What makes San Francisco State University special? Its location in one of the world's most diverse, creative, and globally-connected regions is certainly a singular advantage, but it is our own strengths that have earned this regional university national—and international—name recognition.

In the words of our accrediting agency, SF State is "an energetic, dynamic university involved in revitalizing its urban mission. It is an engaged university that genuinely cares about its community. It is an ethnically and racially diverse university where composition of its students, faculty and staff mirrors that of its surrounding geographical areas."

This statement captures several of our proudest characteristics. San Francisco State has been a strong community partner for more than 100 years. It has achieved national recognition for its success in building community service into the academic program, being named by the Princeton Review as a“College with a Conscience” and by the Carnegie Foundation as a “Community Engagement” institution. The academic and personal outcomes for students are powerful. They do better in those classes, gain a range of new skills, and emerge with heightened confidence. They also learn, first-hand, that one person can make a difference.

Faculty focus much of their own scholarship and applied research on community issues—and to San Francisco State faculty, "community" can be near or far. A professor and his students in a Latino Health Care class have joined with medical students and doctors at a nearby medical school to open and operate a free clinic in San Francisco’s Mission District. On the other side of the world, a business professor is using the power of the Internet to link health providers in Kenya with AIDS information and training resources and bringingup-to-date medical training and information to doctors and nurses isolated by the Iraq war.

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 seeking to provide an environment and an education that prepare students to be leaders in a global and diverse society.

SF State sends more students into study abroad programs than any other campus in the California State University. It is a major draw for international students, regularly ranking at the top among master's institutions in international student enrollment. SF State ranks 21st nationally among all U.S. colleges and universities producing Peace Corps volunteers.

Our student population continues to be one of the most diverse in the nation, and our graduates consistently describe this diversity as one of the most valuable aspects of their education. SF State students are taught by a superb faculty that is also diverse. Over the last 20 years, 73% of tenured/tenure track faculty hires have been women and/or non-white. Students of color succeed at San Francisco State. We regularly rank in the top 20 nationally as a producer of ethnic minority university graduates, and have been named a “Publisher’s Pick” by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.

"When you walk across SF State'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."

In everything we do here, we work to make San Francisco State University a place that encourages, elicits the best from, and nurtures all. We strive every day to make it a microcosm of what we would like the world to be.

In short, 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


"Over 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. SF State now graduates some 7,500 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 400,000 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 central green, it is no more than a five-minute walk to most of the buildings that house SF State's wide-ranging academic programs. These currently include 115 bachelor's and 97 master's degrees; a Doctor of Education (Ed.d.) in Educational Leadership, a Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in special education (jointly with the University of California, Berkeley); two joint doctorates in physical therapy and a joint master's degree in physical therapy (all with the University of California, San Francisco). Degrees are offered through eight colleges: Behavioral and Social Sciences, Business, Creative Arts, Education, Ethnic Studies, Health and Human Services, Humanities, and Science and Engineering.

With its two dramatic leaning pyramids, the César Chávez Student Center is a central campus landmark. The center houses restaurants, a pub/coffee house, the bookstore, the Oakes Multicultural Center, games room, student government and other student organization offices, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, and meeting rooms.

Nearby, the five-story Fine Arts Building provides an art gallery; sound stage; theatre (bringing the campus total to four); facilities for computer-aided design and animation programs; video, film, and sound editing laboratories; offices, and classrooms. Together with the adjacent Creative Arts Building, it supports SF State's strong arts programs.

The Humanities Building is the largest classroom building on campus. It offers specialized facilities for each of the humanities disciplines, including museum exhibit and conservation space, seminar rooms, and homes for the University's nationally-known Poetry Center and Video Archives.

The center of the teacher education program, Burk Hall, has updated computer facilities and professionally-equipped spaces for nursing, counseling, and special education. Burk Hall also boasts a small, elegant restaurant run by students in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program.

Across from Burk Hall, a newly-retrofitted five-story center houses academic programs including ethnic studies and psychology. Next door is a complex that serves both athletics and the academic needs of the kinesiology, recreation/parks/tourism, and physical therapy programs. Among the facilities available for campus recreation are three gymnasiums, a swimming pool, weight room, and a 6,500 seat stadium, as well as nearby tennis courts.

Facing the campus green are the buildings housing business, the sciences, and additional social sciences. Among the specialized facilities are up-to-date laboratories for research and teaching in such areas as genetic engineering, biochemistry, and molecular biology; advanced computing facilities; a planetarium and observatory; electron microscope laboratory, and the design and fabrication laboratories of Whirlwind Wheelchairs.

The J. Paul Leonard Library holds more than 4 million items and logs more than two million visits each year from students, faculty, and community members. The Library’s many electronic resources include InvestiGator, the Library’s own on-line catalog, which is available both on-site and remotely. The Library provides access to well over 100 on-line databases, most also accessible remotely. The library is currently undergoling major renovation and expansion, but extensive alternate facilities are ensuring continued access to library resources.

It is no more than a five-minute walk from the Library to the student housing complex known as The Village at Centennial Square. The Village provides apartment-style housing for 760 upper division and graduate students. With its low-rise profile, linked courtyards, canopied walking areas, commercial and restaurant space, fitness center and numerous community activity and study areas, the Village is a relaxing world of its own within the campus. Two other student residence halls, Mary Park Hall and Mary Ward Hall, and the student dining center are situated near the Village.

All SF State students benefit from one of the Village facilities: the Student Services Building, a center that brings all student services together in one place, giving students convenient, one-stop access to Student Affairs programs and to services ranging from cashiering to advising to counseling.

To expand the University community and provide much-needed housing for faculty and staff, as well as students, the University Corporation of SF State and the University have in recent years acquired almost 1,000 housing units bordering SF State, creating University Park North and University Park South and expanding the main campus acreage by 50 percent.

The University operates several off-campus study centers. They include the Romberg Tiburon Center, 35 scenic acres on the shores of San Francisco Bay where faculty and students conduct environmental research that ranges from local to global in impact; the Sierra Nevada Field Campus in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains; and the SF State Downtown Campus in the heart of the City, which houses the College of Extended Learning (CEL), all College of Business graduate programs, and the Public Administration program.


A teen health center, established by a San Francisco State faculty member at a local high school, expands to meet the needs of families and moves out into the neighborhood. There, SF State students in nursing, counseling, social work, and health education put their learning to work as they help their community. Computer science students connect a low-income housing complex to the Internet, setting up computers in every unit and teaching residents of all ages basic computer skills. Marketing and broadcasting students join to produce public service television spots for local non-profits.

In these and scores of other programs, San Francisco State lives out its mission as an engaged urban university: one that focuses much of its faculty expertise and student talent on community-related applied research and service. San Francisco State works with the community to address such crucial issues as health needs of immigrant families, youth gangs, the special stresses of new inner-city school teachers, environmental restoration, and more. More than 500 class sections, extending over 47 departments—build community involvement into the course. Students overwhelmingly report that this "service learning" approach strengthens their learning, as well as their real-world, problem-solving skills.

The University aims to graduate women and men who are prepared and ready to become involved in their communities, who expect civic engagement to be a part of their lives. San Francisco State's community focus supports this value and makes for a vibrant learning experience. Students have exceptional opportunities to gain experience that is both personally and professionally enriching and to develop skills that will last a lifetime.


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, there are many such encounters. From the first freshman-level class to the graduate classroom, students have close contact with their teachers, from the newest assistant to the most senior professor.

Faculty come to SF State from the finest universities in the nation and the world. Here, they are winning awards (Fulbrights, the Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheims) and doing cutting-edge scholarship, which often includes students as partners in research. They currently bring in more that $50 million each year in grants—a "research university" level. Still, their number one goal remains excellence in teaching.

The women and men who teach at San Francisco State say that they are drawn by the diversity they find in their students (a diversity they increasingly share), the stimulation of the Bay Area's international and richly multicultural environment, and the engagement with the community that is a fundamental part of the University's character.


At San Francisco State, students find a campus and a faculty that encourage them to surmount barriers and go as far as their minds will take them. Though the majority are from the Bay Area, the University's more than 30,000 students come from across the nation and almost 110 countries around the world. Like California—and the nation—they are increasingly ethnically diverse. There is no "majority" group, and nearly 70% of undergraduates are people of color.

The University's urban setting, the varied life experience of its students, and the faculty's active involvement in applied and community-focused scholarship combine to give students abundant opportunities to work independently, to custom-tailor their academic program, and to move beyond the classroom and into the community. SF State students can develop values and skills that will give them an edge when they move into the work force—and will make them lifelong good citizens.

Despite full lives and sometimes-conflicting demands, SF State students excel. The speech and debate team wins two national championships and defeats the likes of Harvard and Dartmouth in debates. A cinema student's film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival, and another student's work is nominated for an Academy Award. A biology student beats out 1,700 competitors to win a prestigious STAR fellowship from the Environmental Protection Agency. Several specially-designed, grant-supported programs provide talented students in sciences with a pipeline to top doctoral programs.

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 of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC is located at 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501 and the telephone number is (510) 748-9001. Various specialized programs at the University are accredited by the following agencies.

Program Agency
Apparel Design and Merchandising BS American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
Art BA/MA/MFA National Association of Schools of Art and Design
Business Administration BS/MS/MBA Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Chemistry BS American Chemical Society
Cinema BA/MA/MFA National Association of Schools of Art and Design
Civil Engineering BS Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
Clinical Laboratory Science Graduate Internship Program National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Communicative Disorders MS American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Computer Science BS Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
Counseling MS Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Dietetics BS and Graduate Internship Program Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education
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 American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
Hospitality and Tourism Management BS Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Interior Design BS American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
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 State Board of Registered Nursing
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Physical Therapy MS Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education
Public Administration MPA National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration
Public Health MPH Council on Education for Public Health
Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration BA 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 PhD in Education National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Teacher Education Credential Programs California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
Theatre Arts MFA: Concentration in Design and Technical Production National Association of Schools of Theatre

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Last modified July 06, 2012 by