Saint Mary’s College of California was founded in 1863 by Archbishop Joseph Alemany, who had been sent to the booming Gold Rush region with a mission from the pope. Alemany established Saint Mary’s to bring educational opportunity to the young men of the area, which was still fairly rugged and uncultured. Associated with the Lasallian Christian Brothers, Saint Mary’s built their reputation on outreach to the people of the San Francisco region, and grew over the 20th century by welcoming a diverse student body from the working classes, minorities, and women. Saint Mary’s is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 10 regional institutions in the West.
Academic ProgramsSaint Mary’s College remains committed to the traditional liberal arts, and all undergraduate students work through a common core of humanities, arts, and sciences for a full grounding in critical thinking, analysis, and research. Around 40 undergraduate majors are offered, including traditional academic disciplines as well as professional and pre-professional programs in nursing, business, and education. A low student:faculty ratio of 11:1 gives students the access to their professors that allow them to take part in research and develop mentoring relationships for academic and career advantages.
Formed in the Lasallian tradition, Saint Mary’s curriculum also emphasizes responsibility, leadership, and ethical service, preparing students for a career not only of success, but of doing good. Saint Mary’s is rooted in outreach to the working classes, and that mission remains strong today in the college’s adult education and community engagement programs. In addition to its excellent undergraduate degree programs, Saint Mary’s also offers master’s degrees in Leadership, Business Administration, Creative Writing, and several other fields.
Student LifeSaint Mary’s College has a highly diverse student body, more than half of which is made up of minority students, including a high proportion of Latino and Hispanic students. Though women were not admitted until the 1970s, today 60% of the student body is female. Around two-thirds of the student population is made up of undergraduates, and Saint Mary’s student life revolves around the Bay Area – from Saint Mary’s more than 400 acre campus, to the arts, culture, and life of San Francisco, one of the world’s most vibrant urban settings.
With more than 3000 students, Saint Mary’s offers more than 35 student-led clubs and organizations, from religious groups and honor societies to entertainment and sports. Saint Mary’s is exceptionally service-oriented, and there are numerous student-led social action groups in addition to institutional organizations like the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action. The Saint Mary’s Gaels compete in the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference in 17 varsity sports, with particular success in soccer, rugby, and women’s basketball.