San Francisco State University


What makes San Francisco State University special? Let me mention a few of the strengths that have earned this regional university national—and international—name recognition. First mention surely goes to Professor Geoff Marcy and SFSU graduate Paul Butler who early in 1996 changed our understanding of our universe by discovering two planets outside our solar system, one with the conditions to support life as we know it. Their discovery inspired comparisons with Copernicus and Galileo. At San Francisco State, students can work side by side with our Geoff Marcy—as Paul Butler once did.

Our academic program is broad, offering more than 200 fields of study. With a conservation genetics laboratory equalled in the U.S. only to the Smithsonian, the nation's largest multimedia studies program, a museum studies program that draws students from around the world, the nation's only College of Ethnic Studies, a cinema program whose graduates include Academy Award winners and nominees, and many more areas of excellence, San Francisco State has distinguished itself as a creative and constantly-evolving academic institution.

We are especially proud to be known as a national leader in an arena that encompasses all academic fields: welcoming and drawing strength from diversity—in faculty hiring, in our student population, and in our curriculum. We are fortunate to be located in one of the world's most international and ethnically rich cities, and in that exciting setting, we have sought to create a campus environment that prepares students to be leaders in a global and diverse society.

We rank ninth in the nation as a producer of ethnic minority university graduates; we won praise from our regional accrediting agency as "an institution that cares deeply about its students, a campus committed to multiculturalism, and to opportunity for a wide range of students."

Our faculty are challenged and rewarded by the exceptional diversity they find in every class, where students vary in age, life experience, ethnicity, beliefs, and aspirations. "When you walk across SFSU's campus, you walk across the world," one faculty member says, adding that teaching here is "a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and values. We teach the students, and they teach us."

The faculty are committed teachers first, but they are also active scholars, many of whom have created programs and projects that demonstrate another of SF State's special qualities: its involvement with the community and its active partnership in the solution of community problems. More than 100 centers and institutes, dealing with such varied issues as inner city schools, homelessness, teen health and counseling, small business success, affordable housing, and environmental restoration give faculty—and students—a chance to use their talents and apply their academic knowledge to real-life challenges.

We give our students exceptional opportunities to work side by side with faculty—in laboratories, theatres, editing rooms, K-12 classrooms, in the estuaries of the San Francisco Bay, and in the neighborhoods of the City.

San Francisco State is a cosmopolitan and challenging urban campus that can take a student as far as he or she is willing to go.

Robert A. Corrigan, President
San Francisco State University


"Almost 100 years ago, when San Francisco desperately needed a source of well-trained, truly professional teachers for its children, San Francisco State led the way. The teacher training curriculum developed by founding President Frederic Burk set the standard for the day.

"Today, our community has more numerous and more complex needs. And San Francisco State University is still a leader, growing and changing with the City and the Bay Area, responding to and anticipating the issues that shape our daily lives and will influence our future."

—President Robert A. Corrigan

Since San Francisco State Normal School opened in 1899 as a teacher training center, it has changed its name four times—to San Francisco State Teachers College, San Francisco State College, California State University, San Francisco and, in 1974, San Francisco State University—each change reflecting its expanding academic scope. The first class of 36 women was graduated in 1901. SFSU now graduates some 4,500 men and women a year.

After the earthquake of 1906 destroyed the original campus on San Francisco's Nob Hill, San Francisco State moved to Upper Market Street in the City. Climbing enrollment led to another move and in 1954, SF State officially dedicated the first buildings on its present 94-acre site near the shores of Lake Merced in the southwest corner of San Francisco.

In 1961, an ambitious and socially progressive new master plan reshaped California higher education, and San Francisco State became one of the founding campuses of The California State University and Colleges, now known as The California State University. The CSU is the largest system of higher education in the nation, currently serving almost 326,000 students in bachelor's through joint doctoral programs.


San Francisco State's compact main campus achieves a park-like beauty amid the city life that surrounds it. From the sloping central green, one is within a three-to-five minute walk of the buildings that house SFSU's wide-ranging academic programs—currently numbering 112 bachelor's and 93 master's degrees, two joint doctorates in education (with the University of California, Berkeley), one joint master's in physical therapy (with the University of California, San Francisco), offered through eight colleges: Behavioral and Social Sciences; Business; Creative Arts; Education; Ethnic Studies; Health and Human Services; Humanities; and Science and Engineering.

The central campus landmark is the Cesar Chavez Student Center, with its two dramatic leaning pyramids. The center houses restaurants, a pub/coffee house, the bookstore, student government and other student organization offices, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, and meeting rooms.

New buildings and signs of current construction demonstrate San Francisco State's success in creating the up-to-date facilities its academic programs need. The five-story creative arts addition includes an art gallery, sound stage, theatre (bringing the arts complex total to four), facilities for the new computer-aided design and animation programs, video film and sound editing laboratories, offices, and classrooms.

Moving the center of the campus westward is the humanities building, opened in Fall 1994. The campus' largest classroom building, it provides specialized facilities for each of the humanities, including museum exhibit and conservation space, seminar rooms, and spaces for the nationally-known Poetry Center and Video Archives.

Burk Hall now boasts a small restaurant run by students in the hotel/restaurant management program and is newly renovated to add updated computer facilities and specially equipped spaces for nursing, counseling, and special education.

Nearby is a five-story center housing ethnic studies, psychology and other social sciences, and the physical education complex, which includes three gymnasiums, a swimming pool and a 6,500 seat stadium, as well as tennis, basketball and racquetball courts and playing fields.

Across the commons are the buildings housing business, sciences, and additional social sciences. Among the special facilities are modern laboratories for teaching and research in biotechnology and genetic engineering, advanced computing work stations, a planetarium and observatory, electron microscope laboratory, animal care facilities, and the laboratories of the Wheeled Mobility Center.

The J. Paul Leonard Library holds more than 3.5 million items, including books, periodicals, microform, and CD-Rom materials. The library also houses the celebrated Frank V. deBellis Collection of Italian culture. Other specialized library facilities include the Sutro Library, a branch of the state library system, and the Labor Archives and Research Center.

Off-campus study centers include the Romberg Tiburon Center, 35 acres on the shores of San Francisco Bay where faculty and students conduct environmental research; the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range; and the SFSU Downtown Center, located in the heart of the City at 425 Market Street. The Downtown Center, operated by the College of Extended Learning, offers the nation's largest multimedia studies program, classes for personal and professional development, and meeting/conference facilities.

Extended Learning is a self-supporting arm of the university that provides all programs and courses not funded through the university's state budget. Such programs include Summer and Winter Sessions, continuing education courses, Open University, travel study, contract courses, professional training, and certificate programs.


A teen health center, created by a SF State faculty member, opens--and expands--at a local high school. A group of students helps residents of a homeless shelter create the resumes they need to get jobs. SFSU music students and faculty bring programs, master classes, and encouragement to music students in City schools.

In these and scores of other programs, San Francisco State demonstrates its role as an urban university: one which devotes much of its faculty expertise and student talent to community-focused applied research. San Francisco State is an active community partner in addressing such crucial issues as homelessness, health needs of immigrant families, youth gangs, keeping at-risk middle school students in school, the special stresses of new inner-city school teachers, environmental restoration, and more.

In its recent reaccreditation of the university, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges praised San Francisco State as "an institution that cares about its community and that contributes regularly and substantially to the quality of life in the Bay Area." The university's urban projects stem from and return to the classroom; all offer exceptional opportunities for students to become involved in real-world activities, gaining experience that is both personally and professionally enriching.


The heart of learning is the human interchange between student and teacher, the mind-to-mind encounter for which there is no substitute.

At San Francisco State University, there are many such encounters. On a bare stage, in a science laboratory, around a seminar table or in a faculty office, undergraduate and graduate students have close contact with their teachers, from the newest assistant to the most senior professor.

Excellent teaching is the first responsibility of faculty, yet scholarly and creative work—a deliberately broader phrase than "research"—is also necessary for them to retain their intellectual vitality and professional currency. One result of their success: SFSU won more than $25 million in 1996-97 to support faculty's scholarly projects.

Some reflections of faculty excellence are very public: The faculty includes winners of the Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur "genius" grant, Guggenheim Fellowships, and Presidential Young Investigator Award, among others. Other measures of excellence may show more privately, in enthusiastic student evaluations or in class projects that give students exceptional responsibility and creative opportunities.

The women and men who teach at San Francisco State are challenged and rewarded by the diversity they find in their students, the stimulation of the Bay Area's richly multicultural environment, and the engagement with the community that is a natural part of an urban university's expression of its mission.


At San Francisco State, students find a campus and a faculty that encourage them to ignore traditional barriers. Helping people of exceptionally diverse backgrounds come into their own is a major part of SFSU's identity as an urban university.

The university's almost 26,000 students currently come from every state and more than 90 countries, though the majority are from the Bay Area. Like the City of San Francisco itself, our students are increasingly ethnically diverse, with some 58.3 percent of undergraduates representing ethnic minority groups.

The university's urban setting, the life experience of its many older and reentry students, and the faculty's involvement in applied, community-focused research combine to give our students exceptional opportunities to create independent projects and to develop real-world experience that will give them an edge when they graduate into the full-time workplace. At SFSU, students design their own majors, share in research projects—and sometimes research credit—with senior faculty, train each other, and operate a complex volunteer program.

Despite full lives and often-conflicting demands, our students excel. The varsity forensics team was recently ranked #1 in the state, #2 in the nation. The cinema program has produced Academy Award nominees—and winners. Students completing the post-baccalaureate pre-med program achieve an 85% medical school acceptance rate.

In these and many other ways, San Francisco State's students are fulfilling the promise of the university's mission to them—and to the community.


The mission of San Francisco State University is to create and maintain an environment for learning that promotes respect for and appreciation of scholarship, freedom, human diversity, and the cultural mosaic of the City of San Francisco and the Bay Area; to promote excellence in instruction and intellectual accomplishment; and to provide broadly accessible higher education for residents of the region and state, as well as the nation and world. To fulfill its mission, the university is committed to the following goals:


The university is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Association of Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC is located at 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA  94501. Various specialized programs at the university are accredited by the following agencies.

Program Agency
Art BA/MA/MFA National Association of Schools of Art and Design
Business Administration BS/MS/MBA American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business
Chemistry BS/MS American Chemical Society
Civil Engineering BS Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
Clinical Laboratory Science Internship National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Communicative Disorders MS American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Computer Science BS/MS Computing Sciences Accreditation Board
Counseling MS Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Dietetics BS American Dietetics Association
Drama BA/MA National Association of Schools of Theatre
Education MA National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Electrical Engineering BS Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
Family and Consumer Sciences BA/MA American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
Hospitality Management BS American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business
Journalism BA Accreditation Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications
Mechanical Engineering BS Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
Music BA/MA/BM/MM National Association of Schools of Music
Nursing BS/MS Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 
Physical Therapy MS American Physical Therapy Association
Public Administration MPA National Association for Schools of Public Affairs and Administration
Recreation BA/MS National Recreation and Park Association
Rehabilitation Counseling MS Council on Rehabilitation Education
Social Work BA/MSW Council on Social Work Education
Special Education MA and Concentration in EdD/PhD in Education National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Theatre Arts MFA: Concentration in Design and Technical Production National Association of Schools of Theatre

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Last modified July 05, 2012 by