About the College

San Francisco State was founded as a normal school, or teachers’ training college, in 1899. Today, we continue our commitment to excellence in preparing outstanding educators, leaders and clinicians who transform lives in schools and communities.


GCOE Mission

The Graduate College of Education prepares reflective, transformative educators, clinicians, leaders and scholars who advance the professions within education. Our graduates deliver education programs across the life span, demonstrating excellence in the art and science of teaching and learning, research on critical issues in education and communicative disorders, integration of new technologies and commitment to equity and social justice. Professional preparation programs are designed to meet global challenges, through authentic learning experiences in academic and clinical environments that are guided by our commitment to inclusiveness, integrity, community, social action and evidence-based practice.


GCOE Vision

Our vision is to be the premier institution of higher education to prepare professionals who transform lives in schools and communities through our commitment to access, equity, quality and innovation in teaching, scholarship and service.


Core Values of the GCOE

The core values of the GCOE are reflected in the SF State Strategic Plan: Courage, Life of the Mind, Equity, Community, and Resilience”. These values resonate with the GCOE and our commitment to social justice. We embrace these five values and have adapted them to align with the mission of the GCOE. 

Courage: Courage enables us to develop a sense of agency that engages students, staff, and faculty in speaking their voices and having their voices heard in forums that honor the contributions of all. 

Life of the Mind: Our programs are informed by research, our research is informed by evidence-based practice, and our practice is grounded in our professional commitments as educators, activists, practitioners and clinicians. Collaboration with communities is an integral component of our scholarship, with a focus on uncovering funds of knowledge and community cultural wealth.

Equity: Our focus on equity addresses a broad range of persistent, structural social justice issues, including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other forms of marginalization in 21st century, globalized California.

Community: Our programs promote a climate of inspiration and inclusivity, and are characterized by strong linkages to local and global communities at all levels, birth through adult, in formal and non-formal educational contexts.

Resilience: Our work in collaboration with diverse school, community and clinical settings implies that resilience takes many forms, ranging from promoting transformative resistance, to fostering global sustainability, to creating an environment that is marked by generosity of spirit, to supporting a thriving environment of mutually supportive human relations.

*Download the full SFSU Strategic Plan (PDF)
Download Adobe Reader


Strategic Directions

Strategic Direction #1:

  • Expand access and equity for student success for a larger and more diverse student body at all program levels

Strategic Direction #2:

  • Strengthen internal and external community connections

Strategic Direction #3:

  • Enhance support for faculty and student scholarly activities

Strategic Direction #4:

  • Increase faculty participation in shared governance

Strategic Direction #5:

  • Enhance GCOE role in the SFSU Comprehensive Campaign

History of Studies in Education at SF State

1855 - John Swett offers first teacher training classes to San Francisco

1857 - San Francisco Board of Education establishes the San Francisco Weekly Normal School (a training school for elementary teachers.)

1867- Girls' High and Normal School, an ancestor of the present San Francisco State University, is established, with Ellis Holmes as principal.

1895 - Normal class is separated from high school and renamed "San Francisco Normal School", with Laura Fowler as principal.

1898- San Francisco Board of Education votes to close Normal School.

1899 - A State Normal School opens again in San Francisco, one of the first in the country to require a high school diploma. Dr. Frederic Lister Burk is Founder and first President of the school, which is located on Powell Street between Clay and Sacramento.

1921 - San Francisco State Normal School becomes San Francisco State Teachers' College.

1935 - Name changed to San Francisco State College; along with other State Colleges it becomes a liberal arts school.

1948 - The Special Education Department is founded at San Francisco  State, under the leadership of Leo Cain.

1960 - Legislation is introduced to enable the San Francisco State College to offer a joint Ph.D. Program with the University of California at Berkeley in Special Education.

1967 - San Francisco State College begins a Joint Doctoral program in Special Education with the University of California, Berkeley.

1993 - The Education Building is renamed Burk Hall in honor of Dr. Frederic Lister Burk.

1996 - School of Education becomes College of Education.

1997 - The new Burk Hall addition is completed.

1998 - The San Francisco State University College of Education is recognized statewide as one of the leading professional schools for preparing educators at the credential, Masters, and Doctorate levels for growing and diverse educational requirements.

2007 - The SF State EdD program in Educational Leadership (K-12 and Community College) is established. The first graduates complete their program in 2010.

2011 - The College of Education is renamed as the Graduate College of Education.