Mar 04, 2024  
2020-2021 General Catalog 
2020-2021 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Business Administration, MBA

The Sonoma Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) for Professionals is intended to prepare graduates for positions of management and leadership in organizational settings in both the private and public sectors. This evening program is designed primarily to meet the needs of the working student. Sonoma MBA students have the option to choose the Wine Business concentration. Information on all Sonoma MBA programs can be found at

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Analyze accounting and financial data
  • Evaluate and apply business research data
  • Recognize and apply techniques for managing and motivating employees    
  • Apply leadership theories and practices to promote ethical, sustainable, and innovative approaches to organizational issues

MBA Admissions

The Sonoma MBA program launches each year in the fall. The application period is October 1 to April 30. All documentation required for admission must be received by the University and department no later than the last day of the relevant application period.

Information on how to apply can be found at The first step in the application process is to submit an online application through Cal State Apply. After this preliminary application is submitted, applicants will be advised as to the next steps in the admission process. Applicants are encouraged to apply early! To be admitted to the MBA program, a candidate must meet the requirements of both the University and the Department of Business Administration. In addition, all candidates for the Sonoma MBA in Wine Business will be expected to complete the Foundation and Intermediate levels of the online Wine Business Management Certificate program before being admissible to the Sonoma MBA program in Wine Business. This requirement may be waived by completion of  20 units of wine-related coursework, 24 months of wine industry work experience, or any combination thereof.

University Requirements

The requirements for admission to graduate study (work beyond the bachelor’s degree) at Sonoma State University are in accordance with Title 5, California Administrative Code. For admission, students must:

  • Hold an acceptable baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association or have completed academic preparation as determined by an appropriate campus authority;
  • Have attained a grade point average of at least 2.50 (A =4.00) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted;
  • Have been in good standing at the last college attended; and
  • Have earned a minimum score of 550 on the paper version or 80 on the computerized version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for those applicants who have not spent at least three years of school at the secondary level (or beyond) where English is the principal language of instruction.

International students must meet the admissions criteria set forth by the graduate department. Students in the Professional MBA programs are required to gain practical experience by (a) completing an internship course, (b) working for eight or more months during their MBA program, or (c) combining an internship course and work for a total of eight or more months during their MBA program. International students may be authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) to be eligible for off-campus work or internships in a position directly related to their field of study.

Department of Business Administration Requirements

An individual may apply for admission to the MBA program with or without an academic background in business administration. Applicants will not be considered without a current Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) score or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score (either one must be less than 5 years old). The department requires a GMAT score of at least 450 overall (or equivalent GRE score) and a GPA of at least 2.50 in the last 60 semester units (90 quarter units) attempted. Applicants are expected to have two years of full time work experience prior to starting the program. The department considers the candidate’s application, academic background, work experience, and performance on the GMAT or GRE in evaluating high promise of success in the program.

A candidate who is not accepted may appeal to the Graduate Programs Committee for admission reconsideration. Such appeals are not routinely granted.

Documentation Needed to Apply

After applicants have been advised by the MBA Admissions Manager to apply, the following documentation is required for consideration of acceptance into the Sonoma MBA Program. All documentation required for admission must be received by the University and department no later than the last day of the relevant application period.

  1. An online Cal State Apply Application must be submitted. International students must also submit a copy of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score with a minimum of 550 on the paper version or 80 on the computerized version. For more information on applying, contact the Graduate Business Programs office at or call (707) 664-3501.
  2. Official transcripts should be ordered from each college attended. A copy of each transcript should be sent to the Office of Admissions and Records at:

    Sonoma State University

    1801 East Cotati Avenue

    Rohnert Park, CA 94928-3609

    All community college and university transcripts that provide evidence of completion of MBA foundation courses must be included.
  3. A current resume should be sent to the MBA Admissions Manager, School of Business and Economics, at the address above.
  4. An official GMAT or GRE score report should be sent to California State University - Sonoma. Information regarding ordering GMAT score reports, locating a GMAT testing site, and GMAT preparation materials can be obtained on  All information regarding the GRE can be found at  

Graduate Student Status

A candidate admitted into the Sonoma MBA program will be admitted in one of two categories:

  • Conditionally Classified Graduate Status. A student admitted to the MBA program as a Conditionally Classified Graduate Student can take only foundation courses. This student may not take MBA required or elective courses without permission of the Director of MBA Programs. A student who begins as a Conditionally Classified Graduate Student will be eligible for advancement to Classified Graduate Status upon successful completion of the foundation courses.
  • Classified Graduate Status. A student admitted to the MBA program as a Classified Graduate Student will have completed the foundation courses at the time of admission. This student should take the MBA core courses to begin the program.

Admissions Process

The Office of Admissions and Records performs the initial evaluation of the application and transcripts and determines eligibility for admission to the University. If the candidate is not eligible for admission to the University, the candidate is notified and the process stops.

If the candidate is eligible for admission to the University, the application is forwarded to the Director of MBA Programs for the department recommendation. When the GMAT or GRE score and resume are received, eligibility for admission to the MBA program is determined and a recommendation for status of admission is returned to the Office of Admissions and Records, which will notify the candidate of the results.

Students who have not taken the GMAT or GRE will not be accepted for entrance into the program.

Transfer Credits

Up to 6 units of approved graduate level work from accredited universities may be transferred to meet part of the 31 units for the MBA. However, these requests are not routinely granted. Graduate courses equivalent to our foundation courses will not be accepted to meet elective or required MBA courses. Transfer courses must be approved by the Director of MBA Programs. Students are advised to get approval prior to taking any transfer courses.

Eligibility for MBA Courses

Courses offered in the Sonoma MBA program have restricted enrollment.

  • For MBA foundation courses, a student must be at least a Conditionally Classified MBA student or obtain written permission from the Director of MBA Programs.
  • For MBA required or elective courses, a student must be a Classified MBA student or obtain written permission from the Director of MBA Programs.


Continuing students (those who have completed courses in the MBA Program) may take a leave of absence from the program for one or two semesters by completing a ‘Leave of Absence’ form and filing it with the Office of Admissions and Records. Students who take more than two semesters off and/or do not complete a ‘Leave of Absence’ form must reapply and meet current admission standards as presented above. In addition, the GMAT or GRE used to determine that admission can not be more than 5 years old. Students readmitted may have to recertify courses. Recertification is necessary for any course that will be more than 7 years old in the semester the degree is granted.

MBA Program Curriculum

The Sonoma MBA for Professionals program has been adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s business world. It will equip students with business tools and strategies to deliver results in today’s transformational economy. It will teach students not just how to read financial statements, but how to apply that information to make decisions and shape strategy. It will help students learn not just the principles of marketing, but how to develop a brand, deliver transformational customer experiences, and integrate marketing communication across numerous outlets. Students will gain knowledge not just in business strategies, but in innovation, entrepreneurship, and data analytics.

The Sonoma MBA is organized around a 4-3-2-1 model: four core courses, three theme areas, two electives, and one capstone course. Three theme areas - International Business and Global Issues, Leadership and Ethics, and Contemporary Business Issues - allow students to choose their career emphasis.

Inside and outside of the classroom, students gain access to the deep knowledge of our regional business partners and to career support services.

Evening classes are designed to easily fit into busy schedules, small class sizes allow students to make personal connections with classmates, and academic and professional instructors are committed to helping students reach their future business goals.

Analytical Writing Requirement

All candidates entering SSU as MBA students who do not score at least 4.00 on the analytical writing portion of the GMAT or a 3.5 on the GRE’s analytical writing section must pass the CSU Written English Proficiency Test (WEPT) either during their first semester or before completing the foundation courses.


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.


The Sonoma MBA for Professionals program (31 units) consists of the following course sequence:

  • eMBArk Weekend
  • 4 Core Courses
  • 3 Theme Area Courses
  • 2 Elective Courses
  • 1 Capstone Experience

If students do not have an undergraduate business degree, there may be an additional foundation step of the program that needs to be completed (see MBA Foundation Courses below). Contact our office for a transcript review and/or assistance at (707) 664-3501.

eMBArk Weekend (1 Unit)

The Sonoma MBA experience begins with an experiential immersion weekend day that combines academic planning, teamwork development, and case analysis practice.

4 Core Courses (12 Units)

The MBA core courses are a cluster of graduate business courses that provide a base knowledge upon which other courses and theme areas build. In the first year, students complete the four core courses as a cohort, a group study model that builds relationships and mirrors a team workforce environment. Two courses are completed in the Fall Semester and two courses are completed in the Spring Semester. The four core courses, which are prerequisites for all other courses are:

3 Theme Areas (9 Units)

Breadth of exposure and relevance to today’s workplace are ensured by requiring students to take one course in each of three thematic areas: Leadership and Ethics, International Business and Global Issues, and Contemporary Business Issues. A sample of possible courses in each theme area includes:

Leadership and Ethics

International Business and Global Issues

2 Elective Courses (6 Units)

Students gain depth in the areas of their interest by choosing two electives taken from any thematic area, or by setting up a special study experience, or an internship project.

1 Capstone (3 Units)

Students put it all together in a final business strategy course (BUS 591) that requires them to develop a comprehensive case research project with an existing organization. To enroll in the capstone course, it must be the student’s last semester in the program and the student must have completed the 4 core and 3 theme area courses. Exceptions require the approval of the Director of MBA Programs.

MBA Foundation Courses (32 semester units)

The MBA Foundation Courses provide the fundamental knowledge of business principles to prepare students for the study of business at the graduate level. This set of courses is taken either at the undergraduate level or as MBA preparation courses. Foundation courses may be waived for competencies demonstrated by the undergraduate courses or their equivalents listed below or by examination. All courses listed at the 200 level may be taken at a junior college. All courses listed at the 300 level must be taken at a four year institution at the upper division level. Assuming all other admissions requirements are met, a student needing one or more foundation courses will be admitted as a Conditionally Classified Graduate Student. The MBA Foundation Courses include the following (or their equivalents):

MBA Program with a Wine Business Concentration

Business Administration with a Wine Business Concentration, MBA