San Francisco is a great vacation destination, but many people move here to attend one of the colleges or universities located in the city. These schools attract students from across the United States as well as significant numbers of international students.
Here is a brief look at five institutions of higher learning based in San Francisco.
City College of San Francisco
With an average annual enrollment of 100,000 students, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) has the distinction of being one of the largest community colleges in the United States.
Founded in 1935, it offers undergraduate classes in dozens of academic programs as well as more than one hundred classes in occupational and vocational programs.
City College has nine campuses throughout San Francisco. Its main campus is its original site at Ocean Avenue.
The main campus is also the home of Pan American Unity, the mural Diego Rivera created for the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939 and 1940. The mural can be seen Monday through Saturday at the campus’s Diego Rivera Theater.
University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco (USF) traces its beginnings to a one-room schoolhouse (Saint Ignatius College) that opened its doors in October 1855. Class size? Three students.
Still a small, Jesuit-run university—its combined undergraduate and graduate student population is under 9,000—USF now has a 55-acre campus located near Golden Gate Park.
USF’s law, nursing, and business programs are highly regarded. NBA superstars Bill Russell and K.C. Jones are alums; they led the USF Dons basketball team to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956.
University of California, San Francisco
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) focuses on medical and health sciences.
Unique among the UC schools because of its concentration on health care, its graduate programs in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and health sciences are consistently ranked among the best in the world.
UCSF is now spread across several sites and hospitals in San Francisco; its 107-acre Parnassus campus, built in 1897, is the oldest. The university’s focus on graduate work, along with the collaborative nature of the research performed there, has led to new medical discoveries and treatments.
San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University (SFSU) opened its doors in 1899 as a two-year teacher-training college. Now a part of the California State University system (it attained university status in 1972), SFSU has a student population of approximately 30,000.
In the late 1960s, SFSU was the scene of many sit-ins and protests (some violent) against the Vietnam War, and a lengthy student strike that demanded the creation of an ethnic studies department. Academic life is usually much quieter now on the 130-acre campus bordering Lake Merced in southwestern San Francisco.
In January 2007, the school’s College of Extended Learning, which offers continuing adult education and career advancement and certification programs, opened a new downtown campus in the former San Francisco Emporium. The renovated building preserved the former store’s beautiful glass ceiling atrium.
San Francisco Academy of Art University
San Francisco Academy of Art University has provided classes in art and design for more than eight decades. The private university operates in several buildings in downtown San Francisco and serves 11,000 students.
Curriculum choices are varied—oil painting and comic book illustration represent different ends of the spectrum. The Academy of Art University prides itself on its state-of-the-art facilities, and offers degrees, such as animation and visual effects, that match current market demand.
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