Academy of Art University

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Academy of Art University
Motto Built by artists for artists
Type for-profit
Established 1929
President Elisa Stephens
Students 13,800
Undergraduates 9,117[1]
Postgraduates 4,683
Location San Francisco, California, United States
Campus Urban and online
Colors Black and Red         
Athletics NCAA Division II for cross country, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, track and field
Academy of Art Urban Knights logo.svg
The New Montgomery Street building

The Academy of Art University, formerly Academy of Art College, is a privately owned for-profit art school in San Francisco, California, in the United States. It was founded as the Academy of Advertising Art by Richard S. Stephens in 1929.[2] It has 283 full-time teachers and 1154 part-time teaching staff, and about 15,000 students;[3] it claims to be the largest privately owned art and design school in the United States.[4] The student body and alumni come from more than 112 countries.[5]

The school is one of the largest property owners in San Francisco, with the main campus located on New Montgomery Street in the South of Market district.[6]


It was founded in 1929 as a school for advertising art.[7] The founder, Richard S. Stephens, a painter and magazine editor, lead it until 1951 when his son Richard A. Stephens took over, who 1992 was replaced by his daughter Elisa Stephens.[7] Under her presidency, student numbers increased from around 2000 to 18,000 by 2012.[8] Academy of Art University has been participating in the NY Fashion Week event bi-annually since 2005.[9][10][11] A private bus fleet transports students between dorms and classrooms located across San Francisco.[8]

Starting in 2007, the San Francisco city planning commission held more than twenty hearings relating to possible violations of the land-use laws of the city, including the unauthorized conversion of rent-controlled housing to academic use;[12][13] in May 2016, the city brought a lawsuit against the school.[14] In December 2016 an agreement was reached whereby the Academy agreed to pay the city $20 million in fees, $7 million of which will go to purchasing low-income housing. The school will also provide additional low-income housing for seniors as part of the deal.[15]

Accreditation and teaching[edit]

Academy of Art University received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2007.[16] The school is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.[17] In interior architecture and design, the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (taught or online) and Master of Fine Arts degree are both accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.[18] The Master of Architecture degree has, since January 1, 2006, been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board while the Bachelor of Architecture program was granted as of January 1, 2015.[19][20]

The school offers associate, bachelor's[1] and master's degrees in numerous subjects.[21]

Courses are offered online with flexible scheduling options for students.[22][23]

Approximately 5% of students complete a four-year degree within the allotted time.[24] According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 31% of students complete a four-year degree within 150% of that time (the "6-year graduation rate").[3] For online-only students, the 6-year graduation rate is much lower, at 6%; in mid-2015, about 35% of all students were online-only.[25] For part-time students the 6-year graduation rate is 3%.[25]

About 58% of students are female.[26]

Programs of study[edit]

AAU offers 25 degree programs.[27][28]

Automobile Museum[edit]

The university owns and operates the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum. Among its 200 vintage cars are some of the world’s rarest and most valuable, with Forbes valuing the collection at over $70 million.[29] Approximately half of the cars housed in the museum are owned by the university, while the rest belong to the Stephens family. Among the cars in the collection is the Tucker 48; the 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow; and a 1928 Hispano-Suiza H6C.[30][31][32]


The school sports teams, the Urban Knights, compete as members of the Pacific West Conference in nine sports in NCAA Division II.[33]

In the 2014–2015 season, the men's cross country team had a second-place finish and the women's team had a record fourth-place finish, earned at the Pacific West Conference Championships. Valentin Pepiot, their third NCAA Nationals individual qualifier, was one of the top finishers from the PacWest in the postseason finale.[34] The Academy of Arts earned a record 10 PacWest postseason honors. For the 2015, indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, they had seven All-Americans honors and one NCAA individual champion in Jordan Edwards.[34]



Past and present staff of the school include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Home: College Search: Academy of Art University. Peterson's. Accessed January 2014.
  2. ^ "The Academy of Art University is a school with a soul". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Academy of Art University. College Navigator. National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed June 2016.
  4. ^ "Who We Are". Academy of Art University website. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Facts About Us | Academy of Art University | Academy of Art University". Retrieved 2017-01-26. 
  6. ^ John Cote (November 15, 2010). "Academy of Art land use violations ignored". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Brickman, Sophie (2011-05-22). "Elisa Stephens of Academy of Art University". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-09-05. 
  8. ^ a b Lee Romney (July 9, 2012). "San Francisco rule would encourage building student housing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week". Retrieved 2016-12-11. 
  10. ^ "Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA, United States)". Fashionista. 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "". Retrieved 2016-12-11. 
  12. ^ Lee, Vic. "SF suing Academy of Art University for alleged permit violations". ABC News. Retrieved June 23, 2016. 
  13. ^ Katia Savchuk (August 19, 2015). How A For-Profit University Flouts San Francisco's Land-Use Laws. Forbes. Archived August 20, 2015.
  14. ^ Vic Lee (May 6, 2016). SF suing Academy of Art University for alleged permit violations. ABC News. Accessed June 2016.
  15. ^ Brinklow, Adam (19 December 2016). "Academy of Art settles with city, pays $20 million in fees". Curbed. Retrieved 21 December 2016. 
  16. ^ "Statement of accreditation status: Academy of Art University.". Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. July 19, 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  17. ^ "Accredited Institutional Members". National Association of Schools of Art and Design. 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "Accredited Program History". Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Retrieved July 15, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Architecture programs: Academy of Art University". National Architectural Accrediting Board. 2006. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  20. ^ "School View". Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  21. ^ Home: Graduate Schools: Academy of Art University. Peterson's. Accessed January 2014.
  22. ^ "Academy of Art University". Peterson's. Retrieved November 27, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Academy of Art University". US News and World Report. Retrieved November 27, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Academy of Art University". US News and World Report. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  25. ^ a b Katia Savchuk (September 7, 2015). Black Arts: The $800 Million Family Selling Art Degrees and False Hopes. Forbes magazine. Archived August 19, 2015.
  26. ^ "Academy of Art University". Peterson's. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Academy of Art University". Peterson's. Retrieved 22 November 2016. 
  28. ^ "Academics, Degree Programs". Academy of Art University. Retrieved 22 November 2016. 
  29. ^ McClymonds, Taylor Soppe,Chad, Inside A San Francisco Family's $70 Million Car Collection, retrieved 2016-12-05 
  30. ^ Clark, Meaghan (12 March 2015). "ust How Much is Academy of Art's Vintage Car Collection Worth? — The Bold Italic — San Francisco". The Bold Italic. Retrieved 5 December 2016.  hair space character in |title= at position 63 (help)
  31. ^ "Classic cars go on display at the Academy of Art University". ABC7 San Francisco. Retrieved 2016-12-05. 
  32. ^ "Join the Chronicle VIP party at the 57th annual International Auto Show". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-12-05. 
  33. ^ "Academy of Art University". NCAA. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  34. ^ a b Garcia, Rob. "ART U Track & Field Announces New Coaching Staff". The PacWest. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 
  35. ^ 2015 Universiade bio
  36. ^ "Artworks of Henry Asencio". Crown Thorn Publishing. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
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  38. ^ "2009 Sonoma International Film Festival". ScreenDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  39. ^ "Lauren Conrad Biography". People Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  40. ^ a b Katie Baker (November 17, 2009). "Ask The Appeal: Does Academy Of Art University Have Any Notable Alumni?". San Francisco Appeal. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  41. ^ "The 2005 Pulitzer prize winners – feature photography: Deanne Fitzmaurice.". The Pulitzer Prizes, Columbia University. Retrieved December 17, 2006. 
  42. ^ "Patricio Buenrostro Gilhuys". CENTRO. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  43. ^ Vicky Jenson. ACME Film Works. Accessed June 2016.
  44. ^ Dunhill, Heather. "Qs for Fashion Star's Kara Larick". Heather Dunhill's Fashion IQ. Sarasota Magazine. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  45. ^ Sarah Gish (March 20, 2012). "My essentials: Kara Laricks of 'Fashion Star'". Ink Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
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  49. ^ "Guess What?: Rudi Soedjarwo: Leaving the old rules of movie making behind". Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
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  53. ^ "A Pair of Entrepreneurs Focuses on 'Nutrients for Your Brain'". WeWork. June 18, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  54. ^ "This Twenty-Something Ditched His Dream Job At Google And Now He Has A Startup That Sells Brain-Enhancing Pills". Business Insider. August 6, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  55. ^ "Q&A: "Evening Magazine" co-hosts Jan Yanehiro and Richard Hart". San Francisco Chronicle. July 22, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2014. 
  56. ^ "Heebink's Notes - An Interview with John Heebink". Nick Fury. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
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  60. ^ "Witzend - groundbreaking 1960s indy comic with art by Wallace Wood, Art Spiegelman, and Frank Frazetta". BoingBoing. August 13, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2014. 
  61. ^ Hagan Cain, Robyn. "From London to San Francisco: Simon Ungless on Academy Life". San Francisco Racked. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  62. ^ "Artist Interview with Terryl Whitlatch". Copic. March 15, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  63. ^ Josh Flynn (December 28, 2010). "Ready to Win". Slam Online. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  64. ^ Peter Hartlaub (July 22, 2010). "Yanehiro, Hart now at Academy of Art in S.F.". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 

Coordinates: 37°47′16″N 122°24′02″W / 37.78785°N 122.40065°W / 37.78785; -122.40065