Academy of Art University
|Motto||Built by artists for artists|
|Location||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Campus||Urban and online|
|Colors||Black and Red|
|Athletics||NCAA Division II for cross country, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, track and field|
The Academy of Art University, formerly Academy of Art College, is a privately owned for-profit art school in San Francisco, California, in the United States. It was founded as the Academy of Advertising Art by Richard S. Stephens in 1929. It has 283 full-time teachers and 1154 part-time teaching staff, and about 15,000 students; it claims to be the largest privately owned art and design school in the United States. The student body and alumni come from more than 112 countries.
It was founded in 1929 as a school for advertising art. The founder, Richard S. Stephens, a painter and magazine editor, lead it until 1951 when his son Richard A. Stephens took over, who 1992 was replaced by his daughter Elisa Stephens. Under her presidency, student numbers increased from around 2000 to 18,000 by 2012. Academy of Art University has been participating in the NY Fashion Week event bi-annually since 2005. A private bus fleet transports students between dorms and classrooms located across San Francisco.
Starting in 2007, the San Francisco city planning commission held more than twenty hearings relating to possible violations of the land-use laws of the city, including the unauthorized conversion of rent-controlled housing to academic use; in May 2016, the city brought a lawsuit against the school. In December 2016 an agreement was reached whereby the Academy agreed to pay the city $20 million in fees, $7 million of which will go to purchasing low-income housing. The school will also provide additional low-income housing for seniors as part of the deal.
Accreditation and teaching
Academy of Art University received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2007. The school is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. In interior architecture and design, the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (taught or online) and Master of Fine Arts degree are both accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The Master of Architecture degree has, since January 1, 2006, been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board while the Bachelor of Architecture program was granted as of January 1, 2015.
Approximately 5% of students complete a four-year degree within the allotted time. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 31% of students complete a four-year degree within 150% of that time (the "6-year graduation rate"). For online-only students, the 6-year graduation rate is much lower, at 6%; in mid-2015, about 35% of all students were online-only. For part-time students the 6-year graduation rate is 3%.
About 58% of students are female.
Programs of study
- Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects
- Art History, Criticism and Conservation
- Art Teacher Education
- Cinematography and Film/Video Production
- Commercial and Advertising Art
- Communication and Media Studies
- Digital Arts
- Fashion and Fabric Consultant
- Fashion/Apparel Design
- Fine Arts and Art Studies
- Game and Interactive Media Design
- Graphic Design
- Industrial and Product Design
- Interior Design
- Landscape Architecture
- Metal and Jewelry Arts
- Play-writing and Screenwriting
- Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design
The university owns and operates the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum. Among its 200 vintage cars are some of the world’s rarest and most valuable, with Forbes valuing the collection at over $70 million. Approximately half of the cars housed in the museum are owned by the university, while the rest belong to the Stephens family. Among the cars in the collection is the Tucker 48; the 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow; and a 1928 Hispano-Suiza H6C.
In the 2014–2015 season, the men's cross country team had a second-place finish and the women's team had a record fourth-place finish, earned at the Pacific West Conference Championships. Valentin Pepiot, their third NCAA Nationals individual qualifier, was one of the top finishers from the PacWest in the postseason finale. The Academy of Arts earned a record 10 PacWest postseason honors. For the 2015, indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, they had seven All-Americans honors and one NCAA individual champion in Jordan Edwards.
- Mobolade Ajomale, Canadian Olympic sprinter
- Asencio, figurative painter
- Rick Baker, winner of an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling and special effects for Maleficent
- Scott Borrero, 2016 winner of Adorama & Nigel Barker's "Top Photographer"
- Alexandria von Bromssen, Runner-up on Project Runway (season 12)
- Lee Cheol-ha, film director
- Lauren Conrad, actress
- Deanne Fitzmaurice, photographer, winner of a 2005 Pulitzer Prize
- Melissa Fleis, 3rd-place finisher on Project Runway (season 10)
- Patricio Buenrostro Gilhuys, Music video director
- Vicky Jenson, film director
- Kara Laricks, fashion designer
- Bilal Lashari, Pakistani film director and cinematographer
- Chris Milk, music video director
- Heidi Montag, actress
- Rodrigo Prieto, cinematographer
- Elena Slivnyak, 3rd-place finisher on Project Runway All Stars (season 3)
- Alex Snyder, participant on Project Runway (season 15)
- Rudy Soedjarwo, film director
- Raven-Symoné, actress and singer
- Margaux Avedisian, comedian and bitcoin entrepreneur
Past and present staff of the school include:
- Diane Baker, actress
- Tom Bertino, animator
- Michael Brandt, co-founder of Nootrobox
- Richard Hart, journalist
- John Heebink, comic book artist 
- Kamshad Kooshan, movie writer & director 
- Tim McGovern, Academy Award-winning visual effects director 
- Adam Savage, creator of Myth Busters 
- Art Spiegelman, cartoonist
- Simon Ungless, former designer for Alexander McQueen 
- Terryl Whitlatch, illustrator
- Lindsey Yamasaki, basketball player
- Jan Yanehiro, television journalist
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