Universities & Graduate Programs in San Diego

San Diego is known for many things—its multicultural identity, its friendly climate, its beautiful beaches, craft brewing, just to name a few—and each of them could stand as a reason to earn your graduate degree here. Going to grad school in San Diego could give you access to all that and more, while enabling you to experience life in Southern California.

Whether you want to use your graduate education as an excuse to explore a new city, or make San Diego your permanent home, there’s no question you may find what you’re looking for and more as a student here.

Here are a few examples of partner schools and popular programs in and near San Diego you might consider.

Reasons to Consider Graduate Schools in San Diego California

The universities alone could be reason enough to earn your graduate degree in San Diego. After all, it’s home to several nationally ranked universities, both public and private, meaning there could be an option for you no matter what your classroom preferences.

But, as a graduate student, you already know that your education doesn’t only happen in a classroom. That’s why studying in a city like San Diego—full of diversity, industry, and opportunity—could be the factor that sets your education experience apart.

With the right cocktail of life experience, professional experience, and educational resources, you might graduate not just with the knowledge you need, but also the know-how to put it into action.

History & Culture

Long before San Diego was established by the Spanish Empire in 1769, the region was settled primarily by the Kumeyaay people (also known as Tipai-Ipai). Ever since then, San Diego has also been affiliated with Mexico and the United States, and is home to people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.

What does that tell you about life in San Diego? Well, it’s diverse, for one, with a range of cultural traditions and historical artifacts still influencing everyday life.

San Diego’s unique and multifaceted culture is evident not just in its history, but in its cultural attractions today. You could explore folk art, anthropology, natural science, theatre, dance, music, and more, in one of the many museums found in Balboa Park alone—let alone throughout the rest of the city!

The Great Outdoors

Passionate about surfing? If not, you might be soon, if you choose to study in San Diego. Surf culture is hugely important to San Diego’s local identity. In fact, several universities in San Diego—including Point Loma Nazarene University and USCD—overlook some well-known surf spots. While not traditionally relevant to one’s studies, the fact that the classroom is so close to the beach has been known to attract university students from all over.

Even if you’re not a surfer, the environment surrounding San Diego could be an asset to your education, especially if you’re in the sciences. Between the diverse beaches—from sandy shores to rocky inlets—to its canyons, San Diego has a lot to offer passionate hikers and environmental scientists alike.

Zoological Wonders

Whether you’re a casual animal-lover, or plan to study zoology, biology, or a related field, San Diego could be a fascinating city in which to bring that education to life. For one, there’s the famous San Diego Zoo, which could be worth a visit even if it isn’t relevant to your studies. (Though, if it is, think about how cool it would be to intern there!)

Of course, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park is just the beginning. San Diego is also known for its biodiversity. It has one of the highest numbers of endangered plant and animal species in the United States—many of which make their home in the county’s national parks and nature preserves.

San Diego Cuisine

Whether you’re an aspiring restauranteur or culinary student, or just really love Mexican cuisine, you’re in luck! San Diego’s culinary scene offers and array of options, influenced by food cultures from across the world. That said, they’re particularly known for their Mexican fare. And considering how close the city is to the Mexican border, that’s no surprise!

There are, of course, the staples you probably won’t want to miss—like fish tacos, rolled tacos, and California Burritos—but that’s only the beginning. San Diego also has a wealth of Asian and Italian fare, and is known for its vibrant craft beer scene. So whether you’re coming to learn to cook from the best, or just want to enjoy the gastronomy scene when you’re not studying, San Francisco could be the place for you.

Opportunities in San Diego

Of course, one of the biggest factors in bringing your graduate education to life is practical experience. Studying in San Diego, you could find exactly that, whether you’re in search of guided internship experience or a professional role.

San Francisco has a relatively diverse economy, driven by the defense industry, tourism, international trade, research, and manufacturing. It has also been recognized as a top city to launch a new startup or small business.

So whether you want to start your career in a large industry, or innovate in a small business setting, either option could be in front of you.

About the City of San Diego

So you think you want to study in San Diego. Anything could have sold you on it. It could be the surf and sun, the diverse local culture, the climate, the local economy, the arts… or something else entirely! But attending universities in San Diego means living in San Diego. How can you know what to expect from that?

In short, what to expect depends on what you’re studying, where you choose to live, and your personal preferences, among other things. Below, we’ve broken it down by section to try and paint you a more detailed picture of life in the city of San Diego.

  • Downtown San Diego: Referred to locally as Centre City, downtown San Diego is a hub of business, tourism, shopping, and night life. This is where you’ll find neighborhoods like Columbia, Cortez Hill, Little Italy, the Gaslamp Quarter, the Embarcadero, and Horton Plaza.
  • Balboa Park-Hillcrest: Even if you’ve never heard of Balboa Park, you’ve probably heard of some of the institutions you’ll find there. Located right near Downtown San Francisco, it’s an urban park that boasts not just outdoor space, but also history, museums, and performance spaces. It’s also home to the San Diego Zoo. Meanwhile, adjacent Hillcrest is a thriving community known for its local businesses and LGBT nightlife.
  • Old Town-Mission Valley: Old Town San Diego has been called “the birthplace of California,” due to its status as the first permanent Spanish settlement. In the historic park, you could find original Spanish architecture from this settlement. Mission Valley is also a commercial area, home to a stadium, several shopping centers, and the oldest mission in California.
  • Coronado: Technically, this is another city, though it’s still located in San Diego county, right across the bay from the downtown area. Coronado is home to a busy naval base and several training facilities.
  • Point Loma-Ocean Beach: Point Loma is home to a few attractions including the Cabrillo National Monument and other beautiful coastlines, not to mention Point Loma Nazarene University. Ocean Beach, meanwhile, is known for its bohemian atmosphere and relaxed vibe.
  • Mission Beach-Pacific Beach: These are two of the most popular beach towns in San Diego—which means tourism is a big part of the local economy, especially in the summer. It’s also known for its proliferation of Mexican restaurants, and tons of water sports from surfing to jet skiing.
  • La Jolla: Pronounced “la-HOY-ya,” this beach town is also known as being the home of the University of California San Diego. In addition to the beautiful beaches (Black’s Beach and La Jolla Cove, to name a few), La Jolla has several nature reserves, including Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve.
  • Mid-City: In the eastern portion of San Diego, Mid City is made up of several unique neighborhoods, including City Heights, University Heights, Talmadge, and Kensington.
  • North San Diego: By far the largest of the regions listed here, this includes everything north of Mission Valley and east of La Jolla. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located here, as is the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, and Mission Trails Regional Park, among others.
  • San Ysidro: Despite being a part of the city of San Diego, San Ysidro is separated from the rest. It’s possibly best known, colloquially, as being the world’s busiest land border crossing. While there isn’t necessarily evidence to back this claim up, it is true that you can find a busy border crossing here, into Tijuana, Mexico.

Graduate Schools in San Diego

Here are 4 examples of partner schools in and near San Diego you might consider.

  1. Argosy University San Diego
  2. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, San Diego Campus
  3. Newschool of Architecture + Design, San Diego
  4. University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

With the array of opportunities that could be up for grabs in San Diego, it follows that you might have a lot of options when it comes to what you want to study there. But how do you know that San Diego is the right choice for the program you want?

The best way to figure that out is to talk to the San Diego universities you’re interested in and find out about the kinds of experiences you might have as a student in their program.

Below are a few examples of the types of subjects some students have come to San Diego to study.

Nursing Programs in San Diego

Thinking about earning your masters in nursing in San Diego? San Diego residents are lucky enough to have access to not one but several nationally ranked hospitals, including Scripps La Jolla, UC San Diego Medical Center, and Sharp Memorial Hospital. That alone could make San Diego a great place to pursue your MSN and gain experience. But there are also an array of nursing programs offered by San Diego’s many universities to choose from.

If you’re interested in earning your masters in nursing here, here are a few examples of the types of programs you might consider.

  • Point Loma Nazarene University MSN Program
  • San Diego State University (SDSU) Nursing Graduate Program
  • University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences MSN Program

Psychology Programs in San Diego

Interested in earning your masters in psychology in sunny San Diego? Doing so, you could open yourself up to gaining your practical experience in a uniquely diverse community, grounding your classroom studies in the needs of patients in the real world.

One additional benefit: It’s not just the people of San Diego that are diverse. The psychology programs themselves are as well. Whether you’re looking for a straightforward psychology program to help you prepare for licensure or doctoral study, or a more unique specialization, you might find it in San Diego.

Consider the 4 examples below.

  1. Argosy University: MA in Forensic Psychology
  2. Alliant International University: Marriage and Family Therapy Masters Program
  3. San Diego University for Integrative Studies: MA Transpersonal Psychology (Tibetan Buddhist Specialization)
  4. SDSU Masters in Psychology

Business Programs in San Diego

Earning your MBA in San Diego means studying in a city bursting with potential opportunity. Whether you want to get involved with the well-established defense industry or international business, or put your creativity to work in with a brand new startup, San Diego could be the place to do it.

With so many different types of business and the potential for growth, it’s no wonder there’s no shortage of MBA programs—not to mention other business-related masters degrees. Below are just a few examples.

  • Point Loma (PLNU) MBA Program
  • SDSU Sports Business Management MBA
  • University of California San Diego Full time & Part Time MBA
  • Alliant International University Master of Business Administration

Search for Universities in San Diego

Start looking for graduate programs in San Diego now, with GradSchools.com! Begin by reviewing the sponsored programs listed here, or narrowing down your search a little more. Select your preferred degree and/or area of study, and review the options that match.

Click on the names of programs you’re interested in to request more information or get in touch. Then you could schedule a campus visit or even start your application!

  • California State University, Northridge

  • National University

  • Wake Forest University

  • The University of Arizona Global Campus

  • Western Governors University

  • Grand Canyon University

  • The Catholic University of America

  • Argosy University

  • Alliant International University

  • Woodbury University

  • California International Business University

  • California Western School Of Law

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