A Career-Centered Curriculum

Academy of Art University is a professional school. Our curriculum is practice-based and career-centered, which means you learn by doing what you’ll do in your future profession.

Whether you choose to study online, on campus (onsite), or a hybrid of both, you’ll have opportunities to gain the skills and experiences that will help you enter your profession in full stride.

Earning an accredited degree at the Academy includes opportunities to work with industry professionals, hours of on-air radio time, credits on hit movies and video games, kudos for work on national ad campaigns, and more.

What Makes the Academy Unique?

Many universities define their “curriculum” as the courses students need to take to get their degree. The Academy’s curriculum is different. Here’s how:

  • You learn by doing with hands-on coursework developed by working professionals
  • Foundations courses build up your artistic skills and prepare you for the future
  • You’ll practice your craft on the same equipment, software, and tools the pros use
  • Work elbow-to-elbow with professionals on actual projects for actual clients
  • Get portfolio tips from Academy alum and industry insiders
  • Show your work to the world at events like NYFW, Ideate, NXTUP fest, and more

Career-Centered Courses

When it comes your education, it’s important that aspiring artists and designers have flexible options. Depending on your learning style, you can choose to take your classes, onsite in San Francisco, online (offered in 7.5 and 15 week formats), or on Zoom. Here’s a small sampling of some of the courses you can choose from.

A Course for Change: Design Build Studio

Using urban San Francisco as their classroom, students from the School of Architecture get to participate in seeing their designs for non-profit clients actually get built. Students taking Architecture 498 work collaboratively, putting their skills to the test to engage real clients and communities, investigate real sites, and propose and build a gathering place for a grateful local community.

Which area of study fits your interests?

Available Online and Onsite

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The Cold Readings to Callbacks class was one of the best classes I had. Sarah, our instructor, is a casting director in San Francisco and she would work with us in and out of the classroom. She’s helped me a lot.

Zach Eulberg / BFA School of Acting

What Does “Industry-Based” Mean?

“Industry” is the field or profession you plan to go into. For example, you may want to work in the fashion industry, or video game industry. With an industry-based education you learn the specific skills you’ll be using on the job.

Facilities & Technology

One important aspect of our curriculum is our facilities, which are stocked with the latest technology, software, and equipment. Keeping up with current advancements in technology and industry practices is essential to preparing you to enter the workforce.

Whatever the pros are doing and whatever the pros are using is what you will find in our classrooms and studios.

Academy of Art University is the first university in California, and the second company in California other than Skywalker Sound, to own the flagship mixing console, the Avid S6. With the Avid S6, music students get hands-on experience with the flagship mixing console.

Production & Printing

Our onsite large format scanning and printing facilities allow students to create professional level graphic presentations. A control room for production and high-end transfers, along with Cintiq tablets, scanners, a large format printer, and other filming equipment are also available.

  • Four large-format laser cutters
  • Stratasys resin printing machines
  • Zcorp powder printing machines
  • FDM lab perfect for quick, iterative prints
  • Rapid prototyping labs, which will enable you to complete your projects in house.
  • Advanced digital fabrication equipment
  • Laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC routers


Students from all disciplines learn to use the latest professional equipment required to complete projects in myriad different media.

  • vacuum forming
  • plastic sheet fabrication
  • fiberglass and composite fabrication
  • sanding and buffing stations
  • rubber-mold making
  • plastic casting
  • sandblasting
  • spray-painting
  • plaster fabrication
  • 3D printers
  • CNC routers

We also feature a well-stocked tool and equipment checkout area and a retail material sales area, making it easy to finish projects without driving to home supply centers.


Our fully equipped woodshop and metal shop facilities are staffed by qualified shop technicians that support students in realizing a wide array of projects: from an intricate architectural model, to a custom furniture piece, or even larger installations.

  • full array of hand tools, SawStop table saws, drill presses, and a host of other tools
  • a custom-built negative pressure spray booth large enough to hold a full-sized automobile
  • a 20-ton hydraulic press
  • metal lathes and mills
  • enameling kilns
  • engraver’s blocks for stone setting
  • lost wax casting (centrifugal and vacuum)
  • welding
  • LED electronics
  • A 3D printing studio

Robotics Lab

Robot technology is rapidly advancing with applications in a number of disciplines. Architecture students take advantage of the robotics lab to conduct hands-on research exploring emerging methods of representation and fabrication within architecture and design.

The Library has a long-standing reputation for being a 'no-shush' zone. Our student artists and designers are encouraged to work together in a vibrant atmosphere where they can conduct visual research, collaborate, learn, and create.

Enrollment is Now Open

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