Academy of Art University Reviews

  • 88 Reviews
  • San Francisco (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $22,308
31% of 88 students said this degree improved their career prospects
26% of 88 students said they would recommend this school to others
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Student & Graduate Reviews

  • Reviewed: 2/15/2016
  • Degree: Graphic Design
  • Graduation Year: 2011
"Don't do it. First, I was heavily persuaded to pursue a masters program when all I was really looking for was a few semesters of basic design education to learn the fundamentals I had never been taught. Once falling for that I was encouraged to get the maximum amount of the student loans so I could pay for expenses... worst idea. For just over 2 semesters of school, I now owe an additional $60,000 ($80+ total) in student loans (because of capitalized interest while I was in deferment). Besides these tactics the education was also shoddy. After many in the class complained, one of the instructors finally came out and admitted they don't give A's and B's are only if their really impressed. So, the best most could hope for is a C average?! That's crazy! And not very motivating. Basic guidelines for typography and layout were different—not only from class to class but from teacher to assistant IN THE SAME CLASS! So frustrating. Will probably spend the next 30 years paying off a loan which has not helped my career one bit."
The downfall of the online education
  • Reviewed: 1/29/2016
  • Degree: Art & Design
  • Graduation Year: 2018
"When I started my online classes at AAU C.P. was the director of the online education as well as the onsite. After attending about a year they brought in a new director named Lourdes Livingston. Since then I have noticed a steady downfall in quality. Another problem is if you have to repeat a class (which I did due to medical) the curriculum is exactly the same. It's as if the instructors really don't have the needed credentials to be our Professors. I have heard the onsite education is so much better, but I and the other online students feel that we should receive the same quality of education."
T.I. Not
  • Reviewed: 12/5/2015
  • Degree: Video Game Design
  • Graduation Year: 2018
"I've attended the AAU in person, and now I'm taking online courses. In person was really, truly a great experience. Online courses not so much. About 50 % of the time I get teachers who barely participate. A few times I've caught teachers cutting and pasting the exact same feedback for every student's homework - which probably means they didn't bother to review it at all. Right now I'm a Game Development major. I've had a few awesome teachers. But the teachers don't put the module content in place. Nor do they create the tests themselves. The video tutorials and module content for software we must learn is often about 5 - 6 years out of date. In particular, Unity, Maya, or 3D Studio Max is horribly outdated. The latest versions have very different interfaces and much expanded capabilities. The existing videos are so bad that I'm forced to find tutorials wherever I can (Youtube, or Lynda, or wherever) just to get the necessary info I need to do my homework. And if you think the teachers tell us where to go to find accurate, updated info, you'd be mistaken. And Youtube is full of thousands of crappy, inaccurate tutorial videos. Doing research is fine, but I expect the core lessons to be covered in the class I'm paying for. Incidentally, each online class costs about $2,600+ per semester. That's a lot of money to shell out for out of date information. I'm not sure why a school that costs this much money, in a world-class city like San Francisco, in a 1st world country, can't manage to keep its course material up to date. Oh, yeah, I forgot. The administrators have really luxurious lifestyles and give themselves big fat paychecks. They aren't investing in their courses, and I'm guessing most of my teachers are adjunct professors being paid less than crap. Why should they care about showing up? I've thought of transferring, but guess what? Those credits don't transfer, and the Academy won't accept a lot of transfer credits. It's a good gig for them: helps them keep students and forces students to take classes they don't really need."
Brandon K
  • Reviewed: 11/30/2015
  • Degree: Art & Design
  • Graduation Year: 2016
"All of you listen. AAU is a little special school. It does not require any degrees or tests - SAT, TOEFL, nothing. If you got the money and will you are welcomed. Also it does not have a campus. There are buildings all over the San Francisco and you go here and there. What did I pay for then? Instruction and information only, my friends. To people who're saying "this school is expensive!" please... stop showing others your stupidity. You haven't got the opportunity to enroll to other "good schools," right? That's because you did not study and cannot afford the freakin money they charge you. Average "GOOD" art univs charge you at least 4 grand every year (or even one semester. Jesus) but AAU only charge you 2 grands. "It is still expensive!" You say? You are going to an art university mate. If you want to pay less than a grand per year and get a good quality class, please let me know. I wanna enroll too. I dare say AAU is cheap. It's one of the reasons that I signed up for this school. Well then, does the school have name value when you go out in the field? Not really. But I can tell you this; you will have the skills and connections to get a job when you graduate IF YOU DO YOUR BEST WHILE IN AAU. 90% of AAU's instructors are working in the field right now. They are not just school teachers - they are competitive real time workers as well. So they will give you some hot information about the field you would like to work. That is, if you communicate well with the instructors. You wanna sit back, take classes silently and go home fast? Well I won't stop you. But don't whine if you get nothing after you graduate, because you asked for it. I'd say AAU is like a self service restaurant. It provides a lot of opportunities and information. But they won't carry the dish in front of you. You gotta go get it. It's all over the notice board, internet, and school community. That is why it is little cheaper than other schools. If you can take advantage from all the opportunity that AAU provides, you'll get MUCH more than average art schools. Trust me. To keep it short, if you are willing you work your a** off and not dreaming for a beautiful campus life, AAU is not bad at all. But if you want the school that babysit you from the beginning to the end alongside with amazing campus, look for other places. For me, if I can graduate and get a job with the experience, I'd say money well spent."
C. Tuck
  • Reviewed: 11/24/2015
  • Degree: Marketing
  • Graduation Year: 2015
"Please do your research and don't waste your time and money. I spent nearly $30,000 for 30 hours this year and maybe a few decent courses but most had errors in their online modules (which are "published") and their quizzes/tests. How can you be an institution that claims to be a "University". Spend your money locally or go to SCAD."
  • Reviewed: 11/17/2015
  • Degree: Advertising Design
  • Graduation Year: 2012
"Enrolling here was the biggest mistake I've ever made. I studied MFA Advertising : Art Direction on campus and online. Content online was copied and pasted from course to course. On campus classes consisted of the same content and format no matter the title of the course. Complete robbery! The foreign students I made friends with told me the university preyed on them. AAU constantly failed them and didn't offer helpful services for language barriers. They said it was deliberate since the students spent so much on out-of-state tuition and it was a way to trap them into taking one class multiple times at the high rate. Wasted 2 years and tons of money attending this scam of a university. I wish I came to my senses sooner. Do not enroll here!!! Read these articles and educate yourself since AAU definitely won't :"
  • Reviewed: 11/16/2015
  • Degree: Communications
  • Graduation Year: 2015
"Academy of Art University is not an easy school. If you believe art school will be an easy way to get a bachelor's degree do not attend. I was not a good student in high school. I was lazy, didn't do homework, and rarely studied. AAU's open door policy gave me a chance to show I had matured and was ready to learn. This same open door policy allows students to enter that are not prepared for college coursework. Do not waste your time or money if you are not prepared to work hard and study. I worked very hard to graduate, and learned a lot from some excellent instructors."
Not Worth It
  • Reviewed: 10/12/2015
  • Degree: Communications
  • Graduation Year: 2090
"A lot of great insight has already been delivered. First and foremost, you really will only get out what you put in. I chose an MFA only because no MA is offered. 63 credits is too much in my opinion and far too much $$. The program online is just too boring. The benefit for me? I don't foot the bill. The Veteran Affairs bureau does. I would never she'll out this ridiculous tuition. I want to drop the major and follow a different study in a different school. FYI: The acting teachers are not great actors."
  • Reviewed: 9/6/2015
  • Degree: Fine Arts
  • Graduation Year: 2015
"I developed my career but was missing my degree so chose AAU online to get my bachelors. Overall, I really enjoyed my coursework and instructors. The main thing to remember about any program is you get out what you put in. This is not a babysitter school. It works very well for those that are independent and self disciplined. Do not rely on advisors to add any value. You really need to know what you're coming in to study. This is a failing on their part. Young students may have a more difficult time getting the support they need. In terms of education--I thought I knew most of my area of study going in, but I was wrong. I learned so much that what I've learned still compliments my work today, and I didn't even finish my degree. I was full time for 3 years then was blessed with my 2nd daughter at which time I decided to discontinue. The coursework was intense while working a full time job, especially when you stack studio work together. I recommend only doing 2 studios max when attending if you are working full time. By studios, I mean courses where you produce hands on artwork, such as painting and sculpting. I would usually comment on others' work, interact, then head off to my studio for 4 hours to produce a drawing or what not. This would keep me up until midnight most nights. On weekends I would catch up by spending most of the weekend on one project or another. At this point I was a single parent with a 8 yr old, so it was very challenging, and she remembers me being very busy. They have rubrics available to show the points they look for in a finished work when grading. This was helpful. Some instructors graded on avg hard, which I loved because it made you try harder. Plus it opened up dialog between you and your instructor. I liked when instructors would post all grades by ID so you could see that only one person would receive an A, if that. I had many poignant conversations with my instructors, and for the most part they were very, very good. I also have been to MassArt and it was comparable in terms of instructor quality. Like I said, I was going here to pick up my degree and learn as much as I could on the way. I learned a ton, which was worth the cost. Guys, money is just a number, a degree is just a paper. Internalize and integrate your education into your personal life as much as you can and it will be worth it. If you are looking for a guided experience, this isn't for you. If you are self disciplined and know what you want, you can get a lot from this, Good luck!"
  • Reviewed: 8/24/2015
  • Degree: Graphic Design
  • Graduation Year: 2014
"I started taking classes online under the impression that I could complete my degree in a decent amount of time and the costs would be comparable to other schools I had looked at. The classes costed twice as much as other schools and were 3 times as long and were no where near educational. The class lectures were vague, the professors were completely useless and after getting me roped into the program my financial aid adviser, academic adviser were unreachable and never replied to emails or voice mails left. I eventually received a bill in the mail for over $2000 that needed to be paid to the school ASAP or I would be "locked out" of my classes. After about a week of trying to contact my financial adviser, he called me back and rudely explained that my financial aid did not cover all the cost of that semester and I had to pay out of pocket. Mind you, when I originally started my financial aid covered plenty and I actually was getting a hefty check back. After doing research on my own I found that they charged me for things and over charged me on other things that were NEVER disclosed on any of the paperwork I originally received from the school. Needless to say, I finished out three semesters and couldn't afford the hidden cost anymore. In those three semesters (about a year) I only had completed 18 credits (I was only able to take 2 classes a semester because the school swore I wasn't able to receive the financial aid needed for more). After transferring to a more credited school I was able to complete 29 credits in 5 months and have not payed a dime out of pocket other than for a few art supplies and was able to take classes full time and the financial aid was distributed evenly and covered them all. Needless to say, Academy of Art University is only in it for the money, they do not care about the students and what happens in the classroom. I'm 100% sure they over charged me just to make a profit. I would not recommend this school to anyone."