The CSU Name
The name of the California State University is a significant asset of the
institution, and the Office of General Counsel has the responsibility to protect the
CSU name against misuse and infringement. This information is provided to educate
students, staff and members of the public about the following policies and law related
to the use of the CSU name.
and Appropriate Use of the California State University Name
The California State University is committed to protect against the misuse of its
name, not to prevent its appropriate use.
Ownership of the CSU name
Education Code section 89005.5 provides that the name "California State University," and the
names of all of the CSU campuses, nicknames and abbreviations belong to the State of
California. Examples of the CSU name include Cal State, California State University
Stanislaus, CSUS, San Diego State University, San Diego State, SFSU, Cal Poly, Sonoma
State University, Sonoma State, the California State University Maritime Academy, Cal Maritime, CSU, and
Misuse of the CSU name
It is inappropriate to use the CSU name without the written permission of the
institution for any purpose, including:
- Designating a business, social, political, religious or other organization;
- Claiming an affiliation or endorsement of the California State University, where
- Advertising any meeting or activity that has the purpose of supporting or opposing
any strike, lockout, boycott, or political, religious, sociological or economic
- Any other commercial purpose.
Appropriate uses of the CSU name
It is appropriate to use the CSU name to describe a current or past affiliation with
the institution or any of its campuses (e.g. employment or enrollment) or otherwise to
describe the location of events.
Additional questions regarding appropriate uses of the CSU name
If you have any questions regarding the use of the CSU name, please address the
appropriate local campus official, or contact the Office of General Counsel.
The California State University does not sell, or license for sale, any
diplomas, certificates, transcripts or recommendations from any of its campuses. Any
business purporting to sell any such CSU documents is doing so illegally.
In recent years, some commercial vendors have emerged offering to sell what appear to
be CSU and other well-known institutional diplomas. These "diploma mills" are operating
without authority and have no affiliation to CSU.
Diploma mills are a concern to CSU because they cheapen college degrees by making
them available without college-level work. They cast doubt on genuine degrees. They
confuse employers, licensing agencies, and the public. Wherever CSU learns of its name
being used inappropriately by any diploma mill, it takes immediate steps to stop this
The purchase or sale of a CSU degree is illegal
Under California Education Code section 32381, anyone who prepares, manufactures, or
prints for compensation a degree or diploma without written authorization from the
issuing school is guilty of a misdemeanor.
In addition, under California Education Code section 32382, anyone who buys or uses a
diploma or degree that has been fraudulently or illegally issued, illegally obtained,
counterfeited, materially altered, or found, is also guilty of a misdemeanor, and can be
fined or jailed.
Fraudulent diplomas may be offered in different ways
There is another form of a diploma mill of concern to CSU. Unaccredited schools that
purport to offer college degrees based on minimal coursework or inappropriate life
experience. These diploma mills sometimes use names that are similar to established
universities. CSU does not offer its diplomas through any of these schools.
Diploma mills share many characteristics, which are summarized on
Council for Higher
Education Accreditation (CHEA) Fact Sheet No.6 (.pdf).
If you know of a diploma mill that purports to offer a CSU degree, please
contact the Office of General Counsel.
The Official Seal of the California
The official seal of the California State University (see below) is a symbol of the
institution, and at the Chancellor's discretion, can be used for any official business,
including alumni, student, and other public events and projects that promote a better
understanding of the institution. The Secretary of the Board of Trustees is the
official custodian of the seal.
See standing order
Every CSU campus has its own seal, which may be trademarked and can only be used with
campus permission. Campus seals »
Code Of Conduct for CSU
CSU does not tolerate labor abuse. All CSU contractors that manufacture, assemble or
package products, including those with the CSU name, logo or image, must certify that
they do not use materials or supplies produced through sweatshop, child, convict or
forced labor, and that they meet the applicable local, state and national standards
relating to wage and working conditions. California Public Contracts Code section 6108.
CSU and its auxiliary organizations use best efforts to ensure that all licensees
provide their employees with safe and healthful working conditions. These requirements
are set forth in Chancellor's Executive
Order No. 718 (.pdf) and
Section 210.10 of the CSU
Policy Manual for Contracting and Procurement.
Consequences for Misuse of
the CSU Name
The California State University strives to resolve any misuse of its name by first
bringing the situation to the attention of the individual/business and requesting
immediate correction. If that fails, or in the first instance in egregious situations,
the CSU will take legal action to protect its name, which can result in civil and/or
criminal penalties including:
- Money damages or fines
- Injunctive relief
- Criminal charges
- Seizure of infringing merchandise
- Attorneys' fees
If you are in doubt about a particular use of the CSU name, please
contact the Office of General Counsel.