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Study in San Francisco

By Staff Writer

Updated July 28, 2021 Updated July 28, 2021

San Francisco for students

Adjacent to California’s famed tech innovation hub Silicon Valley and rising 11 places in the QS Best Student Cities ranking this year, San Francisco is within striking distance of two of the world’s most prestigious universities, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, currently ranked joint 3rd and 32nd respectively in the QS World University Rankings® 2022.

Made famous in the 1960s as the home of “flower power”, San Francisco remains one of the United States’ most iconic and frequently visited cities. With its famously laid-back coastal lifestyle and sunny climate, it’s known for its high quality of life, without the expensive living costs associated with cities like New York (though of course university fees are still as high as you’d expect from top US universities).

Today, the city’s bohemian heritage and relaxed beach style blends with more cutting-edge and competitive dynamics. One of the world’s leading 10 financial centres, the San Francisco Bay Area is home to hundreds of innovative companies, particularly in the technology sector, including the likes of Apple, Facebook and IBM, adding to its attraction for ambitious students and graduates.

As a result, this (as well as its high calibre of institutions) means that San Francisco scores highly in the employer activity indicator and maintaining its rank 11th worldwide. This indicator is based on surveys of local and international employers, who are asked to identify the cities they perceive as producing the most talented and employable graduates.

Students in the 2019 student survey, when asked what they liked most about the city, said that the city is “energetic” and “amazingly diverse”.

Are you currently studying in San Francisco? Rate your experience.

Best universities in San Francisco - QS Best Student Cities ranking: 24th

World Ranking Institution
=3 Stanford University
32 University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
1001-1200 University of San Francisco

More about San Francisco

Having climbed an impressive 11 places in this year’s QS Best Student Cities ranking, San Francisco also improves in the affordability and student view indicators.

To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

Number of universities ranked by QS

3

Highest-ranked institution

Stanford University (ranked joint 3rd)

Population

896,000

Average international fees (at ranked unis)

US$45,100

Desirability rank

33rd

Employer Activity rank

11th

Affordability rank

158th

Student View rank

21st

To find out how each of the above categories is calculated, view the methodology.

Why study in San Francisco?

Good job prospects for graduates

San Francisco ranks 11th in the employer activity indicator, boasting great job prospects for graduates – particularly in the technology sector.

High standards of living

San Francisco enjoys a high quality of life, as indicated in its high score for desirability and student view.

Excellent education standards

San Francisco is home to three universities which feature in the QS World University Rankings® 2022, of which the highest-ranked is Stanford University at joint 3rd in the world, followed by the University of California, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco.

Cost of studying in San Francisco

San Francisco’s low score for affordability is accounted for by its high tuition fees and living costs. Tuition fees at universities in the city average at around US$45,100 per year for international students. 

Numbeo estimates that a single person’s monthly costs are around US$1,238, plus an additional US$3,019 for a single bedroom apartment in the city centre.

Life & culture in San Francisco

Home to 48 hills and one of the most iconic bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is considered one of the most progressive cities in the US.

Most visitors to San Francisco start by exploring the winding hairpin road of Lombard Street, taking a boat trip around Pier 39 and out to Alcatraz Island, or visiting Oracle Park and watching the San Francisco giants hit a homerun (or two).

As a student, you’ll also have plenty of opportunity to discover San Francisco’s buzzing nightlife, shops and cafés, or perhaps just take a break from studies by relaxing in one of the city’s many green parks, such as Golden Gate Park.

Careers in San Francisco

San Francisco holds on to its incredible score this year in the employer activity indicator, ranking 11th globally. If you're looking to stay in San Francisco after graduation, the San Francisco Bay Area is home to hundreds of innovative companies, particularly in the technology sector, including the likes of Apple, Facebook and IBM, adding to its attraction for ambitious students and graduates.

This article was originally published in November 2015 . It was last updated in July 2021

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