Studying in San Francisco

Universities in Sa Diego
Updated 2023-10-04 09:43

San Francisco, with its vibrant culture, world-renowned universities, and stunning natural beauty, is an enticing destination for expats looking to further their education. Whether you're considering undergraduate or postgraduate studies in San Francisco, this city offers a unique blend of academic excellence and Silicon Valley's innovative spirit. San Francisco is an ideal choice for international students, from its diverse and inclusive community to the exciting opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Why study in San Francisco?

If you want to work in the tech industry, there is probably no better place to get started than San Francisco. The city is the world's recognized tech hub, home to Silicon Valley, and the base of some of the biggest names in the industry, like Apple, Facebook, and Google.

Students in the Bay Area come from all over the world — and you will be studying in a vibrant, multicultural setting in San Francisco. So, if you want a smooth tradition into your new life in the US, San Francisco will probably be one of the best destinations for starting your journey.

San Francisco is a center of art, culture, music, and all things creative. The city's openness to new experiences and different forms of expression have all contributed to a truly unique vibe that you won't find elsewhere in the world.

A big city can be a tough place to live in. It can be loud, complicated, rude, and sometimes even stifling. It can challenge you in all the wrong ways and leave no space to clear your head after long study days. San Francisco is different. It's a big and busy city that has somehow retained its quiet charm and calm disposition. Plus, you will find many great places to relax, like Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, and more.

If you choose to study in San Francisco, here are some of the best universities in the city to consider.

Best universities in San Francisco

While San Francisco is a relatively small city (covering an area of just 50 square miles), it is home to over 20 colleges and universities — including some of the best and most selective universities in the United States.

Stanford University

Stanford is one of the most well-known universities in the United States. According to the QS World University Rankings of 2023, it is the fifth-best university in the world (right after MIT). Naturally, getting into Stanford is difficult, and the university is one of the most selective in the entire country, with an admission rate of just 3.9%.

The student body is about 35,000 students, comprised of part-time, full-time, undergraduate and postgraduate students. Stanford's community of scholars and graduates includes 19 Nobel Prize laureates, 167 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 Pulitzer Prize winners, 33 MacArthur fellows, and more.

Stanford University offers about 50 programs for graduates and undergraduates and comprises seven schools: earth sciences, engineering, education, business, medicine, law, and humanities and sciences. The university also supports distance learning via an online platform — and there is a nice selection of free courses on offer.

Studying at Stanford full-time is quite expensive, with yearly tuition amounting to about $60,000.

Berkeley University

Berkeley's location, setting, and educational environment are just a few of the factors that make the university one of the most sought-after universities in the world by international students. Established in 1868 on about 2,700 hectares of land, the university is surrounded by astounding scenery that allows for comfortable and convenient learning.

Berkeley University ranks as the 10th best university in the world according to QS World University Rankings of 2021. The university has a tough selection process — but is not as exclusive as Stanford, with an admission rate of 15.6%.

Regarding affordability, Berkeley University is one of the most affordable higher education schools in the United States. This is predominantly because it is a public school (in fact, the university ranks as the best public university in the US), but it produces excellent students. Tuition for in-state students is estimated at $15,444, and $48,018 for out-of-state students.

Berkeley University offers 106 bachelor programs that span over four years, 97 Ph.D. programs in 14 faculties apart from medicine, and 88 Masters programs.

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara is another highly-rated university in San Francisco. It is a private mid-sized Jesuit university with a picturesque campus at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay. It is actually the oldest operating educational establishment in the state of California and has remained in its original location ever since its foundation.

The admission rate to Santa Clara University is quite competitive at 49%. The cost of tuition at the university is around $57,000. Most students come to Santa Clara to study business, management, marketing, journalism, social sciences, and psychology.

Santa Clara University is ranked as the 85th best university in the USA according to the QS World University Ranking.

Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University is the largest private art and design school in the US. The university was established in 1929 and remains the center of culture and creativity in the region to this day.

Academy of Art University practices a no-barrier admissions policy, which makes it easier for students from other countries and lower-income homes to get access to quality education. The university welcomes applicants from all over the world — and there are 30 different study programs to choose from.

The acceptance rate at the Academy of Art University is 100%, and there is no minimum GPA requirement. Plus, the university's Department of English for Art Purposes offers language support for non-native English speakers wishing to study here.

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University is another public university that deserves a spot on our list. It is part of the 23-campus California State University system and offers 118 different bachelor's degrees, 94 master's degrees, and 5 doctoral degrees.

San Francisco State University is one of the more affordable institutions in the area, with out-of-state tuition set at just over $19,000 per year. The admission rate at the university is 70%.

The most popular programs at the university include business, management, marketing, communication, journalism, social sciences, and others.

Applying for a student visa to study in San Francisco

To study in the United States, you must apply for a student visa. If you plan to study in an American university full-time, you must apply for an F-1 student visa for the USA. Once you have received the visa, you will need to stay enrolled in the university and keep up good grades in order for your visa to stay valid.

If you are in the United States on an F-1 visa, you can work on-campus — as long as you work no more than 20 hours a week. There are also options for working off-campus — but doing this is a bit more complicated, and you will first need to file an application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

There are two other types of student visas you can apply for are the J-1 and M-1:

  • J-1 visas are intended for individuals doing an internship, working on research projects, or involved in similar activities in the US. Note that a J-1 visa is only valid for the length of the program you are enrolled in;
  • M-1 visas are meant for those who are enrolled in technical or specialized study programs that are not held at academic institutions. Generally, as an M-1 visa holder, you are not allowed to work while in the US.

To apply for a student visa in the United States, you must first be accepted into your chosen university. You will also need to show proof of your financial standing for student visas: you should have enough funds to pay for tuition and be able to support yourself throughout your stay in the US.

For more information on student visas to the US, refer to this article: Types of visas offered by the US.

General requirements for entry to a university or college in San Francisco

Different colleges and universities in San Francisco may have different acceptance conditions. This is why you should check the admission rate at your desired university/college to evaluate your chances objectively. As you can see from above, getting into a university like Stanford would be exceptionally hard — compared to, for instance, San Francisco State University.

Here are the main requirements for applying to a university in San Francisco:

  • You will need good grades from your previous study place and your grades should be equivalent to the GPA (Grade Point Average) requirement at the university you are applying to;
  • If there is a big academic gap between your previous educational establishment and the university you are applying to in the US, you can take a pathway program. Pathway programs are preparatory courses for international students to help them catch up on the curriculum of American colleges and universities. Taking a preparatory course can help you significantly increase your chance of a successful application to a university in the US;
  • Another important requirement for applying to a university in the US is a good knowledge of the English language. In most cases, you must present proof of your English language proficiency for US universities (in the form of a TOEFL or IELTS test) if you are not a native English speaker. If you want to improve your language skills before applying, you can take a preparatory language course. It may also be a good idea to take a language course to help you prepare for a specific exam like TOEFL or IELTS;
  • Without exaggeration, San Francisco may be one of the best places to study in the United States. It ranks in 27th place in the QS Best Student Cities in the USA list and is a very popular destination for international students. The city is home to some of the most respected and recognized institutions in the country and offers lots of amazing opportunities to advance your prospects and future career.

Make sure you make the most of your time in this exciting city by doing more research on the student life and leisure activities in San Francisco.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.