About Us

Since 1929, artists and designers have called Academy of Art University their home. Founded in San Francisco and family owned, it is one of the largest private, accredited art and design schools in the nation.

We are first and foremost a professional school—a specialized place that helps you master your craft as you prepare for professional roles as artists and designers. Our hands-on, no-nonsense curriculum is taught by some of the finest minds working in today’s creative and innovative industries. They will help you develop your talent and acquire skills sought by the creative marketplace.

All are welcome here. Our inclusive admissions policy is rare among art schools. We’ve found that our students’ potential doesn’t depend on their past elsewhere, but on their future with us. Find your place and your purpose at Academy of Art University, as you prepare for your professional career.

Student Life at the Academy

Academy of Art University is an absolutely amazing place to be a college student. One of the world’s great creative capitals, San Francisco has been our home since 1929. Our neighbors include giants in everything from advertising, animation, and architecture to communications, game development, and web design.

Our Vision and Mission

Our Vision: To be the first choice for students seeking a world-class education in the arts and the first choice for those seeking to employ artists globally. Our Mission: Academy of Art University prepares aspiring professionals in the fields of design, communication, and the arts by delivering excellent undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate and portfolio programs.

It is the mission of Academy of Art University to prepare aspiring professionals in the fields of design, communication and the arts by delivering excellent undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificate programs, and portfolio and upskill courses.

To achieve its mission, Academy of Art University:

  • maintains an inclusive admissions policy for all persons who meet basic requirements for admission and instruction and who want to obtain higher learning in a wide spectrum of disciplines in art and design;
  • teaches a disciplined approach to the study of art and design that encourages students to develop their own styles that blend their talents, technical skills and creative aspirations with professional knowledge;
  • enlists a dedicated and very able full-time and part-time faculty of career artists, designers and scholars who are professionals and whose success as educators comes from their ability to teach students through the wisdom and skill they have amassed through years of experience and study;
  • operates in an urban context so that academic programs can draw upon and contribute to the cultural wealth of those communities that are served;
  • provides a creative environment that is at once supportive and challenging and underpinned by excellent personalized teaching and support services that address the needs of students of diverse ages and backgrounds;
  • offers an undergraduate general education program designed to stimulate development of critical thinking and communication skills and to encourage emerging artists to draw upon a variety of disciplines, to look at issues from multiple perspectives and to cultivate the ability to function as educated global citizens;
  • manages in an ethical and efficient manner and administers the finances in a prudent fashion; and
  • fosters optimum quality in all aspects of programs and service.

University learning outcomes state the skills that all students should be able to demonstrate upon graduation, regardless of their major. These institutional-level outcomes are developed with input from Academy of Art University’s academic directors and Board of Directors.

Graduates of Academy of Art University will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Produce a body of work suitable for seeking professional opportunities in their chosen field of art and design.
  2. Solve creative problems within their field of art and design, including research and synthesis of technical, aesthetic, and conceptual knowledge.
  3. Communicate their ideas professionally and connect with their intended audience using visual, oral, and written presentation skills relevant to their field.
  4. Execute technical, aesthetic, and conceptual decisions based on an understanding of art and design principles.
  5. Evaluate work in their field, including their own work, using professional terminology.
  6. Recognize the influence of major cultural and aesthetic trends, both historical and contemporary, on art and design products.
  7. Learn the professional skills and behaviors necessary to compete in the global marketplace for art and design.
  8. Engage with a variety of communities beyond the classroom through internship opportunities, study abroad programs, athletics, student interest clubs as well as collaborative, civic and pro bono projects.

Our Leadership

The Academy of Art College was established in San Francisco in 1929 by Richard S. Stephens, a fine art painter and Creative Director for Sunset Magazine. Assisted by his wife, Mrs. Clara Stephens, he opened the new school in a rented loft at 215 Kearny St. to teach advertising art.

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Academy of Art University prepares aspiring professionals in the fields of design, communication and the arts by delivering excellent undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate and portfolio development programs.

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Our students, faculty, and programs continue to make headlines and garner praise throughout the creative community. We take pride in being at the forefront of artistic education. Read what other outlets are saying about Academy of Art University!

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