Colleges & Universities on The San Francisco Peninsula

The San Francisco Bay Area is renowned for its prestigious colleges and universities. Whether you're a parent exploring options for your child, a prospective student seeking a vibrant academic environment, or a visiting faculty member looking for collaborative opportunities, this guide offers a glimpse into the unique campuses and surrounding areas.

Stanford University

Situated in California's intellectually vibrant Bay Area, Stanford University, established in 1885 by Senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, is a testament to academic excellence and innovation. 

Renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit, the institution is deeply influenced by its proximity to Silicon Valley and is one of the world's leading research universities. It offers a wide array of academic disciplines, excelling in areas from computer science, engineering, and human biology to advanced graduate studies in business, law, and medicine. It is also an athletics powerhouse, with 900 current student-athletes and a history of 128 national titles and 22 consecutive Learfield Sports Directors’ Cups. The campus is a blend of striking architecture and natural beauty with landmarks like the iconic Stanford Memorial Church, the Rodin Sculpture Garden, and the panoramic views of the Bay Area from Hoover Tower. 

Self-guided and interactive tours are available, and guided tours for groups of prospective undergraduate students are available by reservation on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the academic quarter.

WHERE TO STAY–Westin Palo Alto, Sheraton Palo Alto, The Cardinal Hotel, The Stanford Park Hotel, and Crowne Plaza Palo Alto. 

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–Stanford Memorial Church, Hoover Tower, Rodin Sculpture Garden, Downtown Palo Alto, and Baylands Nature Preserve.

San Francisco State University

Nestled in the vibrant city of San Francisco is San Francisco State University (SFSU), a public research university situated on a 141-acre campus, located less than two miles from the Pacific coast. With a history dating back to 1899, it was originally established as a state-run normal school for training teachers and in 1972 was awarded state university status and is part of the 23-campus California State University system. Today it offers 118 bachelor's degrees, 94 master's degrees, and 5 doctoral degrees, including unique higher education programs in education and physical therapy, across six academic colleges. An athletically spirited institution, San Francisco State has 12 varsity athletic teams that compete at the NCAA Division II level, most as members of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. They offer several ways to visit including in-person guided tours, self-guided tours, virtual tours, and prospective student events. 

WHERE TO STAY–Mirage Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn San Francisco-Daly City, Courtyard by Marriott-San Francisco Airport, Hotel Adagio, Autograph Collection, Hilton San Francisco Financial District.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–Lake Merced Park, San Francisco Zoo, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, and California Academy of Sciences .

University of California, Berkeley

Located in the vibrant city of Berkeley, the University of California, Berkeley is a flagship institution of the ten-campus University of California system. Founded in 1868, it’s one of the top public universities in the United States and is consistently ranked among the world's top 10 universities. 

With a student population of 40,000 enrolled in approximately 350 undergraduate and 120 graduate programs encompassing fields from computer science and biotechnology to public policy, environmental studies, and political science. 

Located near San Francisco with off-shoot campuses in downtown San Francisco, the main campus is known for its historic architecture, sprawling greens, and the iconic Sather Tower. Aside from virtual tours, the university offers in-person and self-guided campus tours Monday to Sunday including visits to the Campanile, their 307-foot tall clock and bell tower.

WHERE TO STAY–Residence Inn by Marriott Berkeley, Berkeley City Club, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Berkeley, Aiden by Best Western @ Berkeley, and Hotel Shattuck Plaza.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, Berkeley Rose Garden, Chabot Space & Science Center, and Tilden Regional Park.

University of California, San Francisco

With more than 20 campus locations in San Francisco, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is a renowned research university exclusively dedicated to health sciences. Distinguished as one of the top universities in the biomedical field both nationally and globally, UCSF’s highly regarded programs include medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, and related research disciplines. Check out their campuses via different virtual tours. 

WHERE TO STAY–Hilton Parc 55 San Francisco Union Square, Hilton San Francisco Financial District, The Kimpton Hotel Enso, Hotel Kabuki, and Hotel Abri.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Union Square, and Exploratorium. 

University of San Francisco 

Set in the heart of San Francisco, the University of San Francisco (USF) is a premier Jesuit university that mirrors the spirit of the Bay Area. Recognized for its diverse student population and strong emphasis on international studies, performing arts and social sciences, business, and law, the university intertwines reason, religion, science, and spirituality in its curriculum. 

Join graduate student ambassadors for a tour of its beautiful Hilltop campus, or sign up for a campus or virtual visit. For groups of 10 to 50, group visits can be organized. 

WHERE TO STAY–The Laurel Inn - JDV by Hyatt, Hotel Drisco Pacific Heights, Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway, The Hotel Castro, and Hotel Kabuki.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–San Francisco Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, Crissy Field, and de Young Museum. 

College of San Mateo

Set on a beautiful 153-acre site in San Mateo with stunning views of San Francisco Bay, the College of San Mateo (CSM) is a key educational institution in the Northern Silicon Valley corridor. Since 1922, it has offered its students university transfer, career preparation, and extensive support services such as financial aid, counseling, transfer guidance, tutoring, employment assistance, health services, and child care. 

An institution that caters to 10,000 students each semester across a wide range of academic programs, and championship intercollegiate athletic teams, with many student-athletes advancing to four-year institutions and professional careers. Take a virtual tour of their campus or watch their college tour online. 

WHERE TO STAY–The Catrina Hotel, San Mateo, Residence Inn by Marriott San Francisco Airport/San Mateo, Hampton Inn & Suites San Mateo-San Francisco Airport, Hotel Belmont, and Hyatt House Belmont/Redwood Shores.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–San Mateo Japanese Garden, Hiller Aviation Museum, Pulgas Water Temple, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Laurelwood Park.

San Francisco Wine School

For wine enthusiasts, a world-class wine education awaits at the San Francisco Wine School founded by master sommelier David Glancy in 2011. Located just minutes from San Francisco International Airport, the school offers courses and private experiences (in-person and virtual) specializing in wine education programs, from region-specific wine tastings courses to Certified Specialist of Wine Program, and 2-day Somm Programs. View the school via a video tour. 

WHERE TO STAY–Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott San Francisco Airport Oyster Point Area, Four Points by Sheraton Hotel & Suites San Francisco Airport, Embassy Suites by Hilton San Francisco Airport, DoubleTree by Hilton San Francisco South Airport Blvd, and Home2 Suites by Hilton San Francisco Airport North.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–Sign Hill Park, San Francisco Zoo and the San Francisco Botanical Garden. 

Cañada College

For over 50 years, Cañada College has provided educational opportunities for the residents of San Mateo County in more than 40 instructional programs (certificates and degrees) in the sciences, business, multimedia, medical assisting, the arts, and technical training, or as part of a transfer gateway to four-year colleges and universities. Join a virtual tour or schedule an in-person visit. 

WHERE TO STAY–Atherton Park Inn & Suites Redwood City, The Cottages Hotel, and The Stanford Park Hotel.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–Filoli Historic House & Garden, Pulgas Water Temple, San Mateo County History Museum, and Wunderlich County Park.

Menlo College

Nestled in the center of Silicon Valley, Menlo College is a private undergraduate institution near San Francisco that specializes in business and psychology. Leveraging its prime location in a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, Menlo College integrates practical learning experiences, including internships at local companies and incubators. The college also boasts a competitive athletics program. Visit online or in person for a tour of the campus.

WHERE TO STAY–Park James Hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott Palo Alto Menlo Park, and Best Western Plus Riviera.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS–Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford Dish, and Arizona Garden.

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