About Us

About Academy of Art University

In 1929, Academy of Art University founder Richard S. Stephens, opened his new School of Advertising Art, which consisted of 46 students meeting in one room on San Francisco’s Kearny Street. When Richard A. Stephens succeeded his father as president in 1951, the Foundations Department was added, ensuring all students comprehended the basic principles of traditional art and design. During his tenure, undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs were added, National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accreditation was earned, his fascinating classic car collection became an Academy gallery – one of the largest collections in the US, and student enrollment grew to 500.

In 1966, the Academy officially became a college, and a decade later, the Master of Fine Arts degree was offered. Today, under the leadership of 3rd generation President, Dr. Elisa Stephens, Academy of Art University is the largest private accredited art and design school in the nation. Dr. Stephens took over in 1992 and expanded the degree programs and accreditations to include CIDA, CTC, NAAB, NASAD, & WSCUC. She also expanded the areas of study to more than 30: Acting, Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Art History, Art Teaching Credential, Automotive Restoration, Communications & Media Technologies, Costume Design, Fashion, Fashion Journalism, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Product Development, Fashion Styling, Fashion Visual Merchandising, Fine Art, Game Development, Game Programming, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design (Transportation, Toy, & Product Design), Interior Architecture & Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, Landscape Architecture, Motion Pictures & Television, Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, Photography, Social Media, Studio Production for Advertising & Design, Visual Development, Web Design & New Media, Web Development, and Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media.