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San Francisco State University

Program Overview 

Location: San Francisco, California

Culture: Progressive, civic
Neighborhood: Cosmopolitan, waterside
Housing: Homestay (fall and summer), on-campus dormitory (spring)
English level: Intermediate - advanced (progression available)

Originally founded as a small teacher-training school in 1899, San Francisco State University(SFSU) has transformed into a large public research university with more than 25,000 students. Over the years, SFSU has been referred to as the “gold standard” university for its commitment to diversity, civic engagement and exceptional teaching.

Located just a short distance from the heart of downtown San Francisco, SFSU is a vibrant urban campus with great city views and abundant trees. SFSU has a rich history of activism and service to the community that are still apparent and embedded in the architecture and student culture of the campus today.

San Francisco is ranked as one of the best American cities in the United States. With Silicon Valley as its neighbor, the San Francisco Bay Area has been well-known for its progressive thinking, creativity and innovation. This city successfully blends both cosmopolitan and natural elements–making it one of the best cities for outdoor enthusiasts. It is surrounded by hilly neighborhoods, waterfront towns, wine country and beaches. The San Francisco landscape is fitting for SAF Scholars who desire a study abroad experience that extends outside of the academic realm.

Student Profile

SAF Scholars seeking a learning environment with smaller class sizes and individual support would benefit from studying at SFSU. With a student-faculty ratio of 23:1, SAF Scholars have the opportunity to work closely with professors and instructors devoted to solving community problems. SAF scholars who are eager to have hands-on learning experiences throughout their studies would be an ideal fit for SFSU.

Other Programs at University

San Francisco State University Language

Other Comparable Programs

San Jose State University

Program Details

Program Dates by Term Availability

Fall (Late August - Early January)
Spring (Late January - Early June)

Progression or Concurrent Notes

Progression: If an SAF Scholar progresses, they must achieve academic GPA minimum and must meet the following requirements:
  • Achieve a minimum TOEFL score of 450 (51 iBT) or higher at the beginning of the semester provided by language program or achieve a final TOEFL score of 500 or higher at the end of the program provided by the language program.
  • Be enrolled in level 46 or higher
  • Complete all language courses with a “B” average or better.

Concurrent: Concurrent is not an option at SFSU.

Program Strengths

SFSU Academic offers SAF Scholars with 78 academic areas of study and the opportunity to work closely with an academic advisor to determine which courses are most useful for them.

# of Credits (per term)

SAF Scholars must enroll and maintain a minimum 12–18 credit hours per semester. 12 credit hours is the common credit load for visiting students.

Course Registration Policies & Procedures

Notices for registration are sent via e-mail to all eligible students to view their assigned priority appointment day and time.

Course/Departmental Restrictions

Some courses and departments have limited access. Therefore, SAF Scholars cannot enroll in the following courses prior to their arrival. However, if they choose, they can attend the course on their first day and check if there are any open seats and then obtain permission from the professor.
  • Asian Studies
The following courses are impacted and are given priority to degree-seeking majors:
  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Child Development
  • Environmental Studies
  • Exercise Science/Sports Science
  • Health Sciences.
The following courses are restricted and are not available to study abroad students:
  • All courses in the College of Business
  • Consumer and Family Science
  • Dance
  • Design
  • Digital Media/Art
  • Education
  • Fashion/Textiles
  • Film Arts/Studies
  • Fine/Studio Arts
  • Food Science Nutrition
  • Graphic Design
  • Journalism

Graduate Courses

Graduate courses are not an option for SAF students.

Housing Type

Homestay (fall and summer), on-campus dormitory (spring)


Depending on the on-campus assignment, a meal-plan may or may not be required.

Type of Room

Dorm, apartment (single and double)
Student Life

Co-/Extra-Curricular Opportunities or Programs

SFSU is home to over 300 clubs and organizations where SAF Scholars have opportunities to connect with other SFSU students with similar interests and passions. SAF Scholars interested in giving back to the Bay Area communities are provided with a variety of community service project options.

Life on Campus

SFSU is an energetic and eclectic community where innovation and creativity are deeply rooted and valued. The staff and faculty at SFSU are dedicated to assisting students find their unique path in life. As a result of this mentality, many of the alumni have been agents of change, activists, inventors and company founders.

Furthermore, SFSU is commuter-friendly campus. There are multiple bus stops near the university that easily connects SFSU students to every corner of the city. With this accessibility, SAF Scholars can easily take a short bus ride to downtown San Francisco where they can explore the historic neighborhoods and eat at award-winning restaurants, all the while having a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay.

Last Updated: 1/9/19