May 29, 2024  
2022-2023 General Catalog 
2022-2023 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Degree Requirements

Baccalaureate Candidates

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 and Transfer Center, Schulz 1125a, (707) 664-2730.

Students are eligible for graduation when they are in good standing and have fulfilled the following requirements:

  1. Faculty Approval
    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.

  2. 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, American Ideals (American Institution requirements) and Ethnic Studies.

  3. 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.

  4. 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-, CR 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Unit Requirements and Limitations
    1. Total Units: A minimum of 120 semester units is required for graduation (some majors may require more units for graduation);
    2. 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;
    3. 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, non baccalaureate-level courses, and through credit by examination may not be applied to residence requirements; and
    4. Credit/No Credit Grades. A maximum of 24 units of courses with nontraditional grades may be elected. Courses fulfilling major and minor requirements must be graded A-F, except for courses not available in the A-F mode.
  7. 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 24 units
Community Involvement Project 295/395 6 units
Special Studies 495
*see Catalog Year requirement
12 units
Student-Instructed Courses 199/399 12 units
Community College transfer credit 70 units
Credit by Examination 30 units
Faculty-Evaluated Prior Learning 30 units

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 should meet with their advisor to confirm graduation requirements. Additional graduation information can be found through the Office of the Registrar.

Minor Programs 

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.

Double Majors

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. Students are eligible to apply for graduation for graduation when they have completed at least 15 units residence and 90 units overall. Students should consult with their advisor to determine any remaining requirements and any deficiencies to be completed. After filing for graduation, students must meet all degree requirements by the date of graduation in order to graduate. If you do not graduate within two terms of your initial filing, you will need to reapply for graduation. 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.

Degree 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:

  1. Completion at Sonoma State University of a minimum of 45 letter-graded semester units in residence; and
  2. 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.

Graduate Degrees

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

Biology, M.S.    

Business Administration, MBA  

Counseling, M.A.  

Cultural Resources Management, M.A.  (Anthropology)

Early Childhood Education, M.A.  

Education, M.A.  

Education with a Concentration in Educational Leadership, M.A.  

English, M.A.  

History, M.A.  

Interdisciplinary Studies, M.A./M.S.  

Nursing- Family Nurse Practitioner, M.S.  

Master’s in Public Administration, M.P.A.  

Special Sessions Master’s Degree Program

Electrical and Computer Engineering, M.S.  

Film Studies, M.A.  

Organization Development, M.A.  

Psychology, Depth Psychology Emphasis, M.A.  

Spanish, M.A.  

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 advisory 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 theses are reviewed by the Graduate Studies Office prior to clearance for the degree. Theses and projects are published by the Sonoma State Library and become part of its permanent digital collection.

Completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment 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 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Advancement to candidacy is required and should be done before the student begins their culminating experience. Departments vary in the way they evaluate student competency and in what is required to advance the student to candidacy for the degree.  Advancement to candidacy requires completion of the GSO1 form.
  3. No fewer than one-half of the total units required shall be in graduate (500-level) coursework.
  4. At least 21 semester units shall be completed in residence.
  5. No more than 6 semester units shall be allowed for a thesis or project.
  6. No more than 30 percent of coursework shall be allowed in transfer, including work done through Extended Education.
  7. No credit toward a master’s degree will be given for student teaching in a credential program.
  8. 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).
  9. No classes completed as an undergraduate may be used except those granted provisional graduate credit prior to award of the baccalaureate degree.
  10. 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.
  11. A public defense of the thesis is required and may be required for a project.
  12. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Those students who do not seek the full services of the University may maintain enrollment through Extended Education via a Project Continuation course. 
  3. 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 for two semesters 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.

Validation of Expired Graduate Courses

As specified in Title V, coursework must be completed within seven years of award of degree. Courses taken within the program in residence more than seven years prior to the date of award of the degree may be validated through passing an assessment (oral or written) covering the subject matter involved or through repeating the course. Revalidation shall be administered only in exceptional circumstances, when the program deems that serious and compelling reasons have kept the student from completing the degree in the seven years. The nature of the assessment will be determined by the department in which the degree is to be granted, administered by a faculty subject expert, and approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Associate Vice President of Academic Programs. A maximum of one third of all courses used to satisfy program degree requirements are eligible for validation.

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 post baccalaureate 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 post baccalaureate 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 degree. Teaching credential candidates should consult the Department of Education about the advisability of such a petition.

Stacking Undergraduate & Graduate Courses 

A course may be stacked1 between undergraduate & graduate levels if the course meets the following criteria:

  • The undergraduate course must be at the upper-division (300-400) level. Lower-division (100-200) level courses may not be used to fulfill post baccalaureate requirements and may not be stacked with graduate (500) level coursework.
  • Separate syllabi are required (per WSCUC) for the undergraduate and graduate components of the stacked course.
  • Topics (special topics) courses may not be stacked. Each undergraduate & graduate stacked course must be permanent and have appropriate approved course titles, descriptions, unit values, and CS codes.
  • Student enrollment in a stacked course is determined by specific programmatic policy for each course as approved through the governance review process. An antirequisite may be used by the program on 500-level courses cross-listed with 300/400-level courses to prevent enrollment in the 500 level course if the student already earned credit in the 300/400 level course.
  • It is recommended that the courses being stacked utilize matching course numbers and titles whenever possible. For example POLS 487 & POLS 587. 
  • When creating new undergraduate courses to be stacked with graduate courses, it is recommended that the undergraduate course be at the 400 level.

1   An undergraduate course and a graduate course offered together, meeting at the same time and place, with a shared class experience and instructor(s), but with more advanced learning outcomes, readings/assignments, grading rubric, and syllabi at the graduate level.