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Bay Area Trade Schools with Program Descriptions

There are a variety of trade schools within the San Francisco Bay Area. See how four of these schools stack up against each other to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

The San Francisco Bay Area has a number of trade and vocational schools, ranging from small, program-specific schools to larger colleges with career and technical education departments. This article compares four schools that offer certificate and degree programs in a wide variety of trades, ranking the top three in each of the following categories:

  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio
  • Largest Student Population

Net Price

Cost can be a large factor in choosing a trade school. The following figures are from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator, and represent the average annual cost for all degree programs in 2012-2013. Your cost could vary depending on the specific course of study and time to completion. The following three schools had the lowest cost after financial aid was factored in.

1. City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco is a 2-year, public community college that offers trade and vocational training in addition to traditional coursework. It has several campuses through the San Francisco Bay Area, making CCSF the largest school offering trade school training in the region. NCES reports that full-time students pay an average of $4,563 per year.

2. College of Alameda

The College of Alameda is a 2-year public college located 8 miles from San Francisco in Alameda, CA. Full-time, in-state students pay an average of $5,442, with over 80% of students receiving financial aid.

3. College of San Mateo

Students at the College of San Mateo, 17 miles outside of San Francisco in suburban San Mateo, CA , pay an average of $7,497, making it the third-best value on the list. NCES estimates that 51% of San Mateo students receive some type of financial aid.

Graduation Rate

Graduation rate, or the percentage of students completing their program within 150% of the expected time, can be a useful factor when choosing a school. The following three schools had the highest graduation rate out of the four schools profiled, according to the NCES.

1. City College of San Francisco

CCSF has a graduation rate of 31% for first-time, first year students who entered in fall of 2010. However, 68% of full-time students entering their first multi-year programs in 2012 returned the next year, indicating an overall level of satisfaction with the college.

2. College of Alameda

The College of Alameda comes in at a close second, with a 27% graduation rate among new students from 2010. Additionally, 62% of full-time, first-time 2012 students returned for a second year of study.

3. Laney College

Laney College, a 2-year public school located in the city of Oakland, CA, came in third on graduation rate. Among 2010 students, 21% were able to complete their degrees within 3 years, and 57% of new full-time students in 2012 returned for their second year.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Student-to-faculty ratio can be an important factor in choosing a school. A low student-to-teacher ratio can mean more one-on-one time with the teacher as well as higher attention to personal need and learning style. Based on data from the NCES, the following three schools had the lowest student-to-faculty ratios out of those considered.

1. City College of San Francisco

CCSF boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 22 to 1. The overall student population is 26,706, but with 665 full-time and 850 part-time teachers as of 2013, students should have no trouble getting individual attention.

2. Laney College

Laney College also has a 22:1 student-to-faculty ratio, with a student body of 11,362. In 2013 the school had 133 full-time instructors, with another 303 part-time or adjunct instructors rounding out the faculty roster.

3. College of Alameda

With 24 students to each teacher, the College of Alameda is a close third in the student-to-faculty ratio rankings. As of 2013, Alameda employed 64 full-time and 113 part-time faculty members. With the school's small size, only 5,799 total students, class sizes should remain relatively small.

Largest Student Population

A larger school can often mean that there are more programs, course offerings and overall services available. A good benchmark for the size of the school is its student population. The three schools below had the highest student populations of the four compared, as of fall 2013.

1. City College of San Francisco

With 26,706 students, CCSF is by far the largest college considered. The NCES reports that 66% of these students attend classes part-time, and 9% attend some of their classes online.

2. Laney College

Laney College has about 11,362 enrolled students. Of this number, 83% are part-time students, indicating that this school might be a good option to non-traditional or returning students looking to balance education with a family or career.

3. College of San Mateo

The College of San Mateo may also be an attractive option for working adults. Out of a student body of about 9,377, 73% take course-work part time, says the NCES. In addition, 12% of students are enrolled in at least some distance education.

Bay Area Schools: At a Glance

School NameLocationSchool TypePrograms OfferedArea Ranking
City College of San FranciscoSan Francisco, CAPublicLess than one year certificate, One but less than two years certificate, Associate's degree, Two but less than four years certificate#1 in Net Price, #1 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio, #1 in Largest Student Population
College of AlamedaAlameda, CAPublicLess than one year certificate, One but less than two year certificate, Associate's degree#2 in Net Price, #2 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
College of San MateoSan Mateo, CAPublicLess than one year certificate, One but less than two year certificate, Associate's degree#3 in Net Price, #3 in Largest Student Population
Laney CollegeOakland, CAPublicLess than one year certificate, One but less than two year certificate, Associate's degree#3 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio, #2 in Largest Student Population

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