About Us

At the College of Health & Social Sciences, students develop their ability to make a significant, meaningful impact on their communities and society. Through classroom learning and practical experience, they receive professional preparation in a variety of fields promoting health, well-being and quality of life.

The College comprises a wide range of departments, programs, and schools with a shared commitment to equity and social justice. Students from our college can be found all over San Francisco — in schools, hospitals, social service agencies, governmental agencies, corporations, and other settings — translating knowledge into action to improve lives on multiple fronts. For example, our students work in health screening clinics making sure children and the elderly have access to flu shots; they work with the formerly incarcerated to help them re-enter society; and they put together makeshift workout centers in parks where families can exercise for free.

Our alumni make up vast segments of the city’s workforce. A great many members of San Francisco’s law enforcement community have earned their professional degrees at San Francisco State, as have a large percentage of the city’s nurses and mental health counselors. The College’s impact also extends beyond the Bay Area to the state and national levels, where it has helped shaped policy.

Faculty members at the College push the boundaries. Their research is rooted in a belief in the potential of scholarship to right a wrong. They engage in on-campus and community-based service that effects positive health, social change, intellectual growth and increased quality of life. In their teaching, they strive to cultivate environments committed to deep and meaningful learning experiences.


The College of Health & Social Sciences was established in 1995 as the College of Health & Human Services. The establishment of the College evolved from grassroots discussions among programs in health education, nursing and physical therapy centered around the concept of a unified school of health-related programs. Gail Whitaker and William Bonds provided interim stewardship until the appointment of Donald P. Zingale as the first dean of the College of Health & Human Services in 1996. He served until 2004, at which time Don Taylor became interim dean, and subsequently, dean.

In 2011–2012, as part of a greater Universitywide reorganization, the departments and schools that constituted the College of Health & Human Services were brought together with six departments that were previously in the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences. The College branded itself with a new name — College of Health & Social Sciences — and developed a mission statement that reflected its expanded focus. While the College of Health & Human Services had focused on professional training and practice in allied health, the reorganized college also included areas of study that were based in social science theory and applied practice. Uniting these areas in one college resulted in a sharing of perspectives that enhanced and benefited all of the programs.

Don Taylor, who had been dean of the College of Health & Human Services since 2005, continued as dean of the College of Health & Social Sciences until his retirement in 2014. Alvin Alvarez, the College’s associate dean, was appointed interim dean, and then became dean of the College in 2016.

Many departments that are now part of the College of Health & Social Sciences have a long history at SF State. For example, Household Arts (now Family Interiors Nutrition & Dietetics) was first offered in 1901, Nursing in 1953, Social Welfare (now Social Work) in 1958, Urban Studies in 1967, and both Criminal Justice and Gerontology in 1978. Physical Education (now Kinesiology) courses were first offered in 1917, and the Health and Physical Education Department was established in 1932.