Saint Mary's is grounded in the liberal arts and the life and work of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the 17th-century founder of the Christian Brothers. The Brothers and the Lasallian spirit they embody are the guiding light for everything we do.
The College was founded in 1863, one of the oldest schools in the West, to educate the children of early San Francisco’s working class. Today, with our feet planted firmly in the 21st century, we remain faithful to our beginnings, with more than a third of our students the first in their families to go to college.
Inclusive excellence is a core principle of a Lasallian education. We believe that everyone should have access to a quality education. While we are selective, choosing applicants for their academic performance, we also look for spirit and drive.
With small classes, challenging academics, a community of passionate learners and world-class faculty focused on teaching, you simply can’t hide and you really won’t want to. So much awaits students ready to explore and build their own successful lives.
The Saint Mary's education is built around Collegiate Seminar which links more than the great ideas of the world's greatest thinkers. It unites students, professors and the Great Books in a true intellectual discourse.
Our students' drive to excel academically goes hand in hand with their passion for improving the lives of others. Compassion and social justice are integral to a Lasallian education.
Saint Mary's College was chosen as one of only 40 U.S. institutions in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. We are the only Catholic college—and the only California college—in the history of the 40-school compilation that highlights exemplary liberal arts colleges that break the traditional Ivy League mold.
Our faculty are talented researchers who contribute to scholarship in their disciplines, but also are deeply passionate about teaching. They know their students as individuals, travel the world and work side-by-side with them on research. Some also live on campus as residential advisors. Saint Mary's faculty are mentors and advisors who want their students to succeed.
The most meaningful way to define our success is by the achievement and satisfaction of our alumni. They live successful lives and stay connected, mentor current students, support scholarships and volunteer. When you become a Saint Mary's Gael, you have the full force of all Gaels behind you.