Colleges and universities in San Mateo, CA

San Mateo is a vibrant city located on the San Francisco Peninsula, just 20 miles south of San Francisco. With its proximity to Silicon Valley, San Mateo is an ideal location for students looking to take advantage of the area’s thriving technology and business sectors.

The city is home to several excellent colleges and universities that cater to a diverse student population. In this blog post, we will explore the higher education options available in San Mateo.

Public Colleges and Universities

College of San Mateo

College of San Mateo (CSM) is a public community college that is part of the San Mateo County Community College District. CSM offers associate degrees and certificates in over 100 majors. Popular programs include business administration, nursing, accounting, criminal justice, early childhood education, and STEM fields.

CSM has a robust transfer program and has transfer agreements with nearby 4-year universities like San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University, and UC Davis. Over 60% of CSM graduates transfer to a 4-year institution after completing their studies.

The college has a Division I athletics program and fields 11 intercollegiate sports teams. CSM also has over 30 student clubs and organizations for students to get involved with campus life.

Tuition at CSM is around $1,142 per semester for California residents.

College of San Mateo Website

San Francisco State University – San Mateo Campus

San Francisco State University’s campus in San Mateo offers upper division and graduate programs aimed at working professionals and adult learners. The campus focuses on business, education, liberal studies, and nursing programs.

Popular bachelor’s degree completion programs include business administration, kinesiology, nursing, and psychology. At the graduate level, students can complete a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Arts in Education (MA), and teaching credential programs.

SF State San Mateo has smaller classes taught by full-time faculty. Students can take evening and weekend courses while continuing to work. Over 1,500 students are enrolled at the campus.

As part of the California State University system, SF State San Mateo has affordable in-state tuition around $7,000 per year.

SF State San Mateo Website

Private Colleges and Universities

Notre Dame de Namur University

Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is a private Catholic university located on a beautiful 50-acre campus in Belmont, right next to San Mateo. NDNU is the third oldest college in California.

NDNU offers over 30 undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts, sciences, business, education, and nursing/health sciences. Some of the most popular majors are business, psychology, biological sciences, kinesiology, and various education/teaching credentials.

The school has a 13:1 student-faculty ratio which allows for highly personalized instruction and mentoring. NDNU promotes community engagement through service learning.

NDNU competes in NAIA Division II sports. Students can participate in 16 varsity athletic teams. The campus also has over 30 clubs and organizations.

Tuition and fees at NDNU are around $44,000 per year. NDNU provides merit scholarships and grants to make the cost more affordable for students.

Notre Dame de Namur University Website

Post University – San Francisco Bay Area Campus

Post University is a private university based in Connecticut that opened a San Francisco Bay Area campus in San Mateo in 2021. This location offers both online and in-person degree completion programs for adult learners.

Popular online programs include business degrees with concentrations in marketing, accounting, project management, sports management, and human resources. Post also offers online degrees in criminal justice and human services.

The in-person evening programs at the San Mateo campus allow local students to take accelerated 8-week courses in subjects like business, leadership, psychology, child studies, and human services.

As a non-profit institution focused on affordable education for working professionals, Post’s tuition is around $16,000 per year. Students have access to financial aid and scholarships.

Post University – SF Bay Area Campus Website

Silicon Valley University

Silicon Valley University (SVU) is a small private university located right in San Mateo. This Christian school has intimate class sizes and an 8:1 student-faculty ratio.

SVU offers undergraduate degrees in business administration, computer science, and psychology, along with master’s degrees in business administration and data science.

Students gain practical work experience through internships at Silicon Valley companies. SVU professors provide mentorship and connections to the thriving Bay Area technology sector.

Tuition at SVU is around $25,000 per year. Scholarships are available based on academic merit.

Silicon Valley University Website

Community College Programs

San Mateo has some excellent community college programs that provide affordable, career-oriented education. These can be great options for students looking for applied programs in certain fields.

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

FIDM has a campus in San Francisco that offers two specialized Associate of Arts degree programs preparing students for careers in creative industries. The Fashion Design program teaches apparel construction and design, textiles, sketching, and Adobe software skills. The Visual Communications program covers website design, UI/UX design, motion graphics, digital design, and more.

Tuition is around $19,000 per year for these accelerated 2-year degrees. Graduates have excellent job placement rates in fields like fashion design, merchandising, and creative media.

FIDM San Francisco Website

Platt College – San Mateo

Platt College San Mateo offers vocational diploma and associate degree programs in healthcare, business, and creative media fields. Some of the programs include Medical Assisting, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Veterinary Technology, Graphic Design, and Multimedia.

With its small class sizes and hands-on training, Platt prepares graduates for direct entry into healthcare professions and creative careers. Tuition is around $16,000 per year.

Platt College – San Mateo Website

Skyline College – Respiratory Therapy Program

Skyline College in San Bruno has an excellent Respiratory Therapy AA degree program. Graduates are eligible to take the licensure exams to become Registered Respiratory Therapists. The program has strong job placement rates at hospitals and clinics in the Bay Area.

Tuition for California residents at Skyline is only $1,348 per year. This makes it a very affordable pathway into an in-demand allied healthcare career.

Skyline College Respiratory Therapy Website

Out of State and International Students

San Mateo offers great options for out-of-state and international students looking for colleges in the Bay Area. Several private schools have high populations of students from other U.S. states and countries. Here are some top choices:

Notre Dame de Namur University

With 30% out-of-state students and 10% international students, NDNU has a very diverse student body. Students praise the welcoming and supportive community. NDNU offers merit scholarships specifically for out-of-state and international applicants.

Silicon Valley University

Around 35-40% of SVU’s students come from outside California. The school has a supportive Christian environment that appeals to students from the southern U.S. SVU also welcomes international students, primarily from South Korea.

Posts University – San Francisco Bay Area Campus

Post University’s San Mateo campus has small classes appealing to out-of-state students looking for personalized instruction. Post offers online degrees as well, making it a flexible choice for students across the country.

Choosing the Right School

When choosing a college or university in the San Mateo area, it’s important to consider your goals, interests, and budget. Here are some key factors to weigh:

  • Type of degree – Do you want a 2-year associate/community college or a 4-year bachelor’s degree?
  • Areas of study – What major and programs are you interested in? Match these with schools that offer your desired field.
  • Cost and financial aid – Compare tuition rates and availability of scholarships/grants at each school.
  • Location – Is attending class in person important? Consider commuting and housing costs.
  • Student culture – What size school and campus environment suits you best?
  • Post-grad outcomes – Research job placement rates and average starting salaries for graduates.

Visiting the campuses and speaking with current students can help you get a feel for each school’s strengths and culture. Meeting with admissions and financial aid advisors allows you to get key questions answered.

With San Mateo’s diversity of excellent public and private institutions, you are sure to find your perfect college match in this vibrant Bay Area city.

Recommended Local Resources

I hope this detailed overview of higher education options has been helpful! San Mateo’s stellar academic institutions and favorable location provide the perfect launch pad for a successful college experience and career. Let me know if you need any other local information as you explore schools in the area.


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  • Starting downtown, head north on South B Street then make a left on East 4th Ave followed by a right on South Delaware Street. Turn left on 9th Avenue and arrive shortly on the right.
  • Coming from Highway 101 North, take the CA-92 West exit then turn left on Delaware Street and right on 9th Avenue, arriving soon after on the right side.
  • From Hayward Park Station, walk northwest on West Hillsdale Boulevard, turn right on Norfolk Street followed by a left on 9th Avenue. 812 will be on the left side.