Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to graduate business school comes with a lot of questions.

Take a look at some of the Frequently Asked Questions about San Francisco State University's Lam Family College of Business graduate admissions, programs, test scores, and other topics. If you don’t find the answer to your question here, contact us at (415) 817-4300 or

Are GMAT and GRE both accepted for your master’s programs?

GMAT and GRE are both accepted for the MSBA, MSA and MBA programs (including the MBA for Biotech Professionals Program).

Can graduate business applicants request to waive the GMAT/GRE test?

MBA and MSA applicants may waive the GMAT/GRE test if at least one of the following conditions is met:

  • Completed an undergraduate degree in business from AACSB-accredited school with a cumulative 3.0 (or higher) GPA
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA with five or more years of full-time, professional work experience
  • Completed doctoral or master's degree from a recognized/accredited program

MSBA applicants may waive the GMAT/GRE test if at least one of the following conditions is met:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA with five or more years of full-time, professional work experience
  • Completed an undergraduate degree in business from AACSB-accredited school with a cumulative 3.0 (or higher) GPA
  • Completed doctoral or master's degree in quantitative area from a recognized/accredited program

MBA for Executives program applicants with seven or more years of full-time professional work experience may waive the GMAT/GRE test.

Please note that the GMAT/GRE waiver is not automatically granted to applicants. To apply for a GMAT/GRE waiver based on meeting one of the above-specified conditions:

  • Your must fill out the Waiver Request Form after submitting your application for admissions through the Cal State Apply site.
  • If you are granted a preliminary waiver of the GMAT/GRE by email, you will need to attend an interview and/or complete a written test.
  • After the interview, we will make the final determination of your request to waive the GMAT/GRE admissions requirement.

What is the school code for the GMAT and GRE exams?

Our GMAT school codes are:

  • MBA program: F87HP99
  • MSA program: F87HP10
  • MSBA program: F87HP42

Our GRE school code is: 4684

More information is found at step three of our Graduate Programs Application Checklist.

Can the TOEFL/IELTS/PTE requirement for admission be waived?

TOEFL/IELTS/PTE is required of all applicants who have earned their undergraduate degree from a country where the official language is not English. If an applicant has a Master’s or higher degree from a US university after the Bachelor’s degree, they may be waived from these English language tests.

An applicant does not have to submit a TOEFL/IELTS/PTE score if a bachelor's or master’s degree is earned from any of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Botswana
  • Canada
  • Commonwealth Caribbean
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Pacific Trust Territories
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

What is the minimum score for TOEFL/IELTS/PTE?

TOEFL/IELTS/PTE tests taken within the past two years are accepted. See Graduate Business Admission Criteria.

If you register for the TOEFL test, make sure to request that your official test scores be sent to our school code: 4683.

  • TOEFL Internet Based Test minimum score of 88
  • IELTS score of at least 6.5
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) minimum academic overall score of 59

My undergraduate GPA falls short of the minimum GPA requirement of 3.0. Can I still apply?

When we evaluate your GPA, we consider either the final GPA or the GPA based on the last 60 semester units or last 90 quarter units. We consider the higher of the two GPAs.

We also consider all aspects of the application in addition to the GPA. If your GPA is between 2.75 - 2.99, it is possible to be considered for admission. If your GPA is below 2.75, we advise you to take some classes at a community college or another institution to boost your GPA before applying.

There are only four classes we may honor from a community college if you want to waive the prerequisite courses in Data Analysis (DS 776), Financial Accounting (ACCT 780), and Economics (ECON 783):

  • Introduction to Statistics
  • Introduction to Financial Accounting
  • Introduction to Microeconomics
  • Introduction to Macroeconomics

Note the following conditions:

  • a grade of a B- or better must be earned
  • the course(s) must have been completed within the last seven calendar years
  • the course(s) must be completed prior to starting your graduate business studies at SF State

Can international students apply for the MBA for Executives or the MBA for Biotech Professionals program?

International students are not eligible to apply to the MBA for Executives or the MBA for Biotech Professionals programs since they are required to enroll in classes full-time. Both the MBA for Executives and MBA for Biotech Professionals program are part-time programs.

What information should be included in the letter or recommendation? How can I submit my letter of recommendation?

We require applicants to submit two letters of recommendation in Cal State Apply along with their application. Upon completing the letter of recommendation section, the applicant will be asked to provide the email address of the two recommenders. The recommenders will then receive an email from Cal State Apply with instructions on how to submit their letters to Cal State Apply for the application. The applicant will receive a confirmation email from Cal State Apply once the letter of recommendation has been submitted. Applicants can also log in to their account to track the application status by selecting the Check Status tab at the top of the application.

You may request the letter of recommendation from your professors and/or employers, or from people who know your work well, or those who are able to describe your character. Letter writers may share any information they wish about you. We do not have any particular style requirement for the letter of recommendation.

Do I have to submit the official transcripts?

During the application phase, only unofficial copies of your transcripts are required to be uploaded to your application. Students are only required to submit official transcripts if they accept an offer of admission from SF State.

For application deadlines, does it matter which round I apply in? Is there any disadvantage if I apply in round 2 or round 3?

It does not matter which round you apply to the program as long as you apply before the application deadline for a semester. The earlier you apply to the program, the earlier the admissions office will process your application and respond with a decision.

Do you offer an application fee waiver?

Unfortunately, we do not offer application fee waivers.

How can I check my application status, and how long until I receive an admissions decision?

Once your application is submitted, you can check your application status online. You will be asked to provide your SF State student ID# and password. Your SF State ID# is sent to you by email after you submit an online application. The website gives first-time users specific instructions for setting up an SF State password.

The Division of Graduate Studies determines if you meet the minimum university requirements for admission. If minimum university requirements are met, they forward your application to the Graduate Business Programs for review. Our office determines if additional departmental requirements are met.

After we receive your application, it takes approximately four to six weeks to review your application and make the final decision. View timeline of the application process.

Can I defer my graduate admission to a future term?

SF State does not allow newly admitted students to defer their admission to a future term. You must enroll for the term you were admitted or reapply for a future semester.

If I re-apply to SF State, do I need to resubmit my transcripts?

A new application form and application fee is required to re-apply. Applicants who have applied to SF State before need to submit transcripts and test scores along with their new application.

Whom should I contact for questions about graduate admissions (foreign degree or transcript evaluation, etc.)?

Contact the Division of Graduate Studies

  • email
  • phone: (415) 338-2234 (M-F, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.).
  • advising drop-in hours via Zoom; visit their website for information.

Whom should I contact for Visa-related questions?

Contact the Office of International Programs (OIP):

  • email
  • drop-in advising is available over the phone; visit their website for information.

Do you offer STEM-designated master’s programs?

Yes. Our Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program is STEM designated and allows international students with an F-1 visa to extend their training in the U.S. by an additional 24 months after graduation. MSBA students are eligible for a total of 36 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) compared to 12 months for non-STEM master’s programs.

Can I view the MBA program course requirements?

Yes. See MBA 02-2021.pdf

Can I view the MSA program course requirements?

Yes. See the following PDFs:

  • MS Accountancy Program Requirements without a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting
  • Accountancy Program Requirements with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting

To view PDF files, you may download Adobe Reader

Do you offer a fully online master’s program?

We do not offer a fully online master’s program. Most of our courses are face-to-face courses with a few courses online.

Can international students apply for graduate certificate programs?

Current SF State graduate students (both domestic and international) and non-matriculated, post-baccalaureate domestic students can apply to the graduate certificate programs.

International students cannot apply to the graduate certificate programs without first being admitted into a master’s program. Graduate certificate programs are part-time programs (6 units or less) whereas international students need to carry at least 8 units per semester to maintain their status.

Can I apply to two graduate programs simultaneously?

Unfortunately, prospective students can only apply to one graduate program per semester. If you already have an active application on the CSU site and you would like to switch your area of study, please contact the Division of Graduate Studies for more information on this procedure.

Where and when are classes held?

Most graduate courses are delivered at the San Francisco State University Downtown Campus, except for the Biotech MBA courses. Most classes are held Monday through Thursday, from either 2 to 4:45 p.m., or from 6:30 to 9:15 p.m.

MBA for Executives classes are held every other weekend on Friday, from noon to 9 p.m. and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Biotech MBA classes are delivered in South San Francisco on Mondays and Thursdays, from 6 to 8:45 p.m.

Note: due to COVID-19 guidelines, all SF State offices and classes are currently operating remotely. SF State intends to bring back some of the classes to in-person/online for Fall 2021 semester. Visit Campus Comeback for more information on campus safety and SF State’s reopening plans.

What is the class size for your graduate programs?

Our average class sizes vary between 15 to 30 students for the MBA, MSA and MSBA programs.

How many intakes are there per year, and in which month does the program start?

For the MBA, MSA, and MSBA programs, there are two intakes per year. Fall semester starts in late August and Spring semester starts in late January.

For MBA for Biotech Professionals and MBA for Executives programs, there is only one intake per year, and we only accept students in Fall semester.

How do I obtain an SF State ID number?

After you've submitted an application on Cal State Apply, an SF State ID number will be generated for you, and you will be notified by email. You can also go to Look Up Your SF State ID.

Are housing options available to graduate students?

University Park North has a dedicated floor for graduate students and offers one and two bedroom apartments that are shared by up to four graduate students in a combination of single and double occupancy bedrooms. These furnished apartments include utilities, internet and basic cable. The floor plan for these units can be viewed at UPN Floorplan. On-campus applications are available at the SF State Housing Office.

Is financial aid available?

Financial aid is available to eligible applicants who complete a FAFSA form. Visit the Office of Student Financial Aid for more information on loans, grants, scholarships, fellowships and other financial aid programs.

How do I become a California resident for tuition purposes?

Rules regarding California residency for tuition purposes are complex and non-negotiable. International students are not eligible for California residency during their studies on an F-1 visa. See Residency Information provided by the Division of Graduate Studies for complete information.

How can I learn more about a specific graduate program I'm interested in?

Register for an information session webinar! At each session, the admissions team presents a detailed overview of the program, followed by Q&A where you can ask questions about the program, admission requirements, application process, or the curriculum. 

Once you've registered, you will receive a confirmation email and instructions on how to join the webinar. Please be sure to log in with the same email address you used for registration.

What is the duration of the MSBA program?

The program has 10 required courses. It takes about three to four semesters for a full-time student and five to six semesters for a part-time student to complete, depending on the prerequisites the student may be missing.

Do you offer the same courses to students who start in the fall and those who start in spring?

All required courses are offered in both Fall and Spring semesters. With a few exceptions, elective courses are offered once an academic year so different electives are offered in Fall semester compared to Spring semester.

What is the average GRE score and profiles of students admitted to the program?

The average GRE score is 155 on the Quantitative and 150 on the Verbal sections. The admissions team takes a holistic approach to evaluating an application, with no particular weight given to any one area.

Should I apply while I'm working on the prerequisite, or do I need to wait to apply until I have completed the prerequisite course?

You may apply without the prerequisites. Students admitted without the prerequisites completed will have the wording “conditional acceptance” in their admission letter. This means that they will have to take the prerequisites in their first semester at SF State, and pass the courses with a grade of B- or better.

Will I qualify for OPT (Optional Practical Training) or CPT (Curricular Practical Training) after graduating from the MSBA program?

Our MSBA Program is a STEM-designated degree program. Upon completion of the program, international students are eligible to obtain 36 months of OPT. Please visit the Office of International Programs (OIP) OPT website for more information.

MSBA students may qualify for CPT during, but not after completion of the MSBA program. The Office of International Programs provides up-to-date information regarding CPT. Check with the Office of International Programs (OIP) CPT website.

Is there a course catalog for the MSBA graduate courses to view?

Yes. You can view the program courses and requirements in the University Bulletin.

Can you provide information regarding the placement and employment statistics for the MS in Business Analytics program?

Our MSBA program is fairly new. Our first large group of students graduated in December 2020.

 Our students started working as an (or received offers from):​

  • analyst at Cisco Meraki (large IT firm)
  • senior analyst at Ernst & Young (one of Big Four accounting firms)
  • consulting software engineer at LexisNexit (computer-assisted legal search service firm)
  • systems engineer at Marin County IST (local government)
  • data scientist at Zabble, Inc
  • marketing analyst at Motive Metrics
  • business analyst at TDK’s San Francisco office

Our MBA program is over 50 years old, and you will find our alumni in Fortune 500 companies including Facebook, Google, Apple, GM, Salesforce, AWS, as well as many small and medium businesses.

Do students in the MS in Business Analytics program have an opportunity to work with companies on projects for a capstone/practicum course?

Yes, the BUS 895 Culminating Experience Project Course (also known as Practicum Program) is a required course. Students work on real-life projects with real-life clients for one semester. More details can be found at the practicum program.

Which programming languages are used in the program?

Mostly Python and SQL are used. Depending on the electives, students may be exposed to other programming languages.

Do students need to have programming experience prior to joining the MSBA program?

Programming experience is currently not required to be admitted into the MSBA program. However a majority of our students have taken at least one programming course prior to joining the program. Those without programming knowledge are recommended to complete an online programming course prior to the start of their first semester.

Two online programming courses we recommended:


What is the total for tuition and program fees for the Graduate Business Programs?

All tuition and fees are subject to change.

Each Fall and Spring semester, in addition to tuition, students in the MBA, MSA, and MSBA Programs are charged a Graduate Program Fee ($700/part-time or $1,200/full-time) and a Professional Program Fee ($270/unit). Non-residents of California and International students pay an additional $396/unit.

Visit Program Tuition & Fees for the latest information for the specific semester you are interested in.

Visit the Bursar's Office for an itemization of tuition/fees and payment deadlines.


  • Students who have been given conditional admission subject to completing a business writing class BUS 714 (offered through the SF State's College of Extended Learning) need to pay $1,185 additionally for this course.
  • The MBA for Executives Program is a self-support program and has a separate pricing policy. The total tuition cost for this program is $55,000. Students complete the program (48 units) in 24 months.
  • The tuition and fees for MBA for Biotech Professionals Program is approximately $41,000. Students in the program take 2 courses/6 units per semester ($5,095 per semester). There are 8 semesters in the program, including the summer semester.

Cost Scenarios

Examples of different scenarios for tuition fees per semester for programs in the Fall 2021 semester. Note the total tuition cost depends on the number of semesters you take to complete the program.

Case 1

A CA Resident who attends two courses per semester as a Part-Time (6.0 or less units) Graduate Student:

  • Graduate Program Tuition and Fees $2,775
  • Graduate Program Fee $700
  • Professional Program Fee ($270 per unit for 6 units) $1,620
  • Per semester tuition: $2,775+$700+$1,620 = $5,095

Case 2

A CA Resident who attends four courses per semester as a Full-Time (6.1 or more units) Graduate Student:

  • Graduate Program Tuition and Fees $4,281
  • Graduate Program Fee $1,200
  • Professional Program Fee ($270 per unit for 12 units) $3,240
  • Per semester tuition: $4,281+$1,200+$3,240 = $8,721

Case 3

A CA Non-Resident & Domestic Student who attends two courses per semester as a Part-Time (6.0 or less units) Graduate Student:

  • Graduate Program Tuition and Fees $2,775
  • Graduate Program Fee $700
  • Professional Program Fee ($270 per unit for 6 units) $1,620
  • Non-Resident Tuition Fee ($396 per unit for 6 units) $2,376
  • Per semester tuition: $2,775+$700+$1,620+$2,376 = $7,471

Case 4

A CA Non-Resident & International Student who attends four courses per semester as a Full-Time (6.1 or more units) Graduate Student:

  • Graduate Program Tuition and Fees $4,281
  • Graduate Program Fee $1,200
  • Professional Program Fee ($270 per unit for 12 units) $3,240
  • Non-Resident Tuition Fee ($396 per unit for 12 units) $4,752
  • Per semester tuition: $4,281+$1,200+$3,240+$4,752 = $13,473

All tuition and fees are subject to change.