The Academy of Art University was established in San Francisco in 1929 by Richard S. Stephens, a fine art painter who had accepted the position of Creative Director for Sunset Magazine. Assisted by his wife, Mrs. Clara Stephens, he opened the new school in a rented loft at 215 Kearny Street to teach advertising art. In a few years, a distinguished faculty of practicing art and design professionals was assembled and the school’s philosophy was formulated: hire established professionals to teach future professionals. In 1933 the curriculum was expanded to include Fashion Illustration, and in 1936 a Fine Art Department was added.

Today the University has approximately 9,000 students, making it the largest private school of art and design in the country. Students now have the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Associate of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Architecture or a Certificate Program, with over 30 areas of academic emphasis.

Undergraduate Portfolio RequirementsEdit

Undergraduate applicants are not required to submit a portfolio, but may do so for possible waiver of foundation or major classes.

Graduate Portfolio RequirementsEdit

A body of work representing the chosen discipline will be required for placement purposes.

A description list is helpful to accompany portfolios when being reviewed, with all pieces labeled with your name and the title, size, medium and date of completion. For collaborative works, please explain your role in the creative process. International applicants are asked to provide an English translation of any copy/written material presented as part of the portfolio. Registration for the appropriate classes is based on the skills demonstrated in your portfolio. Applicants should contact an Admissions Representative for details on portfolio submission, including content and format requirements. In some cases portfolios may be sent digitally.

Based on the skill level of the portfolio, a candidate applying to the MFA or M. Arch. program may be required to take preparatory classes in advance of entering graduate-level classes. Units earned for preparatory classes are not counted as part of the total units necessary to receive an MFA or M. Arch. degree. Candidates granted provisional acceptance to the Master of Fine Arts Program must successfully complete classes designated by the admissions committee before enrolling in the MFA or M. Arch. degree program.