University Admission Criteria by Country
Review your prospective program's website for department specific admission criteria and deadline.
The general university admission requirements are:
Hold the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor's degree
If you were educated outside of the United States, you must have earned a degree diploma that San Francisco State considers to be the equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. An official determination of eligibility will be made during the application process.
Have the equivalent of a U.S. 3.0 GPA or "B" average
your overall marks, average exam scores or average grade earned should be better than average or better than passing.
English language proficiency
You must demonstrate your English language ability by submitting a TOEFL OR IELTS score that meets our minimum requirement or hold a U.S. Bachelor's or Master's degree. Individuals educated in English speaking countries do not need to provide a TOEFL, IELTS or PTE score.
Prepare application materials in advance before starting the online Cal State Apply application. Application materials vary by program, and may require you to upload:
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation
- Writing Sample
- Test Score Reports
- Program Application Forms
- Other materials that the program is requesting
Your intended graduate program website will provide detailed instructions for each of the application materials required for review.
In addition to any documents required by your program, you are also required to upload legible unofficial copies of transcripts from each college or university attended. Including study abroad coursework, or community college coursework, even if this coursework appears as transfer credit on your degree transcript. Full academic disclosure is required.
Graduate Studies will not accept any of the following submissions:
- Illegible scanned documents
- Photographs of transcripts
- Damaged/Incomplete copies
- Screenshots/screen captures of documents
Please take note of the following when uploading unofficial transcripts:
- Scan transcripts and ensure that your document is readable and saved as a PDF
- Include transcript Key/Legend
- Ensure that the institution name and all other identifying marks are visible and clearly legible
An incomplete academic history will significantly delay review of your application. The Division of Graduate Studies may request official transcripts from you at any point during the application review process. If selected for admission, you will be required to submit official transcripts to the Division of Graduate Studies in order to secure your admission.
Complete the online application for graduate admission and upload your unofficial transcripts and application documents to the Program Materials section of CAL STATE APPLY.
Create your account AND complete your profile:
TIP: Students who will study on a F1/J1 visa must select Non-Resident for U.S. Citizenship Status under your Extended Profile.
Please Note: You will only see a list of programs that aligns with your academic degree objective.
Select the programs to which you want to apply to:
Narrow your program options using the provided filters.
Campus: Select "San Francisco State University"
Location: Select "Main Campus"
Delivery Format: Select "Face-to-Face" (instructions takes place in a traditional classroom)
Start Term: Select "Fall or Spring"
The Online Application is comprised of four sections - Review our TIPS for completing each of these scections:
PERSONAL INFORMATION TIPS:
- Please provide us with some basic information.
- Fields noted as Optional may be skipped.
ACADEMIC HISTORY TIPS:
- We recommend that you select "I Am Not Adding Any College Transcripts" in the transcripts entry field. Please upload copies of your unofficial transcript to the Program Materials section of this application.
- Only use transcript entry to designate current enrollment in a course/semester.
- We recommend that you select "I don't have a GPA to add" in the GPA entry field. The Division of Graduate Studies will calculate your GPA from your unofficial transcripts as part of our review.
SUPPORTING MATERIALS TIPS:
- You may opt out of all supporting materials, unless your intended program instructs you to use these fields. Select "I Am Not Adding Any Experiences" or "I Am Not Adding Any Achievements" in this section of the application.
- In the Statement of Purpose section, indicate "Uploaded to Program Materials Section"
PROGRAM MATERIALS TIPS:
- Prepare these documents for upload in advance of your application submission.
- You may need to resize any scanned PDFs so that you do not exceed the MB limit for each document.
- Use the Evaluations tab to manage submission of letters of recommendation. Letter writer email addresses should be from professional or academic organizations (ex. @sfsu.edu, @CA.gov or @ibm.com), not personal email address.
Need technical assistance? Please call Cal State Apply Student Support (857) 304-2087 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You do not need to show evidence of financial resources to be admitted to graduate study at San Francisco State University. Admission decisions are not based on evidence of financial resources. However, students who cannot provide evidence of financial resources will not be issued an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility. You will use the I-20 Form to obtain an F1 VISA at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country.
The U.S. government requires all schools, including San Francisco State University, to obtain reliable documentation that an international applicant has adequate financial support to meet the expenses of study for I-20 issuance.
Evidence of financial resources may come from a variety of sources such as: scholarships, fellowships, sponsoring agencies, personal or family funds or an individual sponsor. Documentation of scholarships and fellowships should be in the form of an award letter from the sponsoring agency/organization. Documentation of personal or family funds should be on bank letterhead stationary.
Proof of Finances and Medical
San Francisco State University's Financial Affidavit estimates the cost of 2 semesters (9 months) of study as a full time student. You and your sponsor should complete the Financial Affidavit and submit it to our office with documentation from your financial institution.
We recommend that newly admitted students obtain duplicate copies of their financial documents. Be prepared to present your evidence of financial resources to a U.S. consulate or embassy official at the time of your VISA interview.
The Division of Graduate Studies at San Francisco State University requires all applicants to submit official academic documents from all higher education institutions ever attended. An official academic document is a verification of your academic record issued directly from the university. Your academic record (transcript) and degree certificate must arrive in our office in a sealed/unopened envelope with a university stamp or signature on the envelope flap. Please note: we do not consider transcripts that have been notarized to be official. To be considered official, the transcripts must be university issued.
"Original" and "official" documents are not the same. An "official" document is a document that has been issued by, authenticated by or attested to be a true copy of the original by the awarding university (sealed in unopened university envelope). If your school issued only one original transcript, graduation certificate and Bachelor's degree certificate, you should send photocopies of your original academic documents to your university and ask that they attest or verify the copies to be true copies of the original. Ask your university to place these attested copies in a sealed envelope with a school stamp across the envelope flap. We will only consider academic documents to be official that have been attested by the University that awarded your degree.
Full Academic Disclosure
All graduate and post-baccalaureate applicants must furnish the Division of Graduate Studies with one official transcript from each college or university attended, including community college and study abroad coursework. Separate transcripts from each college or university are required even though one transcript may show work taken at another institution. Transcripts are not required for coursework completed at SF State. Students must check the academic department/program information to determine if official transcripts must also be sent directly to the department. Official transcripts must be submitted in envelopes sealed by the issuing college or university.
Accurate and Authentic Application Documents
Applicants must supply complete and accurate information on all application materials for admission, residence questionnaire, and financial aid forms. Failure to file complete, accurate, and authentic application documents may result in denial of admission, cancellation of academic credit, suspension, or expulsion (Section 41301, Article 1.1, Title 5, California Code of Regulations). Admissions personnel have the right to verify all documents and statements made in documents submitted by students as part of the application process.
If your former institution does not issue transcripts in English, we will require an English translation to be submitted along with your official academic record. You may need to plan ahead and request duplicate sealed documents from your university, one official academic record for the translator and one official academic record for the Division of Graduate Studies. We accept English translations from the issuing university, an Embassy or Consulate or a certified translator. English translations should be literal word for word translations and mirror the original document.
NOTE: In some instances, we may acccept unofficial academic records in order to make an admission decision. All admitted applicants must submit a final official academic record to the Division of Graduate Studies upon matriculation.
Transcripts which have been submitted for admission or evaluation become the property of the University and are not returned or copied for distribution.
All graduate study applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency. To demonstrate your English language ability, you should submit an official Test of English as a Foreign Language(TOEFL), International English Language testing System(IELTS), or Pearson Test of English(PTE) Academic score report to the Division of Graduate Studies. If you earned a U.S. Bachelor's or Master's degree, the English language testing requirement will be waived.
The Division of Graduate Studies minimum TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE Academic scores are:
- 550 Total score on the paper based test
- 80 Overall score on the internet based test (iBT TOEFL)
- Overall band score of 7.0
PTE Academic (http://pearsonpte.com)
- Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic overall score of 65.
TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE Academic scores should be sent to San Francisco State University directly by the testing service. Please note that TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE Academic scores are only valid for two years after the test date. Expired scores will not be considered. TOEFL score reports should be sent to SFSU directly by ETS (Institution Code: 4683).
IELTS score reports should be mailed by the exam center to:
International Graduate Admissions
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, ADM 250
San Francisco, CA 94132
For the PTE Academic test, when ordering test score reports, select San Francisco State University as an official test score recipient from the PTE database of institutions and programs that recognize the PTE.
Note: Some graduate programs require higher English language testing scores than the Division of Graduate Studies. Some graduate programs do not accept the IELTS or PTE Academic test in place of the TOEFL test. We recommend that you review your intended program's website for additional admission criteria.
The Division of Graduate Studies does not offer conditional admission to students who do not meet the minimum English language proficiency requirement. For students who do not meet the English language requirement at this time, we recommend you enroll in the American Language Institute (ALI) right here on campus and apply to graduate study when you do meet the English language requirement. Visit the American Language Institute (ALI) website for more information.
Graduate Admission Application Timeline
Once you submit all required admission documents (transcripts, etc.) to the Division of Graduate Studies, we determine if you meet the minimum university requirements for admission.
If minimum university requirements are met, we will forward our review to the Graduate Program. Graduate Program admission committees select the best qualified applicants. This process may take considerable time. The Graduate Program will review all application materials submitted directly to program admission committees will notify the San Francisco State Graduate Admissions office of their admission recommendations.
Applicants are then formally notified of their admission status by the Division of Graduate Studies. Letters of admission from the department or program received prior to the official San Francisco State Admission Notification Letter are not valid.
General Timeline: Based on average turnaround time and the completing application deadline.
- Application period opens. Start of Spring applications is August 1. Start of Fall applications is October 1.
- Applicants submit their online application and supporting documents by the deadline.
- Once an applicant completes their application, Graduate Admissions evaluates eligibility. This can take on average two weeks.
- For eligible applicants, Graduate Admissions sends our evaluation to the academic department for a final admissions determination.This can take between four to six weeks.
- Academic departments notify Graduate Admissions of admission recommendations. Graduate Admissions will send a formal notice. This can take two to five days.
- Applicants will receive formal admission decision by mail and online. The letter should reach the applicant within three to five days.
- Admitted students must go online to accept the admission offer.
- Newly admitted students will be able to register for classes during the enrollment period.
Admission to a graduate program at SF State is a two-part process:
• Submit an on-line admission application on Cal State Apply.
• Submit official transcripts, mark sheets and degree certificates, TOEFL/IELTS scores, and SEVIS documents (including bank statements) to the Division of Graduate Studies
Step two: Apply to Department or Program
• Submit official transcripts, mark sheets and degree certificates, statement of purpose, GRE/GMAT scores (if applicable) directly to the department
• For graduate program deadlines and departmental admission requirements, visit the Graduate Program Deadline page.
All international applicants, resident aliens and U.S. citizens whose secondary education and undergraduate degrees were taught in any language other than English must submit a TOEFL or IELTS exam score that meets the Division of Graduate Studies minimum requirements.
You do not have to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score if you earned a Bachelor's degree from any of the following countries: Australia, Botswana, Canada, Commonwealth Caribbean, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Pacific Trust Territories, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States
TOEFL score requirement:
- Internet based test: 80
- Paper based test: 550
IELTS score requirement:
- Overall band of 7.0
PTE Academic Score Requirement:
- Overall score of 65
*Please note that some departments may require higher TOEFL scores and some departments do not accept the IELTS exam*
To register and locate a testing center for the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE exam, you need to go refer to the following websites:
If you have earned a U.S. Bachelor's or Master's degree, you do not have to submit a TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic score. Students who demonstrate exceptional English language ability may petition the Division of Graduate Studies to waive this requirement. To be considered, a petition must have support from your prospective department/major and must demonstrate English language proficiency. Supporting documentation of your English language ability must be submitted with the petition. Not all petitions are approved.
No. The Division of Graduate Studies does not offer conditional admission for students who do not meet the minimum English language proficiency requirement. If you do not meet the English language proficiency requirement, we encourage you to enroll in English language courses at the SF State American Language Institute website prior to submission of a graduate admission application.
We do not consider "original" copies to be official copies. Please send photocopies of your original academic documents to your former university and ask that they stamp the documents with a university seal attesting to its authenticity. Ask that they seal the document in a university envelope and stamp the envelope. These attested documents must arrive in our office in a sealed (unopened) envelope.
After students have received confirmation that their graduate degree has been awarded, students may request a final transcript showing the degree conferred from the Registrar's Office (415) 338-2079 or online with the Official Transcript Request form.
The Division of Graduate Studies can evaluate your graduate admission application using photocopies (unofficial) of your original transcripts and degree certificate, but you will be required to submit official transcripts by the fourth week of your first semester or you will not be allowed to register for future terms. To be considered official, your academic documents must be university issued or universities attested and arrive in our office in a signed and sealed envelope.
Refer to the University admission Criteria by Country page.
SF State will not return any documents submitted by a student. For this reason, do not submit your only copy of original academic documents. If you have only one copy of your academic documents please follow the steps listed in question eight.
You must submit official transcripts, degree certificates, TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic score report by the fourth week of your first semester or you will not be allowed to register for future terms.
For information on tuition and fee payment schedules please visit the Fiscal Affairs website.
No. Only students who intend to study at SF State with an F1 visa need to submit evidence of financial resources and our SEVIS information form found in the Financial Affidavit.
Show your current F-1 student adviser a copy of your formal SF State admission letter and ask them to transfer your SEVIS record to SF State. Once your SEVIS record has been transferred to SF State, advisers in the Office of International Programs will prepare a transfer I-20 for you.
No. SF State does not allow newly admitted students to defer their admission to a future term. You must enroll for the term you were admitted or reapply for a future semester. The Division of Graduate Studies will keep all admission documents previously submitted for up to one year if you wish to reapply to a future semester.
Some departments may offer scholarships/fellowships. Please check with your prospective department to find out about these opportunities. Visit the Financial Assistance page to identify possible scholarship opportunities.
You do not need to make an appointment to speak to an International Admissions advisor.