About Sonoma State University

Is Sonoma State University The Right School for You?

Located in Rohnert Park, California, Sonoma State University is right in the middle of what the California wine industry calls Wine Country. The three most popular majors at this public, 4-year school are business/marketing, psychology, and liberal arts, but it also offers courses of study in the visual and performing arts, sciences, history, and women's studies. It offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as a number of teacher credentialing programs. Read more to find out about admissions and financial aid, student life, and the pros and cons of attending Sonoma State University.


  • 84.9% acceptance rate, almost 20 percentage points higher than the national average
  • One of the largest libraries in the CSU system
  • Accepts AP and CLEP credits


  • Student to teacher ratio is 9 higher than the national average at 25:1
  • Total cost for in-state students, including on-campus housing is $23,931, which is $6,795 higher than the national average.

Rankings and School Analysis

At Sonoma State University (SSU) you may enjoy proximity to two very diverse cities: Oakland and San Francisco, but you should know that The Princeton Review ranks this school as 7th in the nation on its list of colleges with little race/class interaction and 12th in the nation for schools with the least accessible professors. It also ranks SSU as 17th in the nation for schools with the best college dorms, which may explain why 90% of freshmen choose to live on campus. With a higher than average total cost and student to teacher ratio, SSU also boasts of one of the largest libraries in the California State University (CSU) system. Additionally, it has a much higher than average acceptance rate and an 80% retention rate, which means that 4 out of 5 freshman in 2011 chose to return for a second year of study.

Sonoma State describes the atmosphere on campus to be casual and comfortable. As a suburban college, it offers fewer options than one of its larger, more cosmopolitan counterparts in the CSU system, but you may find that what it does offer meets your needs. Some notable and unique facilities at SSU include its Environmental Technology Center, the Green Music Center, and the 2 nature preserves that are a part of SSU's campus.

If you are interested in personal and planetary fitness, you may want to know that Sonoma State has a 59,000-square foot recreational facility housing its fitness center, climbing wall, and spa, which was designed and built with sustainable building practices in mind. U.S. News and World Report added Sonoma State's nursing school to its list of Best Nursing Schools in 2013, which also shows a commitment to promoting good health.

SSU also places 12th on U.S. News and World Report's list of rankings of Top Public Schools in the West. This ranking compares SSU to other schools supervised and funded partly by the state. Their methodology looks at 16 factors including faculty resources, selectivity, retention rates, and financial resources; in this analysis, SSU compared favorably with other similar institutions.

Getting in and Financial Aid at Sonoma State University

The College Board considers SSU to be less selective, with an 85% acceptance rate, so if you choose to apply, you will have higher-than-average chances of getting in. If you do want to apply, you should have your application in by November 30th for fall enrollment. SSU accounts for a number of factors when considering your application, but the College Board reports that your academic GPA, the rigor of your high school record, and your SAT or ACT scores are considered to be very important by the selection committee. Since SSU is a state school, your geographical residence will also play a role in admissions decisions, and since almost all SSU students hail from California, you can see that this may be an advantage.

Since the cost of attending SSU is higher than the national average, you may find that applying for financial aid is in order. The financial aid office at SSU urges students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1st to have the best chances of being considered for the maximum amount of aid. The average financial aid package for incoming freshmen in 2011 was $9,409, and the average student debt at graduation was more than double that figure at $18,608. If you are thinking about applying for a particular program, such as dance, music, or environmental studies, scholarships are available for these and other individual disciplines, so check with your department if you feel you may qualify. Other need-based and merit-based scholarships are available as well, but you must either be an applicant to SSU or a current student to apply. The deadline for the general scholarship application is January 15th.

Admissions and Financial Aid
Regular Application Deadline (2013) November 30***
Admission Notification (2013) March 15*
Application Fee (2013) $55*
Acceptance Rate (2011) 85%***
Tuition and Fees (2011) $6,862 in-state, $18,022 out-of-state**
Average Financial Aid Package (2011) $9,409***
Average Student Debt at Graduation (2011) $18,608***
Student Loan Default Rate (2009) 3.5%**

Student Life at Sonoma State University

Students at SSU have a variety of unique facilities and resources from which to benefit while attending this school. With over 100 clubs and a variety of options for involvement in sports and fitness, there are many social options as well. Fewer than 15% of students participate in Greek life, so while there are opportunities to be involved in a sorority or fraternity, the majority of students do not choose to do so. SSU has 13 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II teams and a variety of intramural and club sports as well.

Located 50 miles from San Francisco, SSU is close enough to major cities for road trips and claims to provide students with a variety of opportunities to make student life at SSU more than just academics. The Princeton Review gives this school a 70% quality of life rating, a 79% fire safety rating, and a 72% green rating, so if these areas are important to you, it is good to know that SSU gets more than just a passing grade. Some notable facilities that may also be good to know about include the availability of co-ed dorms, housing for focused learning communities, a day-care center, and a women's health center.

Student Life
Campus Setting Suburb***
Student Population (2011) 8,668 (7,792 undergraduate)**
Male-to-Female Student Ratio (2011) 40% male, 60% female**
% of Full-Time Students (2011) 91%**
% of In-state Students (2011) 99%**
Retention Rate (2011) 80%**
Campus Housing Available Yes*
% of Students Living On-Campus (2011) 90%***
Extracurricular Activities 17 sororities, 6 fraternities, and over 100 clubs*

Sources: *SSU, **NCES, ***College Board.

Contact Information

  • Address: 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
  • Phone: 707.664.3096