Colleges in San Francisco: All 15 Schools

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of California's top colleges. Check out our guide to San Francisco colleges.
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Updated on October 18, 2023
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Tyler Epps is an editor for BestColleges. He writes and edits content about higher education, specializing in degree planning and college rankings. He is passionate about helping students prepare for college and navigate their educational journey. He...
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If you're considering going to college in California, be sure to check out San Francisco's colleges and universities. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the most beautiful college campuses in the Golden State. You can pick from 15 different four-year public and private colleges in the Bay Area.

Need a reason to study in California? Check out our list of colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area, including tuition rates and resources for students in California.

5 Popular Colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area

In terms of enrollment, the five colleges we feature below educate the most students in the Bay Area. Together, these universities had a total student enrollment of over 125,000 students in the 2021-22 school year. Read on to learn more about these five colleges in the Bay Area.

1. University of California, Berkeley

With a 150-history in the Bay Area, Berkeley is a leading public research university and the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. Researchers at Berkeley have made outstanding contributions to earthquake science, malaria treatment, and robotic legs.

The university features 14 schools and colleges with 80 interdisciplinary research units and more than 350 academic programs. Pursuing a degree at Berkeley offers the opportunity to study under world-renowned faculty, including 26 Nobel Prize laureates. Students at Berkeley paid an average annual net price of $19,257 in the 2021-22 school year.

2. Stanford University

Renowned for academic excellence, Stanford University routinely ranks as one of the nation's best colleges. About 8,000 undergraduates choose from 67 programs at the university. Stanford's catalog includes traditional degrees such as biology, computer science, psychology, and engineering.

Stanford is one of the best colleges near San Francisco for graduate school with about 200 fields of study. The school's Silicon Valley location gives students access to job and internship opportunities. In the 2021-22 school year, Stanford charged an average annual price of $18,279.

3. San Francisco State University

Established in 1899 as a two-year institution for teachers, SF State now offers 77 bachelor's degrees, 63 master's programs, and 57 doctoral programs. The most popular schools include the Lam Family College of Business, Health and Social Sciences, and Science and Engineering which awarded 6,488 degrees in 2021-2022.

You can study on the 144-acre campus at Lake Merced or choose from 23 online programs offered through the College of Professional and Global Education. SF State charged an average annual price of $13,267 in 2021-22.

4. San Jose State University

SJSU offers a close-knit learning community in Silicon Valley. You can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 250 areas of study. San Jose State University also offers baccalaureate-level teacher preparation in subjects such as French, environmental studies, and kinesiology.

SJSU is also one of the best colleges near San Francisco for engineering, with 40 majors, minors, and graduate degrees offered in the subject. Graduate programs include nursing, marine science, and urban planning. Students at SJSU paid an average annual net price of $14,219 in the 2021-22 school year.

5. California State University, East Bay

Cal State East Bay, one of the best Cal State Schools, opened in 1959 in Hayward, California. Of the 13,141 undergraduates, 62% identify as first-generation college students. Roughly 896 faculty members work at Cal State East Bay, where students study some 130 different fields.

The university's most popular majors include business administration, psychology, health sciences, biological sciences, and computer science. The average annual net price to attend Cal State, East Bay was $11,464 in the 2021-22 school year.

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List of All Colleges in San Francisco

We've created a complete list of all four-year nonprofit colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can use the table below to compare data on student population and the average net cost.

The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Note that colleges with a total undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 500 were not considered for this list.

All 15 Colleges in San Francisco
School Total Student Enrollment Avg. Annual Net Price Acceptance Rate Number of Applicants
California College of the Arts 1,501 $47,862 76% 2,987
California Institute of the Arts 1,440 $55,225 25% 2,120
California State University Maritime Academy 849 $17,566 96% 756
California State University, East Bay 13,673 $11,464 96% 12,461
Dominican University of California 1,877 $49,907 93% 1,746
Menlo College 800 $29,151 62% 3,357
Minerva University 660 $15,215 1% 20,816
Saint Mary's College of California 2,765 $32,129 88% 3,353
San Francisco State University 25,282 $13,267 94% 29,932
San Jose State University 35,751 $14,219 77% 34,002
Santa Clara University 9,178 $50,551 52% 16,650
Sonoma State University 6,637 $15,507 94% 10,806
Stanford University 18,283 $18,279 4% 56,378
University of California, Berkeley 45,307 $19,257 11% 128,209
University of San Francisco 9,688 $42,953 71% 23,103
Source: NCES

How Much Is College in San Francisco?

What it costs to study in California depends on your residency status and where you go to college. If you qualify as a California resident, you can pay in-state tuition, and avoid higher out-of-state tuition rates.

For in-state students, public four-year colleges in San Francisco charged an average annual net price of $15,213 in 2022, while private colleges charged $37,919. California also participates in the Western Undergraduate Exchange program, which allows students from other member states to get tuition discounts.

Cost of College in San Francisco (2022)
Institution Type Average Annual Net Price
Public 4-Year (In-state) $15,213
Private 4-Year (In-state) $37,919
Source: NCES

Scholarships for San Francisco Students

You can apply for various types of financial aid to help pay for college. When you don't have the option of paying out-of-pocket, you can turn to scholarships. California scholarships provide funding sources that you do not need to repay if you meet eligibility requirements.

UC Berkeley Achievement Award Program

The Achievement Award Program provides up to $6,000 to high-achieving and first-generation students at Berkeley who demonstrate a financial need. You can also qualify for a $1,000 stipend to purchase a laptop.

Incoming first-years and students transferring into Berkeley as juniors can apply. Awardees get invited to retreats and workshops and receive academic advising. The deadline is May 7.

CAC Educational Scholarship Foundation

Created in 2005, the California Association of Collectors Education Scholarship Foundation offers scholarships to high school juniors and seniors who plan to attend any accredited college in the next year.

The association announces three winners at its annual banquet. Recipients get either $1,500; $2,000; or $2,500. Applications open in January, and you must apply by June 30.

California Scholarship Federation

The California Scholarship Federation offers two scholarships to eligible high school nominees from local chapters. The Seymour Memorial Awards, with a deadline of February 18, provide 50 scholarships of $2,000 each to graduating high school seniors in California.

An additional five winners will get another $3,000. The Michelson Memorial Award offers a scholarship of $1,000 to eligible students who apply by December 22.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in San Francisco

What colleges are in San Francisco?

San Francisco is home to a number of two- and four-year colleges and universities, including Stanford University, San Francisco State University, and UC Berkeley. At any of these colleges, you can earn a certificate or enroll in an undergraduate or graduate program.

How many colleges are in San Francisco?

In San Francisco, as well as the surrounding suburbs, you'll find 15 colleges and universities where you can seek degrees at any level.

However, there are just four colleges in San Francisco proper: San Francisco State University, the University of San Francisco, California College of the Arts, and Minerva University. The University of San Francisco, founded in 1855, stands as the City by the Bay's oldest college.

What is the biggest college in San Francisco?

In the San Francisco area, Berkeley reigns as the biggest college in terms of enrollment and campus size. The campus, with examples of neoclassical architecture, is spread across 1,232 acres and boasts a total student enrollment of 45,307. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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