About Samuel Merritt University

Landscape of SMU


Founded in 1909, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) is a private, not-for-profit, health sciences institution with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, and San Mateo, California. The University is regionally accredited by WSCUC and offers degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant, and podiatric medicine.

SMU offers four doctoral degree programs, including podiatric medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing practice. Select degrees and certificates are also available online. The University's average graduation rate from 2015-2018 ranged between 90 and 95 percent. Licensure pass rates are 90 percent or above for first-time test takers in five programs (See 2018 Fact Sheet). SMU is an affiliate of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and Sutter Health, a care network of more than 50,000 doctors, employees, and volunteers in Northern California.

Student Success

Samuel Merritt University is one of the largest sources of new registered nurses in California. The University is also the largest provider of physical and occupational therapists, physician assistants and podiatric physicians in the greater East Bay. Student enrollment is over 1,500 (Fall 2015), with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento and San Mateo (San Francisco Peninsula Learning Center). The University strives to reflect the community it serves by recruiting students with a variety of ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Most Samuel Merritt University graduates' passing scores on licensure and certification exams exceed state and national rates. Due to the University’s reputation for academic and clinical excellence, its graduates are heavily recruited, and have one of the highest rates of employment within one year of graduation. The financial aid office is able to provide over 98% of its students with the proper amount of financial aid to cover the cost of tuition, fees and living expenses.

Faculty Excellence

Samuel Merritt has a strong reputation for personalized instruction because of its outstanding faculty, who bring impressive academic and clinical backgrounds to life-long learning, and a deep commitment to students and to the community. SMU faculty are regularly published in peer-reviewed journals and books, many more are invited to serve on national boards or professional committees, and a growing number have been awarded research grants and other professional honors. Read more about faculty awards here.

State-of-the Art Facilities

Our Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) is one of the West’s most advanced healthcare simulation facilities, with state-of the-art medical equipment where SMU students, faculty and working health professionals act out scenarios. The Motion Analysis Research Center (MARC) is located in the SMU Health Education Center on the University’s Oakland campus. The center is equipped with the latest technology to study movement including a nine-camera, three-dimensional motion-capture system, force platforms, in-shoe and platform pressure mapping systems, electromyography, and other equipment to evaluate movement and motor function.


From a partnership with a local Oakland church to work with a local group dedicated to supporting underserved youth interested in healthcare careers, Samuel Merritt University is committed to working with our local community. Students are offered a variety of ways to get involved. Read more about our community outreach.


SMU is committed to doing good work, in our local community and beyond. For years, SMU faculty and students have been traveling across the globe, providing clinics and care and delivering equipment to communities in need. Read more about our international medical trips.


Samuel Merritt University educates students to become highly skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals who positively transform the experience of care in diverse communities.


Students learn to advance health equity and make a lasting impact on individual health and community well-being.

Philosophy of Teaching and Learning

The philosophy of teaching and learning at Samuel Merritt University consist of a system of beliefs and values about the partnership between faculty and students in the teaching and learning process. The philosophy is directed toward the preparation of healthcare practitioners whose practice is planned and coordinated around the unique qualities of each person served. The philosophy requires that SMU graduates use sound reasoning which incorporates the current best evidence, clinical expertise, and the preference of the people served.

Programs, curricula, and courses are designed to values active, experiential learning and collegial, scholarly, and effective interaction among students and faculty. We believe that clinical and practical applications, grounded in the basic sciences, social sciences, and humanities, provide a critical foundation for learning in the health professions.




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