English Courses in San Francisco



English Courses in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the top destinations for learning and studying English as a second language (ESL). The city of San Francisco has several English language schools, institutes, and prestigious universities that offer English classes.

San Francisco stands out for studying English over other cities in The United States, mainly because it brings to mind pictures of tall hills, dense fog, beautiful ocean sceneries, eclectic neighborhoods, fascinating culture, and economic prosperity. Here you’ll be able to experience a fantastic city, while continuing to improve your English fluency outside the classroom. Moreover, as the most important cultural, commercial and financial center in Northern California (or NorCal), it offers a great opportunity to grow both as a person and as a professional, as you’ll meet other people and expand your network.

The city of San Francisco has English programs for all ages and budgets. We suggest you read this page and click on each language school you think is a good option. All universities and language institutes listed here offer English programs that allow you to apply for a student visa. Most of the programs are also available for citizens and residents in full-time or part-time options.

The most common programs are "General English" or "Academic English Programs", which allow you to improve your English level for academic or professional purposes.

Common questions

  • Where to study English in San Francisco, California?
  • What is the best English language course in San Francisco?
  • How can I study English in San Francisco?
  • English programs near San Francisco?
  • Cheap and good English courses in San Francisco?

You will find the answer to these questions on this website and a complete list of English language schools available for international students and residents. Click on the specific language school or university to get more information. You will find more details about the programs on those pages, helpful resources, and tips as housing, reviews, comments, and testimonials. As a leading world agency in ViveCampus, we can guide you in all the steps to study English in San Francisco, USA.

1. Best places to learn English in San Francisco, USA

English courses as a second language in top universities and institutions

San Francisco is a very famous city because of its steep hills, frequent fog, beautiful seaside sceneries, eclectic neighborhoods, and for being located close to the world-famous Silicon Valley, where numerous startups and billion-dollar companies have gone from small enterprises to huge corporations. This makes it the perfect location for those who want to learn English, network, and prepare for a brilliant future in the tech industry.

In San Francisco and surroundings we can find the following places:

  • Hayes Valley
  • Downtown
  • Haight Ashbury
  • Nob Hill
  • North Beach
  • SoMa
  • The Mission
  • Castro
  • Outer Richmond
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Chinatown
  • Telegraph Hill
  • Berkeley
  • Auckland
  • San Jose

List of English Language Schools in San Francisco:


One of the best destination for international students in USA


There are excellent options to choose an English language institution in San Francisco, that’ll give you everything you need to improve your English fluency.



English institutes and universities in San Francisco will offer the best student services and facilities, including extracurricular activities, student organizations, trips to local attractions, access to sport facilities, etc.



In San Francisco you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your skills into practice in a real-life setting, while you continue living in San Francisco and exploring this fascinating place.



There’ll be lots of networking while you study English in San Francisco, as you’ll meet new people, make new friends, and broaden your career vision in a city known for being the headquarters of numerous successful companies.



San Francisco is a really diverse city, where you’ll learn about other cultures, expand your world vision, try new dishes, and marvel with each one its many eclectic neighborhoods.



You’ll never feel bored in San Francisco. You’ll find lots of activities, festivals, great restaurants, fascinating museums, famous landmarks, and never-ending amounts of fun.



In San Francisco, you can find lots of tourist attractions to visit in your spare time, including famous spots such as: Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, the Palace of Fine Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Fine Arts Museum, Twin Peaks, Pier 39, Lombard Street, and the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.

4. Requirements to take an English Course in San Francisco, USA

Some programs can have their own special requirements

Visa Requirements

For ESL courses in San Francisco it’s mandatory to hold an F-1 Student Visa, a Tourist Visa, or an ESTA Permit. These differ in terms of the number of hours you’re allowed to study, the application requirements, and the number of weeks for which you’re allowed to stay and study in the USA.

For example, with an F-1 Student Visa you can apply for an Intensive English course as a full-time student, which means you can study more than a certain number of hours, normally 18 hours a week. An extra requirement that full-time students need to meet is registering on the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System), and paying a registration fee of USD $350. This process includes filling in a Form I-20 that it’s sent by the English institution along with your acceptance letter. This form is later submitted along with other documents at the U.S. Embassy in your country of residence. This type of visa is normally valid for several years and allows you stay up to 60 days after it expires due to the fact that you finished your studies. This is the reason why it’ll continue being valid as long as your studies continue.

Other options for students applying for a part-time, non-intensive English course are either a Tourist Visa or an ESTA, which varies depending on the student’s nationality. When holding one of these you can study for up to 18 hours per week, you can’t work on campus, and compared to the Student Visa, their duration is shorter; generally, a few months. You can check the following website for further information regarding visas and the ESTA permit.

Age Requirements

The main ESL programs at schools and universities in San Francisco are designed for adult students, so there’s a minimum age requirement that students need to meet in order to be able to apply. This is usually set between 16 and 18 years of age and there’s no maximum age. Nevertheless, institutions also have other programs for teenagers and children, offering activities and English lessons appropriate for their age, so they can have fun at the same time they enhance their proficiency.

Proof of Sufficient Funds

At the time you apply for a visa to study English in San Francisco, you’ll need to prove you have sufficient funds to pay for all your expenses while you live and study in the U.S. The amount of money for which you need to show proof is usually defined based on where you’re going to study (in this case San Francisco), for how long you’ll stay, and the type of program you enrolled on. The funds must be on an account that belongs to you or your sponsor, if someone else will be paying for your expenses.

Minimum English Language Level

Another requirement for ESL programs in San Francisco is having a minimum level of English proficiency, which will vary depending on each institution and program. The usual case is that there’ll be different levels, starting on beginner, and up to advanced. On which level you’re placed is decided based on a placement test you take either online or at the school, which varies on each case. This test assesses your current level and what areas of English language you need to improve. For more advanced courses, you’ll have to prove a higher level of English fluency, by submitting the results of a proficiency test, such as IELTS or TOEFL.

5. Prices, dates and costs of English courses in San Francisco 2024 - 2025

Explanation about main costs

There’s always a difference in prices and dates of English Programs in San Francisco, as these will change based on the institution and the program you enroll on.

When calculating the total funds you’ll need to study abroad, you must consider certain additional fees that may be included on the final cost of the course. These include covering costs of: housing, health insurance, access to facilities and student services, extra activities and visits, and class materials.

Down below you’ll find some information about different extra items you have to consider when preparing your budget, and which factors will modify their cost.

Main costs to consider if you want to study in San Francisco, USA

ENGLISH PROGRAMHow much you'll spend on English lessons changes based on which school and course you choose, and the number of weeks you'll study. For instance, a full-time program will be more expensive than a part-time program.
HEALTH INSURANCEAt times, the student health insurance cost can be added to the final cost of the ESL program. Additionally, whether obtaining health coverage from the school or from a non-associated provider, this depends on the school, as some consider mandatory for international students to be enrolled on their own health insurance program. All things considered, how much you'll spend on this item will vary mainly based on the coverage the insurance offers and for how long you'll stay in the U.S.
BOOKSClass materials could be included within the tuition fee or be charged separately. This depends on the institution and program you enroll on.
HOUSINGThe San Francisco Bay is a wide area where you can find significant differences in housing prices. That's why how much you'll spend will completely depend on where you plan to stay. For example, some cheaper options are staying in a shared room at a student residence or share an apartment. These could be some of the best options, as the monthly rent for a furnished studio apartment in a normal area in San Francisco can cost up to USD $2,300.
FOODHow much you'll spend in food depends on where you'll eat. For example, if your accommodation includes meals or if you'll eat out or at home. As reference, a fast-food combo meal costs around USD $9 and a basic lunch in an expensive area costs around USD $18.
VISAThere's an application fee for both visas (student and tourist) of USD $160, and a SEVIS registration fee for Student Visas, which costs USD $350. On the contrary, the ESTA permit costs USD $14, divided in the application and authorization fee. You may also want to consider an express mail courier fee, in case the school has to send you any documentation, such as the Form I-20 and the acceptance letter.
TRANSPORTATIONCommuting is an important item to keep in mind in terms of cost, as it'll vary significantly depending on how far you live from the school. You can save money and time by living closer to the English center, so you can use public transportation, walk, or ride a bike.
FLIGHT TICKETSHow much you spend on the air tickets varies mostly depending on where you fly from and the dates on which you travel. We recommend looking for the best prices on the internet. Finally, you should keep in mind that prices are more expensive during holidays, such as Christmas and New Year's Eve.

6. Who studies English in San Francisco, USA?

Students come from all over the world to learn English in San Francisco

San Francisco is frequently considered as a fantastic city to study, including enrolling on ESL courses. International students go to San Francisco looking to enhance their English proficiency as a way to improve their personal and professional skills, for a more successful future. It’s a fairly common fact that these international students took English lessons back in their countries, but since they didn’t put their skills into practice in a regular basis, they didn’t improve much. Therefore, they consider studying English abroad in San Francisco a great opportunity to learn while putting their skills into use in a real-life setting, while exploring this fascinating and diverse city.

Young Students

High-school or college students that wish to study English abroad to improve their academic credentials and their future career opportunities. They usually enroll during vacations.

Young Professionals

Recent college graduates looking to excel and differentiate themselves in the job market, by acquiring useful skills such as being able to communicate in English. They’re also looking to obtain a promotion, a higher job position or study a graduate program abroad.

Senior Professionals

Older, more experienced professionals, looking to improve their English language proficiency to interact with others at an international level, for which speaking more than one language is mandatory.


Temporary or permanent residents in the USA, that are looking to enhance their fluency to be able to do daily tasks using English as a main tool.

7. Photos about studying English in San Francisco, USA

Look some of the photos of the ESL programs
Students from the English programs in San Francisco
Student from English courses visiting the Golden Gate in SF
International students of the English language courses in San Francisco, California

8. Videos about studying English in San Francisco, USA

Click to watch the videos

9. Information about San Francisco, USA

San Francisco is renowned for its steep hills, frequent fog, beautiful seaside sceneries, eclectic neighborhoods, and the Golden Gate Bridge, once the tallest and longest suspension bridge in the world. Founded in 1776, San Francisco was a Spanish settlement, that later became part of Mexico and was subsequently acquire by the USA along with the rest of the state of California, following the Mexican-American War.

San Francisco is renowned for its steep hills, frequent fog, beautiful seaside sceneries, eclectic neighborhoods, and the Golden Gate Bridge, once the tallest and longest suspension bridge in the world. Founded in 1776, San Francisco was a Spanish settlement, that later became part of Mexico and was subsequently acquire by the USA along with the rest of the state of California, following the Mexican-American War.

In San Francisco you’ll be able to visit museums, piers, parks, hills, and explore its numerous neighborhoods, each one with its own special features. You’ll also find lots of fun activities outside the classroom, so you can put into practice your skills in a real-life environment.

While staying in this wonderful city, you can visit some of these must-see attractions:

  • Alcatraz Island, and a tour around its world-famous prison.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can find shops, restaurants, and even take a cruise to sightsee in the San Francisco Bay.
  • The Golden Gate Park, a place full of green areas, gardens and museums.
  • Chinatown, the oldest of its kind in the USA.
  • The Palace of Fine Arts, the last remaining structure from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition and a symbol of the city’s reconstruction after the 1906 earthquake.
  • The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a fully renovated museum with 10 floors of fascinating exhibitions.
  • The de Young Fine Arts Museum, a place where you can learn more about other cultures and explore the history of art in all continents.
  • Twin Peaks, from where you can experience a breathtaking view of San Francisco.
  • Lombard Street, one of the most iconic landmarks of the city.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge, one of the tallest and longest suspension bridges in the world, and a must-visit tourist spot in San Francisco.
  • And of course, exploring the many diverse neighborhoods you can find in this city.

10. Frequently Asked Questions about studying English in San Francisco

How does the application process work to obtain an F-1 Student Visa to study English in San Francisco?

The first step is sending the documentation the school needs to accept your application, and later send you the acceptance letter and a Form I-20. Subsequently, you fill in this form, along other documents, and submit them at the nearest U.S. embassy, so that your visa application is correctly processed. We suggest checking the U.S. embassy website to obtain more information about this process, as there might be some differences depending on your nationality and where you’re applying from.

What accommodation can I find in San Francisco?

Housing is normally not included within the tuition fees, but sometimes the English center or university can arrange some form of accommodation for you. Some options you can choose from in San Francisco are: shared rooms and apartments; living in a student residence; or living with a family in a homestay. The English language institution you chose may also give you further information about housing in San Francisco.

Is it possible for me to work while I study in San Francisco?

As a full-time student with a Student Visa, it’s possible for you to work on campus facilities up to 20 hours per week. However, on-campus job positions are usually taken by other university students, so in practice it may be hard to find work as an English language student.

Which schools offer ESL courses in San Francisco?

You’ll find lots of English institutions offering ESL courses in San Francisco. Check our website for a complete list of schools.

Which is the best center to learn English in San Francisco?

All English centers offer different experiences for international ESL students, so it’s difficult to compare them in terms of which one is the best. For instance, some schools have set start and completion dates for their programs, so you must begin studying and complete the program on a given date. The advantage of this approach is that you stay with the same teacher and classmates throughout the whole program. However, this system might not be convenient for those who don’t have much time to study abroad, so they may want to choose other schools, which offer multiple start dates and allow you to study for as long as you wish. Finally, different institutions have different specialized programs, for those who want to focus their English learning on a certain area of study. That’s why ultimately, the choice is up to the student. For a complete list of institutions to learn English in San Francisco check our website.

Are scholarships offered to learn English in San Francisco?

There are no scholarships to learn English in San Francisco. Nonetheless, some institutions have special discounts for foreign students.

What are the payment options for English courses in San Francisco? How does the payment work?

There are usually several ways to pay for English courses in San Francisco, some especially for international students. For them, the main options are online credit card payment or an international or domestic bank transfer. The first step in the payment process is paying the application fee, which in some cases is used to cover shipping costs of the Form I-20 and/or the acceptance letter. In some cases, the remaining fees may need to be paid in advance, while in others these are paid a few weeks before the program’s start date.

Do I have to be student to apply for an ESL program in San Francisco?

No, anybody may apply for an ESL program in San Francisco. You only need to meet the minimum requirements established for each program.

Do I need to be over a certain age to apply for an English program in San Francisco?

Yes. There’s always a minimum age requirement for adult ESL programs, usually between 16 and 18 years old. However, there are also junior programs for those under the age limit.

Which are the best tourist locations in San Francisco?

Some locations you may find interesting in San Francisco are:

Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, The Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, The Palace of Fine Arts, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The de Young Fine Arts Museum, Twin Peaks, Lombard Street, and The Golden Gate Bridge.

11. Testimonials of international students

What can I say? I love San Francisco! This city is the capital of entrepreneurship and technology, but at the same time, the architecture and people here make this place unique. The people of San Francisco are very friendly and relaxed. It is easy to talk with people and practice English in the school, parks, or bars. You do not need a car here. You can take public transportation everywhere. One of my favorite things to do here is riding a bike, crossing the golden gate, and having lunch in Sausalito during the weekend.

Francesca D.

Profile Image Testimony 1 San Francisco

San Francisco is a unique city. I have traveled all around the globe, and I have never seen a place like this. This city offers everything for international students to learn English. It is easy to move around using city transportation. If you are going to stay here for several months, I suggest you get an electric bike. The city has a lot of hills. Housing here is a bit expensive; therefore, you should share a place or look for nearby alternatives.

Alberto G.

Profile Image Testimony 2 San Francisco

12. Benefits of studying English Abroad in San Francisco

In the global world we live in, mastering the English language and having experience abroad is highly valued by companies and employers.

But the benefits are not only professional, as people who study abroad develop valuable skills such as competence in a new language, cultural exposure, tolerance, adaptability, leadership, and independence. All these skills are directly fostered by learning and living abroad.

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