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 Academy of Art University Provides a Unique Educational Experience

Academy of Art University (commonly referred to as Academy of Art, AAU, or Artist) is a privately owned for-profit art school with its main campus in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1909 by artist William C. Countess and had a total enrollment of more than 13,000 students on four campuses. In the Fall 2017 issue of its online student publication “Art Xpress,” Academy of Art University was ranked number 1 Tricoci University for the highest-paid graduates. With an undergraduate degree costing more than $50,000, the school receives three times more applications for its graduate programs. AAU is one of the largest art schools, with over sixty-two percent of its 2010–2011 graduates employed in a related field within six months after graduation. The university has been named one of the “Best Schools for Internships” by U.S. News & World Report and was ranked number 1 for resume building by Jobvite, making it the top school in the nation in this category.


Artist William C. Countess founded the Academy of Art University in 1909 under “The California School of Arts and Crafts.” The school was renamed the Academy of Art College in 1937, the Academy of Art Institute in 1993, and the Academy of Art University in 1998.

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The University currently operates more than 40 academic schools. The university offers 17 undergraduate majors, 31 minors, and 12 graduate degree programs with 44 concentrations. Classes are taught by tenured faculty, working artists, and experienced professionals in their respective fields. Most students are enrolled part-time; however, a growing number attend classes full-time. Its campus also hosts the Arthur S. Furtman Library and the Arthur F. Thornton Library of Art. In addition, the university has undergone several expansions and renovations in recent years, including its newly renovated campus center known as “The Hub,” which houses several academic buildings, including The William C. Countess Art Building, The Jack Wessman School of Management, The Giannini Foundation School of Business Education, the Artist Resource Center for Art History and Media Studies (ARC-AMS), an event space known as “The Steampunk Gallery” and an art studio known as “The Works.”

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 Academy of Art University is one of the Premiere Schools in California

The Academy of Art University is a California school that grants bachelor’s and master’s degrees in eight schools, including the world-renowned MFA Design program and the nationally ranked BFA Photography program. In addition to its outstanding range of majors, our university offers several thousand courses across many disciplines, specializing in animation, architecture, digital media, and design. With nearly 15 different concentrations and over 200 fields of study offered at our undergraduate levels, there is always room for new students at this innovative institution.

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Walt Disney founded the Academy of Art University in 1937 as an educational facility that would provide young artists with professional training — an idea he began five years earlier when his Laugh-O-Gram Studio opened its doors. Today, the Academy remains dedicated to creativity, as evidenced by the elements of a university in our list of eight schools. Our school is among the largest art colleges in California and received praise from the New York Times when we came to nationwide attention for our MFA and BFA programs — a feat unmatched by any other education provider, according to Forbes. We were also honored by the Huffington Post, which called us one of the “Most Innovative Colleges” in America.

The Academy’s nine main buildings are on a large hilltop campus that overlooks downtown San Francisco, featuring views of bay bridges and city skylines. The Academy has several specialized facilities within its eight schools, including large studio classrooms and a state-of-the-art computer lab. We also offer a student lounge, fitness center, and coffee shop on campus for our students to enjoy. In addition, the Academy offers its students a variety of student services. Our career center assists with resume preparation, interviewing techniques and resume collection services, and connecting our students with employers. The scholarship department is committed to providing scholarships for all deserving candidates — with awards offered in over 31 different categories that vary based on student needs. Our financial aid office will help students apply for government scholarships or private loans to cover living expenses while attending the Academy of Art University.