Academy of Art University

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Academy of Art University
Academy of Art University building, New Montgomery Street.jpg
MottoBuilt by artists for artists
PresidentElisa Stephens
Academic staff
283 full-time
1154 part-time
Location, ,
United States
CampusUrban and online
ColorsBlack and Red         
AthleticsNCAA Division II

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.[2] It has 283 full-time teachers and 1154 part-time teaching staff, and about 11,000 students;[3] it claims to be the largest privately owned art and design school in the United States.[4]

The school has open admissions and an admission acceptance rate of 100%.[1][5] In 2016, its accreditor expressed concern over low graduation rates;[6] approximately 7% of students then completed a four-year degree within the allotted time.[5] As of 2015, the school has not published job placement rates since 2006, and disagrees with the US Department of Education over whether it is required to do so.[7]

The school is one of the largest property owners in San Francisco, with the main campus located on New Montgomery Street in the South of Market district.[8]


It was founded in 1929 as a school for advertising art.[9] The founder, Richard S. Stephens, a painter and magazine editor, led it until 1951 when his son Richard A. Stephens took over, who 1992 was replaced by his daughter Elisa Stephens.[9] Under her presidency, student numbers increased from around 2000 to 18,000 by 2012, but have since fallen to under 12,000.[10] The school has been participating in the NY Fashion Week event bi-annually since 2005.[11][12][13]

Starting in 2007, the San Francisco city planning commission held more than twenty hearings relating to possible violations of city land-use laws, including the unauthorized conversion of rent-controlled housing to academic use;[14][15] in May 2016, the city brought a lawsuit against the school.[16] 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.[17]

As of January 2018, it is fighting a 2009 lawsuit alleging that it defrauded the federal government of student aid through illegal recruitment practices.[6]

Accreditation and teaching[edit]

The school offers associate, bachelor's[1] and master's degrees[18] in about twenty-five subjects.[1] Some courses are offered online.[1][5]

Academy of Art University received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2007.[19] The school is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.[20] In interior architecture and design, the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (taught or online) and Master of Fine Arts degree are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.[21] 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.[22][23]

in 2016, approximately 7% of students completed a four-year degree within the allotted time.[5] 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").[3] 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.[24] For part-time students the 6-year graduation rate is 3%.[24] About 58% of students are female.[1]

Automobile Museum[edit]

The university owns and operates the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum with 200 vintage cars [25][26][27]


The school sports teams, the Urban Knights, compete as members of the Pacific West Conference in 14 sports in NCAA Division II.[28]

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.[29] Academy of Art 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.[29]



Past and present staff of the school include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Academy of Art University. Peterson's. Accessed January 2014.
  2. ^ "The Academy of Art University is a school with a soul". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Academy of Art University. College Navigator. National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed June 2016.
  4. ^ "Who We Are". Academy of Art University website. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Academy of Art University. US News and World Report. Archived 28 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^ John Cote (November 15, 2010). "Academy of Art land use violations ignored". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Brickman, Sophie (May 22, 2011). "Elisa Stephens of Academy of Art University". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  10. ^ Lee Romney (July 9, 2012). "San Francisco rule would encourage building student housing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  11. ^ "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week". Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  12. ^ "Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA, United States)". Fashionista. 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  13. ^ "". Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  14. ^ Lee, Vic. "SF suing Academy of Art University for alleged permit violations". ABC News. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  15. ^ Katia Savchuk (August 19, 2015). How A For-Profit University Flouts San Francisco's Land-Use Laws. Forbes. Archived August 20, 2015.
  16. ^ Vic Lee (May 6, 2016). SF suing Academy of Art University for alleged permit violations. ABC News. Accessed June 2016.
  17. ^ Brinklow, Adam (December 19, 2016). "Academy of Art settles with city, pays $20 million in fees". Curbed. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  18. ^ Home: Graduate Schools: Academy of Art University. Peterson's. Accessed January 2014.
  19. ^ "Statement of accreditation status: Academy of Art University". Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. July 19, 2007. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  20. ^ "Accredited Institutional Members". National Association of Schools of Art and Design. 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  21. ^ "Accredited Program History". Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
  22. ^ "Architecture programs: Academy of Art University". National Architectural Accrediting Board. 2006. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  23. ^ "School View". Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  24. ^ a b Katia Savchuk (September 7, 2015). Black Arts: The $800 Million Family Selling Art Degrees and False Hopes. Forbes magazine. Archived August 19, 2015.
  25. ^ Clark, Meaghan (March 12, 2015). "ust How Much is Academy of Art's Vintage Car Collection Worth? — The Bold Italic — San Francisco". The Bold Italic. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  26. ^ "Classic cars go on display at the Academy of Art University". ABC7 San Francisco. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  27. ^ "Join the Chronicle VIP party at the 57th annual International Auto Show". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  28. ^ "Academy of Art University". NCAA. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  29. ^ a b Garcia, Rob. "ART U Track & Field Announces New Coaching Staff". The PacWest. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  30. ^ 2015 Universiade bio Archived April 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Artworks of Henry Asencio". Crown Thorn Publishing. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  32. ^ "Legendary Star Wars Special Effects Makeup Artist Announces Retirement". Makeup Artist Edu. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  33. ^ "2009 Sonoma International Film Festival". ScreenDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
  34. ^ "Lauren Conrad Biography". People Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  35. ^ a b Katie Baker (November 17, 2009). "Ask The Appeal: Does Academy Of Art University Have Any Notable Alumni?". San Francisco Appeal. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  36. ^ "The 2005 Pulitzer prize winners – feature photography: Deanne Fitzmaurice". The Pulitzer Prizes, Columbia University. Retrieved December 17, 2006.
  37. ^ Vicky Jenson. ACME Film Works. Accessed June 2016.
  38. ^ Dunhill, Heather. "Qs for Fashion Star's Kara Larick". Heather Dunhill's Fashion IQ. Sarasota Magazine. Archived from the original on August 23, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  39. ^ Sarah Gish (March 20, 2012). "My essentials: Kara Laricks of 'Fashion Star'". Ink Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  40. ^ "Chris Milk Official Site". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
  41. ^ "Heidi Montag". People Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  42. ^ "Academy of Art's Epidemic Film Festival". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  43. ^ "Guess What?: Rudi Soedjarwo: Leaving the old rules of movie making behind". Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  44. ^ Susan King (August 26, 2009). "For Diane Baker, one scene leads to 50 years". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  45. ^ "Tom Bertino". Nova Online. 1997. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  46. ^ "The Animated Side of Star Wars: An Interview With Rob Coleman, The Film's Animation Director". Animated World Network. August 1999. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  47. ^ "A Pair of Entrepreneurs Focuses on 'Nutrients for Your Brain'". WeWork. June 18, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  48. ^ "This Twenty-Something Ditched His Dream Job At Google And Now He Has A Startup That Sells Brain-Enhancing Pills". Business Insider. August 6, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  49. ^ "Q&A: "Evening Magazine" co-hosts Jan Yanehiro and Richard Hart". San Francisco Chronicle. July 22, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  50. ^ "Sony Pictures to produce "Tehranis" by Director Kamshad Kushan". Payvand Iran News. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  51. ^ "Tim McGovern". Visual Effects Society. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  52. ^ "Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage". Discovery. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  53. ^ "Witzend - groundbreaking 1960s indy comic with art by Wallace Wood, Art Spiegelman, and Frank Frazetta". BoingBoing. August 13, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  54. ^ "Artist Interview with Terryl Whitlatch". Copic. March 15, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  55. ^ Josh Flynn (December 28, 2010). "Ready to Win". Slam Online. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  56. ^ Peter Hartlaub (July 22, 2010). "Yanehiro, Hart now at Academy of Art in S.F." San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 16, 2013.

Coordinates: 37°47′16″N 122°24′02″W / 37.78785°N 122.40065°W / 37.78785; -122.40065