American Institutions: US & California Government

Course Expectations for US and California Government (3 units)

To be certified by the Baccalaureate Requirements Committee as meeting the US and California Government requirement,


1.  The course must be lower division and open to all students. Courses that are numbered between 100 and 199 may not have prerequisites. Courses that are numbered between 200 and 299 may have a single prerequisite, but departments and programs must provide an adequate justification for that prerequisite. Typically, students should be eligible to enroll in lower division general education courses in their first year.


2.  As mandated by CSU Executive Order 405, the US and California Government component of the American Institutions requirement may be met either by examination (AP, CLEP, or San Francisco State University competency exam) or by taking a course meeting the following content requirements and their corresponding student learning outcomes. All courses approved for the US and California Government requirement must cover:

  • the political philosophies of the framers of the Constitution and the nature and operation of United States political institutions and processes under that Constitution as amended and interpreted;
  • basic concepts in political theory such as power and influence; political structure and process; government, its legitimacy and authority; and their application to understanding the US system, particularly the roles of law and the Constitution and the relationship between the two;
  • the rights and obligations of citizens established under the Constitution, in the context of basic American values and ideals, including freedom and self-reliance; equality; social fairness; democracy, including issues of participation and minority rights;
  • the constitution of the State of California within the framework of evolution of Federal-State relations and the nature and processes of State and local government under that Constitution; and
  • contemporary relationships of State and local government, the resolution of conflicts and the establishment of cooperative processes under the constitutions of both the State and Nation, and the political processes involved.


3.  The course syllabus must list the university-approved student learning outcomes for US and CA Government and link them to activities and/or assignments that students complete to demonstrate they have met the outcomes.


Student Learning Outcomes for US and CA Government (3 units)

After completion of a course in US and CA Government, students will be able to:


  1. understand US and California political institutions and practices, including governmental structures and federal and state constitutions, and their history and development;

  2. evaluate information from a variety of sources and use this information to formulate well- reasoned responses to major issues of governance as they affect the US and California;

  3. appreciate the contributions of diverse peoples and cultures to our political processes and a constitutional system which protects minority rights; be able to engage in informed, civil discourse with persons different from themselves in intellectual and cultural outlook;

  4. identify the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, including the importance of participation in the political process, and other ethical issues that arise in relation to US and California political institutions and practices;

  5. situate US and California political institutions and practices in the local and/or global cultural, historical, and sociopolitical contexts in which they occur within and beyond the US; and

  6. articulate the relevance of US and California political institutions and practices to their own lives.


Links between Educational Goals and Outcomes for US and CA Government

The student learning outcomes were developed in relationship to the “Educational Goals for the Baccalaureate at San Francisco State University.” The chart below illustrates that relationship for US and CA government. The numbers correspond to the way the educational goals and student learning outcomes are numbered above.


Links Between Educational Goals and Learning Outcomes

Educational Goals

Student Learning Outcomes for US and CA government

1. Competencies for Lifelong Intellectual Endeavor


2. Intellectual Attainments


3. Appreciation of Diversity


4. Ethical Engagement


5. Integration and Application of Knowledge

5, 6