Learning From Kindergarten to College

California’s public education system is huge with more than 6.2 million students in about 9,900 schools, which are governed by almost 1,050 elected school boards and regulated by a complex education code. The schools are funded through a finance system largely controlled by the California Legislature and governor. In California, schools vary in their grade-level configurations, but most elementary schools encompass Grades K–5, middle schools have Grades 6–8, junior highs have Grades 7–9 and high schools have Grades 9–12.

With one of the most well-educated populations in the country, the Bay Area is home to parents who place a high priority on their children’s education. They also are involved in ensuring that their children are prepared for future challenges and demand accountability from the education system. Within the Bay Area, there are nine county offices of education that educate nearly 500,000 area school children. There are also many private and parochial schools in the Bay Area that provide diverse educational offerings.

Upon arrival to the Bay Area, one priority may be determining child care, especially for children under the age of 6. Many couples are professional, dual-income earners and may not have close or extended family nearby to help. Luckily the region offers many options and resources, including licensed facilities, independent child-care homes and in-home professionals.

Important Child-Care Definitions
The California Child Care Resource & Referral Network (R&R Network) ( promotes affordable, accessible quality care through research, education, policy and advocacy. Community Care Licensing Division (CCL) of the California Department of Social Services (DSS) oversees the licensing of all child-care facilities in California. R&R Network defines the following as child-care provider institutions.

— Family Child-Care Home: This is care offered in the home of the provider who is often a parent. A family child-care provider often cares for children of different ages, and the number of children a family child-care provider can care for at one time depends on the ages of the children and whether there is an assistant or second provider. Family child-care homes are licensed by the state.

— Child-Care Center: This is a facility that can provide care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children all or part of the day. Although generally larger than family child-care homes, centers can be large or small and can be operated independently or by a church or other organization. Child-care centers are sometimes called “nursery schools” or “preschool programs.” Child-care centers are licensed by the state.

— In-Home Care: This is care provided by a friend, relative, babysitter or nanny in the child’s home on a full- or part-time basis. This kind of care is not licensed, but reputable in-home care providers use TrustLine (, a registry of providers who have submitted their fingerprints to the Department of Justice and have no disqualifying child abuse or criminal convictions in California.

— Home-Care Provider: This is care provided for children from only one other family besides their own. Children go to the provider’s home for care. There is no licensing required for these providers. TrustLine is available to provide background information about reputable home-care providers.

— Nannies
Nannies are employed by the family on either a live-in or live-out and part-time or full-time basis to undertake all tasks related to the care of children. Duties generally are restricted to child care and domestic tasks related to the children. The nanny may or may not have had formal training although often they have extensive child-care experience and a background in early childhood education. Typically, full-time employed nannies will work 40–60 hours per week, usually unsupervised.

According to the International Nanny Association (INA) (, you can look for a nanny in many places, including help-wanted ads in newspapers and magazines, bulletin boards and referrals from friends. These approaches can be time-consuming and also can result in negative experiences. The association suggests that you contact nanny-training programs about the availability of their graduates or that you take advantage of the services offered by nanny-placement agencies.

A placement agency is a service company that matches the skills and qualifications of nannies with the needs of families looking for in-home child care. The agency charges a fee to locate and screen nannies for you to consider hiring for your family. A reputable agency carefully will consider your needs and preferences when helping you find a suitable candidate. Placement fees range from $800 to $5,000 and should include a provision to replace the nanny or refund a portion of the fee if the placement does not work out within a certain period of time.

As part of its screening process, the agency verifies the nanny candidate’s personal and employment references as well as previous child-care experience. Many agencies also take nanny fingerprints, check for a criminal records, check the driving records and require a blood test, TB test and/or request a doctor’s statement that the candidate is in good health and free of contagious diseases. Some agencies also require psychological testing or evaluation. In the United States, the agency should verify that the candidate is an American citizen or is eligible to work legally in the country.

Just as the agency will want to ensure that nannies referred to you are suitable candidates, for the nanny’s protection, the agency also may ask you for references. Most agencies will assist you in preparing a job description that summarizes your family’s job duties, compensation package and other important considerations.

Many placement-agency owners are members of INA, and the association suggests that you select an INA member if you decide to use a placement agency’s services to help you locate a nanny.

— Au Pairs
Au Pairs are foreign nationals age 18–26 who enter the United States through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Au Pair Exchange Program, to experience American life for up to 24 months. Au Pairs in good standing can apply to extend their initial 12-month visit an additional six, nine or 12 months. Au Pairs participate in the life of the host family by providing limited child-care services (maximum of 10 hours per day, 45 hours per week) and are compensated for their work according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Au Pairs may not be placed in homes with infants 3 months of age or younger unless a parent or responsible adult will be in the home supervising the Au Pair. An Au Pair may not be placed in the home with a child 2 years of age or younger unless they have 200 or more hours of documented child-care experience.

The California Child Care Resource & Referral Network (R&R Network) ( promotes affordable, accessible quality care through research, education, policy and advocacy. The Community Care Licensing Division (CCL) of the California Department of Social Services (DSS) oversees the licensing of all child-care facilities in California. Parents have the right to receive information regarding substantiated, as well as inconclusive, complaints about any child-care provider. This information is public and can be acquired by calling the local licensing office in every county.

Trustline, California’s official background check for in-home child care, is a database of license-exempt child-care providers (nannies and babysitters) who have passed a criminal history background check in California. It is the only authorized screening program of in-home caregivers in the state and has access to fingerprint records at the California Department of Justice and the FBI. TrustLine also checks the California Child Abuse Central Index for any substantiated child abuse reports and is endorsed by the California Academy of Pediatrics. To check if a provider is registered with TrustLine, call (800) 822-8490 or visit

Finding the Right Child-Care Provider
Finding the right child-care provider takes work, and it takes asking lots of questions, from practical ones about hours and meals to the personal ones about discipline and toilet training. As parents talk to providers, the most important question to consider is, “Will my child receive loving and careful attention?”

Local child care resource and referral agencies help parents form the questions that will guide them to quality, affordable care in a variety of settings, depending on family needs. Located in every county in California, R&R agencies are in constant contact with parents and providers. Parents can call for information about choosing child care or for names of specific providers or centers in the region. A child-care specialist is available at every R&R to consult with parents and provide free referrals that meet the needs of each family. Some California families qualify to receive financial assistance from the government to help pay for their child care. Local child-care R&Rs can help families determine if they qualify for assistance.

Call (800) 543-7793 or visit to view the map to locate the closest R&R in your county. Before calling the local R&R for help finding child care, parents should consider their needs in terms of fees, hours and location and other information helpful to a counselor for finding appropriate child-care solutions.

According to R&R Network, it is important to address the following points and questions when looking for a child-care provider.

Interview and observe the potential provider with the child.
  • Why does this caregiver want to care for children?
  • How does he or she feel about this work?
  • Is this person warm, caring, attentive and responsive to the child who will be in this care?
Question the potential provider.
  • What do you like to do with children?
  • What are your feelings about discipline?
  • How do you handle naps, eating and toilet training?
  • How would you handle an emergency?
Ask a lot of “what if” questions.
  • What if my child cries all day?
  • What if my child refuses to eat?
  • What if my child refuses to nap?

Beyond that, you should check their references and work history. Plus, trust your instincts. Hire someone you and your children like. Once you have found a provider, communicate regularly and openly about how the child-care arrangement is working.

California state law requires all minors ages 6 years and older to attend school except 16- and 17-year-olds who have graduated from high school or passed the California High School Proficiency Examination and obtained parental permission to leave school. Several full- and part-time alternatives to regular high school are available to 16- and 17-year-olds, including “continuation” classes, regional occupational programs and adult education courses. All children younger than 16 years of age must attend school full time.

Schools are generally required to provide a minimum of 180 instructional days each year. Furthermore, the law specifies a minimum number of minutes of attendance by grade level.

— Kindergarten
Kindergarten attendance is not required by law, but parents have the right to enroll their eligible children in public kindergarten once they have reached the appropriate age. Schools must admit children who have reached age five on or before December 2 of that school year. Admission must occur at the beginning of the school year or whenever a student moves into the school district. For more information regarding kindergarten enrollment, visit the Kindergarten website at

— First Grade
To enter public school first grade in September, a child must reach age six on or before December 2 of the school year. Some exceptions may apply, but no child may be admitted to first grade who has not attained at least age five. Children who are at least five years old and are enrolled in a public school kindergarten may be placed in first grade at any time if they meet district criteria that demonstrate exceptionally advanced development for age. At the discretion of the receiving district, children transferring from one district to another, or from out-of-state, may be placed in the same grade in the receiving district as they were enrolled in the sending district. Children enrolling in public school after completing one year of a private-school kindergarten may be admitted to first grade at the discretion of the district.

For more information regarding compulsory education and enrollment age, contact the State Elementary Education Office at (916) 327-0857.

— Immunization and Health Checkup
California law requires each child to have up-to-date immunizations. Children are exempt from immunization requirements when (1) their parents sign a statement at the school indicating that such immunization is contrary to their beliefs or (2) the parents submit a statement from a physician indicating that immunization is not considered safe for the child. An exemption may be temporary or permanent and may be for specific or all vaccines.

State law also requires each child’s family to provide, within 90 days of entrance into the first grade, a certificate documenting that the child has received a health checkup within the previous 18 months. Parents may waive the health checkup requirement because they do not want or are unable to obtain a health screening for their child. If the waiver indicates that the parents were unable to obtain such services, the reasons must be included in the waiver. Law requires school districts to exclude any first grader up to five days if the child has neither a health examination certificate nor a parental waiver 90 days after entering the first grade.

All children under 18 years of age entering a California public or private elementary or secondary school for the first time, or transferring between schools, must present a written immunization record, including at least the month and year of receipt of each dose of required vaccines (or an exemption to the immunization requirements). Otherwise, the child will not be allowed to attend school.

To meet California’s school-entry requirements, children entering kindergarten will need a total of five DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) immunizations; four polio immunizations; two MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) immunizations; three Hepatitis B immunizations; and one varicella (chicken pox) immunization. Students entering seventh grade must show proof of three Hepatitis B shots and a second measles (or MMR) shot. Students can be admitted if they have had at least the first in the three-shot Hepatitis B series on condition that the remaining shots are completed when due. All students entering California schools from out-of-state must show proof of varicella immunization.

Contact local county health departments for more specific information on requirements relating to the number of vaccine doses and the ages at which vaccines are to be given. In some cases, in addition to the month and year of the immunization, the day is also required. Some counties now require that students entering school at specific grade levels show the results of tuberculosis skin tests.

For more information regarding immunization and health checkup requirements, contact your school district, county office of education or county health department. You also can view the California Department of Health Services Immunization Branch website at

In a June 2002 report, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that private school students scored higher on standardized tests, had more demanding graduation requirements and sent more graduates to college than public schools. The report said that students who had completed at least the eighth grade in a private school were twice as likely as other students to graduate from college as a young adult.

NCES statistics also showed that students in private schools are much more likely than others to take advanced-level high school courses. Students thrive when allowed to learn in a safe and supportive environment. Joint reports by the NCES and the Bureau of Justice Statistics and a private study by the Horatio Alger Association have found that private school students are significantly more likely than others to feel safe and be safe in their schools.

— Good for Families
Choosing a school for their children is one of the most important decisions parents must make. Whether they move into a school district, apply to a private school or adjust family duties to make home schooling possible, most families want school choice.

For the parents of more than 6 million children, the choice is private education. They choose a private education for many reasons: quality academics, a safe and orderly environment and moral and ethical values being the common reasons cited. Choice makes them satisfied consumers.

The NCES reports that more than three-quarters of private school parents are “very satisfied” with their child’s school compared with less than half of parents whose children were assigned to a public school. Parents often look to private schools as an extension of the home in promoting the values they embrace, and private schools respond. A recent NCES survey found that promoting religious or spiritual life was second only to academic excellence in the goals of private school principals.

— Montessori Schools
Montessori is a type of private school that emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching or reading. More and more educators are turning to the child-centered Montessori approach of learning and schools to support this type of learning are popping-up around the country. In the Bay Area, there are more than 20 Montessori schools. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3 to 6 and 6 to 9, for example), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones.

According to the Montessori Foundation “Montessori classrooms incorporate art, music, dance and creative drama throughout the curriculum” and “many are focused on meeting the needs of the working family and others describe themselves as college-preparatory programs.”

In California, charter schools rapidly are growing in popularity. Currently, 1,018 charter schools and 18 all-charter districts are operating in California. Approximately 16 percent of these are conversions of existing schools, and 84 percent are new start-up schools. Charter schools are located throughout the state in 49 of California’s 58 counties and in rural, suburban and urban areas. Student populations are diverse and tend to reflect the student populations of the districts in which the charter schools are located. Approximately 438,475 students are enrolled in charter schools in California, according to the California Charter Schools Association.

Charter schools may set admissions standards under the following conditions:
  • An existing private school may not be converted to a charter school.
  • A charter school must be nonsectarian.
  • A charter school may not discriminate, nor can it charge tuition.
  • No pupil can be required to attend a charter school, nor can teachers be required to work in a charter public school.
  • A charter school must have highly qualified credentialed teachers in all core subjects.

Innovative charter schools are providing programs that offer everything from an emphasis on foreign languages to fine and performing arts. Some charter schools develop partnerships with other public agencies (such as the California Conservation Corps, county government agencies and local community colleges), and some provide specialized programs (such as a program to place students in work experience settings or a program of comprehensive family services).

While most charter school students attend site-based programs with the look and feel of a traditional classroom, other students participate in programs with research-based alternative learning modalities (such as the Montessori methods) or programs that are tailored to the needs of the individual student (such as nonclassroom-based or independent and virtual programs). In some cases, charter schools focus on dropout recovery, providing a second chance to students who wish to pursue a California high school diploma and who have not been successful in other settings.

All charter schools must participate in the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program and other state assessments. Charter schools receive an Academic Performance Indicator like all other public schools. An interactive Web-based map on the Charter Schools in California Counties website, which affords the public easy access to specific information on charter schools, can be found at

For more information regarding charter schools, contact the Charter Schools Division at (916) 322-6029 or Additional information is also available on the Charter Schools website at and the U.S. Charter Schools website at

The San Francisco Bay Area takes education seriously, which is reflected in the percentage of its residents who have attained at least a high school diploma. According to the 2012 U.S. Census data, every county in the region exceeded the national percentage of 85.4 percent—Marin County (92), Contra Costa County (88.5), San Mateo County (88.4), Santa Clara County (86.5), Solano County (86.2) Sonoma County (86.2), Alameda County (86) and San Francisco County (85.7).

Graduation Requirements
To receive a high-school diploma, students must fulfill state and district graduation requirements. State-mandated graduation course requirements, which are the state minimums, are as follows:
  • 3 years of English
  • 2 years of mathematics (including Algebra I)
  • 3 years of social science (including U.S. History and geography; world history, culture and geography; one semester of American government; and one semester of economics)
  • 2 years of science (including biology and physical science)
  • 2 years of physical education
  • 1 year of foreign language or visual and performing arts

Students successfully completing Algebra I in middle school still must complete a minimum of two years of mathematics in high school. Recognizing that these 13 years of preparation are state minimums, local school boards often set local graduation requirements that exceed these state-mandated requirements. Students also are required to pass the California High School Exit Exam to receive a California high-school diploma. (Refer to the California Department of Education’s website at and click on Testing & Accountability for more information on this requirement as well as two alternative methods of earning a high school diploma or its equivalent: the California High School Proficiency Examination and the General Educational Development Test.)

College Admission Requirements
Students planning to apply to a four-year California public university are required to complete coursework that exceeds the state-mandated requirements for high school graduation.

For high school students to be considered for selection to a campus of the California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) systems, they must complete the following:
  • 4 years of college preparatory English
  • 3 years of mathematics, including algebra, geometry and intermediate algebra
  • 2 years of history or social science
  • 2 years of laboratory sciences
  • 2 years of the same foreign language
  • 1 year of visual and performing arts
  • 1 year of academic electives

The UC system recommends that students applying for freshman admission complete three additional years of advanced study, one each in mathematics, science and foreign language. The list of courses at each California high school certified by the UC system as meeting its freshman admission course requirements is located on the University of California website at For additional information about the specific courses approved for admission by CSU and UC, review the admissions requirements for each system on the California Colleges website at This site also has extensive resources on planning for college.

For more information on high-school graduation and college admission requirements, contact the Intersegmental Relations Office at (916) 323-6398. The Graduation Requirements website is at

In a region known for its innovation, creativity and progressive thinking, the Bay Area characteristically attracts residents who strongly value the importance and attainment of higher education. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, every county in the Bay Area exceeded the nation’s 28.2 percent of residents with a bachelors degree or higher; the two highest county’s being Marin County at 54 percent and San Francisco at 51.4 percent.

More than 35 colleges and universities make up the Bay Area’s world-class education and research facilities. The National Research Council (NRC) rates the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and Stanford University as the two top-ranked graduate schools in the country.

— Academy of Art University
Academy of Art University ( in San Francisco was founded in 1929 by artists for artists. Today the Academy of Art University has more than 18,200 students, making it the largest private school of art and design in the country. Students pursue associates of arts, bachelors of fine arts and arts, masters of fine arts, arts or architecture as well as certificate programs or continuing art education courses. The elite professional learning institution is committed to maintaining competitive tuition rates and consistently is one of the best values in private education in the nation in programs, such as film, theater, advertising, communications, digital and sound design for multimedia, fashion, graphic design, photography, industrial design and architecture.

— Argosy University, San Francisco Bay Area
Argosy University, San Francisco Bay Area ( helps students reach the next level of academic success with coursework that emphasizes interpersonal skills and academic learning in flexible learning formats, such as evening, weekend and online courses. Argosy also provides student services that help support their academic, career and personal needs. Argosy University offers professional certificate programs as well as bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in the College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, College of Education, College of Business, College of Health Sciences, College of Undergraduate Studies, Western State College of Law at Argosy University and the Art Institute of California.

— Art Institute of California
Located at Argosy University, the Art Institute of California ( offers programs in psychology, education, business, health sciences, criminal justice, liberal arts, culinary arts, design, fashion and the media arts that are supplemented with a solid general education that infuses their technical training with a broader canvas of knowledge and creative thought. Many of the instructors are experienced professionals in their fields, and their goal is to help students cultivate and refine the talents and skills that are essential in today’s marketplace and provide a foundation for the future. Prior to graduating, each student produces a professional portfolio and is ready for an entry-level position in his or her chosen field.

— California College of the Arts
A two-campus college, one in San Francisco and one in Oakland, the California College of the Arts (CCA) ( was founded in 1907 and is noted for the interdisciplinary breadth of its programs in the arts. CCA offers studies in 21 undergraduate and 11 graduate majors in the areas of fine arts, architecture, design and writing. It spite of its two campuses, CCA works to unite a single community with a combined enrollment of approximately 1,860 full-time students. CCA’s mission is to educate students to shape culture through the practice and critical study of the arts. The college prepares its students for lifelong creative work and service to their communities through its programs.

— California Institute of Integral Studies
The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) ( is a unique institution where education is rooted both in great traditions of knowledge and in the most forward-looking visions of the future. Throughout its four decades, CIIS has fostered cutting-edge thought enjoyed by many students, seeing an enrollment of 1,431 in fall 2011. CIIS’ original emphasis on Asian religions and cultures has evolved into comparative and crosscultural studies in philosophy, religion, psychology, counseling, cultural anthropology, organizational studies, health studies and the arts. CIIS offers small classes and personal attention from faculty, internationally recognized professors who expand the boundaries of learning; cutting-edge graduate programs in the schools of Professional Psychology and Health and Consciousness and Transformation; a bachelors degree–completion program in Interdisciplinary Studies; and online graduate programs in the fields of Transformative Studies and Transformative Leadership.

— California State University, East Bay
California State University, East Bay (, is known for its award-winning programs, expert instruction, small classes, highly personalized learning environment and more than 100 career-focused fields of study. In fall 2012, the full-time student enrollment was 13,848, of which 9,975 were at the undergraduate level. In 2012, the Princeton Review selected the university as a Best in the West College for 2013 for the ninth consecutive year based on affordable tuition; small class sizes; strong programs in business, nursing and teaching; and its multicultural community. With two scenic campuses—one in the Hayward Hills overlooking San Francisco Bay and the other in the Concord foothills of Mt. Diablo—and a professional center in dynamic downtown Oakland, California State University, East Bay, is where possibilities come into view.

— Chapman University
Chapman University ( is one of California’s oldest and most respected private universities, offering distinguished undergraduate and graduate degrees in liberal arts and sciences. Since its founding as Hesperian College in 1861, Chapman has been a symbol of educational access and excellence in California, admitting men, women and people of color from the beginning. The institution changed to Chapman University in 1934 with an endowment from Charles Clarke Chapman, an orange magnate. In 1965, Chapman began the World Campus Afloat program, which would become Semester at Sea, the university’s worldwide study-abroad program. The university serves undergraduate and graduate students from all over the United States and more than 60 other nations as it provides personalized education that leads to inquiring, ethical and productive global citizens. Its schools and colleges include the School of Business & Economics, School of Law, College of Educational Studies, College of Film and Media Arts, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Performing Arts and College of Science & Technology.

— Dominican University of California
Dominican University of California ( is an independent Catholic university in Marin County. Founded in 1890 by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, Dominican offers around 2,280 graduate, undergraduate and adult students more than 60 academic programs in four schools—Art, Humanities and Social Sciences; Business and Leadership; Education and Counseling Psychology; and Health and Natural Sciences—as well as the Pathways program for working adults in six undergraduate majors and assorted certificate programs and other professional and continuing-education programs. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, Dominican blends the personal attention of a smaller school with the academic resources of a larger university.

— Golden Gate University
With two locations in the Bay Area—San Francisco’s downtown financial district and Silicon Valley—Golden Gate University ( offers programs catering to professionals entering the workforce or advancing their careers, with most of its programs also offered online. A private, nonprofit university, Golden Gate University serves 5,060 students, of which 80 percent attend part-time and nearly 4,450 are graduate students. The San Francisco campus offers all degree and certificate programs and the School of Law. Most of the faculty are professionals working in their fields who bring expertise, firsthand experiences and cutting-edge practices to the classroom. The small faculty-to-student ratio allows cooperative learning and mentor relationships beyond the degree.

— Holy Names University
Holy Names University (HNU) ( was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1868 and offers a liberal education rooted in the Catholic tradition. HNU students choose from 19 bachelors degree programs, eight masters degree programs and five degree-completion programs. Consistently ranked as one of the most diverse universities in the country, HNU’s close-knit, supportive environment with a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1 allows for rigorous learning and personal development as students closely partner with faculty while enhancing their learning. Its 1,331 students come from 22 states and 21 countries to achieve their degrees in various fields, from the arts, culture and spirituality to business, science and nursing degrees.

— John F. Kennedy University
Since 1964, John F. Kennedy (JFK) University ( has provided working adults with higher education opportunities in the Bay Area. The educational experience combines interactive, student-focused classroom with convenient evening and weekend schedules at four locations: Berkeley, Costa Mesa, Pleasant Hill and San Jose. JFK University offers a full range of curricula, including undergraduate-completion programs, graduate and doctoral degrees and continuing-education certificates in psychology, law, management, liberal arts, holistic studies and museum studies. Plus, JFK’s practical learning approach integrates field components into its programs, such as psychology students providing counseling services and law students working as legal interns.

— Mills College
Mills College ( is an independent liberal arts college for women, with graduate programs for women and men. With a 2012–13 student body of 1,546 (949 undergraduate women, 597 graduate women and men), Mills provides an average class size of 16 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. Students choose from 41 undergraduate majors and 13 graduate programs, including education, pre-med and public policy. In 2012–13, Mills was ranked fifth among colleges and universities in the West and 11th in Great Schools, Great Prices in the West by U.S. News & World Report, was named one of the Best 377 Colleges and one of the Top 322 Green Colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review and was ranked one of the Top 10 masters universities in the United States by Washington Monthly.

— The National Hispanic University
The National Hispanic University (NHU) ( is a comprehensive university providing postsecondary education for Hispanics and others that is grounded in cultural respect, biliteracy and diversity for engaged students. The values NHU include Familia™, a signature approach that combines cooperative learning and mutual assistance among students, faculty and community and business partners in a personal and culturally relevant environment. With a breadth of programs, NHU is a demanding and intellectually stimulating environment for students that offers degree, credential, certificate and transfer programs in liberal studies, business administration, computer information systems, mathematics, science and child development.

— Notre Dame de Namur University
Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) ( is an independent co-ed Catholic masters’ university founded in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The undergraduate programs are directed toward a liberal arts education in three colleges: College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Management and School of Education and Leadership. NDNU also has undergraduate intensive and evening degree-completion programs designed for working adults. Masters degrees, credentials and certificates are directed toward professional development and advancement, and flexible online degree programs are available to support around 2,000 full- and part-time students taught by more than 110 faculty members.

— Patten University
Patten University ( is California’s most affordable, regionally accredited private university offering a transformative liberal arts education. Founded in 1944, Patten offers innovative online and on-campus academic programs that enable students to get their courses and stay on track to graduate in four years. The on-campus faculty-to-student ratio of 1:12 puts students at the heart of everything. Patten’s students reflect Northern California’s diversity and include local Oakland undergraduates and graduates, transfer and international students and working adults. At Patten, its academic programs, from associates to bachelors and masters degrees, foster businesspeople, community leaders, teacher, entrepreneurs and more for the 21st-century workforce.

— Saint Mary’s College of California
Saint Mary’s College of California ( is a Catholic liberal arts college rooted in the life and work of Saint John the Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s is one of the oldest schools in the West. The college operates on a 4-1-4 calendar schedule—students use the one-month January term to travel the world and explore new ideas or take steps toward personal change. Saint Mary’s diverse students—from traditional undergraduates to international students to working professionals—take advantage of its programs that span many areas, from astronomy to philosophy to global business. At the heart of Saint Mary’s curriculum is a collegiate seminar in which undergraduates read and discuss great works and learn how to listen.

— Samuel Merritt College
Founded in 1909, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) ( is a health sciences institution with campuses in Oakland and San Mateo. With more than 1,400 students, SMU reflects the community it serves by recruiting students from a variety of ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds. An affiliate of Sutter Health and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, SMU offers degrees in nursing, occupational and physical therapy, physician assistance and podiatric medicine. Because of SMU’s reputation for academic and clinical excellence, it is the largest source of registered nurses in California, and graduates of its programs are recruited heavily. SMU also currently offers clinical doctoral programs in podiatric medicine and physical therapy.

— San Francisco State University
San Francisco State University (SF State) ( is the intellectual heart and soul of the city. A leader in community-service learning, liberal arts and international education, SF State is a major civic force that partners with government, business and education leaders to advance the university and the region. Founded in 1899 as a two-year teacher training college, today SF State is a globally focused community of nearly 30,000 students, faculty and staff with more than 212,560 graduates. SF State offers 17 credential programs and 35 certificate programs, bachelors degrees in 78 academic areas with an additional 46 areas of concentration, masters degrees in 62 academic areas with an additional 42 areas of concentration and advanced degrees in education and physical therapy

— San José State University
San José State University (SJSU) ( provides a comprehensive university education in seven colleges, granting 69 bachelors degrees with 81 concentrations and 65 masters degrees with 29 concentrations. Tenured professors and small classes are a priority at SJSU. Founded in 1857, it is the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast. From its beginnings as a normal school to train teachers for the developing frontier, SJSU has matured into a Top 200 metropolitan research university that offers rigorous coursework and research opportunities. Students at the Silicon Valley location benefit from local technology firms and agencies seeking them for internships, summer work programs and research and development assistance.

— Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University ( is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in Silicon Valley that offers its nearly 5,250 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in the arts and sciences, business, engineering and theology plus masters, PhD and law degrees. Founded in 1851, the 106-acre Santa Clara University is California’s oldest operating higher education institution that demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. It is distinguished nationally by having the fourth highest graduation rate among all U.S. masters universities. Santa Clara University cherishes its diverse community and respects and welcomes people of all origins, without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

— Sonoma State University
Located in California’s premier wine country, Sonoma State University (SSU) ( offers a friendly and safe atmosphere in a beautiful setting. With 80 percent of freshmen and 55 percent of junior transfers coming from outside the region, almost half live on campus. SSU’s six schools—arts and humanities, business and economics, education, extended education, social sciences and science and technology—offer bachelors degrees in 45 majors and 48 minors and masters degrees in 16 programs as well as a joint masters and doctorate degrees with San Francisco State University and the University of California, Davis. Notably, SSU offers one of the only Wine Business Institutes in the country. Regularly named a Best Regional University by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only California university invited to be a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.

— Stanford University
Stanford University ( is recognized as one of the world’s leading universities and often is referred to as the Ivy League of the West. Through academic courses taught by renowned professors, research and public-service opportunities and a breadth of extracurriculars, Stanford University prepares students for challenges as tomorrow’s leaders. The schools of Earth Sciences, Engineering and Humanities & Sciences offer both undergraduate and graduate programs, and more than 65 departments and programs offer graduate degrees at Stanford for which admission requirements vary greatly. Stanford’s graduate schools are in the fields of business, education, law and medicine. About 1,700 freshmen and 30 transfer students are admitted each year.

— University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) (, the flagship campus of the UC System, was chartered in 1868 in the wake of the gold rush. Today the public university boasts more than 36,100 students. Repeatedly ranked at or near the top in fields ranging from engineering to humanities, UC Berkeley has excellent doctoral programs, 48 out of 52 of which ranked in the Top 10 nationally in a study by the National Research Council. With more than 350 academic programs, UC Berkeley offers broad access for students of all means, educating more first-generation college students and students from low-income families than all Ivy League universities combined and annually produces more PhDs than any other U.S. university. The 1,582 full-time and 500 part-time faculty members are dispersed among 130 academic departments and more than 80 interdisciplinary research units in 14 colleges and schools.

— University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco (USF) ( offers degree programs in five schools—the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, the School of Law, the School of Management and the School of Nursing and Health Professions. Its 21 interdisciplinary centers and institutes focus on everything from Latino studies to law and global justice to public service in the global community. A unique program at USF is St. Ignatius Institute (SII), a Great Books program offering a curriculum founded in the Western intellectual tradition of philosophy, literature, classics and theology. Students also take advantage of learning and outreach opportunities all over the world, including more than 50 study abroad programs in 30 countries. In addition to the main campus in Downtown San Francisco, the university has three branch campuses in Bay Area that include Pleasanton, San Jose and Santa Rosa.

Often a community college is the steppingstone between high school and a four-year university. In face, almost half of the undergraduate students in the United States are served by community colleges, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. Other times, students are only looking for an associates degree, certificate, professional development or noncredit enrichment and cultural activities. Whether the community-college student seeks to pursue a degree to compete and excel in the workplace or taking classes for any other reason, the Bay Area has several community-college districts to accommodate its residents. Furthermore, meeting basic education requirements at a community college is very affordable when compared to tuition costs at a four-year university.

City College of San Francisco (CCSF) ( is an urban community college serving about 100,000 students annually at nine campuses and three additional sites throughout San Francisco. CCSF offers an affordable opportunity to earn associates degrees, prepare for transfer and pursue career and technical education. CCSF also offers distance learning and free noncredit courses in many fields.

The Chabot-Las Positas Community College District ( serves southern Alameda County through its two colleges: Chabot College in Hayward and Las Positas College in Livermore. The colleges specialize in university transfer, technical training, continuing education, workforce development, contract education with local businesses and cultural enrichment. The district currently serves approximately 24,500 students.

The College of Marin ( has two campuses that serve beautiful Marin County. The Kentfield Campus is located approximately 11 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Indian Valley Campus is located minutes away on a spectacular 333-acre site in Novato. Approximately 10,000 credit and noncredit students enroll each semester, and annually nearly 6,000 students take advantage of the college’s community education and services classes.

The Contra Costa Community College District is one of the largest multicollege community-college districts in California, annually serving almost 62,000 students. The district consists of Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College with campuses in Pleasant Hill and San Ramon, Los Medanos College and the LMC Brentwood Center.

Foothill–De Anza Community College District ( provides access to a dynamic learning environment that fosters excellence, opportunity and innovation in meeting the diverse educational and career goals of our students and communities. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the district serves parts of Santa Clara County at its three campuses—De Anza in Cupertino and Foothill College, with campuses in Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto.

Napa Valley College is located in the beautiful wine country of northern California. The main campus overlooks the Napa River in the heart of the famous wine-producing region and is home to the Napa Valley Vintners’ Teaching Winery. The college also has the Upper Valley Campus in St. Helena, which features an instructional learning lab, a culinary arts center and a Native American Dedication Garden.

The Ohlone Community College District ( is a multicampus single-community college district located in the southern portion of the Bay Area. Serving almost 17,000 students per year, the district has a main campus in Fremont and a new campus in Newark that emphasizes programs in health, environment, and technology.

The Peralta Community College District ( comprises four campuses serving northern Alameda County. Peralta Colleges provide accessible, high-quality adult-learning opportunities to meet the educational needs of the multicultural East Bay community. The campuses include Berkeley City College, College of Alameda and two in Oakland—Laney College and Merritt College.

The San José/Evergreen Community College District ( provides access to comprehensive and flexible postsecondary academic and occupational programs for Silicon Valley residents. The district offers lower-division transfer and general education, two-year college degrees and certificates, distance-learning opportunities, targeted career training and more. The two colleges, San José City College and Evergreen Valley College, serve around 20,000 students per semester.

San Mateo County Community Colleges District ( is a three-college district between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The colleges—Cañada College in Redwood City, Skyline College in San Bruno and the College of San Mateo—serve more than 45,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction for transfer programs as well as more than 90 vocational-technical programs in which students can earn either an associates of arts or science or receive certificates of proficiency in their chosen fields.

West Valley-Mission Community College District ( offers two colleges—West Valley College in Saratoga and Mission College in Santa Clara—which are on the cutting edge among higher education institutions in Silicon Valley. Every semester more than 20,000 students enroll at the colleges and thousands more take online, off-campus or noncredit courses and seminars that are offered.

— Solano Community College
Solano Community College ( serves the communities of Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Suisun, Vacaville, Vallejo and Winters as well as Travis Air Force Base. With the current student population of 11,000, flexible scheduling includes day, evening and Saturday classes, held on- and off-campus at its four campus locations and via the Internet, television, home study and travel study.

— Santa Rosa Junior College District
The Santa Rosa Junior College District ( in Sonoma County is one of the largest single college districts in the country, serving approximately 36,000 students each semester within a 1,600-square-mile service region that is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean. Santa Rosa Junior College offers comprehensive transfer preparatory and career training programs at dozens of sites, including two beautiful campuses in Petaluma and Santa Rosa north of San Francisco.

The Bay Area abounds with world-class education options for every kind of student, from preschoolers to new professionals to lifelong learners. Go out and find the program right for your needs and start learning.
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