Sonoma State University


Sonoma State University (SSU) was founded as a teacher’s college in 1960 through the signature of Senate Bill 43, creating SSU as a member of the California State College System. It moved to its present 274 manicured acres in 1966 after the completion of Stevenson and Darwin Halls. University status was granted in 1978 and the name was officially recognized as Sonoma State University.

Sonoma State is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Its mission statement says in part, “The university offers a wide range of traditional disciplines, as well as interdisciplinary programs, so that students are able to explore diverse modes of inquiry, the understanding gained with the various disciplines, and a global spectrum of ideas, institutions, values, and artistic expressions.” Sonoma State University is classed as a Master’s College and University I by the Carnegie Institute.


Information Summary

Ranks 60th in California and 857th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 82.2
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $26,626
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 23 / 1170
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 30 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 81% / 69%
Enrollment Total (all students) 9,459


Sonoma State University’s academic offerings are provided through the School of Arts & Humanities, School of Business & Economics, School of Education, School of Extended Education, School of Science & Technology, and the School of Social Sciences. In addition, the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies is a cluster school with an interdisciplinary program offering a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and several minors.

SSU is home to numerous academic departments and offers nearly fifty bachelor’s degrees and almost twenty master’s degrees. Sonoma State also offers a joint master’s degree in mathematics through a partnership with San Francisco State University and a joint doctoral degree in educational leadership through a partnership with University of California, Davis. Several different credential and certification programs are also offered in different teaching and education-related fields.

Bachelor’s degrees are offered in a variety of fields within the various academic colleges. Degrees at the bachelor’s level can be received in such areas as Chicano and Latino studies, English, music, economics, biology, kinesiology, nursing, anthropology, environmental studies, and sociology. Students in the Hutchins School earn a B.A. in Liberal Studies, and lower division students can take classes to satisfy their General Education requirements.

Graduate programs are offered in such areas as biology, counseling, education, English, nursing, and public administration among several others. There is also a joint doctorate in educational leadership with the University of California, Davis.

Sonoma State also offers several different opportunities for research including the Cerent Science Laboratories where state-of-the-art research and teaching equipment allows students to work in conjunction with local tech companies. The University also operates two nearby preserves including the 411-acre Fairfield Osborn Preserve and the 3200-acre Galbreath Wildlife Preserve located in Mendocino County. By offering this opportunity to research the natural sciences in these environments, SSU provides students with an opportunity that not many universities may boast.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Sonoma State University 2
Sonoma State University

Unique Programs

The Chicano and Latino Studies program examines the social and historical developments affecting Chicano and Latino cultures in the United States. It allows students to examine mainstream American and Chicano culture from linguistic, ethnic, and contemporary standpoints. The degrees offered in Chicano and Latino Studies prepares students for careers in bilingual education, criminal justice, law, counseling, and social services.

Sonoma State University offers the country’s first university program focused solely on the business of wine. SSU is located in the heart of America’s wine country, making it suited to this academic venture.

Sonoma State’s School of Extended Education offers, with the Hutchins School, a degree completion program in liberal studies and a master’s in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on “action for a viable future,” including social and environmental issues. There are also certificate programs in areas such as green building, conflict resolution, paralegal program, and emergency & disaster management.

Finally, the University prides itself on constantly striving to reach sustainability and has several programs in place in pursuit of this goal. The Environmental Technology Center is a perfect symbol of their dedication. Known as the “building that teaches”, the ETC provides students, local government, businesses, members of the community and design and construction professionals with technical assistance and educational resources and acts as an interactive demonstration of sustainable building and energy efficiency. The building uses only half the energy of standard buildings its size.


Incoming freshman applicants qualify for regular admission if they are a high school graduate, have completed the mandatory high school coursework, have a competitive eligibility index and meet the special criteria for impacted majors. These include specific majors such as biology and pre-nursing, and applicants must meet a minimum grade point average requirement before they are admitted to Sonoma State. Because GPA requirements change, students should contact the university either by phone or via the school’s official website in order to determine current requirements.

The University’s eligibility index combines both high school grade point average and the score on either the ACT or the SAT exam, so both the official high school transcripts and standardized test scores must be submitted. Finally, applicants must meet the minimum college preparatory coursework as dictated by the State of California. Students with disabilities may qualify for a waiver if they are considered unable to complete the general curriculum requirements in their high school coursework.

Sonoma State University accepts undergraduate applications during a relatively small window of time, so students should apply as early as possible. Applications and fees can be submitted on-line. Students who are enrolled in high school at the time of application will need to have their official final high school transcripts sent after graduation to the Admissions Office.

Transfer students and international students will have varying requirements depending upon their prior educational background.

Students applying to the graduate programs at Sonoma State University should consult the individual department and/or school to which they are applying. Most applications and fees can be submitted online. General requirements include the GRE or other appropriate test scores (such as the GMAT), a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA and be in good standing with the last educational institution attended. The graduate application deadline varies with the department.

Financial Aid

Among its various private scholarships, SSU also offers and participates in programs offering the Federal Pell Grant, Cal Grant, State University Grant, FSEOG, and EOPG. Federal Work Study opportunities are available for qualified students. And the University also offers Perkins and Stafford loan options. For students who are enrolled in 12 or more credit hours, 12 hours must be completed to maintain satisfactory academic progress and remain in “Clear” standing with the financial aid office.

Financial aid is available in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans. Work-study programs are also available for eligible students. Students who seek financial aid will need to fill out the Federal Student Financial Aid Form, available on-line starting in January. Applicants should complete this form as early as possible in order to be eligible for as many forms of aid as possible.

Graduate students may also receive financial aid in the form of teaching or research assistantships, including a stipend and a waiver of some or all of the tuition and other fees. Graduate students should consult with their individual department about what sort of assistantships or fellowships are available and about the details of the application process.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4944th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


Student life at Sonoma State University includes opportunities in a diverse range of activities and organizations, including fraternities and sororities, professional and academic organizations, cultural, political, and religious groups, and special interests such as the Aikido Club, the Go and Chess Club, and Wine Sense. There is a student newspaper as well as a recently built student recreation center, which includes a climbing wall.

On-campus cultural activities include the annual Green Music Festival of summer concerts, musical performances, art exhibits, and lectures, and a film series.

The Campus Life office at SSU makes it easy to join or start up an exciting club on campus. If a student is interested they can find directories, instructions, leadership guidance, current news, and mailboxes for the dozens of student organizations on the SSU campus. There are also a number of Greek letter organizations, fraternities and sororities, both social and academic in nature. SSU also offers a unique leadership program that trains students to become tomorrow’s leaders through hands-on experience and service. The women’s resource center enriches the lives of campus women through education, support, and advocacy.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


The Sonoma State University Sea Wolves compete in the NCAA Division II and in the California Athletic Association (CCAA), a conference that holds numerous national championships within its ranks. Sonoma State offers 13 different sports, five for men and eight for women. These include men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and tennis. Men may also choose to participate in baseball and golf while women have the additional choices of cross country, softball, track and field, volleyball and water polo. Many of the teams regularly make the NCAA division playoffs and are extremely competitive. The sports teams are supported by a spirit squad, which includes a cheer squad and dance team.

In 2004 SSU opened its new Student Recreation Center, a 58,000 square foot complex that includes facilities for basketball, volleyball, rock climbing, indoor soccer and a dance studio. The gymnasium has also recently been renovated. Other facilities include a dozen tennis courts, a fieldhouse, baseball field, softball field, a track and field stadium, and a 25-meter swimming pool. For the golf team, Sonoma State has teamed up with several local courses.

Local Community

Adjacent to Napa Valley, Sonoma State University is located in Rohnert Park, California, right in the heart of wine country and close to the larger city of Santa Rosa. The surrounding environment is largely rural, with dairy and wine as the main agricultural products. Other nearby local attractions include the Charles Schultz Museum, the Luther Burbank Center for the Performing Arts, and outdoor recreational activities at several nearby state and county parks. The Pacific Ocean is approximately 25 miles away from SSU, and San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area is an hour’s drive. The Sierra Nevada mountains can be reached in a few hours.

The city of Rohnert Park is one of California’s many beautiful small town getaways, home to a population of 42,500 and designed specifically for family life. Amenities such as the gorgeous Foxtail Golf Club and other beautiful sites attract visitors from across the world. The Callinan Sports and Fitness Center is owned and operated by the city and offers exercise enthusiasts a massive facility for recreation and wellness. Other city activities include cooking, dance, fitness, programs for seniors, camping, and arts and crafts.


  • Sonoma State University Seawolves. Sonoma State University. 2011. Web. 22 June 2011.
  • Sonoma State University. Sonoma State University. 2011. Web. 22 June 2011.

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