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

Their priority is profit
  • Reviewed: 5/28/2017
  • Degree: Web Design
"Do not go here, especially if you are considering taking out student loans to attend. Their on campus classes are hit or miss, and their online classes are a joke. Full-time online students only have a 6% graduation rate, and part-time online students only have a 3% graduation rate. Their estimates for graduation and employment rates are greatly skewed in their favor by using loose definitions and inaccurate sources of information. (They don't include online students in their numbers. They also count "freelancing" as employed, and consider word of mouth and social media a source of employment information.) Even if you do manage to graduate, art careers generally don't pay well until you have quite a lot of experience under your belt. Meanwhile, you're drowning in student debt until you can hopefully earn more money. Counselors only care about enrolling you in as many classes as possible per semester, and the admissions counselors only care about admitting you and collecting the fees. The massive amount of money you will spend here isn't worth it. I implore you to read the articles about AAU in Forbes and Huffington Post if you are considering attending here."
WNM Grad Student
  • Reviewed: 5/4/2017
  • Degree: Information Technology
"DO NOT GO HERE!! I am in debt almost 6 figures and all I learned was Bootstrap and very little pHp and Javascript. Since they literally let in anyone (even if they have an unrelated degree), those of us with related degrees suffer tremendously. Teachers waste a good month at least on HTML and CSS in every freaking web design class! It is the most awful thing on the planet and people STILL don't get it in the upper classes so teachers have to waste time teaching basics in those classes too! Speaking of instructors, they only have to attend a one day workshop to teach us. That's right..ONE DAY. Now you know why the instructors are hit or miss. And really at $3000 a class, they should not be hit or miss! Their electives are a freaking joke. Why would I want to learn motion graphics when I am doing web? I don't draw and I'm not an illustration major. Oh and good luck passing the portfolio class, especially if it's online. If you're getting an MFA, you don't have to worry about this. But if you're MA, prepare to get worked to death. You should seriously consider taking the portfolio class solo (and taking leave from your job..I'm not kidding), as the first week alone you'll be given five separate assignments (which is not equivalent to the in person class). You will have at least three assignments weekly until the midterm. Your midterm will then consist of THREE separate midterm projects. You read that right...three midterms. The online teacher is also the most anal person I have ever met. If you are even off just a millimeter, she will mark you down. She has some nerve being so nitpicky when her portfolio site is extremely boring. And forget getting help from the director and don't bother complaining about teachers to him. He just makes excuses. Academic advisors are useless and are seriously only there to sign you up for classes. I had asked my advisor several times about the workload for classes and she 'didn't know.' Isn't it her job to know something like that?? I don't know why they even bother giving us advisors. I can easily sign up for classes on my own and they never communicate with us anyway. Overall, the WNM program is horrendous and needs vast improvements. I have applied to have my student loans discharged due to the poor education I received and I encourage all of you to do the same."
Confused Scholar
  • Reviewed: 5/1/2017
  • Degree: Visual Communications
"The financial aid advisers are awful. It made me think it was a scam. The last one, J.W., is extremely rude and told me to basically ignore my high school work and sign up for some grant. Which I couldn't because 1.) I need my student ID which wasn't scheduled to be given to me until one week before classes start and 2.) My high school graduation work was currently more important than a grant at the moment. I don't think that entitled person understood that my graduation literally depended on that project. I am only taking two courses online for a semester. $115,000 per semester! That is a scam. I do not recommend signing up at all. Just go to CalArts instead."
  • Reviewed: 4/5/2017
  • Degree: Communications
"Please please please, do yourself a favor and don't go to this bulls*** school. I'm not going to badmouth all the teachers because honestly there are a few (and I do mean a few) good ones, but 75 percent of the classes are complete BS. I had a professor once who would come in and sit at a table in the front of the class and do nothing- no lecture, no discussion, just NOTHING for WEEKS on end. One time I my advisor went on vacation without letting me know, and without activating my account, so they pulled me out of class and basically told me to "get lost or pay up." Online classes are by far the worst of the worst, copy pasted from shoddy sources, and the discussions are all super basic because 80 percent of the people who go to this school are not native English speakers. I seriously cannot tell you how many times I've heard basic instructions repeated to me; like how to pan properly on a tripod, or how to set up 3 point lighting, or do a script breakdown. Honestly if you go to this school you'll end up hating yourself, so do yourself a favor and find a more honest, well-priced university, or just get a job and learn that way."
  • Reviewed: 3/29/2017
  • Degree: Fashion
"This school is just interested in taking your money. They do not put time into their majors and curriculum. Everything is a fee before actual education. The schools safety is a joke. It's in the heart of downtown San Francisco and students are always in fear of walking no matter the time of day. Housing policies are also a joke."
  • Reviewed: 3/20/2017
  • Degree: Art & Design
"The teachers at Academy of Art are amazing most are working professionals. Most of them take the time to help student understand mediums and foundation. teachers are always willing to help. The financial aid, counselors are a bit of a mess, i felt like i was constantly being juggled and forgotten there were many glitches in the system and I was forced to take classes i dint want to take due to lack of communication. financial aid can be helpful and understanding of financial situations. I enjoyed the school and feel I have learned a lot. I would recommend this school for students who can financially afford the city/ bay area as well as supplies and classes. Working more than 1 job is difficult with work load of a full time student and you will fall behind quickly."
  • Reviewed: 1/12/2017
  • Degree: Fashion
"They have classes others don't which are good, but some have BOGUS YOUTUBE curriculums and material that your advisor might recommend. I could feel hands in my pockets as I was told how to shake hands and greet someone, sew a straight 4 inch line on a standard machine, that BOGO is a great way to increase amount of units sold. Triple DUH!!! You'll be finished and think wow I might've learned more in a weekend or at a community college. SO be absolutely skeptical of your admission/academic advisor. I came in with transfers and was told I'd finish in 2 years which turned into 4 years because a professor thought I needed to learn to scrapbook the AAU way not even kidding it was ridiculous. A teacher who wanted to really help their students would've said let's set up a time for a crash course and get you on the same pg...I should've left but I'd already moved to sf. There are countless shared stories similar to this amongst students across majors. There have been lawsuits in the past...They're good at their PR I'll give them that. Beware. If you're going to spend the amount they charge for tuition, just be warned. I wish I knew so I'm putting this out there. And for fashion students who want a free fashion show, you compete for this incentive and your designs are not completely up to you."
  • Reviewed: 12/31/2016
  • Degree: Film Production
"AAU gets a bad rep because a lot of students aren't working, but it's art school, so I sort of understand it. Art isn't like other majors and I think it's a little harder to "make it"... some people are happy being local but some want to be big stars. I guess it just depends on what you label "success" as. I believe that my education at AAU was great. I had awesome teachers that I still keep in touch with and I learned things that I wouldn't have learned on my own. I had an opportunity to learn and make mistakes and work with a lot of people who weren't like me. The housing is good. The good is good. Everything is expensive and you will be in debt after, but I guess you have to soul search and see if it's worth it to you. My favorite part of attending AAU was meeting people with other art majors and learning how difficult their jobs are. My roommates were fashion majors and illustration majors and I have such a deeper respect for their field as I'm sure they have for mine (Motion Pictures and Television). One thing I wish that there was more of was career advancement. It was rare that we had someone come in looking for interns for MPT, whereas other majors such as illustration and visual effects always had people coming in. I think they were trying to make it better when I left, though."
Royce Van Atta
  • Reviewed: 12/24/2016
  • Degree: Art & Design
"My highest priority had always been earning the degree. I earned it and it wasn't easy. Every semester each class is sixteen weeks. Every class has sixteen learning modules. Each class has similar requirements. For example, the painting class may require 200$ worth of oil paints, 200$ worth of brushes and 200$ worth of canvas. Some classes require a similar investment in books or software. There are usually a bunch of videos to watch every week. I posted at least four short essay style responses to several discussion topics in every class, every week. Each week each class has a multiple choice quiz. Normally, or on average, I also uploaded four studio assignments for peer critique and grading in every class every week. A full-time student willingly devotes 40 hours every week to satisfactorily complete the assignments, that's a minimum of 640 hours each semester. A full-time independent student living on the full federal financial aid stipend certainly needs to have access to more sources of money in order to complete this financially demanding program."
  • Reviewed: 11/16/2016
  • Degree: Art & Design
"Overall I am happy with my choice of going to the Academy of Art. However if I had to choose what school to go today I would consider other choices first reason being the #1 the Cost second is the name and reputation of your instructors. I think the School of Visual Arts have way more well known instructors and connections then at AAC. I graduated with a BFA in Illustration in 1998 and the continued taking courses in Graphic Design for another 2 years so I could be a versatile designer. The instructor are a hit or miss. Out of all the years that I have attended there I could think of at least two instructors that I wished I have never met or taken there course. They were not helpful in anyway and I did not learn anything from. It was just a waste of money. I always come across a lot of negative postings about the school but I have to say unless your not willing to put 150% into your work you should not attend this school. There is a lot of completion from students from around the World. I am currently working as a Graphic Designer for the City of San Francisco. I have worked for both large and small companies. I've always been able to find design jobs but they did not come easy. The longest time I have been laid off was 2 years. You really need to hustle and get your face and portfolio seen rather then relying only on sending your resume online. My younger brother also attended school there and graduated in Computer Arts. He now works as a Art Director for Gap. I'm still paying off my school loan but I am proud of my accomplishments I was able to buy a house and put both of my daughter through private schools. It's a great feeling going to work knowing your going to go draw or design something. AGAIN NOT A EASY CAREER took many years to finally make it."
  • Reviewed: 9/17/2016
  • Degree: Fashion
"I am currently a senior at AAU. I have taken all my classes online. The classes are not easy. In fact, I think taking classes online is even harder. The camera doesn't lie and can point out flaws in your work you didn't see with your naked eye. I feel that I am getting an excellent education with people who are teachers, but also working in the industry. I have had very good teachers. If you are ready for a challenge and will step up to the plate, this is for you. I have thoroughly enjoyed my classes. This is an accredited online fashion program. I have gone to New York Fashion Week several times with my school. They are one of the few schools that show at NYFW. I highly recommend this school, but it is not easy."
  • Reviewed: 9/11/2016
  • Degree: Computer Animation
"DO NOT GO TO THIS ON LINE SCHOOL. It was the worst educational experience of my life. I was an "A" student, but what I got from this school helped me not one bit to gain employment, not even an internship. On line the teachers are unresponsive, unhelpful, too busy to help and flatly refuse to do anything other than slap "A's" on everything you do. I was invested too far before I fully realized that the horrible teachers I had were a norm instead of a one time thing. I had to take private workshops, seminars, and courses to get the education I needed. My degree program director never returns emails or phone calls unless I go up the chain and get someone in the school to write on my behalf. I have had six, so called, advisors since I have been at the school. In my opinion they are simply there to to get my money and make sure I keep paying. I have never had an advisor that actually advised me on classes or professors, or cared about my frustrations in dealing with absentee professors or directors. DO NOT GO TO THIS SCHOOL. It is expensive and you will not gain the education or experience for which you hoped. Spend your money elsewhere."
I took 5 classes here and now make over six figures
  • Reviewed: 8/18/2016
  • Degree: Communications
"I came here and churned out in 2 years as 85% of the students do. A few core classes were vital to my career and success: sketching for communication, digital imaging, introduction to design, interactive media 1 and 2. All other fine arts classes were bogus and a complete waste of my time. A lot of software content isn't employed anymore. Spent nearly 3 semesters learning Flash. How often do you see Flash sites these days? You learn a lot of base artistic skills like how to use pen tool to draw watches, etc, but not enough curriculum is geared towards becoming a valuable addition to a team, or as an independent contributor. They need to have several UX classes, data classes, and product management classes. I got lucky and learned how to front-end code and self taught myself the importance of data. What is missing from my skill set is research. If you MUST go here, take a few classes over a couple summers and see if it's really for you. It's a tremendous investment. The greatest thing AAU attributed to my success is being immersed in a great city with great peers. I could have learned all the content on my own."
  • Reviewed: 6/7/2016
  • Degree: Fashion
"it is a great fashion school. i learn a lot from there. their professor is great to help out student, when i email them with my academy of art email. i am an online student at this school. and i learn more and more after each semester pass by. the university taught me a lot of concept of fashion."
American Student
  • Reviewed: 5/28/2016
  • Degree: Law
"With very few exceptions, the level of instruction is secondary school or lower. More than half the students are from China, with a few from Korean, Japan and other places. Since the ability of the majority of students in English is at best socially competent and the knowledge of all the students re subject, the literary canon and culture is slim to nil, the instructors don't need to know much more and they don't. There are courses based on software you will never use and the courses were actually written by the software manufacturer. In truth, this school is as close to being a full on racket to rip-off FAFSA as you can get while staying just shy of the line between confidence schemes and felony fraud."
Carolina s
  • Reviewed: 5/24/2016
  • Degree: Architecture
"I went to this university in year 1996 until year 2000. I think everything was great back then.... the instructors are good, I gained a lot of knowledge from my major. We learned a lot in every subjects. Interior Architecture didn't have so many students at that time. Its benefit for us so the instructor can really focus for our individual projects. Im glad that I went to this school."
  • Reviewed: 5/22/2016
  • Degree: Video Game Design
"I have never been so disappointed in a school and their lack of leadership and as well as professors. The educational advisors are a joke and do not help with gearing you towards your degree and the professor lack any empathy what so ever. Essentially you are following tutorials that are supplied to them with lack of intervention from them directly. The school costs a lot of money without receiving direct teaching intervention. DONT GO..."
  • Reviewed: 5/17/2016
  • Degree: Art & Design
"Please, please, PLEASE don't waste your time and money on this "university." I must admit that my skills have improved but it's mainly due to help from my peers and practice on my own, I've actually been in classes where the instructor have told us to avoid emailing them and to rely on our peers; I've even had instructors change the lesson plan or refuse to go over something because we should already know how to do it or because they don't feel like going over it. Is that how college is supposed to work? The instructor is paid to just babysit us while we try to teach each other? The classes are a big joke, I've taken classes that were almost exactly the same just with different titles, and even ones where the instructor just throws on some youtube videos and calls it a day. Sounds fun? Sure, until you realize you spend close to $3,000 for this class. Please do your research first if you're considering going to this school (or any art school in general), if you're already super talented basically professional artist with all the time and money to spend on this school then it's the place for you. If not and you're actually looking to be taught, then it's best to look elsewhere."
Animation Major
  • Reviewed: 4/30/2016
  • Degree: Computer Animation
"AAU is a good school, but it is very corrupt from what I can tell. Most of the money goes to the president and not to things we really need in the school. Our computers keep crashing while rendering, HDD keep crashing. We need new equipment. The tuition keeps going up for no reason too. I feel like my extra tuition costs go right into the pocket of the president. Probably is, how else can she afford a lavish lifestyle."
Dilden G
  • Reviewed: 4/19/2016
  • Degree: Film Production
"Instructors are hit or miss but in general the curriculum and school are a joke, even within the faculty. Most offensive is the jet-setting owner with her luxury car collection, massive property holdings and enormous wealth earned on the debt of hopeful students who end up with laughable degrees in an over saturated art market."