CSUMB is an almost comically chaotic and undefined school, in the tradition of the California alternative educational model. However, the underlying motto of the school seems to be "Whatever a CSU is, let's not be that." The only problem with this motto is that the CSUs, though flawed in some ways, are considered to provide some of the best public undergraduate education in the world.
I honestly do not know why this school was accredited by the CSU system, except that the rah rah language and bs is incredibly fervent. It could be that the accreditation committe was unable to uncover the massive and overwhelming flaws at CSUMB (which most students figure out on their own in their first semester) due to the overwhelming amount of PR spin that permeates the campus. Go on their website, and you'll be covered in it. Just know this: None of it means anything, as far as I can tell.
The students, even in their capstone projects, are very poorly prepared for the work world or grad school. Typos, bad grammar, unclear thinking, and unfocused final projects are common for graduating seniors. It's really sad to see. The chaos and trendiness of this school, not to mention the raucous infighting among and between the departments and administration, coalesce to create a very unfavorable environment.
Here are the problems that exist in all of the different schools (which are segregated firmly from one another), but are most egregious in the program I chose, which was the multidisciplinary SBS (Social and Behavioral Sciences) department:
1) The interdisciplinary approach is merely a model, and not a working one. None of the departments really know how to meld disciplines effectively, which means that students' generalist needs may be met (with varying degrees of skill) while their specific needs cannot be.
2) Your degree isn't "in" anything that transfers successfully to other universities, and once you're in your program (after your sophomore year, usually), your classes won't transfer either. Other universities have to comb through your syllabi (did you keep all of them? You'll have to if you want to transfer out or go to grad school) to ascertain whether or not you completed CSU requirements or not.
3) The syllabi are a joke anyway. I was only at CSUMB for one horrifying semester, but no teacher followed his or her syllabus, and most were changed numerous times throughout the semester. Everyone - teacher, administration, and students alike - knows that the syllabi are only for show. I expected professionalism and consistentcy from a CSU; I absolutely could not find it as CSUMB.
4) But oh, will you learn to use your computer. I've never been pelted with so many PowerPoint presentations in my life! Every student is taught to use PPT and to make websites, which many of them fill with typos and grammatical errors. Snore! But this will prepare them for a job in middle management at a minor corporation. Come on! PowerPoints! It's like watching someone's vacation slides.
5) Most students are exhausted from trying to find out what classes they need to graduate - because the programs and their requirements change every year - just like the syllabi do. Major switching is also a rite of passage at CSUMB, because so many of the departments offer curricula that don't match anything you'd expect them to. If you go to CSUMB, you have to check your needs at the door - the needs of CSUMB will always trump yours.
Also, the advisors often give wrong information, and to truly choose the right classes, you have to become a kind of private interdepartmental detective. If they gave degrees for that, you'd be in luck!
6) Everyone at CSUMB means well, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with.
If you or your child just need a Bachelor's degree, and you don't care how you get it or what you learn, you might like CSUMB. Monterey is cool, the campus (on the decommissioned Fort Ord) is kind of spooky and strange, and they've got student housing for families (if you're going back to school as a parent with a family). There's also an anti-establishment hippie vibe that you might find fun.
But if you're serious about your education and you need your degree to mean something and get you somewhere, you really have to go elsewhere. This school is not in any way, shape, or form a going concern. It's a social experiment being performed on paying guinea pigs.
I transferred out after the first semester, and I'm so grateful I got out ASAP. My classes didn't translate, and I had to play catch up at my current CSU. I see the problems inherent in the traditional CSU system, but I promise you, they are nothing at all compared to what goes on everyday at CSUMB. And anyway, smart CSU professors figure out ways around the speedbumps in the CSU system. AT my new CSU, I've been able to work directly with my professors on their research and book projects, and I'm having a blast.If you are an alum and had a great time at CSUMB (and you can write and think at a top notch level), well, bless your heart. I was there in 2004, and I didn't see anything promising.