Academy of Art University: From Humble Beginnings to a Respected Institution

From its humble beginnings all the way back in 1929, Academy of Art University expanded its offerings and included more than 30 areas of professional study, most of them with five degree programs and various specialties to choose from. Today, the school is reflecting its commitment to creative innovation.

Over the years, students have been attending the school from all around the world. The campus, as a result of its expansion, covers a large portion of downtown San Francisco, which lends its own creative flair to the course offerings and the learning environment that the school provides. Academy of Art University is one of the biggest property owners in the city, and the main campus is located in the South of Market district on New Montgomery Street.

Students have the option to either develop their skills from afar using the online classes that Academy of Art University offers or learn on campus while they are engaged in a program of study. One thing worth nothing is that Academy of Art University has been offering innovative online arts education since 2002. The university is proud to find itself on the cutting edge of artistic education, and is responsible for shaping generations of thinkers, artists, and leaders who continue to push the envelope when it comes to artistic expression and creativity.

Academy of Art University was founded by Richard S. Stephens in 1929 as a school for advertising art. Stephens was a magazine editor and painter who led Academy of Art University until 1951 when Richard A. Stephens, his son, took over the operation. In 1992, the daughter of Richard A. Stephens, Elisa Stephens, took up the helm. Under her presidency, the number of students at the school increased significantly.

The Stephens family has invested in the vision of the founder, which was to provide arts education to a large audience of creative people. The university is currently the largest school of art and design in the country, and under Elisa Stephens’ leadership, Academy of Art University continues to expand its curriculum to stay relevant with new industry trends and technologies. Moreover, for Academy of Art University to stay current, further state-of-the-art facilities and resources are being developed.

Academy of Art University currently has approximately 12,600 students who are taught by a part-time teaching staff of 1,154 and a full-time staff consisting of 283 teachers. The university has open admissions and an acceptance rate of 100 percent.

Over 70 student and alumni art shows and gallery exhibitions take place in San Francisco every year, and the university’s commitment to high standards has been evident in its achievements throughout the years. In 2018, The Rookies named Academy of Art University #1 in the U.S. in the Best Digital Illustration school category. Moreover, Academy of Art University was in the top five worldwide in the 3D Motion Graphics School category and the Creative Media & Entertainment School category.

Academy of Art University offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in around 25 subjects, with some courses offered online. The school earned regional accreditation in 2007 from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and is also an accredited institutional member of the NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design).

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