Graduate Schools & Universities in San Francisco

Whether you’re a California resident looking to stay local, or an easterner looking for a change, graduate schools in the Bay Area may offer just what you’re looking for. San Francisco is known across the country for its diverse, liberal community, artistic offerings, and beautiful city-scapes. Live, study and play in San Fran, CA! As a graduate student in one of the many colleges in San Francisco, you’d be more than a tourist. You could get to know this unique city like only the locals do, while pursuing the degree you need at a school you love. Whatever your passions in life, graduate programs in San Francisco might support you in pursuing them. The opportunities here may even be as diverse as the community itself! Below, we’ve collected just a few examples from our partner schools of the types of things graduate students might hit up San Francisco to study.

San Francisco Graduate Programs

Software Engineering ApprenticeshipHorizons School of TechnologyApprenticeship
Organization and LeadershipUniversity of San FranciscoM.A.
Media StudiesNew College of CaliforniaM.A.
Business AdministrationNorthwestern Polytechnic UniversityM.B.A.

Why Choose Graduate Schools in San Francisco?

You might already be interested in earning your graduate degree at universities in California. But why San Francisco in particular? While plenty of students might be attracted to the city’s graduate schools purely for their academic offerings, that’s far from the only reason. Attending graduate school in San Francisco is also a great opportunity to experience the city, whether you want to make the city your home indefinitely or just to stay here for the duration of your studies. Below, we’ve broken down just a few of the many reasons you might consider earning your graduate degree in San Francisco.

A Diverse Local Culture

San Francisco is known for many things, and its diverse population and local culture is certainly one of them. In fact, the majority of San Francisco’s population are minorities. In 2016, more than 35% of San Francisco’s residents identified as Asian, with the next largest group being non-Hispanic white residents. Hispanic, black, and multiracial populations also made up significant portions of the local population. However, the racial and ethnic makeup of the city’s residents isn’t the only way San Francisco could be considered diverse. With neighborhoods like Japantown and Chinatown, not to mention a thriving LGBT scene in the Castro, diverse cultural experience is written into the city. What does that mean for your studies? It means that your experience in graduate schools in San Francisco could be informed by this diversity of perspective, further enriching your education.

A Wealth of Creativity

Whether you’re headed to San Francisco to earn your MFA or something more technical, there’s no denying that a thriving local arts culture is an enriching advantage. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at Graduate Schools in San Francisco! In fact, San Francisco’s cultural scene is one of the things the city is best known for. Whether you’re looking for professional experience or a way to unwind after a long day of studying, any one of San Francisco’s many museums may fit the bill. In terms of art, there’s the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, for example, the Asian Art Museum, and the Palace of Fine Arts. Prefer learning about history and culture? Try the Museum of the African Diaspora. And that’s just the start. From cultural experience to history to pop culture to science, whatever you’re studying, San Francisco has a museum to enrich your program for pretty much all occasions. And that’s not the only way San Francisco has contributed and continues to contribute to the artistic and cultural identity of the United States. Coming to San Francisco to study literature? You’re not alone. In fact, the city is known for its association with the Beat Generation. And what could be more inspiring than walking in Allen Ginsberg’s footsteps while earning your Creative Writing MFA? All of this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to arts and culture in San Francisco. There’s also a thriving performing arts scene (including both music and theatre), street festivals, architecture, and more. Whatever your passion, you may pursue it here.

Gain Experience in Thriving Industries

San Francisco is known for its technological innovation, and service economy. If you’re on the hunt for somewhere to earn your MBA, to hone your technical skills, or get involved with research that makes a difference, you could find all of that in San Francisco. Historically, San Francisco relied heavily on the finance and tourism industries, but over the years, a number of innovative fields have blossomed in the region. This includes technology—lots of San Franciscans are early adopters on the mobile app front, due to the number of technology companies here that develop them—medical research, biotechnology, and more.

Experience the Outdoors (in the City!)

Not sure if city life is for you? Luckily, San Francisco has something for everyone—including the outdoorsy types. San Francisco is home to more than two hundred parks of all shapes and sizes, boasting native and non-native plant life, beautiful vistas, picnic areas, hiking, fishing, you name it. San Francisco also has a vibrant surfing community, if you prefer ocean sports over land-based activities. This could be an additional perk if your area of study relates to the outdoors. Whether you’re into marine biology, environmental science, botany, or biology, your research could be supported by natural and public resources throughout San Francisco. You may even find opportunities for professional experience to bolster your CV!

A Growing Culinary Scene

San Francisco has a number of culinary schools, both in the city itself and throughout the Bay Area. While not all of those schools might offer graduate programs, their very presence could still be a benefit to graduate students in all fields. Why is that? Because San Francisco boasts a diverse, fast-growing food scene, whose expansion is said to outpace New York’s. And, perhaps due to the cultural and economic diversity that San Francisco is so known for, the offerings are eclectic and multicultural, with options for vegans and carnivores alike. So whether you want to learn to be a better cook, or enjoy the epicurean life to de-stress after finals, San Francisco’s gastronomy scene could be there to help you do it.

What to Expect in San Francisco: The Basics

San Francisco is small, but mighty. With the amount it has to offer packed inside its boundaries, its physical size may come as a surprise. Physically, the city covers less than fifty square miles. But if you go by population, it paints quite a different picture. San Francisco is one of the most populous cities in California, with approximately 870,887 residents. And each of those residents contributes to San Francisco’s unique character. Life in San Francisco is neighborhood-oriented. That means each neighborhood that makes up the city has its own distinct local culture that defines it. As a result, there’s a place for everyone, whether you prefer a family-oriented setting, a lively night life, or the great outdoors. Here’s a brief run-down of some of the major areas of San Francisco to help you paint a picture.
  • Golden Gate: This region takes its name from San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. It’s made up of fashionable local neighborhoods like the Marina District and Pacific Heights, and a variety of well-known landmarks of the city’s history.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf: A considerable tourist attraction, Fisherman’s Wharf is known for its waterfront, seafood restaurants, and ferry access to the infamous Alcatraz Island. Go to the Pier 39 marina to see the famous sea lions and their antics as they fight for a spot on the docks.
  • Nob Hill-Russian Hill: One of the more affluent (and hilly) parts of San Francisco, this area is known for its architectural landmarks, not to mention the city’s famous cable cars.
  • Chinatown-North Beach: While many cities across the United States have their own Chinatown neighborhoods, San Francisco’s might be one of the oldest. Chinatown and North Beach are popular immigrant neighborhoods, with diverse cultural offerings and unique flavor. North Beach, meanwhile, is the Little Italy of San Fran.
  • Union Square: This is the “downtown” part of San Francisco. It’s a center of business, tourism, shopping and entertainment. The financial district is also in this area, distinct not just because of all the businesses that make their homes here, but also because of the skyscrapers marking the city skyline.
  • SoMa: The name “SoMa” stands for “South of Market.” Predictably, you can find it south of Market St. It’s an area characterized by urban renewal. Today, it’s the home of condominiums, businesses, museums, a thriving night life, and even the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark.
  • Western Addition: This neighborhood is rife with history, and not just because of its Victorian homes and other architecture. Over the years, it has been the center of Japanese and African-American culture in the city. In fact, you can still find both here.
  • Haight-Ashbury: Pronounced like “eight” (not height), the Haight is perhaps most famous as the home of San Francisco’s hippie culture—and, arguably, one of the main originating points for the countercultural movement of the 1960’s.
  • Twin Peaks-Lake Merced: Made up primarily of residential neighborhoods, this region is also characterized by its nominal peaks (offering spectacular views), and parks (such as Lake Merced) for the more outdoorsy residents of San Francisco. It’s also where you’ll find the San Francisco Zoo.
  • The Castro: This area is most well known for being the center of San Francisco’s vibrant LGBT community. It’s also the home of a solid restaurant scene, unique local cultural festivals, and a solid restaurant scene.
  • Mission-Bernal Heights: The Mission and Bernal Heights are two distinct areas, though they share a few qualities: particularly their diversity and their gentrification. The Mission is known in particular for its Hispanic community, while Bernal Heights is popular among the San Francisco lesbian community.

Compare Universities in San Francisco

San Francisco is the home of many different public and private universities, each offering students unique programs and experiences. Big or small, public or private, religious or secular—whatever you prefer, you can find it here. Below, we’ve listed a few examples for you to consider.
  • University of San Francisco
  • Alliant International University San Francisco
  • California Institute of Integral Studies
  • Hult International Business School San Francisco
  • San Francisco Art Institute

Hone Your Creativity in San Francisco

If you want to pursue a creative masters degree—and maybe even a career in the arts—a culturally rich city like San Francisco could be the place to do it. San Francisco has a wealth of schools dedicated to the fine arts, not to mention a community that embraces the creative life. As with other art schools in California, in San Francisco, you might find opportunities to study visual arts, hone your acting craft, study writing, and even learn about curation and museum management! Best of all, you might even find opportunities for professional experience to enhance your education, throughout the city.
  • The Art Institute of San Francisco: Computer Animation MFA
  • California College of the Arts San Francisco: Film MFA
  • San Francisco Art Institute Studio Practice MFA Programs
  • California Institute of Integral Studies: Interdisciplinary MFA

Pursue Education Expertise in San Francisco

Earning a masters degree in education in a thriving, diverse city like San Francisco could help bring your studies to life because of the hands-on experience you could find. San Francisco boasts a thriving immigrant population and unique and multicultural neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for initial certification or you’re an experienced teacher interested in relocating, in San Francisco, you could work with students from many walks of life, and in all different levels of need and ability. Below are a few examples of San Francisco Education Graduate Programs you might consider.
  • University of San Francisco (USF): MA in International and Multicultural Education
  • Alliant International University: MA in TESOL
  • USF Graduate Programs: Masters in Special Education

Disrupt Your Industry in San Francisco

With its robust finance and business services industry presence, not to mention proximity to the tech industry, it’s not a surprise people might want to come to the San Francisco Bay Area for MBA Programs. After all, MBA students in San Francisco might pursue professional experience in a variety of exciting industries, in multinational corporations and startups alike. Programs may be full- or part-time, and may require varying levels of education and professional experience, so make sure you follow up with the schools you’re interested in to learn more.
  • Lincoln University: MBA Program
  • Presidio Graduate School: MBA in Sustainable Management
  • Golden Gate University: Combined JD/MBA Program
  • Hult International Business School: Masters in Disruptive Innovation

Find Graduate Schools in San Francisco

Let help you begin your search for San Francisco Colleges and Universities! We’ve compiled these sponsored program listings to give you a leg up on your search. Review the programs here, and click on the ones that sound interesting to you. Then you can reach out to the school for more information, schedule a visit, or even start to apply!
  • National University

  • Wake Forest University

  • Western Governors University

  • Grand Canyon University

  • Colorado State University Global

  • Seton Hall University

  • Horizons School of Technology

  • University of California - San Francisco

  • Golden Gate University

  • Lincoln University (CA)

  • San Francisco Law School

  • San Francisco Art Institute