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Art Institute of Pittsburgh

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The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
MottoThe College for Creative Minds
Type(1921–2017) For-profit art school
(2017–2019) Nonprofit art school[1][2]
Location, ,
United States

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh was a private art college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The school emphasized design education and career preparation for the creative job market. It was founded in 1921 and closed in 2019.[3]

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh was part of The Art Institutes, a private for-profit system of art schools in the United States, which closed down in September 2023.[4]


Founded in 1921, the school began as a profit-based independent school of art and illustration, producing a number of notable artists including watercolorist Frank Webb, animation producer and director Rick Schneider-Calabash, and the late science fiction illustrator Frank Kelly Freas.[5]

Later, the institute specialized primarily in design disciplines and culinary arts.

Sale to EDMC[edit]

In 1968, the Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporation (EDMC) acquired the Art Institute of Pittsburgh,[6] later creating additional schools in The Art Institutes system.[7]

Enrollment in the online division and EDMC's other online programs ballooned from 7,900 in 2007 to 42,300 in 2012, largely due to practices that devoted more per-student expenditures to marketing ($4,158) than on education ($3,460).[8] In 2008, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh briefly became one of the largest arts colleges in the United States (factoring in online enrollment).

In 2009, EDMC had an initial public offering, with Goldman Sachs assuming a majority position. Emphasis throughout the EDMC system shifted increasingly toward shareholder profits with cost-cutting measures[9] resulting in larger classes, fewer student services, and a standardized curriculum throughout the system. This standardization removed the need for resident experts and curriculum developers at the individual colleges.[10]

In 2010 enrollment began to drop, in part due to the falsification of records.[11] Whistleblowers within the company sued the institute due to practices at the online division, and were later joined by the United States Department of Justice.[12] Dramatic drops in enrollment led to massive layoffs in the online division.[13]

In 2013, Payscale.com found that the institute provided the worst return on tuition of all institutes of higher learning surveyed.[14] According to disclosures the college was required to provide to the Department of Education, overall graduation rates fell to 39% in 2012, while graduation rates among Pell grant recipients were still lower at 27%.[15] The graduation rate fell substantially further in 2014 from 39% to 24%.[16]

New owners took control of EDMC in 2015, as EDMC entered into a debt-for-equity swap with its current owners, giving up the majority of their stock to creditors with whom they broke loan covenants.[17]

Sale to the Dream Center[edit]

In 2017, Education Management Corporation reported that it had sold the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the other existing Art Institutes to Dream Center Education Holdings (in turn a division of The Dream Center, a Los Angeles-based Pentecostal non-profit 501(c)(3) established in 1994).[1][18][19] The sale was completed in October 2017.[2]

According to a 2018 report by the National Center for Education Statistics, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh had a 29 percent graduation rate and a 20.9 percent student loan default rate.[20]

Dream Center would later blame EDMC for providing inaccurate revenue and cost projections at the time of the sale, resulting in a substantial operating deficit that forced the Art Institute into federal receivership in January 2019.[21]


After the collapse of a last-ditch effort to sell the school, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh shut its doors in March 2019 after being placed into federal receivership.[3][22] At the time of its closure, Ai-Pittsburgh was facing removal of its accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) due to concerns over the executive leadership.[23]


The school purchased a historic landmark building at 420 Boulevard of the Allies in 2000 but sold it to a Chicago developer in 2014. The Art Institute then moved to its more industrial building in the Strip District of Pittsburgh.

On March 27, 2017, The school moved to 1400 Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh. During its growth phase, it relocated several times, expanding and broadening the curriculum, but later reduced offerings during its contraction period.

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division[edit]

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh's online division was a semi-autonomous division of the Art Institute. It offered degree programs and non-degree diploma courses in a variety of creative fields. The online division was shut down alongside the Strip campus location.[24]

Licensing, accreditation and memberships[edit]

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh was accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (since 2008).[25]

Notable alumni[edit]

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh has more than 55,000 alumni.[26]


  1. ^ a b "Dream Center Education Holdings Completes Transition of Remaining Art Institutes Locations to Nonprofit Institutions". www.artinstitutes.edu. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b Moore, Daniel. "EDMC completes sale of schools to Dream Center". post-gazette.com. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b Moore, Daniel. "After deal falls through, Art Institute of Pittsburgh abruptly shutters". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  4. ^ Small, Zachary. "Sudden Closure of Art Institutes Leaves 1,700 Students Adrift". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  5. ^ "Art Institute Provides Professional Training". The Pittsburgh Press. August 15, 1948. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  6. ^ "Robert B. Knutson". The Wall Street Transcript. May 18, 1998. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  7. ^ Kirkham, Chris (October 24, 2011). "With Goldman's Foray Into Higher Education, A Predatory Pursuit Of Students And Revenues". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  8. ^ Deitch, Charlie. "EDMC reports revenues, enrollment down on heels of more layoffs". pghcitypaper.com. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  9. ^ Deitch, Charlie. "EDMC layoffs hit Art Institutes nationwide". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  10. ^ Halperin, David (24 September 2012). "EDMC Professors and Students Speak: How Lobbyists & Goldman Sachs Ruined For-Profit Education". Republic Report. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  11. ^ Van Osdul, Paul (3 June 2014). "Whistle-blower accuses EDMC of falsifying records to get taxpayer money". wtae.com. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  12. ^ Hechinger, John (2 May 2011). "U.S. Joins Whistleblower Suit Against Education Management". Bloomberg.
  13. ^ Deitch, Charlie. "EDMC insiders report layoffs underway". pghcitypaper.com. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  14. ^ Adams, Susan. "The 25 Colleges With The Worst Return On Investment". forbes.com. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Graduation/completion rates – The Art Institute of Pittsburgh". The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 26 April 2014. [permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Graduation Rates: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh" (PDF). www.artinstitutes.edu. EDMC Corporation. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  17. ^ Allen, Lisa (28 August 2014). "Education Management Cuts Deal to Trim Over $1B in Debt". The Street. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  18. ^ Douglas-Gabriel, Danielle (3 March 2017). "Art Institute campuses to be sold to foundation". Retrieved 9 June 2018 – via www.washingtonpost.com.
  19. ^ "Inside Higher Ed's News". www.insidehighered.com. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  20. ^ "College Navigator – The Art Institute of Pittsburgh". nces.ed.gov. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  21. ^ Moore, Daniel. "Dream Center, blaming EDMC, turns to foundation with ties to private equity to revive Art Institutes". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  22. ^ Torrance, Luke (January 31, 2019). "Art Institute of Pittsburgh to close". bizjournals.com. Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  23. ^ Moore, Daniel (November 20, 2018). "Art Institute of Pittsburgh granted another 3 months to comply with accreditation standards". Business. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Online ed.). PG Publishing Co. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  24. ^ "Closed School Information Page". Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  25. ^ Ltd., Info724. "Middle States Commission on Higher Education". www.msche.org. Retrieved 18 March 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ Felix Fisher, Jacquelyn; Goodman, E. W. (2009). The Art Institute of Pittsburgh (paperback). Campus History Series. Arcadia Publishing (published November 18, 2009). ISBN 9780738565545. Retrieved November 1, 2019 – via Google Books.
  27. ^ "NEW PRIMEVAL: NEW WORLD NOVEL ANNOUNCED". dinotoyblog.com/. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  28. ^ Tady, Scott. "Page Turners: Profiles of Beaver Valley authors". Beaver County Times. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  29. ^ "Presenting the 2006 Hall of Fame Inductees". Archived from the original on April 26, 2006. Retrieved August 19, 2016. Press release March 15, 2006. Science Fiction Museum (sfhomeworld.org). Archived April 26, 2006. Retrieved 2013-04-09.

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