The University grants baccalaureates for the successful completion of a coherent course of study at the University and the maintenance of appropriate levels of scholarship. The requirements that follow specify certain course work, unit distributions, and levels of scholarship that the California State University and the faculty of Sonoma State University have determined provide an appropriate educational framework for all students pursuing a baccalaureate. These requirements, however, provide only a framework. It is critical that each student consult regularly with an academic advisor. Students who have declared a major are assigned an academic advisor in the department of their major.
Students who have not yet declared a major are assigned advisors through the Advising Center, Salazar 1070, (707) 664-2427. Students are eligible for graduation when they are in good standing and have fulfilled the following requirements:
The determination that students have achieved appropriate proficiency in any and all parts of the curriculum to warrant the granting of a degree is the responsibility of the faculty. A favorable vote of the faculty acting through the academic senate is required for the granting of any degree.
Completion of a General Education Program
The effectiveness of an education in the liberal arts and sciences is critically dependent upon the broad foundation of studies called general education. Through a program of general education, students learn a variety of basic skills and modes of disciplinary inquiry. General education courses are not simply the preliminary and introductory studies of the various disciplines; rather, they provide the necessary context for the more specific study in the major and for the selection of appropriate electives. Completion of one of Sonoma State University’s general education programs also ensures completion of graduation requirements in U.S. History, Constitution, and American Ideals (American Institution requirements).
Completion of a Major
Through a concentration of studies in a particular major, students focus in depth upon a particular set of disciplines or subject areas. Because major programs vary considerably in their requirements, students should consult with faculty advisors early in their academic programs. Students may declare a major at any time, but are required to do so by the time they have earned 60 units. Descriptions of the majors are found with the department listing in the University Curricula section of this catalog.
Completion of the Written English Proficiency Requirement
All students of the California State University system must demonstrate competency in writing as a requirement for graduation. At Sonoma State University, students complete this requirement by passing the Written English Proficiency Test (WEPT) or by completing a writing intensive course (WIC) with a C or better. All students taking the WEPT are required to do so in their junior year and cannot take it earlier. To sign up for the WEPT, students must pay the exam fee at the Seawolf Services Center and then register at the Writing Center. Exam dates are posted at the Writing Center and on the Writing Center’s Website. Students who have difficulty passing the WEPT are advised to seek assistance through the WEPT workshops provided by the Writing Center. The Center offers two workshop series per term. Students who have failed the WEPT and feel they would benefit from additional formal instruction in writing may elect to enroll in ENGL 275, a course specifically designed to help students develop skills necessary to pass the WEPT. Students who have questions about the WEPT should contact the WEPT coordinator at (707) 664-2058.
Maintenance of Scholarship
A grade point average of C (2.00) or better is required in work undertaken in residence at Sonoma State University, as well as in the student’s total undergraduate work and in the major field. The C average for the major includes all classes listed on the Major Requirements form, except that supporting courses, while required for some majors, are not included in the major grade point average.
- Unit Requirements and Limitations
- Total Units: A minimum of 120 semester units is required for graduation (some majors require up to 132 semester units for graduation);
- Upper-Division Units: Forty units must be upper-division work (300-499 courses), including a minimum of 12 units in the major for the B.A. degree or 18 units in the major for the B.S. degree;
- Residence Units: Thirty units must be completed in residence at Sonoma State University, including 24 upper-division units and 12 units in the major. The B.F.A. in Art requires 24 upper-division units in Art in residence. Note: Units earned in Extension, Open University, Visitor status Sonoma, nonbaccalaureate- level courses, and through credit by examination may not be applied to residence requirements; and
- Credit/No Credit Grades. A maximum of 24 units of courses with nontraditional grades may be elected. Students completing the Hutchins School interdisciplinary general education lower-division program may exceed this minimum by 24 units. Courses fulfilling major and minor requirements must be graded A-F, except for courses not available in the A-F mode.
- The following requirements and limitations governing course credit units must be observed:
Other maximum limits of semester units to be applied toward degree requirements are:
|Correspondence and Extension Studies
|Community Involvement Project 295/395
|Special Studies 495
*see page (415): Catalog Year requirement
|Student-Instructed Courses 199/399
|Community College transfer credit
|Credit by Examination
|Faculty-Evaluated Prior Learning
Note: Students who have been separated from the University for a substantial amount of time may need to have their previous coursework re-verified by the Department Chair of the major. General Education work may need to be re-verified by the GE subcommittee. Any work found to be expired will convert to Elective Credit. New, additional coursework may be required to complete the degree. Students must meet all of the requirements in place for the current catalog year for the major, minor and/or General Education. Students can fill out an Application for Graduation along with a Matriculation Form and meet with their advisor prior to submitting paperwork to the office of Admissions and Records.
A minor is not required for graduation. Many departments, however, offer programs leading to a minor, and students are encouraged to consider pursuing a minor that complements their major. Minor programs ordinarily consist of approximately 16-20 units, 6 of which must be upper division, and require maintenance of a C (2.00) average in minor coursework. Faculty advisors in the department offering the minor will assist students in selecting appropriate courses. Coursework in the minor must be completed by the degree date. The minor appears on the student’s official transcripts but not on the diploma.
To complete the minimum of 120 semester units required for graduation after fulfillment of general education, statutory, and major requirements, students may choose from a broad spectrum of courses to broaden their education, deepen understanding of their specialties, pursue work in related fields, and satisfy their curiosity and enthusiasm regarding particular areas of interest.
It is sometimes possible for a student to complete the requirements for more than one major within 120-140 units. If you complete requirements for two bachelor degrees, both will appear on your diploma and transcripts. Students who wish to complete requirements for a second major should consult with a faculty advisor early in their academic program.
Second Bachelor’s Degree
To earn a second baccalaureate at Sonoma State University, students must fulfill the requirements of the major, and demonstrate competence in English composition by passing the Written English Proficiency Test. Second baccalaureate candidates must complete 30 units of residence credit at Sonoma State University and should consult with their faculty advisors regarding the portion of those 30 units that must be earned in upper-division courses (minimum 24 for residency). Note: Units earned in Extension, Open University, and Visitor status, and through credit-by-examination may not be applied to residence requirements.
Second baccalaureate students may carry only one major and are not eligible for second majors or minors. Students are also eligible for honors if they meet the regular requirements for honors, which is 45 units of letter graded classes taken in residence.
Awarding of Degrees
Degrees are awarded three times a year in December, May, and August. Candidates for graduation should file an “Application for Award of Degree” form with Admissions and Records one to two semesters before the anticipated semester graduation. This will enable the student and advisor to determine remaining requirements and any deficiencies to be completed. You must meet all degree requirements by the date of graduation to a future date by filing a “change in Graduation Information” form. If you do not graduate within two terms of your initial filing, you will need to reapply for graduation in addition to any other paperwork required. Students can only apply to graduate in current majors/minors your were in previously has been expired, you cannot graduate under it. Diplomas are mailed 6-8 weeks after the award of degree.
Honors at Graduation
The University awards two types of honors to students at graduation: degree honors and department honors.
Criteria used to determine honors at graduation are those in effect as of the date of graduation. Students graduating with the baccalaureate earn degree honors by meeting the following criteria:
- Completion at Sonoma State University of a minimum of 45 letter-graded semester units in residence; and
- Attainment of cumulative grade point averages as indicated below:
Degree Honor Designation
Summa Cum Laude - is awarded to those students achieving a cumulative grade point average in all university and college work and a cumulative grade point average in all work undertaken at SSU of not less than 3.90.
Magna Cum Laude - is awarded to those students achieving cumulative grade point average in all university and college work and a cumulative grade point average in all work undertaken at SSU of not less than 3.75.
Cum Laude - is awarded to those students achieving a cumulative grade point average in all university and college work and a cumulative grade point average in all work undertaken at SSU of no less than 3.50.
Degree honors are noted on the student’s transcript and on the diploma.
- Department Honors
Students graduating with the baccalaureate who are judged by their departments to have made outstanding contributions to their disciplines graduate “with distinction.” Check with your major department to learn if they offer departmental honors. Departmental honors are noted on the student’s transcript and on the diploma.
If you have completed an approved certificate, it will be listed on your official transcript once your degree is posted.
General Education Program
General Education (GE) at Sonoma State University investigates the complexity of human experience in a diverse natural and social world, and promotes informed and ethical participation as citizens of the world.
To achieve this mission, in concert with the specific needs of various GE Areas of Study, the GE program asserts the following fundamental goals for all GE approved classes:
- Teach students to think independently, ethically, critically, and creatively;
- Teach students to communicate clearly to many audiences;
- Teach students to gain an understanding of connections between the past and the present, and to look to the future;
- ITeach students to appreciate intellectual, scientific, and artistic accomplishment; and
- Teach and/or build upon reading, writing, research, and critical thinking skills.
- Acquire a foundation of intellectual skills and capacities
- Develop intellectual curiosity (Supports Goals I, II, III, IV, and V);
- Develop research skills (I, III, IV, V);
- Write and speak effectively to various audiences (I, II, V);
- Evaluate everyday experiences critically (I, III, IV, V);
- Develop capacity to reason quantitatively (I, IV, V);
- Work collaboratively to achieve defined goals and objectives (I, II, V);
- Develop skill in the use of information technology (I, II, V);
- Imagine, design, and execute scholarly and creative projects (I, II, IV, V); and
- Translate problems into common language (I, II, V).
- Develop social and global knowledge
- Understand and appreciate human diversity and multicultural perspectives (I, II, III, IV, V);
- Prepare for active engagement in the community (I, II, III, V);
- Understand and be sensitive to the global environment (I, II, III, IV, V);
- Understand social justice issues (I, III, IV, V); and
- Engage with challenging moral and ethical human dilemmas (I, II, III, IV, V).
- Understand and use multiple methods of inquiry and approaches to knowledge
- Understand and appreciate mathematics and science (I, II, III, IV, V);
- Understand and appreciate fine and performing arts (I, II, III, IV, V);
- Understand and appreciate historical and social phenomena (I, II, III, IV, V); and
- Recognize and use perspectives of diverse disciplines (I, II, III, IV, V).
- Develop capacities for integration and lifelong learning
- Evaluate alternative career choices (I, III, IV, V);
- Recognize the importance of lifelong learning (I, II, III, IV, V);
- Integrate general education experiences (I, II, III, IV, V);
- Cultivate ways to empower the learning of others (I, II, III, IV, V); and
- Engage in responsible citizenship (I, II, III, IV, V).
Learning Goals and Objectives for each of the GE areas can be found on The Academic Senate’s web page
There are two options for completing general education at Sonoma State University: the University-Wide Option and the Hutchins School Interdisciplinary Option.
The University-Wide Option
Each baccalaureate candidate will complete a University-approved general education program, with courses distributed among the following categories:
Communication and Critical Thinking
Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Arts and Humanities
Within these categories, one course in Ethnic Studies is required. At least 9 units of general education must be in upper-division (300 and 400) courses and shall be taken no sooner than the term in which upper-division standing (completion of 60 semester units) is attained. The 9 upper-division units must be completed by enrollment in upper-division courses in two of the four areas (B-E).
Ethnic Studies Requirement
One course in Ethnic Studies is required. Courses that fulfill this requirement are marked with an asterisk (*).
These courses are designed to provide students with the level of writing, analytical, and speaking proficiency appropriate for a university education. Freshmen are expected to complete these courses as soon as possible after enrolling at SSU, certainly during their first two years. All students follow Sonoma State University’s 50 unit GE pattern. Students will need to obtain a grade of C- or better to complete the GE requirement for these courses. In year-long GE blended courses, only the second semester grade is used to meet this requirement.
Each recipient of the bachelor’s degree completing the California State University’s General Education breadth requirements shall have completed a program which includes a minimum of 48 semester units, of which 9 semester units shall be upper-division level and shall be taken no sooner than the term in which the candidate achieves upper-division status. At last 9 of the 48 total semester units shall be earned at the campus granting the degree. (40405.1)
The 48 units shall be distributed as follows:
- A minimum of 9 semester units in communication in English Language to include both oral communication and written communication, and in critical thinking, to include consideration of common fallacies in reasoning.
- A minimum of 12 semester units to include inquiry into the physical universe and its life forms, with some immediate participation in laboratory activity, and into mathematical concepts and quantitative reason and their applications.
- A minimum of 12 semester units among the arts, literature, philosophy, and foreign language.
- A minimum of 12 semester units dealing with human social, political and economic institutions and behavior and their historical background.
- A minimum of 3 semester units in study designed to equip human being for lifelong understanding and development of themselves as integrated physiological, social, and psychological entities.
- Communication and Critical Thinking ( Minimum 8 units)
- Oral Communication
- Written Communication
- Critical Thinking
- Natural Sciences and Mathematics ( Minimum 12 units)
In natural sciences, humans use their perceptions and quantitative reasoning to discover the principles and rules that govern how the universe works. Courses in this area of general education examine important theories of the natural sciences, and methods and models by which scientific investigation proceeds. They also seek to increase scientific understanding and to imbue students with the sense of curiosity and wonder about the natural world that inspires scientists and mathematicians in their work.
Complete one course each (minimum 3 units per course) from groups 1, 2, and 4, plus a laboratory activity (# indicates a laboratory course).
- Physical Sciences
Physical science courses seek to awaken in students an appreciation of the power of the intellectual approach of science through the study of some of the fundamental questions pursued by astronomers, chemists, geologists, and physicists.
To complete 12 units, select additional courses from group 1, 2, or 3 below.
- Biological Sciences
Life science courses develop students’ understanding and appreciation of the fundamental principles that govern all living things and the nature of their interdependence.
- Specific Emphasis
Specific emphasis courses provide students an opportunity to explore a particular area of interest in the natural sciences.
- Mathematical Concepts and Quantitative Reasoning
Mathematics courses develop students’ appreciation of one of the chief tools of the natural and social sciences, a philosophy of the abstract concepts of pure form and numbers, and an approach to reasoning and logical argument.
- The Arts and Humanities (Minimum 12 units)
In Area C, students will cultivate intellect, imagination, sensibility, sensitivity, and interpretive skills by studying significant works of the human imagination. In addition, they will develop a greater understanding of the interrelationships among the creative arts, the humanities and the self across a variety of cultural contexts.
- Fine Arts, Theatre, Dance, Music, and Film
Courses in the fine arts, theatre, dance, music, and film study human cultural endeavors and may develop skills through hands-on experience in the fine and performing arts. An understanding of, and appreciation for, the arts help a student form an appreciation for manifestations of human awareness and values.
- Literature, Philosophies, and Values
- Comparative Perspectives and/or Foreign Languages
Comparative perspectives and the study of a foreign language introduce students to cultural traditions other than those derived from Anglo-American society. These studies provide opportunities for a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and corresponding value systems.
Note: A first-year language course may only be selected if the student has met the high school subject requirement (two years) in another second language or if the student has completed one year of another second language at the college level. Courses, taken as part of a Humanities Learning Community are for first time freshmen only. Completion of these courses over a two semester sequence, will give students credit for Area A3 (Philosophy 101) and Area C3 (Humanities Learning Community 160A/B).
- Social Sciences (Minimum 15 units)
The social sciences concentrate on the description and explanation of organization, variation, and change in social practices and institutions. Courses in this area examine the diversity, variety, and complexity of human life at every scale from the individual to the global. Courses instill an appreciation of the multiple perspectives and methodologies that social science disciplines offer for understanding the human experience.
- Individual and Society
Individual and Society focuses on the personal and social development of the individual and on the person’s relation to social institutions. It includes theoretical explanations of the individual’s social relationships in groups, in societies, and across nations.
- Nature and Development of Complex Societies
This subject area examines the emergence of complex societies and their diversity across time and space. Courses examine the ways in which societies and aspects of them function and interact, and the theoretical constructs that have been developed to explain these interactions and their social and environmental consequences.
- United States History
United States history seeks to provide a basic understanding of the continuity of the American experience and its derivation from other cultures, including political and economic dimensions, social movements, and human-environment relationships. Satisfies state code requirement in this subject area.
- U.S. Constitution and California State and Local Government
U. S. Constitution and California State and Local Government acquaints students with the political philosophies upon which the U.S. Constitution is based and the rights and obligations of citizens under that Constitution. It also addresses the evolution of federal-state relations and the political processes in contemporary California state and local governments. Satisfies state code requirement in this subject area.
- Contemporary International Perspectives
Contemporary International Perspectives studies major economic and political dimensions of human activity, including consideration of differential access to natural resources, wealth, and power within and among the world’s nations.
- The Integrated Person (Minimum 3 units)
Integrated person courses are designed to study both processes affecting the individual, such as psychological, social, or physiological changes throughout the human life cycle, and the interactions between the individual and society. Focus is on the integration of disciplinary knowledge and personal experience with an appreciation of the duties and rights of a citizen with a rich public and personal life.
The Hutchins School Interdisciplinary Option
The lower-division general education requirements can be met by taking the four Hutchins School interdisciplinary seminars of 12 units each and 3 units of mathematics. The seminars are: LIBS 101 The Human Enigma; LIBS 102 In Search of Self; LIBS 201 Exploring the Unknown; and LIBS 202 Challenge and Response in the Modern World. These 48 units are taken Cr/NC. Any additional Cr/NC courses will not count toward the 120 units required for the degree. In addition, 9 units of upper-division general education courses must be completed. The subject matter preparation options (Tracks II and III) in the Hutchins major lead to automatic completion of these 9 units. For students in the interdisciplinary studies option (Track I) in the Hutchins major, 3 of the 9 units will be met with a course from the Core D category. The remaining 6 units must be selected from upper-division courses in areas B-E of the University-wide general education program.
Graduate education at Sonoma State University provides opportunities for students to develop the ability to conduct independent study and research and to enhance their professional competence in their field of interest. In order to accommodate students who are unable to pursue graduate work on a full-time basis, many master’s programs at the University are scheduled to allow completion of degree requirements on a part-time basis over several semesters.
Descriptions of the following graduate programs are contained in academic department listings:
Residence Master’s Degree Programs
- Clinical Mental Health (MFT and LPCC)
- School Counseling (P.P.S.)
Cultural Resources Management (Anthropology)
- Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning
- Early Childhood Education
- Educational Leadership
- Reading and Language
- Special Education
- Family Nurse Practitioner
Special Sessions Master’s Degree Program
Computer and Engineering Science
- Communication and Photonics
- Computer Hardware Software Systems
Graduate Admission Requirements
Admission requirements and procedures for graduate students are described in the Admissions section in this catalog. Admission to the University with unclassified post-baccalaureate standing does not in any way constitute admission to, or assurance of consideration for admission to, a graduate degree or credential program. Two admissions procedures are involved in pursuing graduate work at the University: 1) admission to the University; and 2) admission to the department offering the degree or credential program in which the student is interested. Students should, therefore, contact both the relevant department and the Admissions Office, (707) 664-2778.
Change in Graduate Standing
Many students are admitted to the University in conditionally classified standing with contingencies to remove prior to becoming a classified student. This admission does not guarantee a space in the graduate program. Such a guarantee is obtained by a change in graduate standing to classified status verified by the program in question. Each department has its own procedures for evaluating the appropriateness of granting the student a place in their program. At the time this status is confirmed, a form is filed with the Admissions and Records Office and the Graduate Studies Office confirming the department’s approval of this change in status.
Advancement to Candidacy
Master’s degree students are advanced to candidacy when the department has assessed the academic and professional capacities of the student and is convinced that the student has the competence to complete all requirements for the degree, including the culminating project. Advancement to candidacy is done by filing the Advancement to Candidacy form (GSO1), which describes the culminating project, is approved by all of the members of the student’s thesis committee, and is reviewed by the Graduate Studies Office. Culminating projects, including theses, investigative projects, creative projects, and curriculum projects, are approved by the department and reviewed by the Graduate Studies Office prior to clearance for the degree. These projects are then published by the Sonoma State Library and become part of its permanent digital collection.
Completion of the Written English Proficiency Requirement
In order to ensure that graduate students possess the ability to communicate effectively in written English, advancement to candidacy will be contingent upon fulfillment of either the Written English Proficiency Test or departmentally administered review procedures that have been approved by the graduate studies subcommittee and placed on file with the Graduate Studies Office.
General Requirements for the Master’s Degree
Master’s programs require a minimum of 30 semester units of approved coherent coursework. All courses applied to the program must be completed with an overall GPA of 3.00, and no course for which a final grade below C is assigned may be used to satisfy this requirement. Graduate programs must be completed in no more than 7 years, which is computed as 14 semesters. No more than 6 semester units shall be allowed for a thesis project
Other University-wide criteria:
- A classified student must demonstrate, throughout enrollment in the graduate program, the level of competence required to be successful in the completion of the requirements. This evaluation of competence is primarily the responsibility of faculty actively teaching in the program.
- Advancement to candidacy is required and should be done when the student enters the final phase of the program. Departments vary in the way they evaluate student competency and in what is required to advance the student to candidacy for the degree.
- No fewer than one-half of the total units required shall be in graduate (500-level) coursework.
- At least 21 semester units shall be completed in residence.
- No more than 6 semester units shall be allowed for a thesis or project.
- No more than 30 percent of coursework shall be allowed in transfer, including work done through Extended Education.
- No credit toward a master’s degree will be given for student teaching in a credential program.
- At the discretion of the department, up to one-third of the total program units may be in a nontraditional grading mode (credit/no credit).
- No classes completed as an undergraduate may be used except those granted provisional graduate credit prior to award of the baccalaureate degree.
- The candidate must complete a thesis, project, or comprehensive exam as required by the department. Culminating projects that are published by the library require review by the Graduate Studies Office, as well as final approval by the student’s faculty committee.
- A public defense of the thesis or project is required.
- The student has four semesters to complete the thesis/ project, including the first semester of enrollment for thesis units. The RP (Report in Progress) grade will remain until the student submits the culminating project. Projects taking more than four semesters to complete will require an approval for extension by the Graduate Studies Office or may require reapplication to the program and re-enrollment in the units.
Continuous Enrollment Policy
Graduate students who have completed their coursework or who have begun to work on their thesis or other final project must be enrolled each additional semester through one of the following mechanisms:
- Those students who wish to maintain eligibility for financial aid and use the full resources of the University should maintain regular half-time enrollment and pay half-time fees. Graduate programs create enrollment opportunities for these students by providing mechanisms such as sections of 535 (Directed Writing) or 599 (Research and Thesis) in the regular class schedule, or by allowing students to enroll in 595 (Special Studies) through the regular registration procedure.
- Those students who do not seek the full services of the University may maintain enrollment through Extended Education and pay a continuation fee of $250 per semester. The fee maintains their place in their academic program and provides library privileges.
- With the support of their graduate advisors, those students who, due to extraordinary circumstances, cannot continue work on their programs may seek special consideration by petitioning the Graduate Studies Office for a leave of absence for a defined period of time not to exceed two years. This petition process would not extend the seven-year limitation on coursework applied to the degree.
Students who allow their enrollment to lapse without taking a leave of absence will be considered to have withdrawn from the University and from their degree program. Should such students decide to return, they will be required to apply for readmission and, as a condition of readmission, shall be assessed a continuing enrollment fee of $250 for every regular semester of the period during which they were absent from the University.
Provisional Unclassified Graduate Status for Senior Students
Students who plan to complete upper-division or graduate-level courses in their final semester may petition for provisional unclassified graduate credit for such courses. Courses required for the baccalaureate will not be granted this provisional status. The petition must be filed at the same time as the application for award of the degree. Teaching credential candidates should consult the Department of Education about the advisability of such a petition.
Provisional unclassified postbaccalaureate credit can be granted only for upper-division and graduate-level courses and will be recorded in the student’s academic record as earned prior to the award of the baccalaureate. Such credit is applicable to graduate objectives at the discretion of the relevant academic department. Should requirements for the baccalaureate not be completed by the date specified on the application, the petition for postbaccalaureate credit becomes null and void.
Courses that May be Included in a Master’s Program
300-499 Upper-division courses may be acceptable for graduate credit. See Provisional Unclassified Graduate Status for Senior Students, above.
500-599 Graduate courses.