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.

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