosophy the first Friday of November (for Spring admissions) and the first Friday of April (for Fall admissions). Submit your application to grdphl@sfsu.edu or hand it in to the office staff in HUM 388. Due to Covid-19, the application window in Spring 2020 is extended until Thursday, May 21, 2020.
  • Applications will be signed after they are approved (that is, they do not need to be signed by an adviser to be submitted).

Application Checklist

  • Completed application (does not need adviser signature)
  • Planned Course of Study (excel sheet)
  • Informal transcripts from each college/university you have attended

Coursework to complete before taking graduate level courses:

  1. Logic (must be equivalent to PHIL 205)
  2. Ancient Philosophy (PHIL 301)
  3. Modern Philosophy (PHIL 303)
  4. Ethics (PHIL 450)
  5. One course in Metaphysics and Epistemology (broadly construed):
  • Philosophy of Science (PHIL 350)
  • Metaphysics (PHIL 605)
  • Theory of Knowledge (PHIL 610)
  • Philosophy of Perception (PHIL 611)
  • Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 620)
  • Philosophy of Language (PHIL 630)
Once you start taking graduate-level seminars, we advise you to reduce your course load, because you will be doing more intense philosophical work. A general rule is that for students taking all graduate-level courses (and who are also working 20 hours a week), we advise that they do at most three “things” at SF State. Candidates for “things” are both graduate-level classes and 3-unit teaching obligations. The reason we suggest this workload is because so often students who get Bs in their graduate seminars do so because they are not putting enough time toward their studies. We want our students rested up so that they can think abstractly. (And students need to be achieving all As and A-s in order to get into top Ph.D. and J.D. programs). The hardest thing about following this advice is picking which three “things” to do in a given semester when there are so many amazing options.
Once you are accepted to the program and have completed a critical mass of your undergraduate coursework and a critical mass of the five courses listed above, you can soon take your first seminar, which should be PHIL 715 – Seminar in Philosophical Writing (though it can be another seminar with the approval of the instructor). You should not do more than one graduate-level seminar or coursework before you complete PHIL 715.