Universities in San Francisco - QS Best Student Cities Ranking | Top Universities

San Francisco

By Staff Writer

Updated March 15, 2021 Updated March 15, 2021

QS Best Student Cities ranking: Joint 35th

Adjacent to California's famed tech innovation hub Silicon Valley and rising three 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 2nd and 28th respectively in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

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 blend with more cutting-edge and competitive dynamics. One of the world's leading 10 financial centers, 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 caliber of institutions) means that San Francisco scores highly in the employer activity indicator, rising four places this year to 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.

Internationally ranked universities in San Francisco

Stanford UniversityUniversity of California, Berkeley (UCB)University of San Francisco;

More about San Francisco

Number of universities ranked by QS


Highest-ranked institution

Stanford University (ranked 2nd)



Average international fees (at ranked unis)


Desirability rank


Employer Activity rank


Affordability rank


Student View rank


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

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

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