About GGU: History & Mission

Historical Photo of Golden Gate University

Golden Gate University traces its origins to an evening lecture series started by the San Francisco YMCA during the California gold rush in the early 1850s. Even then, lectures focused on practical issues of the day such as gold assaying and English.

Historical Photo of Golden Gate University


The first degree-conferring program of the university started in 1901, with the formation of California's first evening law school. By offering classes at night, Golden Gate made legal studies available to the common person. Four students comprised the law school's first graduating class.

Today, Golden Gate University continues as a pioneer of adult education in business and management, accounting, taxation, and law. As always, GGU emphasizes hands-on learning taught by professionals practicing in the field. Campuses and teaching sites are located in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Silicon Valley and online through GGU's nationally-acclaimed eLearning programs.

Historical Photo of Golden Gate University


Historical Photo of Golden Gate University


Historical Photo of Golden Gate University


Modern Photo of Golden Gate University

Key Milestones

Early-1850s: Opened the First Night School in San Francisco

Renamed YMCA Night School in 1881; YMCA Evening College in 1894; Golden Gate College in 1923; and finally Golden Gate University in 1972.

1901: Started the First Evening Law School in California

It was the third law school to open in Northern California.

1906: Survived The Great San Francisco Earthquake

The school managed to rebuild after its facilities were left in rubble.

1908: Began the West Coast's First Four-Year Accounting Program
1932: Opened the Graduate School of Accountancy
1950: Initiated Northern California's First Evening MBA Program

GGU now confers more MBA degrees annually than any other university in Northern California.

1952: Pioneered the Case-study Method of Instruction and the Scholar/Practitioner Concept

These methods are now widely used in business schools throughout the world.

1964: Full-time Law Programs for Day Students Begin
1970: GGU Becomes First Institution on the West Coast to Offer an MS Taxation Program

The program's success is attributed to allowing CPAs to apply continuing education credit toward an actual degree.

1976: Launched the Country's First Graduate Program in Telecommunications Management

The telecommunications laboratory is the only one of its kind in the U.S.

1996: Started One of the Country's First Web-based Learning Programs

GGU's CyberCampus (now eLearning) becomes a model for online education.


Golden Gate University prepares individuals to lead and serve by providing high-quality, practice-based educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions - as a nonprofit institution - in an innovative and challenging learning environment that embraces professional ethics and diversity.