Academy of Art University Reviews

2.18 out of 5 stars
(86 Reviews)
  • San Francisco (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $22,308
31% of 86 students said this degree improved their career prospects
27% of 86 students said they would recommend this school to others
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Student & Graduate Reviews

1.7 out of 5 stars
JDL - 10/16/2020
Degree: Art & Design
Graduation Year: 2017
"I was beyond excited when I started classes here (online) and in the very beginning it went rather well. But to be frank it got to the point that the massive cost of the classes were not worth what I was getting out of it. I learned a lot and really finely honed some skills during the first couple years. Deterioration began with my many different advisors. They didn't advise me on what classes to take so I just took to the course list and winged it. When they did step in they completely insisted that my courses be all over the place and in different disciplines. I tried to explain that a linear approach would be better for me to solidify what I learned the semester before. No go, they constantly threw me into classes I feel I was not ready for. Then after I struggled there, they put me in the class that would have prepped me for the one I struggled in. Course material for online is outdated, not engaging and very basic. Class discussions amount to nothing. Continuing on, my first rounds of instructors were perfect. I learned and grew so so much. Leaps and bounds.. but as time went on I could tell I wasn't good enough to be paid any attention to, so many students in my classes got minimal critiques where other students were doted on. There was no push to do well, and hell you were gonna get a D in everything you did if there was a line out if place or concepts were outside of your teacher's unknowable standards. I did some of my best work for myself here, and it was hacked apart constantly. I knew it was going to be hard, and I put 1000 percent in until the very end. I had a mental breakdown after working on my final for a painting class and called the very next morning and dropped out after a couple years of giving it my all. I told my advisor everything I was feeling and how I felt like I was teaching myself for thousands of dollars. They actually told me that it would be crazy to drop out now because I've spent so much money already. Thats a tried and tested tactic used in gambling ya know? I used to be someone who always had her nose in a sketchbook, you can't imagine how it feels to look at a blank page now and feel nothing but anxiety. I haven't drawn in over a year now. I dont mean to sound dramatic, but it really changed my life and how I feel about myself for the worst. Im so glad that some people have had good experiences, but most dont. If you have any soul for art, stay away. They will say anything to keep you paying but forget their promises later."
1.2 out of 5 stars
Former Student - 9/24/2020
Degree: Art & Design
Graduation Year: 2027
"Don't go to to this school speaking from personal experience. Back in 2019, I applied here. I kept seeing ads for this school and decided to apply. Not even 2 seconds later, they were calling me and wanted to do all the paperwork to get me started for the spring semester. I was taken aback but I went through the process. I was actually exited because I really wanted to go back to school and study Fine Arts. Already, they asked for $50 for the application fee...ok? Then, they were asking $95 for the enrollment fee...ok? Remember, non-refundable. Of course, I paid all this out of pocket so I can continue the process. Finally, the final step, financial aid. Woah! The total expected amount of $ was a little over $140,000. Still went along with it. As I was speaking to my financial advisor, he wanted me to sign the financial aid form so they can begin processing my loan ASAP. To be fair, it was the weekend before the semester and classes would begin that following Monday. I asked him if I can think about it and let them know that Monday. He got irritated and said just sign it and send it over now. Then, I got upset and said I will look over it and get back to them Monday. That Saturday, my friend, who know of the situation checked for me ad sent me all these bad reviews of the school. I was in shock and immediately cancelled the process. I've heard from other people they dealt with rude advisors and what not, other than that financial advisor, everyone was pretty nice. My friend saved me and now I am at a community school with a higher quality of education. I ignored all the red flags: ads everywhere, no portfolio needed, calls constantly, and pay lots of $$$. I rather pay $145 then be tens of thousands of $ in debt. Before applying, check your options and do your research before it's too late. Good luck guys!"
1.0 out of 5 stars
cstudentc - 9/15/2020
Degree: Web Design
Graduation Year: 2021
"They take forever to respond to emails. The class content is outdated. You can get the same amount of education from YouTube tutorials. The professors do not care about you. The university is sketchy and it is not worth the money at all. I would rather go to community college. AAU is that bad. DO NOT GO."
1.7 out of 5 stars
Donn Brady - 8/15/2020
Degree: Marketing
Graduation Year: 2009
"This place is a scam. You will spend tens of thousands, get in a lifetime of debt, and never get a job that can pay it off. The local advertising community won’t even hire people from here, even if you’re good. They dissolved the Career Services office. Save your money."
1.0 out of 5 stars
Current Student - 12/31/2019
Degree: Architecture
Graduation Year: 2019
"If you are reading these reviews looking for an M.Arch program please know that AAU is not your best choice. AAU is horrendously expensive and definitely considers profit their number one priority. In fact, one student I know re-took a studio class SIX TIMES (= $18,000)!!!! Instead of preparing this student with the appropriate classes they just had them repeat the class until they passed. IMO this is not the way to educate. It’s a way to steal money. I, myself, am looking at transferring to a new school because there has to be a better option than this sham. This school focuses on profit vs. a well educated student. In the 2 years I have been attending this school I’ve had at least 7 different advisors. These advisors know nothing about you nor do they record anything about you in your file. So you basically have to tell your life story to every new advisor. The online disability advisor left with just a few days warning. Her replacement was a nice person but a completely ineffective advisor. He prob didn’t care much about my situation as he was only temporary. Several of the instructors are Sexist and treat male students with more leniency on assignments than female students and are particularly insulting in group reviews. Instructors have admitted to having different expectations for each student so it’s impossible to look to your peers work to help you judge your own work. Also, it’s impossible to know what the expectations are for your work until the assignment is over. Out of all the instructors I’ve had, only 3 were truly good educators who cared about their students and their work. The curriculum is outdated, most of the software they use isn’t available for MAC with no other choices. All in all, if I can succeed in steering you away from wasting your time and money at AAU by sharing my experience I hope it helps you to not get caught in the trap I was caught in."
1.3 out of 5 stars
Lina - 12/4/2019
Degree: Film Production
Graduation Year: 2013
"Intro to Production Design, and Production Design 1-3 were useless, practically the same class each time, and by Production Design 3, the teacher was agog that none of us, presumably at least two years into the program by now, couldn’t price a stage flat. I worked with that instructor and another on requesting expansion of the Production Design and special effects makeup courses, and the proposals were shot down because the school didn’t want to pay the instructors for more time. At my portfolio review to qualify for graduation, the guy barely looked at my small binder, said it was “good enough,” spent way more time discussing portfolios with the male students in the room than any of the girls, and told me I could not use my elective credits left to take further demo reel courses for the purpose of adding to my portfolio before graduation because “those classes are just for directors and screen writers, they’re not for you.” I second everything I’ve read here about the school failing to properly prepaid students for life after graduation, as it’s been six years since I earned my degree, and I’m still getting nowhere. The academy of Art is a money grabbing scam with no interest in preparing artists for a career."
1.0 out of 5 stars
rcstot - 11/1/2019
Degree: Computer Animation
Graduation Year: 2020
"I signed up for the online course on Adobe Illustrator only to find out very quickly that the content is about 3 years out of date. If you're working with the current Illustrator version, this course will be of no value to you. And even in one case, the teacher couldn't get the effect he was teaching us, so he didn't know much about what he was doing."
1.1 out of 5 stars
Blair - 8/1/2019
Degree: Fashion
Graduation Year: 2019
"The worst school I’ve ever attended. I was promised flexibility in my degree when I enrolled but it was a total lie. In fact they won’t allow students to take classes outside their set degree planner. Disability services is the only helpful department. No one else knows what they’re doing and the instructors don’t have educational degrees, and many of them are bigoted. Financial services is completely incompetent! In addition the grading system for the school as a whole is insane. Completing an assignment perfectly is graded as a C by administrative rule. I wouldn’t wish this school on my worst enemy."
1.7 out of 5 stars
Patel - 7/15/2019
Degree: Industrial Design
Graduation Year: 2014
"5 years have past since graduation, Now I can reflect on my education with a clear vantage point. Ok, So the positive is that this University has great location, that's about it.Here is a sum of my experience at AAU. 1) Looking back I strongly feel misguided, Why ? due to the amount of knowledge i had to painstakingly learn after graduation with the shame of not being able to learn even design fundamentals while enrolled. 2) Post graduation career services are nightmare, At least my department, I cannot speak for all departments. My department there is one person who basically needs to be wooed in order to even get considered for an interview with companies visiting the University. 3) There are few part time instructors who I can call proudly my mentors, but the full time staff is pathetic and did not follow any structure and took the semester timeline for granted while giving more importance in imposing authority than they should have made the course more engaging to the students. 4) I have recently taken a assistant instructor job and will embark this journey avoiding the potholes AAU caused to many."
1.3 out of 5 stars
Anonymous - 6/27/2019
Degree: Fashion
Graduation Year: 2021
"They will lead you on a wild goose chase selecting courses or telling you what to take which is not even close to what you are focusing on in the first place. $60,ooo dollars later nothing to show for it. They will hound you to come back texting, calling sometimes several times a week ...just so they can keep their count and money coming in. Even after telling them you are not coming back they still are incessantly calling. It is my fault for sticking it out there. I only have myself to blame."