Academy of Art University Reviews

  • 129 Reviews
  • San Francisco (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $23,412
33% of 129 students said this degree improved their career prospects
46% of 129 students said they would recommend this school to others
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Student & Graduate Reviews

  • Reviewed: 8/1/2019
  • Degree: Fashion
"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."
  • Reviewed: 7/15/2019
  • Degree: Industrial Design
"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."
  • Reviewed: 6/27/2019
  • Degree: Fashion
"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
"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
"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."
  • Reviewed: 5/26/2019
  • Degree: Web Design
"I sympathize with those who gave bad reviews to the school because they probably didn't pass the classes or didn't get the degree. I am receiving my master degree soon, and planning to get another major here because I have learned and improved a lot while studying here. Sadly, not every student is prepared or ready when they enroll in the school."
Lady Bevel
  • Reviewed: 3/30/2019
  • Degree: Fashion
"My experience at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco was amazing and changed my life. From the moment I saw the campus and visited the city of San Francisco I was hooked. There was so much diversity in the other programs they offered and my education was broad with the 4 year B.A. program. I learned so much about myself as an artist that I did not know existed prior to this edcuation. The professors were working in their field of study so, it was such a dynamic team of instructors that you could soak up there intelligence as well as their experiences in the real world. I would highly recommend any art student considering this university to enroll."
Adly Ghaly
  • Reviewed: 12/31/2018
  • Degree: Architecture
"the school administration has designed to collect money not to help. For veteran stay away of this school they will do their best to get your benefits. I can't deny there are many good professors but they leave. mostly you will stick with rude and who doesn't care."
  • Reviewed: 12/5/2018
  • Degree: Film Production
"Awful experience. Go somewhere else and get a real education. This institutions sole care is to take your money and leaving you in debt. Some of the classes, especially in the liberal arts department reminded me of kindergarden nap time. Paying a lot of money for those stings."
  • Reviewed: 10/21/2018
  • Degree: Video Game Design
"I honestly would not recommend this college at all. Dont get me wrong, there are good and bad professors here but the curriculum is just plain dumb sometimes. There are outdated videos on some of the modules and some of the videos use outdated software. I would highly recommend to go somewhere else as this school is definitely a scam. Dont end up in my situation get s****** over by this school."
  • Reviewed: 9/22/2018
  • Degree: Computer Animation
"Things that I liked about the school is that most of the school locations were in walkng distance to my apartment, they had activities for the students, they had a bible study group that I enjoyed, I had some great teachers and got to meet other great artists. I think that you can teach yourself the skills that I learned from this school at home and build a portfolio. Once you have a good portfolio I would suggest doing some free work and put that experience on your resume. I would also learn coding because that will help with your chances. I did some independent projects while in school and out of school. I would suggest freelance work. A Bachelor's Degree is only necessary if you want to work in the government. I used my degree to get work in the government (non-art position)."
  • Reviewed: 5/14/2018
  • Degree: Fine Arts
"This school is a scam they accept 100% of the enrollment and only about 15% graduate. Let's start off with the cost of the school, if you are anything like most of the people that I met from this school you're not rich and you will come out of the school in debt. As far as the teaching I'm not gonna say that I didn't learn anything , there were definitely things I learned from this but it's not anything you can learn from a YouTube video or a nice anatomy book. The instructor's there paid more attention to students who were already good at their craft And ignored the people that needed the most help. The school loved the students they didn't have to teach they love the fact that some students enrolled were alredy very good at painting. They can pretend like they taught them how to do that. I was one of the students that were struggling and I got very little help. I saw a lot of students struggling with very little help given to them. If you were going to enroll people that are not qualified you better be ready to teach them, Academy of art! The only reason why i some of the painters ended up graduating was because they opened up an abstract department. I'm not kidding that's the only way some of these painters were able to graduate was to become abstract painters. Save your money and learn from YouTube painters or go to a credible school, Just stay far away from AAU!!!!"
Chavon L
  • Reviewed: 5/7/2018
  • Degree: Fashion
"This school is a SCAM! I attended the school online with plans to receive a Bachelor's. It's very expensive! The online curriculum is a joke. I learned more from YouTube videos than the actual classes. They require you to purchase expensive supplies, lie about assisting you with jobs during/ after completion. After realizing the school was robbing, I decided to complete with an Accociate's degree instead of pursuing a Bachelor's. I paid out of pocket to travel to California from Louisiana for graduation, only to find out that all Accociate's degree students were separated from their major and marched together with a different color gown from everyone else. What was even worse was that after graduating, no one from the school reached out to me to assist with job placement. I no longer had access to the job board and position listings. I contacted the school and was told that because I graduated, I no longer have access to the school's job board or position listings. Three years later, still no contact from the school and still at the same job I've been on since starting AAU. I'm a mom with two kids who have to worry about paying my hefty student loans for an education I did not receive. A COMPLETE RIP OFF!!!!!!"
Daniel Ballard
  • Reviewed: 3/1/2018
  • Degree: Communications
"Super expensive, so Ill put that out there first, but my experience was pretty good. I learned a ton and felt much more prepared to go into my chosen field. I was willing to put in the effort, which I know a lot of students struggled with (my courses were all online and it was glaringly obvious when people werent even trying). Overall I had a really good experience and other than the immense amount of debt that I might never pay off, I recommend it (if you are willing to push yourself!)."
Game Student
  • Reviewed: 1/7/2018
  • Degree: Video Game Design
"I'm going to say that you need to approach this degree, as with any degree, with a certain level of common sense concerning your industry. As a Game Developer you are essentially a software developer. If you have little to no understanding of IT and have zero interests in learning anything related to IT, you may want to reconsider your career path. Also If you think your going to get by simply doing school work and not taking any personal initiative to advance yourself then your setting yourself up for a lot of heartache and debt. Bottom line is how passionate are you about your chosen profession. That said, I will agree that some of the courses seem irrelevant to my final outcome objective, but that is the reality with any University. The Instructors I think are awesome, and as said in previous post, they're actively engaged in their fields. I would ask the people that complain about instructors, "Have you even bothered to talk to them?" When I attended in person there were a lot of introverts. You need to network and talk to people if you want to be successful. I would say another issue is there are a lot of kids right out of high school with little to no real life experience on what it takes to make it. They're probably the ones giving this school 1 star."
  • Reviewed: 11/5/2017
  • Degree: Computer Animation
"DO ATTEND THIS MONEY STEALING SCHOOL! I took a summer course online in 2016 at AAU because I really wanted to get back into school. The guy I was talking to through out the enrolling process was telling me about a military scholarship that I qualified for. Basically telling me the only cost I have to worry about that semester is the registration fee. I also had my tuition assistance from the military. I completed my summer animation course (B), decided to rethink about my career choice and didn't go back. Now I have a collection on my credit report saying I owe them $1800! That dropped my score by like, 80 points! I never recieved any calls or emails saying I still owe them money! DO NOT ATTEND THIS FRAUD SCHOOL! I didn't believe the bad reviews on this school, but after this I understand now!"
  • Reviewed: 11/4/2017
  • Degree: Fashion
"I have not officially gone to Academy of Art University; however, this review is for those who are considering, just as I did before my experiences drove me away. I'm sorry if this is long, but PLEASE read this if you're considering. I, as a student looking to begin my career and formal training as a fashion designer, immediately saw Academy of Art listed as one of the "top" choices- I put in my information and was immediately contacted to begin my journey into applying. My advisor that was paired with me seemed professional, and encouraged me to complete many of the steps hastily- something I saw as a strength, but would later reveal itself to be one of the biggest red flags along the way. It was not too long before I was accepted. I had so much pent up hope and energy put toward being accepted... Only to find my first red flag, the 100% acceptance rate. They will take anyone with enough money to stuff their pockets with, which allows undergrads with no artistic experience or skill to enter the art fields because it's convenient or even "fun". It was a bit of a downer to learn my punctuality, formalities, and professionalism didn't go nearly as far as I thought it did in the application process. Upon telling my family the good news, my mother (whom I credit for her wisdom) did a little research. She found, in turn, the Forbes article about AAU entitled "Black Arts- 800 Million $ Family Selling Art Degrees and False Hopes". Red Flag Number Two. I read the article, and although it was very opinionated... Something about it struck a hunch in me. I decided to do my own research. I found DOZENS of reviews, articles, and the like showing astoundingly negative thoughts and experiences. You'll find them here and on gradreports, as well as googlereviews and niche. The more I read, the more they all sounded the same; "don't go here", so many of them stated. And now I'm saying it too. Here's why. I'm never one to be passive, so as soon as I gathered enough information, I immediately went to my advisor. I told him my concerns, and his response? "No one ever takes the time to write good reviews, and you can never believe what you see online"... Tell that to the thousands of positive reviews for similar schools like FIDM and RISD. He then tried to persuade me out of my "negative thinking" by talking up the school until his feathers were fluffed enough to end the call. The feeling didn't go away. I just kept seeing more awful reviews, about the staff and how they're barely professionals, the student life, and also about the sheer amount of money they strip away from you, only to leave you hundreds of thousands in debt. Not to mention the 900$ of supplies PER SEMESTER that you need to pay for out of pocket. After careful deliberation, I decided this school wasn't for me and it was a wise decision to move in a different direction. Now, you would think that once I made this decision, declining their acceptance and moving on would be respectful, clean, and professional. Quite the opposite here at Academy of Art. Upon learning that I was no longer interested, my advisor was extremely crude and disrespectful. I was immediately bombarded with questions about why I was making this decision, other schools I was thinking of (and subsequently bashing said schools), and for the icing on the cake... Told me in a serious tone, "you're making a big mistake. This is a bad decision". And thus repeated this same dialogue several times. I was appalled, and taken aback to the point of tears. I was threatened by an advisor that was respectful until I said something he didn't like. It was absolutely unprofessional and disrespectful; I have never ONCE in my academic search come across an advisor who has done this. Academy of Art has burned a bridge with me. I am not interested in a school that manipulates current and future students into forking over cash for an awful experience. There is no care for the students. Money matters. All 800 Million of it."
Anonymous current student
  • Reviewed: 9/22/2017
  • Degree: Graphic Design
"AoA is an extortion house, basically a money making machine. The cafeteria food is sub-standard, where you have to buy their meal plan if you are staying in the dorm. so where the dorm fees seems reasonable you have to buy expensive and sub-standard food, there by increasing AOA's profit margin. Health insurance was shoved down our throat at the last minute although I (and all international students ) already had got insurances. Quality of study is something I am exploring now (I am in the third semester), based on 3 semester I have attended I can say the future is not going to be stellar."
John Smith
  • Reviewed: 6/27/2017
  • Degree: Information Technology
"A few decent classes, most are not at all useful to your major or have real world applications but are in place for the sake of profit. Note I only spent 2 years here, I did not complete my degree. I made the difficult decision to take all relevant classes but not complete the fine arts courses that are required for the degree. I saved over $15,000 and have not had issues finding gainful employment due to incompletion. I have contracted for google and apple, brought a company public, and am now consulting for McAfee and USAA. I started out of school in 2012 at 55k a year, then 75k a year, then 130k + rsus as a design director. YOU WILL LEARN USEFUL SKILLS HERE. I honestly would have just been good at photoshop if I hadn't taken some solid base courses here. A major component that helped further my design expertise was having my work constantly judged and compared against my peers. Viewing others work, drawing inspiration from them, and evolving your own skillset was invaluable. These exercises alone are probably responsible for my success and worth the money, kind of. One thing to keep in mind is that the market and skillsets required evolve. In 2012 the curriculum was heavily geared towards Flash for coding, and studio / agency work for design. There were no UX Research, Data Courses, or Product Design courses offered at that time."
J. Graduate
  • Reviewed: 6/3/2017
  • Degree: Graphic Design
"I have transferred to SCAD after completing half of AAUs online MFA graphic design program. I noticed over time that more and more foreign students were entering classes. To the point that most fellow students seemed to not speak or write good English. I also noticed the caliber of teachers also degraded over time. One teacher actually assigned her own book as the required textbook for the class! Seems like a great opportunity for her to get paid a little extra from book sales. Another teacher, Jeremy S. may have incredible credentials, but he can't teach a class to save his life. I was told not to take another class along with his because the workload is so intense! How is that right? Students need to be able to take more than one class a semester. I left AAU, and they came out with an MA program. I said I would give it a shot. Same experience... bad teaching. I said at the start of the class I was concerned. They said to stick with it. The class was poorly designed. Information was unclear and scattered. I requested to find an alternate solution.... let me drop without penalty, let me take the class with another teacher in another semester, the school could come up with a solution, or I will go and never return... I chose the later. Don't go here unless you don't care about how these teachers make you feel and don't care if they have zero interest in you actually graduating."