Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance

exterior shot of the SF State Downtown CampusThe Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance is a unique program that fulfills management and business needs for ethics and compliance professionals in growth industries such as healthcare, biotech, pharmaceutical, information technology services and products, finance and accounting, manufacturing and hospitality.

The application period for Fall 2017 admission to this program is now closed.

About the certificate

The Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance provides access to students and professionals seeking very specific academic training. These individuals may already have a graduate degree, or may be seeking graduate-level certificate course preparation for further professional development.

Ethics and compliance (E&C) specialists work to prevent their organizations from committing errors that violate ethical standards of best practice or regulatory compliance. E&C specialists assess a company’s potential adverse or ethical impacts on their stakeholders. These specialists may also use analytical tools, such as Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), to proactively measure the effectiveness of ethical practices and assess compliance with U.S. and global regulations by identifying specific situations of risk to an organization’s stakeholders (i.e., employees, customers, suppliers, regulators and communities).

Two key areas of need for E&C specialists are leadership in instantiating internal control and strategic planning in various functional areas of a company. Their role is to reduce the risk of unethical or illegal activities by individuals working in organizations through the development of policies and procedures to prevent these ethical failures. E&C specialists must be able navigate within an organization to develop best practices as leaders in using ethical strategies and negotiation skills. Examples of tools developed by E&C specialists include developing and supporting corporate codes of conduct, employee training, regulatory compliance processes, analytical assessment and forecasting, negotiation strategies, and advisement to top management and senior organizational leaders towards ethical corporate cultures.

A student in the Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance program may apply the academic credit for the three courses to the SF State College of Business MBA program after taking either the GMAT or GRE, and after applying for and being accepted to the MBA program (matriculate). But, the student must complete the MBA program within seven years from the completion of each Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance class for each class to receive credit towards the MBA program. Please see the following guidelines on the certificate program application.

MBA students who satisfy the Emphasis in Ethics and Compliance are eligible for the Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance.

Learning outcomes

Certificate learning outcomes include developing key skills for students in:

  • ethical issues identification and solutions-based mindsets (MGMT 850)
  • ethical analysis and data-analytics decision-making models for strategic planning (MGMT 850)
  • understanding the demands of transparency and Sunshine Laws (MGMT 850)
  • effectively understanding, negotiating and managing business risks and safety for stakeholders (BUS/IBUS 859, MGMT 857)
  • understanding the compliance and regulatory challenges of global business practices, examples include FCPA, Sunshine Laws, HIPAA, Affordable Care Act, ADA EEOC, Sarbanes Oxley, Dodd-Frank, and EPA (MGMT 850)
  • compliance aptitude as a strategic partner for organizational integrity (MGMT 850)
  • measuring and auditing the effectiveness of compliance programs (MGMT 850)
  • integrating ethics and aligning compliance management and risk management with analytics (MGMT 850)
  • understanding the complexities of technology and protections for stakeholder privacy (MGMT 850)
  • developing organizational operations, training and structures under Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers (BUS/IBUS 859)
  • operating as change agents in the negotiation to effect organizational change (BUS/IBUS 859)
  • developing best practices in leadership of organizational processes and managing stakeholder impacts (MGMT 857)
  • analytical tools, such as Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) (MGMT 850)

Faculty advisers

Required courses

Students must complete each of the following three graduate MBA courses with a letter grade of at least a B in order to attain the Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance. The three integrated courses below are critical skill-building courses in foundational ethics and compliance, operational organizational leadership with integrity, and applied negotiation skills in working inter- and intra-organizationally.

MGMT 850 Ethics and Compliance in Business

Prerequisite: Graduate status or consent of instructor. Focus on integrity, understanding and applying managerial ethical decision-making, understanding regulatory compliance as it relates to a variety of organizational functions, developing ethics training, and evaluating stakeholder impacts. Extensive use of decision-making application models through case studies and interactive exercises. Research or internship in an area specific to students' careers.

MGMT 857 Leadership in Action

Prerequisite: two 800 level business courses, or consent of instructor.  This course focuses on the strategic, operational, functional, ethical and integrity challenges of leadership in practice. It is taught by faculty using leadership readings, case studies, experiential exercises, and incorporates frequent corporate leaders as guest speakers. 

BUS 859/IBUS 859 Business Negotiating in the Global Economy

Prerequisite: Graduate status or consent of instructor. Development of business negotiating skills through experiential exercises, negotiation role-plays, and cases involving common business negotiation situations and contexts. An emphasis is placed on learning negotiation fundamentals first, and then understanding how to adjust those fundamentals to be effective internationally and cross-culturally. Integrity and ethics issues associated with domestic and international negotiations are explored. This course is offered as BUS 859 and IBUS 859. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.

Admission requirements

Applicants must have completed a four-year college or university baccalaureate degree with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA as demonstrated on submitted sealed or electronic university or college transcripts. Applicant must also submit an English written Statement of Intent to be admitted. The GMAT and GRE are not required for the certificate. The applicant, if accepted, will be admitted to the Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance program as either a post-baccalaureate unclassified student, or as an existing SFSU graduate student in another discipline.

If students are unable to enroll in courses during the semester in which they are admitted, they would need to reapply to the program to be eligible to take classes in any ensuing semester.  Students reapplying to the program should first check with the College of Business Graduate Studies Office to determine admissions documents that would need to be submitted in order to reapply.  

How to apply

Application to the graduate level Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance program is found via the online CSU Mentor application website, Applicants create a profile, pay the required application fee and submit all of their official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended to the Division of Graduate Studies. San Francisco State University accepts applications for admission for the Fall and Spring semesters only. You will be able to apply directly to the Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance program and San Francisco State University on this page. The Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance application deadlines are July 15 for fall admission and December 1 for spring admission. Evaluation of a student application will not be initiated until all University application materials have been received.

Applicants with multiple transcripts should remember that it may take the former college or university issuing the transcripts several weeks to send the documents to SFSU. To ensure more rapid processing, applicants should gather official University-sealed transcripts from each institution previously attended, place them together in the same large envelope and submit them by mail or in person to Graduate Admissions, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue (ADM 250), San Francisco, CA 94132-4013. eTranscripts are accepted from participating universities and should be sent to

Transfer credit from other institutions, including graduate courses taken at another university, are not transferable to the Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance program.

Admissions decisions for student acceptance/decline for the program will be from four to six weeks after all transcripts are received.

Notice of admission or denial

After review of all application materials, the College of Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance admission committee will notify the SF State Graduate Admissions office of their admission recommendations. Applicants will be formally notified of their admission status in a SF State Graduate Admission Notification Letter, issued by the SF State Division of Graduate Studies. Letters of admission from the Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance program received prior to the official SF State Admission Notification Letter are not binding. Applicants who are denied by either the University or the College of Business certificate program will receive notification of denial from the Division of Graduate Studies. Applicants can monitor their admission status online on the SF State Gateway, which can be accessed 24/7 from the Graduate Studies or University main web pages.

Admission status as Post-baccalaureate Unclassified

Students admitted to the graduate level Business Certificate in Ethics & Compliance program will register for classes as Post-baccalaureate Unclassified students, unless they are already SFSU graduate students and are admitted as certificate applicants.

All admitted students should contact the College of Business Graduate Studies office for scheduling an advisor meeting prior to registering for the certificate courses.

MBA Emphasis in Ethics & Compliance

Interested in applying for the MBA emphasis? To find out more, see MBA Emphasis in Ethics and Compliance