Academy of Art University Reviews

  • 135 Reviews
  • San Francisco (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $23,412
33% of 135 students said this degree improved their career prospects
44% of 135 students said they would recommend this school to others
Start Your Online College Search:

Student & Graduate Reviews

Donnie Desmond
  • Reviewed: 5/18/2023
  • Degree: Architecture
"This place is average at best. I would not recommend this school, I plan on transferring in the Fall. The quality of education and feedback from professors was not good. Questions were asked as if this is correct or not. Answers were given as yes and no. We will attend to this later. Which later meant, it was done and we would not discuss it again."
  • Reviewed: 4/24/2023
  • Degree: Fashion
"I took one summer semester of classes and not even a quarter semester of fall classes before QUICKLY dropping out. I decided on AOAU because they were the only school to offer online fashion and design classes, that alone should’ve been a red flag, plus I didn’t think to look into student reviews and their 10% graduation rate. Before starting, the teachers each give you a supply list of things they say you need. You don’t actually need them btw. I wasted so much money on things I never once used and the things I did use could’ve been bought WAY cheaper on sites like SHEIN or even Amazon. Once the classes started, I saw just how quickly they jumped into things with little to no instructions on how to do it other than “check the module” where you’d find a lot of useless videos from old fashion shows or instructional videos from ages ago. Sometimes the teachers would ask us to go on zoom and sometimes they’d even say it was “mandatory” all for us just to sit there and watch them talk about things instead of TEACHING or SHOWING us things. The most interaction you’ll ever get out of it these useless-nobody teachers was their harsh criticism, their constant tagging you in their discussions saying “you didn’t show up for zoom” or whatever, or if you were unlucky like me, you’d get constant emails from really annoying teachers assistants rather than from your actual teacher who was also much younger than the teaching assistant for some reason? Asking these teachers for help only resulted in them saying “it’s in the module” but at the same time always telling us “if you need help, just ask!” By the last final weeks, I was over it. I was so fed up by the low grades for a lot of effort, the harsh criticism of every single thing you turn in, good or bad, the SAME ASSIGNMENTS EVERY WEEK, excessive assignments, basically being gaslit all of the time by teachers for feeling stressed, being basically harassed by the teacher’s assistant who always ended her emails with “respond to me ASAP” or whatever. I failed all of my classes intentionally and still to this day, AOAU still emails me and texts me to come back. AS IF. I BEG ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO SAY NO TO THIS SCHOOL. If the 10% grad rate didn’t do it for you, I hope this will. If this doesn’t do it for you, look into more reviews and the debt of all of the students who have attended this school and the fact that these credits are not transferable to most colleges."
  • Reviewed: 3/15/2023
  • Degree: Video Game Design
"Bad school with professors who are too poor or even inferior to the students. Only a tiny percentage of professors give you useful advice. Usually, the traditional painting teachers are good, and you could have nice fundament courses. However, most teachers do not have enough aesthetics and are competent enough. You could have a terrible experience in your major courses. They will give you excessive assignments, weird feedback, and extremely low grades. And, most assignments are useless to your future career. They are only studies. When you feel you could use the assignment in your portfolio, they couldn't give you enough time to work on it instead they give you a low grade. You need to explore by yourself if you want to meet the industrial level (but you don't have enough time for most cases, as they stuff you with more useless assignments). When you finish all your courses, you will find that your work is unfinished and uncompetitive in your career field. Just don't study here."
Paige Asper
  • Reviewed: 2/1/2023
  • Degree: Interior Design
"I attended this school for 2 years I watched the cost of tuition increase each year. They made this school seem financially attainable by offering me a income based scholarship to cover out of pocket cost after aid. They then changed the requirements that you had to take more classes in order to keep the scholarship. That seemed fine but there's a catch they will only cover a certain amount leaving me with the choice of taking more classes getting the scholarship and still having to pay $3000 a semester after aid and scholarship or lose the scholarship take less classes and pay $3000 a semester, make it make sense???? This doesn't help pay for it it no shape or form I did really well at this school for the short time I could afford to attend. when I expressed my concerns I was blown off and ignored. They have had multiple lawsuits from recruiters, teacher, and students. This a rich and powerful women who owns most of the property in San Francisco California. I cut back my work hours made less money put myself into more debt and have no degree to show. I tried transferring to a more legitimate school but surprise surprise there is no school that will take my credit transfers. This was a huge waste of time money and energy and words can't express how angry and disappointed I am."
  • Reviewed: 12/20/2022
  • Degree: UX/UI Design
"Yes there are a few bad teachers who phone it in. I only prob had 2 witching the 2 years I was there. I think we could of gotten more than one case example completed in one class. But curriculum has a good overview and skills in web design, coding, motion, critical thinking of which were applicable in the real world. Self accountability. You get what you put in. If you’re looking to finish quick without effort then you wont’t get anything from online course. You need to put in the work for the classes to be beneficial. Some comments I read are superficial like old campaigns being featured. Maybe it was history of ads. Seek challenge and you will be challenged."
  • Reviewed: 10/4/2022
  • Degree: Computer Animation
"The online portion of this school is a scam. I went for half a semester and quickly dropped out because of the quality. Their programs were outdated and were showing videos that were made 15 years ago. The teaching staff were not helpful as they only provided feedback after you submitted an assignment. There was no help during the week until the assignment was due. The finance department of the school is also a nightmare to deal with."
  • Reviewed: 11/27/2021
  • Degree: Art & Design
"#1 they took a semester and a half to transfer (VERY few of credits from 3 years of school, focused on design) #2 Took a semester and a half to do a portfolio review that didn't do anything even though I scored top in my class the last semester. #3 tried adding a bunch of years to my education for their money. #4 teaching OLD methods (before CAD; now designers use viral reality). #5 unfair and totally subjective graders and manipulators. #6 filed a complaint against me a MONTH after I withdrew from the school. #7 Lied in the complaint saying "I used profanity" when I did not; I wasn't even talking to them when they wrote the complaint. #8 They teach and use "planned obsolescence" including planning on making their students obsolete; so that you have to buy a lot more $$$$ classes to be relevant. #9 they repeat the same outdated information every semester (beyond boring). #10 They told me a professors had real world experience; meanwhile only one of them dose; "those who can't, teach" is in full effect at AAU. #11 "Academy of University" is redundant while "Art" is subjective and completely different than objective design. #12 Once you apply, AAU stops responding to your emails. I could go on & on but I think you get the idea. You have been warned."
  • Reviewed: 10/19/2021
  • Degree: Web Design
"This school is just horrendous. Their new Financial aid system now REJECTS any other expenses other than classes which they have increased by at least $1,000. So even though you ASKED and NEED some assistance from the school because they offered it, it just automatically gets rejected. This school is severally subpar. Not to mention the school has a fraud charge against them for accepting a lard number of under-qualified candidates that are unlikely to graduate and pay back their loans. So, onto classes, I have had some bad instructors, one of them openly humiliates Asain students for not properly speaking English, Hamilton C. The Web Design and New Media class Masters EXPECTS you to have 6 case studies even though the school only prepares you for 2-3 and the first one isn't going to be good enough so that leaves you with maybe 1-2 so you have to pull 3-4 others out of thin air AND they can ONLY come from the school and NO outside projects... So I'm not really sure how some people do it."
  • Reviewed: 10/13/2021
  • Degree: Web Design
"There is a review left on here from 2017 that someone made about the graduate WNM program and the poor quality of education they received. I can 1,000% agree with that review. My experience at this school and with the WNM program in general has been subpar to say the least. I’ve had more bad instructors than I had good ones. Another point made in that 2017 review was getting worked to death in the portfolio class. Also 1,000% true. Yeah, you should work for the degree and job you want, but it’s as if whoever wrote the curriculum didn’t consider giving students some time for a work/life balance. And the three project midterm is also absurd. I am currently enrolled in the portfolio class for a second time, yes a second time, because the professor I had previously was one of the worst I’ve had. He was a lot of peoples favorite, but definitely not mine. His idea of feedback was always “look for inspiration,” and “keep pushing your designs.” Like okay? Is that all you have to say every time I ask for feedback? I got so frustrated to the point I couldn’t keep up anymore. I spoke to him privately about how I was struggling, and that didn’t seem to help me out at all. At the end of the portfolio class, you have to submit your work to not only your professor but to the WNM program directors for review as well. My portfolio got approved by the directors, but the professor still failed me and now I’m taking the class (online only) now. So, what is even the point of having the directors review your work if you can still fail anyway? My advice to anyone considering a degree in web design would be to just learn from books and YouTube, or even sign up for a online boot camp like Springboard. That is definitely worth the money since that bootcamp actually helps you prepare and look for a job. And so many web/UX designers with the best portfolios I’ve ever seen were all self-taught. Don’t go to AAU. Just don’t."
  • Reviewed: 8/18/2021
  • Degree: Video Game Design
"I’ve taken FASCU 632 OL1: Ecorche (FASCU 270) for this summer semester, and the class was the worst I ever had. Every week there were just dozens of tedious videos that weren’t easy to follow at all. The instructor didn’t provide any personal instruction in the beginning of every module. I had a hard time following the class and couldn't post on time at all. Finally I failed even if I tried my best and submitted my work for the final. I was feeling very frustrated and depressed because of it. It was really the worst experience I ever had in a class in AAU. I have a bad feeling that the Ecorche class could once again ruin another of my semesters, and result in wasting money on another failed class. I can’t put all my effort into this one class and fail all the others. This class is too hard and also requires too much space, a bunch of tools and materials. I can’t imagine how worse it would be if I had to work onsite in my dorm on this assignment. It would make even a bigger mess and even interfere with other roommates' living space. I know it is required for the degree and if I avoid this big “trouble” I eventually would be stopped from graduating by it. I would need to somehow pass this class, even though it already seemed too desperate to do so."
  • Reviewed: 6/16/2021
  • Degree: Art & Design
"They lied and now 15 years later I'm still paying for it! This con artist school boasted a 90% job placement rate when I applied in 2000. By 2001 I was blindingly taking out student loans to attend this institution, believing them that upon graduation I would be ready and knowledgeable enough to work in the industry and begin to pay off the debt. 15 years later I still can't believe what a bone headed choice that was. I applied to hundreds of jobs and over asked over 200 artist reps for their services. The only jobs I could get were low paying freelance jobs found on freelance websites and no artist reps would take me on as a client. 15 years later I'm married with 3 children, I have a job that earns me more than the average American and I'm still broke because I'm still paying off that debt ( and I have already re-financed my original loans to lower the monthly payments ). To pay this school I took out $100,000 in student loans. My return on investment was $400 from freelance work and what ever I made from stocking shelves in the fine arts department at AC Moore arts and crafts. That was as far as I could take my illustration career the first year after college. What a joke! To be fair the instructors I had were great and I was able to learn a lot about techniques and mediums and I enjoyed living in San Francisco. However the financial burden it has caused me thus far was not worth it. The school did not prepare me for what lay ahead they just wanted my money. DO NOT GO HERE!"
  • Reviewed: 5/26/2021
  • Degree: Architecture
"In the Interior Architecture & Design course, you will learn the basics of design and how it plays a role in the real world. The course also includes hands-on activities such as creating a portfolio and presenting it in front of students. The faculty and staff are also relatively nice, so you can ask them anything if you have any questions. We also have students who are not from the U.S., so there are many opportunities to meet people."
  • Reviewed: 5/25/2021
  • Degree: Art History
"I keep seeing really sucky comments about my college, how everyone says it’s a scam and teachers don’t actually provide any real learning information etc etc. They say everyone is set up for failure and that no one graduates because they want you to keep paying. I have had nothing but phenomenal professors. The director of art history took time to basically just chill and talk to me about art for an hour last semester. She cares that much. I have been so impressed by how much I have grown at this school, how supportive almost every professor has been, and how incredible all of the staff have been regarding disability access, which was granted and paperwork filed in less than three days- a record timing in my book. I don’t know about the other programs, but I’m absolutely in love with everything about this school and I truly have a hard time finding any downsides. The only one I can think of to bring up is the lack of 1st party scholarships, but they do accept 3rd party ones. A lot of people end up dropping out because of the price, and I know that other departments are probably very different, but my experience has been nothing short of perfect all the way through. I have had maybe two professors I disagreed with as far as the way they taught, but that’s not a problem with the school itself and I still finished with As in both classes. Which brings me to my last point, supposedly only 4% of students graduate. Besides the fact that many drop out from cost, I think some of it has to do with the fact that the professors don’t take bull crap. You MUST do the work assigned for you. You MUST show a willingness to learn. You MUST communicate with them if you need extensions. Most will grant them, in my experience. I put in the work and I have some of the highest scores (allegedly) of any student with accessibility. I firmly believe this college is only as good as what you put into it, and to learn you have to actually do what is asked of you. It is fast paced and you have to work ridiculously hard. But as an B+ average student with learning disabilities ... it’s very doable. Anyways, just really mad that people are trying to get upset with this college that is obviously doing something right."
  • Reviewed: 3/1/2021
  • Degree: Marketing
"I guess everyone has a different view of this school but in my experience, I feel like it's been very good. My advisor was very attentive and the teachers have been good and easy to understand, the classes are a little hard and you do have to put in a little extra to get good grades. Because it's 100% rate, there are a lot of people who have no idea what they are doing and don't put in the work and their homework's just sloppy and might not get as much attention from the professor as he gives students who actually participate, want to learn and follow instructions."
  • Reviewed: 2/20/2021
  • Degree: Art & Design
"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
"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."
Artist Man
  • Reviewed: 12/19/2020
  • Degree: Computer Animation
"RIP OFF ! This ''university'' preys on the young and naive people with dreams to work in the creative industries. They grossly overcharge for tuition and student housing with astronomically high prices which are not equal to the quality of education or facilities one would expect for such high prices. Just do a simple google search about this school's misconduct with predatory recruiting practices, improper real-state dealings, and a ridiculous private vintage car collection worth millions which is stored in campus buildings. All of these things should be yellow and red flags to anyone looking closely at the ''university''. Predatory capitalism at its best. Avoid them at all costs to save yourself a fortune in student loan debt."
  • Reviewed: 12/12/2020
  • Degree: Photography
"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
"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
"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!"