Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

Updated November 11, 2022

Explore accredited online schools in San Francisco and learn what educational opportunities are available to San Francisco residents.

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Despite its 49.2 square miles, affectionately referred to as 7 by 7, the city of San Francisco is home to a number of colleges and universities as well as a diverse range of career opportunities, from local government to health care to well known corporate companies.

In recent years, the state of California has pushed to expand distance learning, which means that San Francisco and surrounding bay area cities offer many online education options to its on-the-go working professionals. Whether you are looking for continuing education courses or fully online degrees, San Francisco online colleges can help you meet your goals.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Colleges in San Francisco

With its diverse culture, cutting-edge research centers and renowned universities, San Francisco is a magnet for college students. The city by the bay has 25 colleges and universities that trains and educates city and nearby residents, granting everything from certificates in specialized areas to PhDs. According to the San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED), more than two-thirds of San Francisco Bay Area residents have some training beyond a high school diploma and more than 43 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher. On top of that, almost 20 percent of San Francisco residents hold a graduate degree.

San Francisco's community college, City College of San Francisco (CCSF), spans nine campuses to offer courses in more than 50 academic programs and over 100 occupational disciplines such as broadcasting, business, computer science, engineering, health care, and women's studies. It is one of the largest community colleges in the country.

Beyond two-year colleges, San Francisco has a number of well-known four-year public and private institutions including San Francisco State University, which was the first college in the nation to establish an International Relations Department and an Ethnic Studies College. Other four-year universities include the University of California, Hastings College of the Law; the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit Catholic college that was the first in the nation to offer a degree in Computer Science; and UC San Francisco, a top health, science, and educational institution as well as a world leader in researching and advancing new techniques to diagnose and treat disease.

The city is also home to dozens of independent schools and career colleges such as Golden Gate University, Alliant International University, Academy of Art Institute, and the California Culinary Academy.

Below is a glance at a few of San Francisco's colleges and universities:

INSTITUTIONTYPETRAINING/DEGREES OFFERED
City College of San FranciscoPublicAssociate's degrees, Continuing education, Career & technical education
San Francisco State UniversityPublicCertificates, Credentials, Undergraduate degrees, Graduate degrees, General education
Golden Gate University – San
Francisco
Not for Profit PrivateCertificates, Undergraduate degrees, Graduate degrees
California Institute of Integral
Studies
Not for Profit PrivateBachelor's, MA, MFA, PhD
San Francisco Art InstituteNot for Profit PrivateBachelor's, Post-Baccalaureate Certificates, Master's, MFA and Dual Degree MA/MFA
San Francisco Conservatory of
Music
Not for Profit PrivateBachelor of Music, Master of Music, MM or Artist Certificate in Chamber Music, PSD in Instrumental Performance and PGD in Vocal Performance

Online Colleges in San Francisco

Online courses and degree programs are an ideal educational option for students who need some flexibility to help juggle the everyday responsibilities of adult life or for independent learners who simply prefer to take classes from the comfort of their own home. San Francisco colleges and universities offer a variety of online options to cater to the diverse needs of the city's residents as well as students from afar. San Francisco State University's College of Extended Learning, for example, offers a variety of online continuing education courses and certificates. CCSF also offers online courses in a wide range of subject areas such as anthropology, art, Asian American studies, business, computer science, and engineering. Online classes are just a challenging as on-campus courses and, therefore, require that students be highly self-motivated. CCSF also offers telecourses for an AA degree. Telecourses allow students to watch lectures at home on one of San Francisco's Educational Access Cable Channels or online. Although students do not physically attend classes, they are required to meet with instructors three times during a semester—for orientation, a midterm exam, and a final exam. Some courses require additional in-person meetings for review sessions.

The University of San Francisco also offers online master's degree programs in Collegiate Athletics, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Health Informatics, Public Administration, and Nursing. These online degree programs are adapted from the institution's campus-based programs and have an emphasis on flexibility for busy learners.

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Top Industries, Careers and Employers

With its close proximity to Silicon Valley, it is no surprise that San Francisco is a hub for technology. According to SFCED, the following six industries are heavily represented in and vital to San Francisco's economic growth:

  • IT and Software
  • Social and Digital Media
  • Life Sciences and Biotech
  • Environmental and Cleantech
  • Professional Services
  • International Business

That is not to say, however, that other industries are not thriving in the city. According to Business Times, the top five largest San Francisco employers are:

  • City and County of San Francisco
  • University of California, San Francisco
  • Wells Fargo
  • San Francisco Unified School District
  • Gap Inc.

According to May 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top occupational titles in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area include:

  • Office and Administrative Support
  • Sales
  • Food Preparation and Serving related occupations
  • Business and Financial Operations
  • Management
  • Education, Training and Library occupations
  • Transportation and Material Moving occupations
  • Computer and Mathematical occupations
  • Health care Practitioners and Technical occupations
  • Construction and Extraction occupations

Additionally, SFCED projects that biomedical engineers, microbiologists, computer and information research scientists, software developers, market research analysts and marketing specialists, medical scientists, and home health aides will be among some of the fastest growing occupations in the San Francisco metropolitan area between 2010 and 2020.

Great Resources for Students

City College of San Francisco

CCSF is one of the largest public, two-year community colleges in the nation. It has nine campuses in various locations throughout San Francisco and serves more than 100,000 students. CCSF offers a range of Associate of Arts and Science degrees, most of which meet general education requirements to transfer to a four-year institution.

CCSF Forward

In July 2012, City College of San Francisco was placed on “Show Cause” status, which meant the college was non-compliant with certain accreditation requirements and, therefore, needed to prove why its accreditation should not be withdrawn. Today, CCSF is still open and accredited; this site offers up-to-date news and information on the review and appeal process as well as the school's progress in meeting the requirements outlined by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

San Francisco State University

SFSU enrolls the largest number of international students among comprehensive U.S. universities and also consistently ranks in the top 20 nationwide in awarding bachelor's degrees to minorities. Originally established in 1899 as a teacher-training school, SFSU offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and various doctoral degrees in a wide range of academic areas. It also has a number of NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic teams.

University of San Francisco

USF is a Jesuit Catholic university and is home to McLaren School of Business as well as a top-tier J.D. program. The institution offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees in management, business and nursing. It is located just one block from the city's exact center, which means that it is no more than 3.5 miles away from any resource or destination in San Francisco.

University of California, San Francisco

UCSF is a leading university focused on health science research and education. The school has various partnerships around the world to achieve its mission of advancing health worldwide. It is also home to UCSF Medical Center, which provides highly specialized care to referral patients. In 2015, a new medical center at Mission Bay will open to serve women, children and cancer patients.

Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

#1 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

City College of San Francisco

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 2 years
  • Campus

City College of San Francisco, a public college, supports educational opportunities for learners of all levels. Whether students learn on campus or online, they benefit from robust coursework, skilled faculty, and flexible study options. 

Degree candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to their field. Students can collaborate with faculty on research projects, pursue internships, and explore other experiential learning opportunities.

Students benefit from institutional resources like career services and academic advising. Prospective applicants can speak with the financial aid office to determine scholarship eligibility. The college notes that approximately 52% of all incoming enrollees receive financial aid. Of all learners, 35% graduate from their programs.

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
$6,968
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
24,441
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
No

#2 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

San Francisco State University

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

San Francisco State University offers college-level degrees to learners near and far. The public institution provides 86 bachelor's programs and 67 master's programs. 

Whether in person or online, enrollees benefit from a rigorous curriculum, engaged faculty, and experiential learning opportunities. Degree candidates complete industry-specific and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge needed to succeed. Students can collaborate with faculty on research projects, pursue internships, and explore other experiential learning opportunities during their program.

Learners can connect with career services, academic advising, and other offices to receive support and guidance. Interested applicants can learn more about scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities through the financial aid office. According to the institution, 77% of all incoming enrollees receive financial aid. Of all its applicants, 67% receive admittance.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
29,032
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

Golden Gate University-San Francisco

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Golden Gate University-San Francisco offers a variety of degrees. Students can choose from 10 bachelor's programs and 27 master's programs, 22 of which are fully remote.

Learners across modalities benefit from robust coursework, skilled faculty, and flexible study options. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework. To further their learning, students can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

Degree-seekers can access career services, academic advising, and other resources throughout their program. Students can learn more about scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities through the financial aid office. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,840
Out-of-state
$15,840
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,432
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
67% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#4 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

California Institute of Integral Studies

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California Institute of Integral Studies is private school supporting in-person and online programs. Students can choose from two bachelor's degrees and 14 master's degrees. Learners seeking remote study can explore an online bachelor's degree and five online master's degrees.

Students across modalities benefit from robust coursework, skilled faculty, and flexible study options. Enrollees complete advanced and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to their field of study. Degree-seekers can further their education through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships.

Enrollees can access numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. The financial aid office connects students with funding opportunities and can help prospective enrollees determine their eligibility for financial aid. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$20,500
Out-of-state
$20,500
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,476
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

San Francisco Art Institute

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Learners seeking flexible hybrid study should consider enrolling at San Francisco Art Institute. To date, the institution supports 10 bachelor's programs.

Degree-seekers benefit from rigorous coursework, skilled faculty, and a supportive learning community. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to their field. To further their learning, students can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

Degree candidates can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. Prospective applicants seeking to fund their studies can meet with the financial aid office to explore scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. Around 92% of all enrollees benefit from financial aid. Of all its applicants, 90% receive admittance.

Average Tuition
In-state
$45,664
Out-of-state
$45,664
Retention Rate
50%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
332
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
9% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#6 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

San Francisco Conservatory of Music offers an impressive array of hybrid programs. The private institution provides eight bachelor's degrees and eight master's degrees. 

Every student benefits from a supportive learning community, complete with skilled faculty and industry-relevant coursework. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework as part of their program curriculum. To further their education, students can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

Degree candidates can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. Prospective enrollees can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities and determine eligibility. The institution discloses that 100% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid. The college admits 48% of all applicants and boasts a 61% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$46,350
Out-of-state
$46,350
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
48%
Students Enrolled
452
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#7 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

University of San Francisco

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of San Francisco offers a variety of college-level degrees to diverse learners. The private college offers 55 bachelor's programs and 48 master's programs. 

Degree-seekers benefit from rigorous coursework, skilled faculty, and a supportive learning community. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to their field. Degree candidates can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as internships and externships.

Learners can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. Prospective applicants can meet with a financial aid counselor to explore funding opportunities for their education. Given the generosity of the college, 91% of all admitted students receive financial aid. The institution reports a 75% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$49,740
Out-of-state
$49,740
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
10,636
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#8 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

University of California, San Francisco

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

University of California, San Francisco provides premier study opportunities to learners through its hybrid programs. Whether students learn on campus or online, they benefit from rigorous coursework, skilled faculty, and a supportive learning community. 

Degree candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework in their subject area. Learners can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as faculty-driven research projects and internships.

Learners can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. The financial aid office can connect students with funding opportunities. 

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,180
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#9 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

University of California-Hastings College of Law

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students looking to earn a flexible degree should consider an education through University of California-Hastings College of Law. The college offers both bachelor's and master's degrees.

Enrollees across modalities benefit from a supportive learning community, attentive faculty, and competitive degree options. Degree candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework in their subject area. Students can further their learning through research projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Students benefit from institutional resources like career services and academic advising. Prospective applicants can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities and determine eligibility. 

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
979
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#10 Online Colleges & Universities in San Francisco

Saybrook University

  • Pasadena, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

A leader in hybrid education, Saybrook University supports in-person and online learning opportunities. The private college offers four master's degrees, all of which run online.

These learning modalities enable students to learn at their own pace. Enrollees complete industry-specific and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge needed to succeed. Degree candidates can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as faculty-driven research projects and internships.

The college connects students with numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Prospective applicants can meet with a financial aid counselor to explore funding opportunities for their education. 

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
688
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

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AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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