Academy of Art University Reviews

  • 35 Reviews
  • San Francisco (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $22,308
30% of 35 students said this degree improved their career prospects
29% of 35 students said they would recommend this school to others
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Student & Graduate Reviews

Currently only showing reviews from online students. Remove filter [x].
  • Reviewed: 2/20/2021
  • Degree: Art & Design
  • Graduation Year: 2023
"AAU is overall a decent school. I’m doing part time online classes, and I have found the classes to be hit or miss. It’s like that for many universities, however. The majority of instructors have been helpful, especially in the foundational classes. The school is fast paced, and you will have to put in a lot of work like any other school. Sometimes I wish the instructors were a bit more helpful, I had one instructor tell me that my work was just horrid without telling me what to improve. But I’ve attended schools with similar instructors. The biggest thing to consider is the price of the school. It’s not cheap. It’s a for profit school that requires deep, deep pockets. It’s excellent for part time learning. I’m attending because of the 100% enrollment (I started with no portfolio and no art experience) and because it offers online classes, which work for me since I have chronic health issues. I can also afford the classes. Are there better schools? Yeah. Is AAU a horrid place? Nope. Can you learn everything you need to know from YouTube videos and free tutorials? In a field where portfolio matters more than a degree, you don’t have to attend art school if you have the self discipline to learn. I’ve been doing part time classes since 2017 without any clear goals. I’m in the Personal Enrichment program. My art has definitely improved and some instructors are very very devoted to helping you learn! Another thing is to stand up for yourself if you are struggling in classes. The instructors don’t help unless you explicitly state your problems. They can see that you’re struggling but usually won’t comment unless you communicate clearly."
  • Reviewed: 2/12/2021
  • Degree: Architecture
  • Graduation Year: 2023
"Reading these reviews, I am thoroughly surprised with the experiences these people have had. I work full time for a stand-alone healthcare facility as the in-house interior architect. To further solidify my position, the masters degree made sense and I have to say that each and every class I have had so far has been increasingly relevant to my career. The instructors are phenomenal and did a wonderful job during the Covid-19 crisis to keep me engaged. I am unsure how the other programs rate; however, I have taken a multitude of online webinars the school provides from different programs and each one seems to have their act together. I am confused with the negative response to this school - I have been nothing but impressed. For those saying the school is a money scam...all colleges and universities are in some sense a endless "money bag black hole" (welcome to America). Your frustrations should not deter young artists from pursuing these possibilities especially when FAFSA and other programs are there to help momentarily pay for a dream."
  • Reviewed: 12/12/2020
  • Degree: Photography
  • Graduation Year: 2011
"Awful school. I was conned out of money. I have a master’s degree and nothing to show for it. They taught outdated programs. Programs no one in the photo industry uses. I tried to assist photographers after I graduated and had no idea how to use the programs that are a standard in the industry. The professionals I tried to work for couldn’t believe it. Don’t go here! I have no career and massive amounts of debt."
  • Reviewed: 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."
Former Student
  • Reviewed: 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!"
Current Student
  • Reviewed: 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."
  • Reviewed: 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."
  • Reviewed: 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."
  • Reviewed: 5/29/2019
  • Degree: Architecture
  • Graduation Year: 2019
"I really enjoyed my time studying at AAU, the instructors where amazing, I attended from 2014-2019 and only had 3 instructors that I didnt care for. One thing people would be aware of is that the classes can be really time consuming and there can be a lot of assignments in certain classes. I had some health problems and found that if you fall behind, it can be really hard to catch back up but for the most part I had instructors that were understanding and willing to work with me. I chose to study online because I have 3 kids and move regularly (Military). Overall I learned so, so much and really enjoyed the experience. The number one complaint I see normally has to do with finances, it is a for profit school and it costs a lot, but shouldnt you already be aware of the financial burden before attending? Thats just my thoughts on it. If you want a cheap and easy education, this isnt the school for you."
  • Reviewed: 5/29/2019
  • Degree: Graphic Design
  • Graduation Year: 2017
"Its a scam. I signed up for my BA in graphic design. Everything online said BA until they changed their online board 3 semesters showing in and showing that of the 112 units I submitted they took less than 35 and didnt tell me and I was not in my BA program. Now im 30k in debt."