A few decades ago, San Francisco was known as one of the strongholds of the Peace and Love Generation. Through the years, the city has grown and evolved into much more. Today, it is a diverse mixture of technology, nature and culture. It has become one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, yet it retains its closeness to nature and its tolerance of new people and new ideas.
This diversity and attitude of community and cultural acceptance is reflected in the University of San Francisco, a school that identifies itself closely with the city it calls home. The university’s mission is “to provide a rigorous, world-class education to a new generation of leaders, who will work to create a more humane and just world.”
One way USF aims to achieve this goal is by partnering with community organizations that work to benefit the city. The School of Education’s Mission Possible program, which uses school-based family counseling to help at-risk kids improve their academic performances, is just one example of the university’s involvement in its community. Another is the College of Arts and Sciences’ Architecture and Community Design Program, which teaches urban development and community planning with an emphasis on social services and sustainability.
Despite its close relationship with its technologically advanced home city and its modern outlook on the world, the University of San Francisco is, in some ways, also an institution of traditions. Though it accepts students of all backgrounds and faiths, the university’s values remain those of its Jesuit Catholic roots.
The University of San Francisco is a private university founded in 1855 by Father Anthony Maraschi, S.J., an Italian immigrant who named the new Jesuit school, then located on Market Street, St. Ignatius Academy in honor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. In 1909, the campus was relocated to its current site at Fulton and Parker avenues, and in 1930, it was renamed the University of San Francisco.
One of only 28 Jesuit Catholic colleges in the U.S., the school makes sure its religious values are evident in each of its majors, even introducing a service-learning semester for undergraduates. This program gets students involved in community service programs related to their fields of study, giving them a chance to apply their academic training while also helping their community and creating a better world.
In addition, the university ministry helps students immerse themselves in the principles of the Jesuit religion, and the Jesuit Foundation gives grants to faculty and staff for worthy school projects.
USF includes four regional campuses in Cupertino, Sacramento, San Ramon and Santa Rosa, but its 55-acre main campus is located right in the heart of San Francisco, next to Golden Gate Park. The location is ideal not only for learning and culture, with easy access to such sites as the California Academy of Sciences or any of the city’s numerous museums, but it is also a perfect place to have some fun when students aren’t attending classes. Theatres abound, and lovers of ballet, opera, and other forms of music can catch a variety of shows at the Civic Centre. A plethora of relaxing cruises and invigorating walking tours await, and for the athletically inclined, San Francisco is an excellent place to go sailing or biking. Those who prefer to be spectators can kick back and watch the Forty-Niners play football or take in a San Francisco Giants baseball game.
The University of San Francisco’s emphasis on combining academics with social programs and community involvement seems to be a success. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has listed the school as one of only 76 “community engaged” colleges and universities across the nation. Washington Monthly magazine has ranked the university in the top 25 percent of national universities whose alumni join the Peace Corps.
A founding member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, USF has been accredited by that organization since the 1940s. The university stands out academically, as well as socially. It was the first college in the United States to offer a computer science degree. Today, it features five schools of training: the College of Arts and Sciences, which encompasses that historic computer science program; the School of Business and Professional Studies; the School of Education; the School of Law; and the School of Nursing. Those attending the School of Business can do so on campus or online.
Students can choose from more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and study at any of 21 interdisciplinary centers and institutes, including the Center for Global Education and the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.
Even within traditional majors, the University of San Francisco offers an emphasis on global advancement and community involvement. The School of Business, for example, includes the Department of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Organizations, Leadership, and Society.
With a student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to 1 and an average class size of 28 students, the University of San Francisco is able to provide more personal attention than the average large university. The majority of faculty members have earned the highest degree in their academic fields. The school’s roster features staff members like the School of Education’s Professor Susan Katz, who was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2010, the second time in six years she has earned the distinction.
USF’s School of Business has garnered honors from The Wall Street Journal, which has ranked its MBA program among the top 100 worldwide, and The Princeton Review.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Undergraduate students applying to the University of San Francisco must complete either an online application or a Common Application, along with a one- or two-page essay detailing how the student will help the university carry out its mission. One letter of recommendation and a recommendation form in a sealed envelope must be included, as well as all relevant school transcripts and either SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students may not be required to submit test scores if they have obtained enough transferable credits.
International applicants will need to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic scores if English is not their first language. Those planning to study on an F-1 student visa must also submit a Certificate of Finance form.
Incoming freshmen who wish to begin their studies in the fall should apply to the University of San Francisco by mid-November for early decision or mid-January for regular decision. For students beginning study in the spring semester, applications need to be turned in by mid-December for domestic students. Transfer applications are considered on a rolling basis, with the exception of those submitted for the School of Nursing.
Graduate students applying to USF must submit transcripts from their bachelor’s degree programs, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. GRE test scores and essays or writing samples may be required. Applicants must have achieved at least a 3.0 grade-point average in their bachelor’s degree studies, or if international students, must have scored at least a 575 on the paper TOEFL test or at least a 90 on the online TOEFL test.
Most of the students who apply to the University of San Francisco seek financial aid of some type. Aid is available through a number of grants, scholarships, and loans from both public and private sources.
The first step for any college applicant is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to find out whether he or she qualifies for financial aid from the federal government. The application can be completed online, which is recommended, or a paper copy can be obtained through an applicant’s high school or the college financial aid office. Other forms of federal assistance include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program, the Pell Grant, or the Federal Work Study Program.
At the state level, California residents can apply for a Cal Grant by completing the Cal Grant GPA Verification form.
USF also sponsors several scholarship opportunities, including the University Scholars Program or one of three academic merit awards. University Scholars receive scholarships renewable for up to eight semesters of study, based on SAT or ACT scores and grade-point average. These scholarships renew automatically as long as the student’s GPA remains at 3.25 or above.
The university’s President’s Merit Award, Provost’s Merit Award and Dean’s Merit Award also are based on test scores and academic performance.
Applicants with questions about the university’s financial aid programs can contact the main campus’s financial aid office.
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U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of San Francisco among the top 30 schools in the country with regard to ethnic diversity and enrollment of international students. In the fall 2009 semester, USF enrolled more than a thousand first-time freshmen from 41 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and almost 50 other nations. Of those freshmen, 19 percent were Asian-American, 19 percent were Latino or Hispanic, and eight percent were international. These percentages are a fairly accurate reflection of the entire undergraduate population.
With the campus set in the middle of San Francisco, it is only natural that many of the university’s students are commuters. But those who choose to live on-campus have plenty of options, from traditional dormitories to the school’s Living-Learning Communities.
Living-Learning Communities are community-based residential programs in which students with common studies live and learn together in designated halls. Successful completion of two semesters in a living-learning community fulfills at least one area of a student’s core curriculum, as well as some elective units and the service-learning requirement.
Students who opt for a more traditional college living experience may reside in one of several co-ed halls, the all-female Fromm Hall, or the single-sex Fulton House, a residence hall which is either all-female or all-male, varying by year. All new undergraduates with 40 or fewer transfer credits must live on-campus for their first two semesters at USF.
When they aren’t studying, students at the University of San Francisco can take in any of the sights the city has to offer, or they can stay on campus and enjoy one of the many clubs and events that are offered. Fitness enthusiasts might frequent the Koret Health and Recreation Center, with its Olympic-size swimming pool, basketball court and weight rooms. The center also sponsors intramural sports teams, ski trips and river rafting events.
The University of San Francisco sponsors one Greek fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi, and three sororities: Delta Zeta, Delta Sigma Theta and Lambda Theta Nu.
For those interested in keeping up with campus news, USF has a newspaper, radio station and television station. The San Francisco Foghorn is the student-run newspaper, and USFtv is a community-based television station that broadcasts both on campus channel 35 and on YouTube. KUSF 90.3 is the school’s award-winning FM radio station.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
Sports have been a part of the University of San Francisco tradition since the school’s founding, but it wasn’t until 1932 that USF’s teams became known as the Dons. The university currently fields 12 varsity sports teams, many of which have met with great success over the years.
The men’s soccer team has five national titles to its credit, the last earned in 1980. The men’s basketball team has won three national titles, including back-to-back championships in 1955 and 1956 led by college basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell. The men’s tennis team won the NCAA title in 1949. The school’s baseball team won a West Coast Conference championship in 2006.
The women’s basketball team made three straight NCAA tournament appearances from 1995 to 1997, including reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 1996. The volleyball team has reached the NCAA tournament in 2003 and 2008. In 2008, the team boasted five all-conference players.
Though the university has not fielded a football team since the 1970s, the Dons made a name for themselves in 1951 by going undefeated with a team that included eight future NFL players, among them Hall of Famers Gino Marchetti and Ollie Matson.
- Cross Country
- Track and Field
- Anderson, Kelli. “San Francisco Dons: In Their Own Style.” Sports Illustrated. July 3, 2006. Print.
- Fimrite, Ron. “The Best Team You Never Heard Of.” Sports Illustrated. November 12, 1990. Print.
- San Francisco Travel. What to Do. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. http://www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/what_to_do/
- University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. http://www.usfca.edu/