San Francisco State University
Former name
San Francisco State Normal School (1899–1921)
San Francisco State Teachers College (1921–1935)
San Francisco State College (1935–1972)
California State University, San Francisco (1972–1974)
MottoExperientia Docet (Latin)
Motto in English
"Experience Teaches"
TypePublic research university
Established1899; 124 years ago (1899)
Parent institution
California State University
Academic affiliation
Endowment$140.8 million (2020)[1]
Budget$351 million (2016)[2]
PresidentLynn Mahoney
ProvostAmy Sueyoshi
Academic staff
1,801 (fall 2013)[3]
Administrative staff
Students26,628 (fall 2021)[5]
Undergraduates23,316 (fall 2021)[5]
Postgraduates2,977 (fall 2021)[5]
Location, ,
United States
CampusLarge City, 141.1 acres (57.1 ha)[6]
Other campuses
NewspaperGolden Gate Xpress
ColorsPurple and gold[7]
Sporting affiliations

San Francisco State University (San Francisco State, SF State and SFSU) is a public research university in San Francisco. It is part of the California State University system and offers 118 bachelor's degree programs, 94 master's degree programs, and 5 doctoral degree programs along with 26 teaching credentials among six academic colleges.[6][8][9] It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[10]

The university was founded in 1899 as a state-run normal school for training school teachers, obtaining state college status in 1921 and state university status in 1972. The 141-acre campus is located in the southwest part of the city, less than two miles from the Pacific coast. San Francisco State has 12 varsity athletic teams which compete at the NCAA Division II level, most as members of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. San Francisco State is an Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) and is eligible to be designated as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander serving institution (AANAPISI).

San Francisco State's past and present faculty and alumni include 21 Pulitzer Prize winners, 16 Academy Award winners, 49 Emmy Award winners, 10 Grammy Award winners, 12 Tony Award laureates, 4 billionaires, and 1 astronaut.[11]


Graduating class, State Normal School at San Francisco, June 1906
SF Students hold signs in solidarity and support of the Third World Liberation Front 2016, the name of the court students on a hunger strike to defend the SF State College of Ethnic Studies, during an emergency press conference in the Quad Monday, May 9



Fall freshman statistics

  2022[38] 2021 2020 2019 2018
Freshman Applicants 30,966 27,777 31,429 34,631 35,605
Admits 28,180 25,782 26,431 23,310 25,550
% Admitted 91.0 92.8 84.1 67.3 71.8
Enrolled 3,339 3,148 2,779 3,689 4,286
J. Paul Leonard Library

In Fall of 2021, the university had 1,801 instructional faculty, of which 706 (or 39 percent) were on the tenure track.[39]

The university's academic colleges are:

In addition, the university has a College of Extended Learning. There is also an unofficial eighth college, the Experimental College,[40] which allows students to teach each other.

SF State is on the semester system.

The university awards bachelor's degrees in 115 areas of specialization, master's degrees in 97, and a doctor of education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership. It jointly offers three doctoral programs: a doctorate in education in partnership with University of California, Berkeley with a concentration in special education, and two doctorates in physical therapy with University of California, San Francisco.

The most popular undergraduate majors are Business Administration, Biology, Kinesiology, Engineering, English, Communication Studies, Psychology, Criminal Justice Studies, Sociology, and Cinema.[41] The student-faculty ratio at San Francisco State University is 23:1, and 27.1 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students.[42]


The university is accredited by the WASC Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities.[43] The College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).[44] The School of Engineering is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).[45]

Distinctions and rankings

In 2020, San Francisco State was ranked the 19th top university in the United States by PayScale and CollegeNET's Social Mobility Index university rankings.[53] In 2022, the Philosophical Gourmet Report listed San Francisco State University as one of the top eight universities to earn a terminal MA in philosophy.[54] SFSU was one of the first California State University campuses to offer a doctorate of education. It was also instrumental in the establishment of the International University of Kyrgyzstan (1993).[55] The university is the only one in California to offer a bachelor's degree in technical and professional writing.[55] It is also the only university in the California State University system to offer a master's degree in Classics.[56]

In 2011, SFSU ranked 18th among the top 20 undergraduate schools whose alumni went on to be admitted to the State Bar; many subsequently ran for public office.[57] The university's College of Extended Learning offers the only American Bar Association-approved paralegal studies program in San Francisco.[55]

The Cinema Department, in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, was named one of the world's best film schools by Variety in 2019.[58] SFSU was also listed as one of the nation's top 25 film schools by The Hollywood Reporter, having produced many leading filmmakers, with over 13 Academy Award wins among its alumni.[59][57]

The Sutro Library, located within the J. Paul Leonard Library, houses the largest collection of genealogical records west of Salt Lake City.[60]


Main article: Third World Liberation Front strikes of 1968

Undergraduate demographics as of Fall 2020
Race and ethnicity[61] Total
Hispanic 36% 36
Asian 26% 26
White 16% 16
Other[a] 9% 9
Foreign national 7% 7
Black 6% 6
Pacific Islander 1% 1
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 48% 48
Affluent[c] 52% 52

In 1969, the longest student strike in U.S. history[62] resulted in the establishment of the college of Ethnic Studies and increased recruiting and admissions of students of different and varied ethnic backgrounds.

In 2010, Forbes ranked San Francisco State as the 11th most diverse college in America, citing 51% minority students.[63] Among 121 Western Universities, San Francisco State was ranked sixth in terms of campus diversity by U.S. News & World Report in 2013.[64] In 2016, San Francisco State was ranked as the most diverse student body among the 100 largest American universities by Priceonomics.[65]

San Francisco State has the second largest Asian and Filipino American enrollment percentage in the Cal State system.[66]

Main campus buildings

Campus quad at night
Cesar Chavez Student Center
Campus dorms and apartments

Academic buildings

Residence buildings, communities, and services

A dormitory building, Verducci Hall, was imploded in 1999, having sustained damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.[76]

Conference facilities

Note: The Downtown Campus has a conference room. The Bay Conference Center[79] is located in the Romberg Tiburon Campus.

Student life and Administrative services

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Athletic facilities

Satellite campuses

In addition to the main campus, the school also has three satellite campuses.

The Downtown Campus is part of the Lam Family College of Business and the College of Extended Learning and is located in the office area of Westfield San Francisco Centre.[80][81]

The Sierra Nevada Field Campus is located in Sierra County near Yuba Pass and the Sierra Valley and offers accredited courses to the general public.[82]

The Romberg Tiburon Campus is a 53-acre research campus located in Marin County. It is home to the Estuary and Ocean Science Center, a marine research lab.[83]

The daycare center on the main campus is known as the Children's Campus.


Main article: San Francisco State Gators

San Francisco State Gators wordmark

The school's intercollegiate athletics teams, nicknamed the Gators, compete in NCAA Division II and are a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (wrestling competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). SF State fields twelve sports: men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball, men's baseball, wrestling, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and softball.

SF State has produced three Major League Baseball players, of which two became All-Stars (former Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson, and former Brewers and Red Sox outfielder Tommy Harper). The soccer program has had one player enter the professional ranks. Jared MacLane played in the soccer Professional First Division in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

The Gators have also produced thirteen National Football League players, including Billy Baird, Elmer Collett, Maury Duncan, Carl Kammerer, Douglas Parrish, and Floyd Peters. Mike Holmgren got his collegiate coaching start as the team's Offensive Coordinator in 1981. The football program ended in 1995.

SF State Wrestling sent a wrestler to a national championship meet every year from 1963–64 to 2016–17.[84]

As of 2019, the Gators have earned one NCAA team championship at the Division II level:[85]


The school first adopted their mascot, the Gator, in 1931. After a call for a mascot by the student newspaper the Bay Leaf, students suggested the "alligator" for its strength and steadfastness. The students also suggested the spelling "Golden Gaters," with an "e," in reference to the Golden Gate. Students voted in favor of the name, but after numerous "misspellings" by the newspaper, the use of Gator, with an "o," stuck.[87][88]


Associated Students host the San Francisco State Folk Festival.[89] including 5th Annual San Francisco State College Folk Festival April 15–17, 1966.[90] 7th Annual San Francisco State College Folk Festival April 24–27, 1968,[91] 2nd Annual San Francisco State College Folk Festival 1963, with Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter (lyricist)[92] 6th Annual San Francisco State College Folk Festival in March and April 1967,[93] 4th Annual San Francisco State College Folk Festival 1965.[94] San Francisco State College Folk Festival, September 25, 1970.[95]


KSFS is a college radio station run by Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) students,[96] streaming online,[97] at 100.7 on Comcast Cable radio in San Francisco, and at 88.1 FM near the SFSU campus mini transmitter.[96][98]

Notable faculty and alumni

Main article: List of San Francisco State University people

See also


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


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37°43′24″N 122°28′47″W / 37.72333°N 122.47972°W / 37.72333; -122.47972