San Francisco State University (commonly referred to as San Francisco State, SF State and SFSU) is a public research university located in San Francisco, California, United States. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers 118 different Bachelor's degrees, 94 Master's degrees, 5 Doctoral degrees (including two Doctor of Education degrees, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, a Ph.D in Education and a Doctor of Physical Therapy Science), along with 26 teaching credentials among six academic colleges.[6][8][9]

The university was originally 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.


Graduating class, State Normal School at San Francisco, June 1906
  • 1899 – Founded as San Francisco State Normal School.[10]
  • 1901 – First graduating class
  • 1906 – The 1906 earthquake and fire forces the school to relocate from Nob Hill to a new campus at Buchanan and Haight Streets.
  • 1921 – Renamed San Francisco State Teachers College
  • 1923 – First Bachelor of Arts degree awarded
  • 1935 – Renamed San Francisco State College
  • 1953 – Current campus near Lake Merced opens; it is formally dedicated in October, 1954.
  • 1966 – Beginning of the era of campus protests led by student organizations including the Black Student Union, Third World Liberation Front, and Students for a Democratic Society. The protests against college policies and off-campus issues such as the Vietnam War included sit-ins, rallies, marches, teach-ins, and on several occasions led to violent conflicts with police. The protests were marked by counter-protests and widespread charges of corruption and election fraud in the student newspaper.
  • 1968 – A lengthy student strike erupted that developed into an important event in the history of the U.S. in the late 1960s. The strike was led by the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front, and it demanded an Ethnic Studies program as well as an end to the Vietnam War. This became a major news event for weeks in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. At one point, college president S.I. Hayakawa famously pulled the wires out of the speakers on top of a van at a student rally. During the course of the strike, large numbers of police drawn from many jurisdictions occupied the campus and over 700 people were arrested on various protest-related charges.
  • 1969 – On March 20, an agreement was reached, and the strike officially comes to an end with the administration retaining control of hiring and admissions and the creation of the School (now College) of Ethnic Studies.
  • 1972 – Received university status as California State University, San Francisco
  • 1974 – Renamed San Francisco State University
  • 1975 – Cesar Chavez Student Center opened its doors to students
  • 1993 – Downtown campus opened
  • 1999 – Celebrated 100th birthday[11]
  • 2007 – New Downtown Campus opened at 835 Market Street

University presidents

  • Frederic Lister Burk (1899–1924)
  • Archibald B. Anderson (1924–1927)
  • Mary A. Ward (1927)
  • Alexander C. Roberts (1927–1945)
  • J. Paul Leonard (1945–1957)
  • Glenn Dumke (1957–1961)
  • Frank L. Fenton (1961–1962)
  • Paul A. Dodd (1962–1965)
  • Stanley F. Paulson (1965–1966)
  • John Summerskill (1967–1969)
  • Robert R. Smith (1968)
  • S. I. Hayakawa (1968–1973)
  • Paul F. Romberg (1973–1983)
  • Chia-Wei Woo (1983–1988)
  • Robert A. Corrigan (1988–2012)
  • Leslie Wong (2012–Present)


Fall Freshman Statistics[12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

  2016 2015 2014 2013
Freshman Applicants 36,223 35,122 31,963 34,930
Admits 24,704 23,841 21,087 20,889
% Admitted 68.1 67.8 65.9 59.8
Enrolled 3,531 4,081 3,630 3,550
GPA 3.22 3.23 3.22 3.19
SAT Composite 975 975 990 995
ACT Composite 21 21 21 21
*SAT out of 1600
J. Paul Leonard Library

In Fall of 2013, the university had 1,620 faculty, of which 683 (or 42 percent) were on the tenure track.[3]

The university's academic colleges are:

  • Liberal and Creative Arts
  • Business
  • Education
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Health and Social Sciences
  • Science and Engineering

In addition, the university has a College of Extended Learning.

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.[19] The student-faculty ratio at San Francisco State University is 23:1, and 27.1 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students.[20]


The university is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, a subgroup of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.[21] The College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).[22] The School of Engineering is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) except the computer engineering program.[23]


University rankings
Forbes[24] 374
U.S. News & World Report[25] RNP
Washington Monthly[26] 188

USNWR departmental rankings[27]

Fine Arts 114
Physical Therapy 20
Public Affairs 77
Rehabilitation Counseling 37
Social Work 75
Speech–Language Pathology 81

San Francisco State is ranked the 17th top college in the United States by PayScale and CollegeNET's Social Mobility Index college rankings.[28] In 2012 the university was ranked as the 15th best master's-granting public university in the Western United States by U.S. News & World Report.[29] U.S. News & World Report also ranked San Francisco State University 1st in reputation among its "Western University peers" in 2000.[30][31] Furthermore, U.S. News & World Report ranks San Francisco State as 8th nationally in the number of transfer students.[31]

San Francisco State University's joint physical therapy master's program with UCSF is consistently ranked among the top 20 in the country.[32] The Philosophical Gourmet Report lists San Francisco State University as one of the top eight universities to earn a terminal MA in philosophy.[33] The Academy of Management, the leading professional association for management scholars in the world, honored San Francisco State University's College of Business' Ohrenschall Center for Entrepreneurship with the McGraw-Hill/Irwin Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy Award (2002).[34] 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).[34] The university is the only one in California to offer a bachelor's degree in technical and professional writing.[34]

SFSU ranks 18th among the top 20 undergraduate schools whose alumni go on to be admitted to the State Bar; many subsequently run for public office.[35] The University's College of Extended Learning offers the only American Bar Association-approved paralegal studies program in San Francisco.[34]

The Cinema Department, in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, was named one of the nation's top film schools by Entertainment Weekly in 2000.[36] SFSU is also listed as one of the nation's top 25 film schools by The Hollywood Reporter, having produced countless leading filmmakers.[37]

The Sutro Library, located within the J. Paul Leonard Library, houses the largest collection of genealogical records west of Salt Lake City.[38]


Demographics of student body - Fall 2014[39]
African American 5.5%
Asian American 34.8%
Caucasian American 25.5%
Hispanic American 25.3%
Native American 0.4%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 1.5%
Two or More Races 6.9%

In 1969, the longest student strike in U.S. history[40] resulted in the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies and increased recruiting and admissions of students of color.

In 2010, Forbes ranked San Francisco State as the 11th most diverse college in America, citing a student body comprised of 51% minority students.[41] Among 121 Western Universities, San Francisco State was ranked 6th in terms of campus diversity by U.S. News & World Report in 2013.[42] In 2016, San Francisco State was ranked as the most diverse student body among the 100 largest American universities by Priceonomics.[43]

Campus buildings

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

Academic buildings

  • Burk Hall (BH)
  • Business (BUS)
  • Creative Arts (CA)
  • Ethnic Studies & Psychology (EP)
  • Fine Arts (FA)
  • Health & Social Sciences (HSS)
  • Hensill Hall (HH)
  • Humanities (HUM)
  • J. Paul Leonard Library (LIB)
  • Science (SCI)
  • Sutro Library (in LIB)
  • Thornton Hall (TH)

Residence buildings, communities, and services

  • City Eats Dining Center (DC)[44][45]
  • Mary Park Hall (MPH)[46]
  • Mary Ward Hall (MWH)[46]
  • Towers Junior Suites (TJS)[47]
  • The Towers at Centennial Square (TCS)[48]
  • The Village at Centennial Square (VCS)[49]
  • University Park North (UPN)[50]
  • University Park South (UPS)[51]

A dormitory building, Verducci Hall, was imploded in 1999.[52]

Conference facilities

  • Seven Hills Conference Center[53]
  • Towers Conference Center[54]
  • Downtown Campus[55]

Student life and Administrative services

  • Administration (ADM)
  • Cesar Chavez Student Center (CCSC)
  • Child Care Center (A.S. ECEC)
  • Mashouf Wellness Center (MWC)
  • Student Health Center (SHS)
  • Student Services (SSB)

Athletic facilities

  • Cox Stadium
  • Gymnasium (GYM)
  • Maloney Field


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 wrestling, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, baseball, 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 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 scored at a national championship meet every year from 1963-64 to 2016-17.[56] In 1996-97, the Gators won the NCAA Division II National Championship.


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.[57][58]


The revised Malcolm X mural, painted by SF State students Eric Norberg and Kamau Ayubbo

Controversies include:

  • In 1994 a mural depicting Malcolm X was painted on the student union building, commissioned by the Pan-African Student Union and African Student Alliance. The mural's border contained yellow Stars of David and dollar signs mingled with skulls and crossbones and near the words "African Blood." The next week, after demonstrations on both sides, the school administration had the mural painted over, and subsequently sand blasted.[59] Two years later a new Malcolm X mural was painted, without the controversial symbols.[60]
  • A near-riot occurred on May 7, 2002, when a pro-Palestinian group attended a pro-Israel demonstration on campus. The pro-Israel students said that the Palestinian supporters chanted anti-Semitic epithets at them, such as "Hitler should have finished the job." The pro-Palestinian group said the pro-Israelis started the conflict by calling them terrorists and using epithets such as "camel jockey." No violence occurred, but campus and city police were called in to defuse the situation.[61]
  • On March 28, 2016, an African American student accosted a Caucasian student on the basis that he styled his hair in dreadlocks and accused him of cultural appropriation. The event, captured by cell phone video, spread on social media and news agencies. The university stated that it was aware of the incident and was conducting a full investigation.[62][63]

Notable faculty and alumni


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  2. ^ As of June 30, 2016. "Money Matters". San Francisco State University. 2017. 
  3. ^ a b http://www.calstate.edu/hr/employee-profile/documents/Fall2013CSUProfiles.pdf
  4. ^ SF State Facts 2006-2007: Faculty & Staffs, San Francisco State University
  5. ^ a b c "Total Enrollment by Sex and Student Level, Fall 2016". The California State University. Retrieved March 11, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b SF State Facts 2009–2010, San Francisco State University
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  8. ^ "Search CSU Degrees". Degrees.calstate.edu. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
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  10. ^ A History of SF State, San Francisco State University
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  60. ^ [1] Archived April 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
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External links

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