Computer Science Schools in San Francisco with Degree Descriptions

There are several schools within 15 miles of San Francisco that have computer science degree programs. Read an overview of three schools' programs, requirements and admission info, and find out which school is the right one for you.

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San Francisco Computer Science Schools

Many schools in and around San Francisco offer degree programs in computer science at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This article examines three schools, all within 30 minutes of the city center. Early in the article is a table that makes it easy to compare the different schools, with facts on tuition, size, acceptance rates and graduation rates. There's also a brief paragraph with important facts about another school in the city at the end.

  • Nearly 1.5 miles from downtown San Francisco, the small, private University of San Francisco (USF) offers several options for computer science at the bachelor's level as well as a master's degree in analytics. USF is a Jesuit school and focuses on both academics and service.
  • About five miles from downtown is San Francisco (SF) State University, a large, public university. It offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in computer science.
  • The University of California - Berkeley, which is ranked as one of the top engineering schools in the nation, also offers bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science as well as a doctoral program. The school is about 11 miles from downtown San Francisco.

Comparison of Schools

Individuals looking to study computer science in San Francisco have several very different public and private school options from which to choose. The following table gives some facts, including tuition, school size and the applicant acceptance rate, which can help prospective students make a decision.

University of San Francisco San Francisco State University University of California - Berkeley
School Type 4-year university; private not-for-profit 4-year university; public 4-year university; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 11,063* 29,758* 41,891*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Midsize city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $46,250* $7,254 in-state; $19,134 out-of-state* $14,170 in-state; $42,184 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 83%* 77%* 60%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 66%* 70%* 17%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 85% full-time* 81% full-time* 97% full-time*
Graduation Rate (for students who began in Fall 2011) 77%* 54%* 91%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco offers degree options in computer science that provide a hands-on software development experience and strong engineering foundation through the Department of Computer Science. USF also focuses on ethical learning through service projects, reflecting the Jesuit tradition of education and garnering awards for its efforts. Class sizes are small, with a 13:1 student-to-teacher ratio.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Along with the required core liberal arts curriculum coursework, students in the computer science program are expected to complete 40 units of computer science classes covering programming, data structures and algorithms, operating systems and computer architecture. Twelve units of math covering discrete mathematics and linear algebra and probability, as well as a core science course in either physics, chemistry or biology are also required. Seniors design, develop and document a large-scale software project in a capstone course.

Minor in Computer Science

To complete a minor in computer science, students need to earn 20 units (5 courses) with a 'C' or better. The required courses include two in introductory computer science and one in either web programming, genes and society or mobile apps. The final two classes may be chosen from elective options such as software development, discrete mathematics or data structures and algorithms.

Master of Science in Computer Science

The master's degree program at USF is composed of four core courses, a master's project and 16 units of computer science electives. Required and elective coursework covers languages, systems, parallel and distributed computing, algorithms, computational theory and computer security. Master's project topics involve either research or designing and producing a commercially sponsored software system. Opportunities for paid practicum study may be available.

San Francisco State University

Faculty in the Department of Computer Science at San Francisco State University focus on preparing students for both work in software development and computer manufacturing and continued education. Along with learning computing fundamentals, students have many opportunities to do team projects and to get real-world experience with Bay Area community organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

In the ABET-accredited bachelor's program at SF State, students are required to take fundamental courses in math, physics and computer science, as well as elective coursework in a concentration, such as programming languages or algorithms and computing theory. Within the computer science core, students take classes in computer programming, machine structures and ethics; math coursework covers calculus, linear algebra and statistics. SF State encourages students to participate in a cooperative education program, which enhances the academic experience with on-the-job training.

Minor in Computer Science

For students who want to combine a computer science skill set with another major, the minor program provides most of the core courses from the bachelor's program with some added electives. Earning the minor requires 21 hours of courses, including classes in computer programming, software development and data structures.

Master of Science in Computer Science

All graduate students need to complete nine units of coursework in computing foundations, computer systems and software development. Afterwards, depending upon the specialization chosen, graduate students take additional units of coursework covering electives in their area of interest, such as marketing management, advanced computer networks or bioinformatics computing. Prior to graduation, students must complete a culminating experience, which can take the form of a research project or master's thesis.

University of California - Berkeley

The University of California - Berkeley is a highly selective school with an international reputation for excellence in science and engineering. The College of Engineering's electrical engineering and computer science department places a heavy emphasis on math and electrical engineering in the computer science degree programs and seeks to prepare graduates to become leaders in the technology industry. Students have access to a multitude of research labs and centers, including the Algorithms, Machines and People Laboratory and the Center for Hybrid and Embedded Software Systems (CHESS).

Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) option, which is offered through the College of Letters & Science, is designed to allow students to double major or to minor in a liberal arts and sciences subject such as math or foreign languages. Prior to being admitted to the major, students must complete prerequisite coursework in computer science, math and digital electronics with a minimum GPA of 3.3. Once admitted, students must complete coursework in areas such as computer program structure, data structures and discrete mathematics, along with other elective coursework outside of the major.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

The ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science option at Berkeley is designed for students whose interests are more closely aligned with computer hardware or engineering. In this major, students are required to take at least 27 units of science, math and statistics, along with 60 units of electrical engineering/computer science coursework. Upper-division lab courses, such as digital signal processing and user interfaces, are required along with core courses in software engineering, operating systems and computer architecture.

Minor in Computer Science

The computer science minor is open to any Berkeley student, except those majoring in computer science. There are four prerequisite classes that need to be taken prior to petitioning for admittance into the program, and applicants need to have declared a major. The prerequisite courses cover program structures and interpretation, data structures, machine structures and discrete math. Upon admittance, students need to take any three upper division courses in computer science, chosen from electives such as embedded systems, computer animation or advanced robotics.

Master of Science in Computer Science

A B.A. or B.S. is required to gain admittance into the 24-unit master's degree program. Both an independent research and thesis option and a project report option are available. Students must take 10 units of courses from graduate-level coursework.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science

Ph.D. students at Berkeley are required to complete at least four courses in a major field with a GPA of 3.5, as well as two courses each in a related minor field and a field outside the electrical engineering and computer science area, with a GPA of 3.0. Additional breadth courses, qualifying exams and thesis proposals are required to advance to candidacy, during which time research is done to produce a dissertation. Students must choose coursework from three areas, such as artificial intelligence, systems, graphics and programming.

Other School Options

Located approximately four miles from downtown San Francisco, the City College of San Francisco offers a 2-year Associate of Science in Computer Science degree, along with certificate options in areas such as Linux administration, database programming and mobile app development.

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