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

3.9 out of 5 stars
Daniel Ballard - 3/1/2018
Degree: Communications
Graduation Year: 2010
"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!)."
3.4 out of 5 stars
Game Student - 1/7/2018
Degree: Video Game Design
Graduation Year: 2018
"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."
1.1 out of 5 stars
DO NOT ATTEND - 11/5/2017
Degree: Computer Animation
Graduation Year: 2016
"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!"
2.0 out of 5 stars
Sunny - 11/4/2017
Degree: Fashion
Graduation Year: 2022
"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."
1.1 out of 5 stars
Anonymous current student - 9/22/2017
Degree: Graphic Design
Graduation Year: 2020
"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."
3.0 out of 5 stars
John Smith - 6/27/2017
Degree: Information Technology
Graduation Year: 2012
"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."
1.0 out of 5 stars
J. Graduate - 6/3/2017
Degree: Graphic Design
Graduation Year: 2016
"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."
1.8 out of 5 stars
Their priority is profit - 5/28/2017
Degree: Web Design
Graduation Year: 2012
"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."
1.1 out of 5 stars
WNM Grad Student - 5/4/2017
Degree: Information Technology
Graduation Year: 2017
"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."
1.0 out of 5 stars
Confused Scholar - 5/1/2017
Degree: Visual Communications
Graduation Year: 2017
"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."